I never know what to gift my daughter’s teachers. Over the years I’ve given gift cards, participated in email chains for a large gift, sent in things that were pretty lame and then felt such utter shame over becoming that basic I hung my head at pickup. Well, not really — because it’s the thought that counts and at least I didn’t give a fruitcake — but you get what I mean.
Let me be honest here: I have appreciation gift anxiety. No matter what I give, I have this overwhelming feeling that it will never rise to the occasion of how much I appreciate how hard my daughter’s teachers work. Except for last year.
Last year I nailed it.
And it wasn’t because of how much I spent, or the sparkle of something shiny, or because it was that thing I found out the teacher really wanted and then sent it.
You know what I did? I bought holiday cards and hand wrote each teacher an individualized thank you note.
I can’t claim ownership of this very simple idea. In fact, I read about another mom’s experience doing the exact same thing deep into a thread of Facebook comments about teacher gifts, and I filed it away in my brain for when I’d need it.
What piqued my interest and made me take note was the teacher comments in the thread explaining that, yes, gifts were awesome, but it was the personalized notes that really made a difference — the cards made them feel appreciated and that their hard work was not only recognized but inspired their students.
When the holidays rolled around, I was ready. I went to Hallmark and browsed their selection, deciding on their Hallmark Signature line of cards. Signature cards are made on high-quality card stock and are full of elegant embellishments. I wanted each card’s look to reflect our family’s thankfulness and be a gateway to our own words of appreciation. Plus, if one of my daughter’s teachers wanted to frame the card as a physical reminder of inspiration on those tough teaching days, Signature, I believed, would look beautiful on a desk or on a wall.
On the night before holiday break, I got to writing. My daughter is a special education student and her reading progress had grown by leaps and bounds in the course of a few short months. In each card I shared a personal anecdote from something my daughter had told me about her days at school. I shared ways that each teacher made my daughter — a student who was filled with crippling anxiety over her learning differences — feel safe and that she, too, could succeed. I didn’t spare any detail; I filled each card’s space with my words and our thankfulness, and then I sealed each one and sent my daughter to school the next day like a little letter carrier.
I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
After the holiday break and for the rest of the school year, whenever I stopped into the school, a teacher would come up to me and tell me how much our card meant. One teacher told me she broke down crying happy tears. Another told me she did, in fact, frame our card and it now hangs on her wall. My daughter’s teachers knew they’d connected with my daughter, but they had no idea just how big an impact they were having (and that, shockingly, she told her parents about the little things that happened in class and how we remembered). My daughter, true to form, would tell her teachers when they stopped to thank her for our card, “You know my mom is a writer.” As if that explained everything. Isn’t she adorable.
So this year, if you’re anything like me and you can feel the appreciation gift anxiety starting to settle in as the holidays approach, consider sending a card. Forego the gift card, the pre-packaged sets and write something inside a beautiful card. It will make all the difference. Promise.
This holiday, share joy by creating Signature Moments near and far with cards that celebrate and reflect the beauty of your relationships and the little things that make them so special. Spread cheer with Hallmark Signature.
Hallmark Signature cards feature unique embellishments, craftsmanship and attention-grabbing dimension that make an immediate impression and help you express your personal style.