The holidays are a natural time for parent groups to show teachers they care. But unlike Teacher Appreciation Week in May, when people’s personal calendars and schedules may be a bit clearer, the holidays are a time of busyness and stress for just about every facet of life.

The last thing you want to do is to make your teacher appreciation efforts that “one last thing” you trudge out to do the day before the winter break starts. Everyone’s been in that position with something holiday-related—it’s not fun. And it’s a situation you want to avoid when it comes to giving teachers the recognition they deserve.

One way to keep your efforts stress-free is to get an early jump. Right now, there’s still plenty of time to make your plans and execute them smoothly. Don’t wait until the third week of December when you have a mile-long to do list; that’s when you’re more likely to run into trouble. Think about what you want to do now, before time gets away from you.

It’s also more than acceptable to go with a simple expression of thanks during the holidays. Teachers completely understand how busy everyone is. What’s more, going overboard might make some teachers uncomfortable. During the season of giving, it truly is the thought that counts. So put your energy into those thoughts, versus feeling like you have to go over the top.

We have lots of great ideas for thoughtful expressions of appreciation that won’t cause a lot of stress (or cost a lot of money). Some include:

Buy some mason jars and fill them with holiday goodies (think chocolates, coffee pods, etc). Affix the jars with our newly added holiday appreciation “cheers” gift tags.

Purchase lotion or bath salts and put in a small gift bag along with our new “relax over the break” gift tags.

Have room parents collect notes of appreciation from each student and place the notes in a special box or jar. Use our “I Love...” jar tags to affix to the jars.

Buy a candle and put it in a small gift bag with our new merry/bright gift tag. (You could also throw in some chocolates—they make everyone feel merry.)

Plan a soup luncheon. Ask volunteers to bring in pots of homemade soups and chilies in slow cookers and serve the lunch in the faculty room. Round up a handful of volunteers to stay afterward to help clean up.

Purchase small bags of coffee to distribute to each teacher and enclose a tag that reads “thanks a latte for all you do!

Remember, a relaxed (and timely) approach to your teacher appreciation efforts during the holidays is a key to making sure you stay sane—and that your hardworking teachers get the thanks they deserve. In addition to those above, you’ll find lots of ideas on our Teacher Appreciation page and in our File Exchange.