By Kamrin Baker
I remember when I was in elementary school, my mom would go absolutely bananas about getting my teachers gifts during the holidays. Every year, my teacher would get a stocking filled with goodies and treats, as well as a more significant gift that had sentimental meaning. I loved picking out all the different scents of lotions at Bath and Body Works, collecting clues about what Mrs. Parker’s favorite color was, and finding all the good deals on Ghiradelli chocolates at the store.
I am privileged enough to love gift-giving in all its forms and friendships, but from a very early age, I was taught to appreciate teachers in a way that many people often neglect. They are patient and under-paid, and they put their butts on the line to make sure we are doing well and learning every single day. While that is not always true about every single professor in college, so many of our instructors only get a quick “thanks” at the end of class or a grateful closing in a formal email.
In November, as many of us gear up to say thanks and find ourselves practicing gratitude, let us remember the people at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who make our college careers easier, more engaging and memorable.
As we ease into finals season and those few weeks where waking up for class seems virtually impossible, de-stress by putting together some small and affordable tokens of gratitude for your favorite professionals at UNO.
1. Start small with a simple card.
The Target dollar section is a gold mine for cute and cheap stationery. Grab a couple cute prints, snag a pack of new ballpoint pens and get sappy. You don’t have to pour your heart and soul out to your professors (and you probably shouldn’t, to be honest), but be truthful and kind by thanking this individual for what they have specifically done for you this semester. Bonus points if you include a small gift card to Scooter’s or Target!
2. Food warms the heart and fills the belly.
If you’re a good cook or baker, make a batch of your signature sugar cookies or a crockpot full of your chicken tortilla soup to dole out to your favorite UNO professionals. You can package them in cute holiday bags or just crack open a box of Ziplocs or Tupperware containers. Remember to double check that the recipient doesn’t have any food allergies or sensitivities beforehand.
3. It’s 2017, so make Pinterest craft.
If you simply search “professor gifts” on Pinterest, you will be blown away with possibilities. You can make gifts like a potted plant adorned with a card that says “Thanks for helping me grow,” or a goodie bag of candy accessorized by a goofy pun.
4. Take advantage of the gift that keeps on giving; donate!
Give a donation to this individual’s favorite charity or organization in their honor. If you get to know this professor or professional worker on a more personal level, you will know what is most meaningful to them. If your whole class grew together over the semester, you could also get multiple people in the course to chip in and do something larger, as well. This gift goes beyond your own specific experience and helps others, too, which your professor will be astonished by.
5. Plant a silly desk toy or a favorite book on their shelves.
Lots of people enjoy having trinkets or desk toys like stress balls and zen gardens in their office spaces, so that is definitely something you could get for someone—especially if you frequented their office hours during the last four months. You could also utilize that Amazon Prime Student situation and order one of your favorite books for this person, too. Write a heartfelt note on the front page and connect it to everything you learned this semester.
6. Make art that they can cherish forever.
Depending on your artistic abilities or major area of study, maybe you could design a print of an inspiring thing your professor has said to hang up on their wall or beside their desk. You could also photograph the class if your group really got to know each other this semester. Many professors and academic professionals meet a lot of people, so if they are able to form a connection with something you’ve made, that class, student or semester will stand out in their memory for the rest of their careers.
I believe that far too often we keep our positive feelings suppressed inside because we don’t want to come off as too enthusiastic, too pushy, too much. If someone touched your life and affected you in a positive way, there is nothing more rewarding than letting them know.