When my oldest was in kindergarten, a mom friend who lived in a different part of the country mentioned inviting her kids’ teachers over for a dinner each year. I thought it was such a special and fun idea, but wasn’t sure if our teachers would go for it. I decided to give it a shot – and thus was born our annual teacher appreciation dinner.
It turns out, their elementary and preschool teachers were totally honored and delighted to be invited to a dinner at our home that the kids helped prepare, simply to thank them for all they do. And their teachers since that time have all felt the same!
We took a 3 year hiatus from this fun family teacher dinner tradition, but were so happy to have it back in full swing this year. Here are all the details of how we make it happen!
What is A Family Teacher Appreciation Dinner?
We host this dinner once a year to honor and show appreciation for our beloved teachers. We’re so grateful for all they do for our kids and love spoiling them just a bit on one evening.
It’s important to me to be aware of and work towards equity in the classroom, so I try hard to make this an event about the teachers and celebrating/thanking them, and NOT to gain special favors for my kids. I also know that our elementary school does not do grades, so this would not skew that in any way, either.
When Do You Host the Teacher Appreciation Dinner?
I personally prefer to avoid doing the teacher appreciation dinner too early in the year because I never want to give the impression that I’m trying to gain favors for my kids and I don’t want the teachers to be biased in their behavior toward them. So if you’re considering doing something like this, I recommend waiting until later in the year if possible.
That said, school tends to get very busy after spring break – there’s just a ton going on with state testing, end-of-year projects and presentations, and more. When possible, I like to host this in February or March. It usually works best on a weeknight so teachers don’t have to give up a weekend.
Who Do You Invite to the Teacher Appreciation Dinner?
For my elementary and preschool kiddos, they typically invite their one primary classroom teacher. They have usually gotten to know their teacher pretty well by that point in the year, and it’s fun for them to be able to chat with them and show appreciation for their work.
This year, my oldest is in middle school, and his homeroom teacher doesn’t socialize with students/families outside of school settings, which I 100% understand. I think this is definitely something to be aware of in middle/high school years, so we may move away from inviting subject teachers. Instead this year, N invited his 5th grade teacher, who he loved and who we hadn’t had a chance to include as we hadn’t done our dinners during the height of the pandemic. We may also consider including people like coaches, music teachers, etc.
What Do You Do And How Long is A Teacher Dinner Party?
We usually plan for about 1.5-2 hours for our teacher dinners. We have all the food prepared and set out when they arrive so we can start eating right away. After dinner and dessert and chatting while we eat, we move to the living room and each of the kids shares a short form of entertainment – either a song on their instruments or something else of their choosing.
What Do You Choose for Your Teacher Appreciation Dinner Menu?
The teacher appreciation dinner menu always has to be a balance of a little nicer than a normal family dinner (it is a thank you dinner, after all) but still simple enough that kids can help with it and that we can make it on a weeknight. Here’s the menu we used for this year’s dinner:
- Trader Joe’s lemon arugula salad (added honey goat cheese, candied pecans, and blackberries)
- Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells (this scoop is the best for stuffing shells)
- Cheesy garlic bread
- Vanilla ice cream with Trader Joe’s vanilla bean cake & homemade salted caramel sauce
That’s it! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment!
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