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Thank you/ gift ideas for LORs?


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Anyone have ideas for something nice to do for your LORs once it is all done?

 

I was thinking of giving them handmade cards but want to give them something else too for all the time they put into helping me. What did you do for your LORs?

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I just plan on sending an update and a thank you message after I know what's going on. There's a possibility that I'll be working with some of them, so I think I'll be as professional as possible.

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I picked up my three sealed letters of reco today and will have them personally sent FedEx on Monday. I hand wrote individual messages to each professor and included a $20 gift card for Powells books. What professor can't use a book store gift card?!

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I worked for a professor for many years and she had a former student who had applied to PhD programs over two or three cycles.  I remember that she commented over and over how she never heard from this person despite all that she had done for her.  Recently a thank you letter showed up in her mailbox from 2 or 3 years ago.  It was lost in our university's mailroom.  Obviously this professor felt badly that she had been so annoyed and had thought so poorly of this former student. I just think it goes to show you that they care and remember the little things.

 

When I applied I was older and worked for and with the professors that wrote my letters for many years. I gave my LOR writers nice individualized gifts since they had invested so much in my professional and personal growth. I gave one a gift certificate for a nice restaurant, one a nice bottle of wine, and one gift certificate for a local performance theater.  I think for most people a letter is enough. And I can say that the professors I worked for would have been very appreciative of any of the things listed by previous posters here (fudge, coffee, wine, etc.) Those are all very nice and generous gifts.  

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I've sent hand written thank you notes.  It seems inappropriate for me to give them gifts for their recommendations.  Perhaps my views are antiquated, but I was always taught that proper etiquette was to send a thank you note.  I should also note that I work along side the professors and researchers who wrote my recommendations letters while going to school part time, so it would be awkward for me to be giving them gifts as one is my current boss!

 

I think as long as you don't go too overboard a simple thank you note and a gift card is probably fine, but do be careful as some institutions do have rules concerning the monetary value of gifts that can be received.  I once worked for an organization that received a Christmas ham from one of our clients and we donated it to local homeless shelter as the monetary value exceeded what we could legally accept as a gift.  I suppose that's another reason that makes me err on the side of caution when it comes to gift giving.

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Honestly, before reading this forum, it didn't even occur to me to buy a gift for any of my rec writers; I had planned on just a thank you card in addition to popping into their offices to chat about how the season turned out.

I'm inclined to agree with Science!, in that my gut reaction to gifts is that they can be inappropriate (or at least, that it can be pretty grey territory in terms of choosing an appropriate gift that does not put the recipient in an awkward spot). That being said, I think this gift-giving and thank you business is really dependent on the culture of your university, and your individual relationship with your rec writers. I can easily imagine situations where gifts would be more or less appropriate. For that reason, I'd probably ask around your school (especially if you're in contact with people who recently graduated and who were in the same situation) to get a better sense for what the norm is for each situation. 

With that disclaimer, if it were me personally sending a gift, I would definitely shy away from anything alcoholic, because people can be very particular about what they drink (if they drink at all!) and I think it has the potential to be a sensitive subject. 

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Turns out I will be making quillows... One of mine is a former colleague and Facebook friend and apparently she needs a quillow for the car. My other referees are also former supervisors who I know we'll, and I think they would like quillows too, lol. Quillows for everyone! If I get in, it will be a huge thank you. If not, I will need there references for jobs. So either way, a good thank you is in order.

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I gave my LOR writers ornaments I made in our uni's colors during finals week. They all seemed to like it, especially one professor who told me it made her week and insisted I give her a hug. Haha. I see them all the time since I'm still in school and will probably tell them in person or email them the outcome.

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I'm planning to send handwritten thank you notes as soon as I know what's what with acceptances and rejections. I worried about waiting that long, but I finally decided that it would let me write a much more meaningful message.

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I was thinking of painting a few small acrylic paintings to give my referees after the final batch of letters are in. One writer had a really tough time of it, and I promised her chocolate chip cookies, so I will bring a few dozen to her workplace for sharing with coworkers.

 

Since others raised questions about ethics etc, maybe I'll ask the professors what their school/workplace policies are regarding gifts. Some may be fine as long as the gift is valued at $10 or less or something. The other alternative is to give them nice thank you cards with a note saying that a donation to XYZ charity was made in their honor.

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Thanks for these great ideas, everyone! Like most, I planned to write a personalized "thank you" note to each professor who helped me through the process (whether looking at my SOP, writing a letter of rec, or providing comments on my writing sample). I also considered inviting the LORs over to dinner, but will likely wait until after I make a decision.

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Thank you guys so much for starting this thread! I have been trying to figure out what to give mine. My biggest problem is that one of them I worked for last summer, so he lives in another state and works on an Air Force base and I only have his work address. I think I might just send him a handwritten card, and give my other recommenders homemade fudge or brownies with a card.

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I sent them all thank you letters shortly after my apps were in.  A heartfelt expression of gratitude is meaningful and significant on its own.  No need to add extras, which might be appreciated but could (worst case scenario) seem inappropriate.

 

If I were closer to my campus, I might have thrown in some nicely wrapped homemade cookies or something, but nothing that would say "I spent real money on this."

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I couldn't see more than a thank you not coming off as inappropriate. But that's just my possibly outdated ethical compass. Also, since I applied to the department of one of my recommenders, it would be a little awkward.

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