When a professor makes a positive impact on your life, you may want to thank him with a gift. Showing your appreciation with a thoughtful yet practical gift is certainly appropriate. Avoid costly items or monetary gifts because many institutions prohibit professors from accepting these types of gifts. Instead, a small token of appreciation with a personal thank you note is acceptable.
Gifts that show you put some thought into selecting them out are always the best kind. If you know your professor is especially interested in a certain topic, a book on that topic would be a nice gesture. Books autographed by her favorite author are also a good option. Or, you might choose a framed print by her favorite artist that she can display in her office or on her desk. Simple gifts, such as baking her favorite cookies and including a thank-you card, also go a long way in letting a professor know that you appreciate her.
Practical items, such as calendars, leather planners and nice pens, are always useful for a professor. If he has his own office space, you may even consider a nameplate for his desk, or a plant to brighten up his room. Think about what he uses each day in class -- and consider replenishing his supply of dry erase markers, chart paper and pens and pencils. Your professor may also find a coffee mug or a gift card in a small denomination useful if he frequently brings coffee to class.
You can also find T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and comics that make jokes about the life of a professor. Items such as a T-shirts that says, "To Save Time Let's Assume I Know Everything," or a mug that says, "Trust Me, I'm the Professor" are just a few of the novelty items available that make good professor gifts. Consider finding fun items that refer to your professor's field as well. There are ties available with punctuation marks that could be a fun gift for an English professor, or choose a T-shirt depicting the dissection of a frog for a biology professor.