occupational therapy best ci gift ideas

10 Best CI Gift Ideas to Show Your Appreciation

We all know how difficult it can be to shop for someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, or acquaintance. For some, it may be a dad who already has it all, or a sibling who’s really picky. Some people may even have an excessively minimalistic friend who has sworn off gifts altogether. What’s even harder than this is shopping for someone you know at work, especially a superior like a clinical instructor (CI) who you may not know on a personal level.

This shouldn’t stop you from getting your CI something nice to express your gratitude at the end of your fieldwork rotation. As a therapist, you might have an inkling of what other therapists might like (or what they need, based on your own experience!). But it can still be hard to think of something they’re guaranteed to love. Look no further — we’re sharing our top CI gift ideas that will be sure to give you some ammo to kill your CI with kindness, and that won’t break the bank!

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1. A Handwritten Thank You Card

If you’re on a serious budget with the costs of your tuition and life expenses, we get it! A hand-written thank you card with more than just your signature is honestly one of the best things you can gift your CI to show your appreciation without having to spend much at all. Your CI understands the high costs of grad school and will still really appreciate this gesture. If you do opt for any of the gifts below, try to include a handwritten card as well if you can. 

2. Baked Goods/Treats

Another favorite CI gift idea is the classic baked goods spread, with options like donuts, cookies, or cupcakes. Not only will your CI appreciate this, but if you bring a few extras, the rest of the therapy team that has likely helped you out can also enjoy a little treat. Just make sure your CI doesn’t have a specific allergy beforehand 🙂

For extra infection control, you can purchase individually wrapped treats which also make it easy to “grab and go.”

3. Insulated Coffee Mug

Most therapists rely on coffee to get them through the morning (and the afternoon and evening!). If your CI is a coffee fanatic, they will likely already have a coffee mug or thermos for work. But many people are using drink holders that have taken one too many tumbles on the ground, don’t keep drinks very hot anymore, and ones that are plain and simple old.

What better chance to get them a new one AND give them some OT merchandise at the same time? You might like a simple occupational therapy travel mug with cute and unique lettering, or this classy and elegant thermos that explains the true meaning of OT. If your CI likes brewing their own coffee, they might enjoy this cold brew insulated carafe so they can make convenient servings at work or at home.

4. Coffee Shop Gift Card

For your coffee-loving CI, you could instead go with a gift card to a local coffee shop that is close to your clinical site. This gives your CI a way for them to treat themselves before or after work with their favorite drink. This is also a low-cost option that will always be appreciated by pretty much anyone. 

5. Spa Gift Set

occupational therapy gift set

One of the biggest contradictions in the OT world is that we are great at teaching other people about self-care, but we aren’t always the best at keeping up with it in our own lives. A small, handmade spa gift basket from Etsy is a great way to show your supervisor not only that you appreciate them, but that you want them to relax and reward themselves for all the hard work they do. Since students are always on a budget, there are plenty of options in your price range that will be a great choice.

We know that an overwhelming majority of therapists are women, but that’s not the case for all OTs. If your supervisor isn’t quite into spa days and the like, you can opt for a different type of relaxation with a movie night gift basket or something more catered to their preferences. Another good choice for a leisure-based gift is an adult coloring book.

6. A Cute Plant

If your CI has a green thumb or a liking for plants, a small desk plant is a great way to show your gratitude for your fieldwork rotation and your CI. Plants are not only great décor for an otherwise boring desk area, but are also shown to promote relaxation and a sense of calmness, which any therapist can benefit from. And if your CI is savvy at keeping plants alive, it will always stand as a reminder of you (which is great if you’re hoping to apply to your fieldwork site).

7. Digital Picture Frame

Maybe your CI has a new baby at home that they’re missing, or maybe they just started at that job and their desk is severely lacking in pictures and other personal touches. A digital picture frame is a great way to add a bunch of memories all in one clip. And it’s super easy for them to upload pictures using a USB and their computer. You can even offer an added touch by putting some pictures of your fieldwork group and your CI together, for another way for them to remember you for semesters to come!

8. Bullet Journal

Bullet journaling is all the rage these days and, if your CI has yet to get on the bandwagon (or if they’re on it and want to do more), a bullet journal is the perfect gift. Bullet journaling is a great way for your CI to get thoughts from their head to paper, which is especially helpful if they’re working with students and brainstorming.

9. Desk Sign

Some desk signs may be jokes based on something your CI and you always laughed about, but others can be more personalized to their name and job title. A customized desk sign is a fun thing for any CI to receive as a gift and display. Everyone likes getting to their desk and seeing their name there.

It makes the space their own, but it also allows your CI to show their style. You can get one that’s engraved, one with stickers, flowers added, and even animals or other options. It might even have a funny saying or a nickname that makes them smile every time they look at it.

10. Magnetic Desk Toys

This gift is a great option if your CI is the creative type, likes having gadgets or toys handy periodically, or is often fidgety. This one is great for therapists who work in pediatrics (since their kiddos might be able to play with it, too!), but it’s really appropriate for CIs in any setting. This can become a central part of your CI’s brainstorming sessions.

Using these may even be used as a proverbial talking stick that people manipulate while they’re talking through certain difficult scenarios or patient problems that come up. Even if your CI doesn’t use it for that purpose, it can serve as a simple and tasteful desk decoration. While the options for this one are endless, this fidget cube and fidget set will give you a few ideas to get started.


As you can see, there are so many options for you to get a meaningful gift for your CI that will show your appreciation for them and for your learning experience! We’d love to know: What are your favorite CI gift ideas? Did your CI love any of these? Let us know in the comments below!

This article was co-written by Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L and Brittany Ferri, OTR/L. 

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