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Ask the Readers: Unique and inexpensive gifts for teachers?

Do you have any good ideas for unique, but less expensive gifts to give to teachers for Christmas? Thanks! -Kelly

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  • VistaPrint has always been a fan of mine. Don’t forget to use Ebates or UPromise to get money back too!

  • Melissa says:

    I have bought small plastic holiday tumblers and filled them with mini chocolate bars; boxes of hot cocoa mix and a big mug; and boxes of herbal tea with a teacup. I’d be interested to see other ideas!

  • Melissa says:

    Every year my daughter and I make goodies for her teachers (both school and dance). We watch a Christmas movie and cook! We love it and it is now a tradition. One year we did large pretzel sticks dipped and topped with sprinkles. There are so many easy and cheep ideas on line. You can buy things in bulk and make large batches. We then put them in baggies with a ribbon and note saying “Merry Christmas from Ashley”.


  • Kristi says:

    Scentsy. They have the perfect teacher warmer ( ). My mom was a teach for over 40 years and this was by far the best thing ever! The students had a blast picking out the scents to warm too.

  • Challice says:

    Scensty. They have a plug-in w/ a bar for as low as $20

    Need something a bit more inexpensive?

    Photo calender, get some of the other mom’s to put one together with you. Vista Print is offering one free photo calender. 🙂

    • @Challice, I suggest the same thing to my clients! Since the system uses wax and a lightbulb, it is super safe! If anyone is interested in checking out Scentsy, I’m an Independent Consultant – my website is hkabbes

      I know many consultants are running specials this time of year to help maximize your free product — if that’s something you’re interested in, please message me from my website so I can share more info about my specials. You don’t even have to be in the same state to benefit from them 🙂

  • Emily says:

    For my kids teachers, we are making ornaments. I got the idea from the magazine All You! We will be using cookie cutters and cutting cute plaid wrapping paper and card stock on the back to put in the cookie cutter. Use ribbon to make a hanger and you have an ornament to give to teachers! I spent about 10.00 on the supplies and will be able to make them for both kids teachers and all 4 of my daughters dance teachers!

    • Rachael says:

      When I was a teacher, this was one of the most popular gifts. Each year, I love decorating my tree and remembering my past students.

    • Brandy says:

      @Emily, As a former teacher, Christmas ornaments, whether store bought or homemade are great for a couple of reasons. 1. They can be packed up with all the rest of the Christmas stuff…then the teacher doesn’t have to try to figure out what to do with it. Which is nice…have you seen how much stuff teachers have? 2. They really do remind you of past students and even though we think we’ll never forget so and so, it happens and it’s nice to have that reminder.

      Foods are so sweet to make for teachers (and I always want to do it too) but speaking from experience with a lot of teachers, most teachers don’t eat them unless they know the parents on a much more personal level. Plus, at that time of year, teachers are like everyone else and already have so many goodies to eat during the holidays.

      My only other suggestion is buying consumables or things from your teacher’s wish list. Clear packing tape may not be cutesy, but at least you know she needs it if it’s on her wish list.

      Finally, and this really does hold true for most teachers, nothing is better than a handwritten note with genuine praise for a job well done….makes a teacher want to do even more.

  • Lisa says:

    A friend of mine gave a bag of peanuts in the shell to a teacher recently, that had a cute hand-made tag that said something to the effect of: “thanks for helping my little peanut come out of his shell”. Was super cute.

    She also made another gift – A popcorn themed bag (I’ve seen these at Target in the birthday loot section) and put a can of pop, and a bag of microwave popcorn with a $5 movie rental from Blockbuster. But, if you have a redbox, you could print off a “free code” from online?

  • Rachel says:

    This time around we are giving each teacher a bottle of Mrs. Meyers dish soap with a flour sack towel that I have stamped and added a row of decorative snowflake stitches to. I’m happy I can get these all ready ahead of time and am fairly confident they will get used. Hooray for clutter-free gifts!

  • I sell on Etsy and have made a couple of teacher related clipboards. Get a clipboard from the dollar store, some teacher related scrapbook paper, ribbon, and a corner rounder and you can make an adorable gift super cheap! Just measure the clipboard and trim your paper. Use your corner rounder to round the edges and glue the paper onto the clipboard. Glue ribbon to the top part of the clipboard not covered with paper then tie some ribbon through the clip “loop.” You can add your child’s photo, class photo, a small printable calendar, or leave blank.

  • Amanda F says:

    I used vista print and made note pads, tote bags and ink pens for the teachers, all with names on them. I spent less that $10 for 4 teachers.

    • Kris says:

      @Amanda F,
      I have done this too for the first time this year. I was able to score all items for free just paid shipping. I will put it all in the free totebag, tuck in a few “teacher necessities” like chocolate and Starbucks Via. Hope she enjoys it.

    • Shantique says:

      @Amanda F, Please give more detail on this!!! I love the idea, but not sure how to start. How did you get so cheap?
      My 2 daughters are in daycare, so they each have 3 teachers! So I need help on how to do something nice, bc I really do appreciate all that they do, but also something that won’t break the budget. this seems a great fit!

      • Amanda F says:


        I waited till Vista Print was running a sale where everything was free. Then I made 2 seperate orders 1 in my name and 1 in my hubby’s name. I only paid for shipping. You could do one order per email address. Just check and see what they have for free. Sometimes it’s desk calanders, tote bags, magnets. Another idea would be to use the address lables for MS. NAME HERE’s fantastic award. Get creative and have fun with it. Think if I was a teacher what would I need.

  • Kim says:

    Several of my friends sell Pampered Chef and one of them gave out the idea of giving the seasonal cookbooks that they publish – they are only $1 each!

  • Cheryl says:

    my mom suggested i buy my sons kindergarten teacher an oddice max gift card. so she can buy things she prefers for her classroom.

  • Laura Chubb says:

    we are making choclate covered pretzels for them this year!

  • Jan says:

    I have a lot of teacher friends and they all say they really appreciate gift cards even $5 because if they get a few they add up. I usually get Target (or Starbucks if I know they drink coffee.) I just stick a $5 gift card on a nice candy bar from Target.

    • Janeen says:

      @Jan, I was an asst for a teacher for the last few yrs. and they do appreciate gift cards. Even if it is for a book store they can get a couple things for their class. With a lot of funds being held back for them, that is a great idea.

    • @Jan, As a teacher, I 100% agree. Gift cards are definitely a favorite gift! Unfortunately, many teachers won’t eat the homemade treats you send (especially if young children may have helped make them). It’s one of those germ things.

      • Tara says:

        @Leanne {The Energetic Mommy}, As a teacher for 7 years now and I can count the number of things I have received on 1 hand I would be greatful for anything even if it was handmade – any sort of appreication goes a long way and I want to thank all of you on here who are planning to give your teachers gifts – it is truly greatly appreciated!

    • Abbie says:

      @Jan, As a former teacher, I have so many things I could say on this! 🙂 However, one of the nicest things I have received, was when one of the mom’s contacted the other moms, collected money, and gave me a gift card. It only cost each family a small amount of money (less then $5) but when they put it all in on a gift card, it makes a nice amount. I really appreciated the effort more then anything!

      • @Abbie,
        I was a teacher for 5 years. I have to tell you, most teachers won’t eat homemade goodies. We also get LOTS of totes, pens, notepads. Really, the best is a small gift card, even $5, is really appreciated. It’s wonderful when the whole class organizes something- even if everyone only gives a few dollars.
        While handmade items and ornaments are nice, keep in mind that 30 students a year for 5 years equals A LOT of handmade items. As lovely as they are, they tend to cause clutter after awhile. . .

        Really, the best is a small gift card, even $5, is really appreciated. It’s wonderful when the whole class organizes something- even if everyone only gives a few dollars.

      • michelle says:

        agreed! I was a teacher and the best gift is a gift card. I loved it when the class went together and gone one card (donations of even 5 bucks added up!) I got SO much bath and body stuff and candles and mugs and chocolate it was ridiculous.

    • Julie says:

      @Jan, I don’t have too many teachers to buy for, since I only have one in school and no day care, but last year I bought gift cards for the local movie theater, and this went over well. Like someone else posted, even if it is only $5, a gift card to a place everyone goes is very appreciated! Target, Panera, a bookstore, etc. are all great ideas. If you can’t swing it, teachers always appreciate a hand-made card, especially if your child can write just a few words or draw a picture about how much they appreciate their teacher. My mother-in-law is a part-time secretary at an elementary school, and I am always amazed at how many plates and mugs with homemade goodies she receives — and tries to pawn off on me!

  • Montessa says:

    Having a teacher as a husband I can tell you what he appreciates: gift cards, candy & at the top of the list- baked treats. If you have a specialty like breads, truffles, chocolates, etc teachers really enjoy these. One thing you can for sure mark off your list is anything with an apple on it and mugs. We have a lifetime supply of mismatched mugs. Please no more mugs!

  • Janeen says:

    For the past few yrs. I have bought the teachers Tastefully Simple gift. I usually give them a beer bread and the trio which is 3 different types of dip they can make. It is less then $20 and then they don’t have a gift that they just put away in a drawer or closet. One yr. I did the Tastefully Simple Nanas Apple Cake mix and then put a couple apples in with the gift. You can mix and match a couple different things for an inexpensive but tasty gift.

  • Jan says:

    I taught for years. The best gifts are a starbucks card so that you can stop some moring and get a special coffee, a sepcial tree ornament ,
    A very small gift card for the drug store so when I am sick and can’t afford over the counter med. I can get it with a coupon my gift card and the coins that I have. A freezer meal would be great for me and my family. What we get way to much of ! Coffee cups , magnets, stuffed animals, baked goods, and sometimes way too many lotions. A lovely writen thank you is truly the very best gift of all! Just let me know you appreciate what I do all day everyday!

  • dani says:

    I’ve been a teacher for 9 years and some of my favorite gifts have been small ornaments/decorations (signed by the child), homemade pencil cup (every teacher could use these), a letter/card/picture written by the child. I love being able to look at something and remember the child years later. Another favorite is a hot cup of coffee delivered by the parent, it’s a great way to start the school day!

    • Tracy says:

      @dani, I taught for a few years also and I have to say that my favorite gifts were those made by my students. I have a Christmas ornament still that one of the little boys in my class made me and signed the back of. Every year I put it on the tree it makes me smile.

  • Amy says:

    When I was teaching I always enjoyed getting cute, seasonal decorations for my house. I think most parents who did this got them on clearance after Christmas the previous year, making it a very inexpensive gift.

    • Amy A. says:


      I was a teacher many years before I became a stay at home mom and my favorite thing still to this day was a Christmas door hanging one Mom made for me. Every year I get it out, I always remember this mom and her daughter. So I agree completely with seasonal decorations. I loved all the ornaments my students gave me too because I think of them every Christmas.

  • peever says:

    My son’s in first grade so of course his teacher’s room is overflowing with books so I ordered her some teacher labels from expressionery that say “This book belongs to: Mrs. A”. They’re on sale for $4 right now. I’ll probably try to find her a little something else as well so keep the ideas coming!

  • Rochelle says:

    I purchased 2 matching christmas kitchen towels and pot holders. (I love the dollar tree) Even purchased the bags there. $4 per teacher, including the gift bag. Have I mentioned I love the dollar tree?? 🙂

  • Alecia says:

    As a teacher myself, I love getting the homemade baked goodies. It seems to be something I don’t have a lot of time to do myself and my family loves them. I made clip boards this year for my own kids teachers using the cheap clipboards at walmart, mod-podge (sp?), and letter stickers to put their names. I tied scraps of ribbon around the top and they are really cute. Cost about $2-$3 each.

  • Mialee says:

    As a former teacher, my favorite gifts were the simple gifts. Honestly. Homemade fudge, cookies, candies, chocolate covered pretzels, etc. I received ornaments, scarves, and even flip flops (made by the student), which were all VERY neat and a great way for me to remember them years later. If you’re not crafty, I also received (and LOVED) $5 gift card to Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Staples, Target, etc with a handwritten card from the child. $5 is enough to cover a little thing I might need to pick up (or the beloved cup of coffee that I wouldn’t normally pay for myself!). Lastly, while sweet, I was gifted too many apples and ‘best teacher’ gifts. One can only have so many apple-themed gifts! 😉 But know that you don’t need to find something expensive. Teachers are all too familiar with living on a budget and are grateful for just a kind word of appreciation! Good luck in your search!

  • jh says:

    I worked as a kindergarten teacher before I was a SAHM. Please do not feel like you have to give every teacher a big gift. I got so many Christmas ornaments, coffee mugs, and trinkets that I could not keep them all. Teachers are regular people too! We don’t want our houses filled up with stuff either. Soaps, food, and other consumable gifts are good. I never expected any gifts from any of my students and the best gifts I ever got were the sweet handwritten notes.

    • Lisa says:

      Agree! While mugs, apple-themed items, and school-themed ornaments can be useful for some, after years of teaching, they really do accumulate and can seem out of place in a home (better for a classroom). I always loved the consumable items such as special olive oils, spice blends, homemade cocoa mixes, etc that I might not buy for myself but would definitely use if I had them. Places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls have special sections for this type of goody, and they are not expensive.

  • Jessica says:

    As a former teacher, I agree with many of the above posts- something small and a note mean a lot.

    Also, I make handmade cards and have given many of those as gifts. They certainly won’t find anything else like them. I do sell my cards and would love to help anyone out with stocking stuffers or teacher gifts. You can see my cards at Let me know you found me here! 🙂

  • peever says:

    Oh, and last year I gave my son’s kindergarten teacher a bag full of consumable stuff that I know she went through a lot of – baggies in different sizes, small paper plates and bowls, plastic silverware, a huge bottle of hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, magic erasers, etc. She really appreciated that.

  • Cheryl says:

    After 11 years in a classroom, I can tell you that the gifts I like the most are the gift cards. Bookstores, Starbucks, and Target are all good bets. Also, school supplies for the classroom are always appreciated! I agree with all of the above: no more mugs!

  • Rachel Miller says:

    I will let you in on my plan for this year. I have an excellent oven caramel corn recipe that I make on the eve that we deck our tree. After making it last weekend, I decided that we would make up a big batch and make individual bags for the teachers. I found some bags at Target on sale that are clear and gingerbread men shape that I will fill with the caramel corn and twisty tie. Then I plan on getting baskets from the dollar store and filling additionally with hot chocolate packets and other fun items.

  • Joni says:

    As a teacher, my favorite gifts are cards with a note. I got tons of chocolates and candles. But, I only keep the cards. When I have a bad day, I go to my drawer and read them. The simpliest things are the best, I think.

  • Amanda says:

    My sister is a teacher and she love clutter-free gifts. Gift cards to restaurants, coffee shops, and stores are great. She also enjoys baked goods, candy, or just a simple card. She has a growing collection of coffee cups and other sentimental stuff that she doesn’t have a real use for. She feels sad getting rid of these items, but she doesn’t have space to store them.

  • Sandy says:

    Having worked in education and I also have many teacher friends – please no ornaments or mugs! Definitely no mugs! I have about 20 (and I didn’t work in the field for that many years) and I have no idea what to do with them all.

    Ornaments are more iffy – homemade ones do mean something to a lot of people. But remember, if they are a teacher – they usually have 20-25 kids PER YEAR or more and if only 3-4 kids give their teacher ornaments (and trust me, I think this is an under-estimate) – imagine how many ornaments you have after 10 years! Some teachers still appreciate them, but a lot of them (if they answered honestly) would prefer something else.

    It is definitely the thought that counts and everything IS appreciated – but I would suggest seeing if the teacher has a wishlist for their classroom. Often our teachers have things like Clorox Wipes or school supplies on theirs. I imagine that most of us stocked up on some during back-to-school sales – so you could make a little basket of your free/nearly-free school supplies! A$5 Target gift card is also a good idea – they do add up! You can save all of the gift cards you get from their (Target) promotions that have gift cards and give them out to teachers!

    I tend to over-spend on teachers and staff because I know how hard they work and how much they need to deal with on a daily basis. I usually give those $5 gift cards from Target that I’ve saved to specials teachers (like Phy Ed, art, music, computer) along with a card saying how much we appreciate them. I know that’s certainly not in everyone’s budget to do – but even a thoughtful note is appreciated. Those teachers teach all of the kids, yet rarely get so much as a thank-you!

    • Holly says:

      Amen, especially at the high school level, my friends who teach elementary are always overwhelmed with gifts but I guess as the kids are less adoring of the teachers the gifts become more sparse

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I usually do Sonic gift cards, as long as I know the teacher likes Sonic. I haven’t met one yet that doesn’t, but I’m sure one will come along before my kids graduate! Also, I know most teachers like bookstore giftcards. I can’t wait to read more ideas.

  • Christy says:

    As a teacher this question caught my attention. I can say that the first few years of teaching (when I was young, not married or first married) I enjoyed getting decorative items and Christmas tree ornaments. I still put many of them out now. However after a few year I had quite a supply and many I would recieve didn’t fit into my decor anymore. I then began to really enjoy food, gift cards, or other consumable items. If you like to bake this can be a very inexpensive gift. This is currently what I do for all of our friends and teachers and such. A few different kinds of cookies, mini breads (banana, pumpkin, etc) are easy to make and make for a great mixture.

    Also a great gift is something the teacher can use in the classroom. A floor puzzle (elementary teachers) or other games. If you are thinking of going this way, you can ask the teacher to make a wish list and maybe even coordinate with the other parents to get some things.

    Finally, I’ll second that of no more apple things 🙂

  • Shayna says:

    I actually just starting helping a friend of mine from church, who is a teacher herself, put together gifts for her parent helpers. I got the $2.99 Airwick candles for her free from Target (ordered 20 coupons on Ebay for only $1.91!). I also got her 12 Curel Lotions, using Target’s recent gift card deal and coupons, they ended up being around .30-.40 each! So now she has a candle and lotion for each person so far. Looking for something to complete that 🙂

  • Lora says:

    I made the 2×4 crafts from! They were a hit!

  • Linda says:

    At Bath and Body Works, they have the shea-butter infused socks for $5.00 right now. They are heavenly! We will be getting these for teachers this year. Another cute idea I saw last year was a couple of spools of Christmas ribbon (these are usually pretty cheap at the dollar or craft stores) in a cellophane bag with a cute poem about last minute wrapping (sorry I don’t have the one I saw). I work in an elementary school and I know the teachers LOVE gift cards, no matter what amount. Hope that helps!

  • Heather says:

    I taught middle school for 5 years in the 90’s. Kids that age don’t give teacher gifts much (at least not at that school), partly because they have so many. So I didn’t receive but a few gifts, but the best ones BY FAR were the notes/cards in which the student wrote something nice. Talk about balm on wounds! I saved those few letters, reread them often, and still remember how they brightened my day.

    As far as actual gifts, well, anything is so sweet. The thought really does mean the most. But I did a lot mugs with candy or plates of goodies. Not good for the waistline. I preferred tree ornaments. I would have liked to have received office/desk supplies, but never did. Does your school ration paper? Some do. If so, a ream of copy paper would be great!

    But whatever you do, get your child to write a little note of appreciation on a Christmas card! Even if the child doesn’t like his teacher, he can say something like, “I liked learning about Egypt. That was my favorite unit.”

  • Ellen says:

    I am a HUGE fan of consumable gifts– the last thing a teacher needs is more clutter than he/she can handle!!! This year, I am filling quart-sized mason jars with cookie and brownie ingredients, and attaching the recipe with a pretty piece of holiday ribbon. I figure it’s something they can use or re-gift… and the jar is easily reused or recycled! I am also going to help my preschool-age children pen thank-you notes to their teachers.

    A friend of mine is making felt covers for pocket-sized packs of kleenex. I think she got the idea from Martha Stewart. I also thought this was a great idea!

  • Stephanie says:

    Well, to be honest I don’t have any ideas on inexpensive gifts for teachers. However, I do want to share my opinion. I usually buy my children’s teachers gift cards. Last year I actually went to the Coach outlet to purchase a wristlet for my daughter’s teacher. I actually spend more money on the teachers than I do some of my own family members. 🙂 My children’s teacher spends more time with my children during the school year than I do, and their influence and impact on their lives is valuable. Now, please don’t take this the wrong way, I am all for saving money and for what bargain I can find next. My husband and I are not wealthy, but this is a choice we make to honor our children’s teachers. I have a confession to make. I am an assistant principal and I taught third grade for several years. I can remember times I stood behind my desk and cried because of the generosity that one of my student’s parents bestowed upon me. There were times that the Lord used them to answer a prayer and meet a need. Please don’t be offended by this post. I love creative and fun gifts too. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    • Amber says:

      @Stephanie, I think that is wonderful, Stephanie! :0)

    • Tara says:


      I think you are absolutely wright! We need to remember that these teachers are getting paid very little to do a huge job.

    • Jen says:

      I tried to say the same thing! If you CAN DO, if you can’t then it isn’t held against you… and someone else said how often do you see your extended family? But your kids are with their teachers every day! I know my family holds teachers with the utmost respect and we just try to show our appreciation! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!

      • Cassie says:

        @Jen, Before I was a SAHM, I taught Kindergarten for 5 years. I received many homemade gifts which were always treasured. However, I mostly received goodies, plates and plates, and tins of cookies, fudge, etc. Honestly, I ended up throwing most of it away. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but it was just tooo much! Some of my fav. gifts were gift cards (even $5 to Starbucks is super fun for me!!), supplies for my classroom, ( I spent SO much out of pocket!) or ornaments to decorate my tree at home. In fact, when I was hanging my ornaments the other day, I got a kick out of recalling certain kiddos when hanging their gift. Another really cute idea (just thought of this) would be a coupon book for teacher. You can make it and it could be filled with coupons for volunteer time, a cup of coffee, a pckg. of gluesticks, etc. Then they can redeem them as necessary:) Hope that helps!

    • Meredith says:

      I’m with you, Stephanie, teachers work SO hard. They’re responsible for so much more these days. My husband and I choose to honor them with more expensive gifts, usually gift cards. They’re so worth the money and they deserve it!!! Teachers don’t get nearly the appreciation they deserve.

    • Heather says:

      @Stephanie, I have also bought the Coach key rings for my boy’s teachers. I did buy them at the regular Coach store (no outlet close to where I live) but they boxed them up really nice with ribbon and such. They were single teachers – not married – young girls – and I still see them using those Coach Key Rings.
      I agree with you – teachers mean the world to me for the time they spend helping my children. I give them Christmas gifts, Valentine’s Day gift, Teacher Appreciation Day gifts and end-of-the year gifts too!

  • Kerry says:

    I got my kids teachers nice scarves when Chicco did a deal a few months ago. I put them in some gift bags Target had on clearance that are re-usable and could be used as a diaper bag or purse. And plan on getting a small box of peppermint bark from hallmark with my $5 coupons to add to that.

    I got Sunday School teachers Chick-fil-a calendars. They have the best coupons for all FREE things and their policy is to accept coupons no matter the expiration date.

    I’ve also given Subway gift cards.

    I’m room mom for my son’s preschool class and instead of buying a gift from the class we put out an envelope and let people put in cash. The teachers have told me that’s the best gift because they can do with it what they want.

  • Rebekah says:

    As a teacher’s kid, we always looked forward to looking through what mom received from her students!

    Unfortunately, I can agree with what’s written above – she has an ENTIRE collection of apple stuff, hundreds of mugs (yes, we all know they’re cheap!) and is constantly trying to diet (so baked goods were re-gifted or trashed). The other thing that her closet is full of is Bath & Body stuff – either scents that she doesn’t care for (or is allergic to)…

    I would definitely agree on the gift cards. Some parents have also gotten together and bought a spa (or manicure/pedicure) gift certificate, a 12 pack of her favorite beverage (diet coke!) or gift certificate to Wal-Mart/Target and area restaurants are always appreciated – as are notes!

  • Jen says:

    We, like many, live on a tight budget. My husband is a h.s. teacher, and we have 5 children under 8. I totally believe there are times to be “frugal” but when it comes to Christmas and your child’s teacher… IMO it is NOT the time. Really, a $5.00 gift? If you REALLY think about it, these teachers are taking our place as mothers when we are not there. My children see their teachers more waking hours during the day they my husband and I do. When my son fell and broke his arm at school, it wasn’t ME holding him, it was his teacher! Don’t get me wrong, of COURSE it is the “thought” that counts, but how many of us really can’t give a little more then we do? Just something to think about.

    • April says:

      @Jen, I completely understand but when you get into the higher grades, there are a lot more teachers. Between my two girls they have 15 teachers.

    • heather says:

      @Jen, I totally agree with you!!! $5 is way to cheap for our kids elementary teachers. Maybe that would be ok for middle or high school. My husband and I make it a priority to budget $25-50 per teacher to get them a restaurant certificate, we usually get Outback because you can use it at several other restaurants too.

      • danielle says:


        While reading through these idea’s I am pretty surprised. My son is just turning 3 so his “teachers” might not be the quite the same, but still they are the ones with him if he gets sick during the day while I’m at work, they are the one’s who share so many special moments that I can’t be there for. IDK, I understand being frugal and saving where you can, but for someone who has such an important job and is such an important figure in my son’s life? Nope, not the time. I would rather lavish them with what I can but using my frugality to make what I can budget go even further!

    • Amy W says:

      Wow, I don’t know what to say but surely I can’t sit quietly.

      I don’t think anyone here would appreciate being told their gifts were too cheap. 🙁
      I don’t think it is the responsibility of the parents to fund a teacher’s holiday. It is a token of appreciation for the TEACHER, not a year-end bonus or an annual gift to the teacher and his/her entire family. I don’t think it needs to be counted towards income tax!

      If I spent $50 on each person I’d be spending $600!!! And I only have 2 kids.
      That’s more on teachers than my family.

      You can’t seriously expect to receive a $50 gift card from each of your husband’s students, can you? It isn’t your husband’s students’ faults that times are tough and you have 5 kids.

      Do you give all of your children’s teachers $50?

      I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but I feel like I had to defend the “paupers” who don’t buy extravagant gifts.

      • Brandi says:

        @Amy W,

        Well said, Amy. In the end, it’s the thought that counts.

      • Mamadelaide says:

        @Amy W, I do not think that Jen said that she expected a $50 gift card. She is making a good point that the kids teachers spend a lot of time with the students and it is not a time to be cheap. I guarantee you that your child’s teachers spend more time with your child than your extended family for the most part in a year. There is nothing wrong with investing in their lives. I think Jen is saying that a $5 giftcard from a lot of her husband’s students would mean a lot, however, 30 or 40 $5 gifts are not very helpful, how many mugs does one person need? If we are dedicated to living simply and frugally than we should be aware that even 1 mug given a year is more than any person needs and I guarantee you these teachers get at least that. I would never eat someone’s homeade gift because I don’t know what kind of home they have, what’s in it or what kind of ingredients they use and that’s not rude. It’s more rude to expect someone to appreciate your homeade gift when they didn’t ask for them.

      • Jen says:

        LOL, my husband has been teaching for 13 years and has received 3~ yes THREE gifts that entire time. 1 a $25 gift card the student bought himself, 2, a homemade gift from a student that I put up every year and 3 a White Sox Santa hat….
        I am NOT talking about H.S. teachers or even middle school teachers, however when your child has the same teacher for 7 hours a day, as my 2nd grader and 2 kindergartners do you are talking something different!
        I give my children’s teacher a $30 gift card to a restaurant. For music, gym, etc, a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Am I out a little money, sure, however do I appreciate everything the teachers do for my children- ABSOLUTELY.
        Also when I say I have 5 kids, and people come back with “it isn’t our fault” it hits a nerve… I never said/implied times were tight, we live well on what my husband makes, I said we were on a budget which most people are!

    • Melisse' says:

      @Jen, Jen, you are so right. I totally agree. Thanks for the reminder, we should all keep that in mind. And thank you all for contributing, I’ve gotten so many great personal ideas. Our teachers are getting Starbucks Christmas coffee (they can regift if necessary) and another token of appreciation along with a card.

    • @Jen, Wow. I don’t think teachers should expect gifts, much less a $25 gift card. Teachers should be teachers because they love to do it and if they get something extra for Christmas then that is just a bonus. I should be the thought that counts and I would think that since you say your childs teacher is like a second mom- well as a mom the best gift for me is when I am told I am doing a great job and that I am appreciated.

      I think a nice note written by the child to the teacher telling her what a good job she is doing would be a wonderful gift (and a $5 gift card if you have the extra money). If a teacher turns their nose up at that then that would be her issue.

      Besides, I would rather take the extra $20 i would be saving by not buying a $25 gift card and giving it to those truely in need during the holidays than a selfish teacher who looks down on “only” recieving a $5 giftcard.

      • Mamadelaide says:

        @Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap, It’s really sad that you say something like “truly in need”. Don’t you realize that your children’s teachers spend their own out of pocket money on your student? Teachers spend an average of over $1500 a year on things for their classroom out of their own pocket, and myself included when I was a teacher spend much more. There are students who come to class unprepared without proper supplies and sometimes snack and teachers go out of their way to supply for those children so they are not embarrassed or left out. I would say spending money on those things is a “truly in need” act.

      • Aimee says:

        @Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap, Wow, Erica. A “selfish” teacher? I don’t think Jen was saying that any teacher expects someone to spend more money but that we should consider the substantial role our children’s teachers play when allocating our gift giving funds. If someone can really only afford $5, then by all means that is what they should give and I have no doubt the teacher would be incredibly appreciative of it. I think the point is that if you’re looking for a place to cut gift costs, think twice before choosing your child’s teacher.

    • Mary says:


      I just wanted to point out that some places have laws set up that state employees can only receive a gift costing at a certain dollar amount. I’m in Iowa and our teachers are only supposed to accept gifts that are at or below $2.99. I was a teacher for 7 years and my school district strickly enforced this policy. It reminded families of the law every year at Christmas time as well as the teachers and staff. We were told to give the gift back if we knew it was over the $$ amount. I was able to get some great deals so I can give my daughter’s teacher a nice gift (sugar scrub and body lotion minis) and let her know that I’m not breaking any laws here. The other idea that some parents did was get together and all donate 2.99 and pool it into a gift card.

      I was not a classroom teacher and I was very grateful of every gift. In fact some of the homemade goodies I received I even asked for the recipes to. 🙂

    • Kris says:

      I have to agree with your intention here. I think the sentiment was to stop and think about the role this person plays in your child’s life. I tend to agree that if we would go into Starbucks and blow $20 on a Wednesday just because, we can surely up the ante a little for a great teacher. Not that it would be appreciated any more than a homemade frugal gift but treat them a little based on the relationship with your kiddo.
      Just my two cents… 🙂

    • liz says:

      @Jen, Yes, REALLY, a $5 gift. We don’t know how we’re going to afford presents for our kids this year, and now there’s someone like you knocking other’s ways of trying. Thanks a lot.

      • Lisa says:

        @liz, Hi, I’m really sorry that your family is going through such a challenging time. The holidays aren’t so merry and bright when finances are so tight. 🙁

        I think that maybe you’re being a little defensive, though. Jen’s comment didn’t strike me as being directed toward people who are facing the challenging circumstances you are. I took it as a reminder that if you are able (key word) to do more that it would be very appreciated by the women and men who are dedicating their careers to our future generations.

        I hope your situation improves soon.

    • Melissa says:

      @Jen, @Jen, @Mamadelaide,

      We can all agree that teachers are some of the most important people in our childrens’ lives, but what they do is out of love for their profession and their students. The extra that we, as parents, can do is out of love too–irrespective of money. Being on a very tight budget, my husband and I cannot spend more than $10 each on gift cards for our son’s preschool teachers (he is only there 3 half-days per week). It’s definitely not that they aren’t WORTH more, and it’s not in the least about being “frugal,” we literally cannot afford a penny more right now. But more importantly, we’re having our son write them each a thank you note. I know that will mean the most to them.

      My father taught for 35 years and was very well liked by students, so he received a lot of gifts each Christmas. All the gifts, gift cards, or homemade edibles he gave away (usually to our church). It’s not that he didn’t appreciate them or couldn’t use them (we were a 6-person family living on his teacher’s salary, so money was always tight), he just felt those gifts had a better “purpose” to help others. But he has kept *EVERY* card and letter from his students over the years. He has several of them framed and cherishes them more than anything.

      Until the day teachers are paid the big bucks they SHOULD earn, I’m pretty sure it’s ok no matter what we can or can’t spend to show our appreciation for them. For some families, a $10 gift is not at all frugal, it means the parents are foregoing their OWN Starbucks or lunch out at work that week–and that says I Appreciate You just as loudly as a $50 gift certificate. I believe most teachers see that. And I think 5, 10, or 35 years from now the thank you notes will still mean the most.

      Also, my mom saw my 6th grade teacher (one of my all time favorite teachers) the other day and she told her she still has the little cross stitch project I made for her that year. Twenty years later, it’s hanging on a wall in her big beautiful house–even though it only cost a couple dollars. Frugality had nothing to do with it… it was out of love, and she knew it–and that’s all that mattered.

      Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂

    • Shelly says:

      Christmas isn’t about the cost of the gift. Christmas is about giving. Cost shouldn’t matter because the true spirit of Christmas is the love given behind the gift. Christmas is about Christ.

  • April says:

    For the teachers this year, I’m making decorative clipboards. They’re really easy to make using some mod podge, paper, and ribbons.

  • April says:

    My daughters and I will be making these adorable scrabble necklace charms. They are so cute and easy that they are giving them to friends as well.

    We also like to make these free jib jab videos. The teachers and students will get a lot of laughs.

    A lot of these ideas are great for teacher appreciation week. last night I also ordered the avon christmas chapstick for .49 cents each.

  • Amy W says:

    Last year I gave my son’s teachers and helpers a pair of those one-size-fits-all stretchy gloves and wrote a note about having a hand in teaching my son or something like that. Inexpensive ( they were $2 at Kohl’s) and useful. The busdrivers got heavier ones.
    Most of them seemed to think that was clever.

    My sister who is a teacher said it was a great idea.

    She also said she has enough lotion/body wash and candles to last a lifetime.

    We have a local candy/popcorn store and for end of year gifts I got them a $5 gift card there. The proprietor of the store attached it to a stick of candy. I liked helping a local business when buying the gifts ( I had 9 to buy).

  • Debbie says:

    My daughter is a high school teacher and loves the homemade treats because she never has time to make them herself. Ditto the Starbucks or Panera gift cards!

  • dani says:

    Having been a teacher in my pre-having-kids life I will tell you my favorite gifts to receive were five dollar gift cards to Starbucks, a loaf of homemade bread, and movie tickets or blockbuster gift cards. One year the class got together and everyone gave a few dollars for a visa gift card. That really rocked! For my own kids teachers for the past several years we’ve been doing bread from a local bakery that makes delicious bread (at only $5 a loaf). Being the room mom this year I had the teacher fill out a survey about her favorite things and sent it to the parents. We found out that she loves Peeps and Starbucks so we’re giving her a gift card to Starbucks wrapped up with a box of holiday peeps. Teachers would much rather have a small inexpensive item they can really use and appreciate than a more expensive item that means little to them.

    • Stacy says:

      @dani, That’s a GREAT idea to have the teacher fill out something so you know what he/she likes!

    • Mary says:

      great! i totally forgot out teacher gave us an intro letter that told us some of these things. like she loves oreos! 🙂

    • Becky in KY says:

      @dani, I’ve given a “survey” like that to various people before for various reasons, and it makes frugal gift giving easier when I can refer back to the list over time. Favorite salty snack, favorite soft drink, favorite hot drink, favorite candy, favorite scent, etc.

  • Michele says:

    I need to buy about a dozen small gifts each year for all my co-workers and I found absoutely beautiful stoneware measuring cup sets at for just $4.99 each. They were in the “clearance” section and the regular price is $14.99. They have lots of cute items, some as low as $2.99, and today only, you only have to spend $25 for free shipping.

    I received the measuring cup sets a few weeks ago – I ordered 16 of them, because my (adult!) daughters are so busy, they sometimes need a small gift at the last minute and end up spending more than they want to because they are pressed for time.

    The sets (4 sizes in each set) are NOT boxed, but are tightly shrink wrapped to prevent breakage. I bought a bunch of small gift bags for 3/$1 in the dollar store to use.

    To find them quickly at the site, click on “clearance,” then the drop down for “price low to high.” I think they are on around the 5th page.

  • Jill says:

    If you are in a private school and would donate anyway, I like to give my school a sum of money stipulating that my teacher can spend it on her classroom (over her normal budget). I clear it first with the Director. Then I give the check to the school and a note to the teacher explaining. They have LOVED this! It is good for mr and them. I know my donation dollars are going directly to my child’s classroom and the teacher is so happy not to get another mug! 🙂

  • Mary says:

    I’ve done this for teachers, or for someone that’s just come home from the hospital, etc. I make chicken pot pie filling, freeze in portions enough for a pie. I then pair a portion of filling with a Pillsbury ready made pie crust and wrap, place a bow along with instructions for baking. Since the whole thing is frozen they can eat it anytime they need a quick supper. The chicken potpie filling can be doubled or tripled and the pie crusts go on sale around this time of year. This gift has always been greatly appreciated.

    • Tracy says:


      Mary, I love this idea! Would you share your recipe

      • Mary says:

        Sure! Here goes:
        1/2 c. chopped onion
        6 Tbsp butter
        1/2 c. flour
        1 tsp salt
        3 c. cubed chicken
        3c. chicken broth
        1 10 oz. pkg. frozen peas & carrots,drain
        Cook onion in butter, till tender. Blend in flour and salt. Add broth all at once, stir till thick and bubbly, add other ingredients and heat till bubbly. Either put in pie crust or top with biscuits. 4 cups makes an 8″ pie, 5 cups a 9″pie.

  • Heather Shaw says:

    As a previous mother’s day out teacher I’m going to echo the previous responses that said consumable gifts. There were many years that I had so much lotion and soap type gifts that I ended up donating them all to the women’s shelter. Which don’t get me wrong, is NOT a bad thing. It was just a bit overwhelming to get all that in one day (also, do I smell? LOL).

    I always give the kids teachers a small starbucks gift card. Enough for them and their spouse to get a little treat on us at the coffee shop! It’s always very appreciated!

  • Jessica says:

    As a former teacher, I can agree with the NO apples statements 🙂 Also, please please no scented candles or bath products! Many people (myself included) are either allergic to strong scents or prefer to choose those things themselves. Scents for the body or home are pretty personal so unless you know for sure which exact one the teacher likes, IMO it’s better to stay away.

    Homemade goodies are great. Gift cards, even small ones, are the best! 🙂 One year a student brought me a homemade cheesecake that she and her mom made together! Oh my.. that was good!

    Last year I got my daughter’s preschool teacher a monogrammed wristlet/key fob and I have actually seen her carrying her school keys around on it, so it must have been a hit! It was underl $10 from etsy, so we were also able to get her a small gift card to Target.

    IMO, consider what you would like, but don’t assume you know the teacher’s tastes or personal life. Unless you’re sure of what she likes to do outside of school, don’t assume that she is into any one particular thing. Stick with something homemade or something she can use anywhere, like a gift card.

  • Lisette says:

    I think a $5 gift card to Starbucks is perfectly great! In a real pinch (we’ve all been there!) I think a small plate of homemade cookies with a nice note is equally lovely.

  • Jenn says:

    I bought my son’s teachers travel mugs (they have long drives) from Kohl’s with a sale & coupon. I put inside them a mini whipper from Pampered Chef (half-price with my party), hot choc. packets, homemade peppermint bark (got the idea from Dollar Store crafts ) and a small gift card to Caribou Coffee.

    I figure you can be frugal and still be thoughful 🙂 And they loved it!

  • Sonya L. says:

    I usually buy a large terra cotta flower pot, paint it with chalkboard paint (just around the rim), tie on a piece of chalk with twine, and write the teacher’s name on it. Then I fill it up with goodies I’ve collected for almost nothing like hand sanitizer, post-its, pens, small tubes of lotion, lip balm, etc. I also usually add in some home-baked goodies and envelopes of hot chocolate. The pots are usually $3-$5, and the I pick up most of the other items during back-to-school sales or with ECBs at CVS. I hardly ever put more than about $7 into each gift, and since I spread the shopping out over several months, it doesn’t seem to hurt so much. And I’ve never yet found a teacher who didn’t seem to really like it!

  • S.B. says:

    I always go with a small gift card. Even if it is only $5.00 I think the teachers really appreciate being able to get a treat of their own choosing. This year I have a little more money in the holiday budget – so going with a $20 gift card.

  • Keri M. says:

    We’re making homemade granola, given in repurposed glass jars.

  • Amy says:

    I just finished making personalized clipboards for my daughter’s teachers, inspired by the ones on this site:
    I mod-podged the teacher’s name on the front and a handwritten note from my daughter on the back. They’re inexpensive, unique and personal!

  • Momof3 says:

    My son is in kindergarten and they do a poinsettia sale and my preschooler’s school sells coupon cards. So I contribute to their schools while buying gifts for their teachers as well. So the preschool staff will get the flowers and the kindergarten teachers will receive the coupon cards.

  • As room parents, we bought a $10 scrapbook and had each child decorate a page (the parents put a photo of the child on it as well) with the fill in the blank ” I like school because _______” It was a little work but the teacher loved it. And $10 total….you can’t beat that!

  • brookeb says:

    I’ve heard of several parents going in together and getting a gift certificate for a salon or massage, which sounds like it would be heavenly for a busy teacher.

  • Mamadelaide says:

    I have to say as a previous teacher and now a mom gift cards are the only way to go. Your children’s teacher is unappreciated and I guarantee you has a closet full of homeade ornaments and picture frames. $5 gift cards are more than appreciated if you want to go cheap, but when I was a teacher I spent way more than $5 out of my own pocket per child. Things like that should be considered because if you send your child to school this person is investing in your child more than most other people in your child’s life and there is nothing wrong with investing in them back. There is a time and place for saving money, but scrimping on your children’s teachers is not the time or the place.

    • @Mamadelaide, I guess I’m cheap because $5 seems like a good amount to me. I am a mom and work very hard at what I do but I do not scoff at my husband if he gets me a “cheap” gift for Christmas.

      • Mamadelaide says:

        @Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap, Yes $5 is fine as long as it’s a gift card that a teacher could use to supplement or combine with other gift cards, I just think that a $5 “gift” ex, mug, picture frame only adds to a bunch of other knicknacks no one needs more of.

    • Jen says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, although I did try! :o) I taught mid school before I was a mom, but that had nothing to do with me appreciating these teachers! And you are SOOOO correct with how much they put out of pocket for their students! I don’t think people realize this! Great comment!

    • brookeb says:

      @Mamadelaide, From the previous posts, it sounds like they’re pretty appreciated! 🙂

      I’m a college prof who actually makes a lot less than many k-12 teachers, and there’s no expectation that we’ll ever get anything as a present. And yes, we also spend out of our own pockets for our students. The best thing that I could possibly imagine getting is a handwritten note from the student telling how much my class meant to them.

    • Julia says:

      @Mamadelaide, I am appalled at the suggestion that people who spend $5 on a gift are being cheap. Who are we to judge what is feasible in another family’s budget? A Christmas gift or any gift for that matter is a token of appreciation, nothing more. To suggest that giving a gift card is the “only way to go” not only misses the point of a gift, it suggests that a person’s time and effort in selecting or making a gift is worth nothing. To suggest that people scrimp on gifts because they are not expensive or do not let the reciever choose what they want, as with a gift card, misses the spirit of the holidays.

    • zena says:

      @Mamadelaide, I think you and Jen were missing the point. For some of us $5 isn’t our way of going ‘cheap’ REALLY is all we can afford. We don’t eat out or ‘treat’ ourselves to Starbucks either. I have 6 teachers to buy for this year, and I hope none of them have the same outlook as your’s or Jenn’s.

  • Hallie Ann says:

    I did this for my son’s preschool teacher’s end of school year gift: hand made cards. I’m not a crafty person, but I saw some cards in a Stampin’ Up catalog that I absolutely loved. I re-created them (as best I could), made 15 cards total, wraped them in ribbon, and gave them to my son’s preschool teacher. They are blank inside, and she can use them as thank-yous, birthdays, or what ever occasion she wants. They cost me maybe $10 to make, and who doesn’t love hand made cards?

    • Becky Y. says:

      @Hallie Ann, Love this idea- did it for my mom that has everything and is trying to declutter this last year for mothers day and she said it was such a useful gift- she was thrilled!

  • S.G. says:

    My favorite Christmas gift I received as a teacher was when a few of the parents surprised me with lunch. They went together and picked up Chick-Fil-A and then popped out of the break room with bags in hand. We got to sit together for about half an hour and talk about things other that that night’s homework. 🙂 It was nice to be appreciated as a person instead of a person that hands out grades. I am still close with many of those women. They spent just a few dollars on that meal, but it is one of my favorite memories.

  • Jenn says:

    I bought my son’s teachers travel mugs (they have long drives) with a sale/coupon from Kohl’s. In them I put mini-whippers from Pampered Chef (1/2 off with my party), hot choc. packets, homemade peppermint bark (got the idea from Dollar store crafts:, and a gift card to Caribou Coffee. My son writes them homemade cards too 🙂

    I figure you can be frugal but still thoughtful. Mostly consumable gifts and they loved it!

  • Amy says:

    My husband is a teacher and he loves $5 gift cards to Starbucks, blockbuster, etc. He gets so many baked goods that we have to throw them out or try to give them away. It is sad but true. Since I am a SAHM I usually bake cookies with the kids.

  • Carrie says:

    As a former kindergarten teacher (now a stay at home mommy), I liked receiving gifts for our classroom. I asked my students “give” to our class instead of just me. I think the students had fun choosing something they would get to play/ learn with in the classroom (puzzles, books, play dough, kitchen center food, Lincoln logs…) AND this helped not fill my house up with “teacher stuff”.

  • Carol says:

    I always give a $10 gift card to a bookstore. I figure that the teacher can use it to treat herself or purchase something for the class. I’m afraid to bake anything because you never know who has food allergies or dietary restrictions.

  • Heather Marie says:

    As the wife of a Kindergarten teacher in his second decade of teaching (and with a gazillion unusable gifts), I would say that practical gifts such as a gift card to the teaching supply store or a restaurant, a personalized tree ornament (child’s picture/name/year), or that neat idea that a gal further up had to buy a personalized stamps for the teacher’s books, homemade treats….all GREAT ideas. No teacher really needs another pile of junk that they feel guilty about getting rid of, nor does any child/parent really want to spend hard-earned money on junk! Buy/Make something that will last and be useful OR make/buy something consumable so it doesn’t sit in a cluttered pile forever!

  • Mary says:

    My husband is a 5th grade teacher. The best Christmas present he ever got from a student was steak! We had a December barbecue that night!

  • Lindsay Jensen says:

    I have to counter Jen’s comment above. Yes, I did read her acknowledgement that it is the thought that counts.
    I am on a very tight budget, as are most people I know. I am a labor and delivery nurse. Like teaching, also a “caring profession” that I chose because I would not want to do anything else. I give my patients 100% while they are in my care, wether that means rejoicing over the delivery of a healthy baby or holding a mom in my arms as she weeps over her stillborn. I do this because I love it. Being able to do this is a priviledge. I don’t expect to receive gifts, ever. I do occasionally receive gifts from my patients. The most cherished gift is simply a card with a handwritten note of thanks and appreciation acknowledging that I gave of myself to the patient. Any material gift, whether it is a 5 cent gift or a 50 dollar gift is simpy icing on the cake. A $5 Starbucks card is certainly a little luxury that I would not usually treat myself to. Any gift is appreciated and to say that a “frugal” gift is inapropriate is absoultely ungrateful IMO! When someone gives you a gift, they are giving a token of their thanks. We are not all blessed with a rosy outlook in the budget department and cannot necessarily afford much but may still want to give something. IMO anyone receiving a gift should just be thankful that someone took the time and effort to show their appreciation!

    • Mary says:

      @Lindsay Jensen,
      I love your comments. I agree. I was a teacher before a SAHM and I was grateful for everything. I suppose because I didn’t teach in the classroom so I didn’t get as many gifts so each one was really special to me. And I didn’t go into the profession for June, July and August nor for gifts from parents. The best gift I actually ever got was when it got back to me that when one student was asked what the turning point was for her that made her change into a kind, friendly person she said, it was my influence.

      My family is blessed to have a nice budget for items. I let my daughter pick out a book every other month of her book orders and each time I also order a book from her teacher’s wish list. It is a nice way to give to the classroom throughout the whole year.

    • Laura says:

      @Lindsay Jensen, Beautifully said, couldn’t agree more!!!

    • Rochele says:

      I love this! Amen and amen!

    • zena says:

      @Lindsay Jensen, You’re awesome. You just took what I was feeling about that previous comment and expressed it beautifully.

    • Melissa says:

      @Lindsay Jensen,
      Thank you for this!!!
      As a fellow RN, I agree with you completely. Any profession in which we can help others is its own gift.

  • Camille says:

    My husband is a HS teacher. Please no more mugs or ornaments! We end up putting this in a yard sale because we just get so many.

    Consumable gifts are so appreciated. I love it when he brings home a plate of cookies or treats.

    Honestly, what that teacher needs most is a note of thanks. Most teachers only hear from parents when there is a problem. Copy that note and send it to the teacher’s supervisor and/or principal. Let them know that you appreciate the teacher. That will go a long, long way!

  • coupon woman says:

    I stock up on all the cheap/free office supplies during back-to-school time (reams of paper when they are $1 at Staples, free pens, cheap tape, cheap sticky notes, pencils, crayons). Then I put together a gift basket of those, (sometimes with a Staples gift card too). By Christmastime the teachers are often running low on those items. They seem to like them!

  • Amanda says:

    I bought these and will be filling with sandart brownies (basically like cookies in a jar), but this bottle is totally cute and re-usable!

  • Mom to 2 says:

    I think any gift is appreciated…it is the thought that counts. I am an elementary school music teacher, and what upsets me is how many people don’t think about us. We watch the homeroom teachers walk out the day before vacation with bags and bags of presents, while last year I didn’t receive a single gift. I wish people would realize we are teachers too…we do care about our kids and work just as hard as anyone else.

    • Jen says:

      It is unfortunate, just as gym teachers and art teachers! I have a list of all my children’s teachers and although the gifts won’t be as large for the exploratory teachers they will still be getting something! I know you don’t hear it often, but THANK YOU for what you do! YOU are helping to buildi the foundation of our children’s future!

    • Mary says:

      @Mom to 2,
      I was like you – I think that is why I treasured each and every gift so much!! (hugs) You are important and trust me, those kids are thinking of you….and you are the favorite for many kids. It is just nice to know sometimes.

    • ann says:

      @Mom to 2, I completely agree. I am a Speech Pathologist for a school district and I think have received 1 gift/acknowledgement over the past 10 years.

    • Jennie says:

      @Mom to 2,
      My daughter’s school’s PTA took up a collection from parents that will be divided between all school teachers and staff, then given to them as cash. I just LOVE this idea, because it acknowledges the work that everyone does to contribute to children’s learning–from the office secretary to the music teacher to the classroom teacher.

      If your PTA doesn’t do this, maybe you could suggest it–or offer to organize it. The PTA sent a letter home letting parents know they were doing this and, if you wanted to contribute, to send in a check for “Teacher’s Christmas Fund”. For many parents who don’t have the time or energy to buy teacher gifts, writing a check is a welcome option–and I am sure the teachers will be thrilled to get a cash gift!

  • Heidi says:

    My mom always made apple dumplings for our teachers growing up, and from what I heard, the teachers always looked forward to them every year because they knew they were coming. 🙂 (I went to a small, private school so we had several of the same teachers throughout high school.) I know it made for a busy day baking for my Mom, but it was inexpensive! Plus, teachers get enough mugs and wooden apples, so this was something totally different.

  • Another person to think about, if your child rides the bus, is your bus driver. My husband is a bus driver and he works hard at it, it does not pay alot, but he loves it. When a student handed him a $5 or $10 gift card, it meant a ton. It meant that someone appreciated the work he did!
    I homeschool, so don’t buy many teacher gifts, but appreciate this as my one son has some tutors through the school and I was looking for ideas that were not mugs!!!

  • I like making cookies and wrapping them in the colored saran wrap, tie with a pretty ribbon and your done. Everybody loves homemade cookies. I second Martha’s idea of not forgetting the bus driver. They have a lot to deal with also.

  • Wendy says:

    As a former elementary teacher, my favorite gifts were always gift cards, but honestly, what I liked even better was the note that usually accompanied the gift card. My love language is “Words of Affirmation” so I always LOVED hearing from the parents (and students) that they appreciated me. People hear those words far too little, and for someone who especially feels loved in that way, like me, it’s priceless. I still have those notes.

    I also always liked getting Christmas ornaments. I know some people say they received tons of these, but I really didn’t. I taught for 10 years and probably have only about 5 Christmas ornaments I received from students (I have tons of mismatched mugs, but only a few Christmas ornaments). I still put the ornaments on my tree and know who each one is from. I enjoy thinking of them every year when I get them out.

    Now, as a stay at home mom on a small budget, I give my daughter’s preschool teacher a small gift card, a note, and an inexpensive but thoughtful ornament, and I have my daughter draw a picture for her. I hope it’s appreciated, as those are the things that I always enjoyed the most.

  • Kathy says:

    I am a teacher and can say that any gift is appreciated. I personally have more World’s Best Teacher, apple, and other teacher items than I could ever use or display.
    I love practical gifts. They can be things to eat, use at home/in the kitchen, gift cards, etc. These help out a lot.
    Being a teacher I always give my kids’ teachers gift cards for Christmas and end of the year gifts. I try to either get a card for a store that I know they love but don’t like to splurge on (clothes, books, electronics, ect.) or a gift card for the teacher and spouse to eat out some night. I may not give them enough to cover the whole meal, but every little bit helps.
    Just know that we do appreciate the thought that comes with the gift. There are times when we wonder why do we do this and are we making a difference. A simple note on a non-holiday or a plate with a few cookies would be an awesome surprise in those months that drag on and on (February, March, and after Spring Break).

  • Alisha says:

    This year I am doing the holiday themed hand soaps from bath and body. I love having them around my house and its consumable. They are not expensive I think like 4 for $12 or $15.

  • Rachael says:

    As I former teacher, I also think pretty much anything is appreciated, though not even expected. My favorite gift was from a student who picked out a stuffed animal for me at a yard sale, and I’m pretty sure she paid for it herself (the family did not have a lot of money). I also tended to like things that were little pick me ups, like coffee gift cards. Many parents who owned businesses capitalized on this for gifts—some examples include a car wash certificate from a family who owned a car wash, tanning tokens from a family who owned a tanning salon, and a certificate for a pedicure from a mom who owned a salon. This year, I am getting my children’s teachers Burt’s Bees items that I got in the grab bag offer about a month ago and some homemade goodies. I loved having some nice lotion in my desk drawer for times when the kids were a little crazy!

    • Rachael says:

      One other gift I loved was a gift card to a children’s pizza place so I could take the child out to lunch. It was so much fun and so memorable for both me and the child.

  • Laura says:

    I taught for 3 1/2 years. Here’s what made my day:

    If you like to give “useful” gifts: gift cards to office supply stores, high quality pens, pencils, or notepads. I used a lot of blank note cards as well. Since I taught music, pencils (pre-sharpened) would have been welcome.

    “Consumable gifts”: Several students gave me home made jams, jellies or sauces. So good! I was thrilled when someone gave me a huge box of mixed nuts. I saw enough kids in a day that hand sanitizer along with some lotions and soaps were not looked down on at all!

    While appreciated, I would encourage you to stay away from jewelry (typically it was the wrong color, not my style, or not well made) and sugar cookies. Usually teachers have PLENTY of sweets in the lounge.

  • Stephanie says:

    I know that this might seem silly but we give spider plants or ivy. My oldest daughter was gifted a spider plant baby when she was in second grade (from her teacher) and we’ve planted it and have had many babies of our own over the years. She is in sixth grade now. I’ve got three school aged kids so this is a process for us.

    I also give these plants out to the girls in my Bible study. I have plant starts all over my house for a couple of months (I like to start them early and make sure they aren’t going to die before I gift them). I just figure that if it was a gift from a teacher that other teachers would like it too. We haven’t had any male teachers yet so I’m not sure what I’d do when that happens-guess we’ll wait and see!

  • Stephanie says:

    Where I live there is a limit on how much a gift can cost because teachers are state employees and they have to follow the law. Last year instead of one big class gift the teacher received lots of little gift cards from individual families.
    The school sent home a notice last year as an FYI, I guess there had been a problem the year before with gifts over $50.

  • Crystal says:

    I host a blog for teachers at and we actually discused this last week. Teachers TOP NO-NO gifts were mugs, candles, & shower stuff. Top YEAH ideas were gift cards (even $5!) to bookstores & restaurants, homemade goodies, and handmade things from the children.

    • Amy says:


      I have to agree with this one. . . mugs, bath items, candles; I wholeheartedly appreciate the gesture, but please no more. 🙂
      I can’t tell you how many “World’s Best Teacher” items I received in the last decade, and it’s so hard not to use them on your desk and have each kid feel like you appreciate the item.

      My favorite items are definitely notes from the kids (I taught high school for a while and now teach middle school) and their families, but when families DID purchase items, the practical items (for my classroom) and the gift cards, no matter how small, were a very nice treat. Bottom line, just tell me you appreciate what I do once and a while and I’m the happiest teacher in the world. 😀

  • Amanda says:

    My daughter has Autism and her teachers, aides and therapists are FANTASTIC!!! All 5 of them work so hard with her and we greatly appreciate their effort. This year I am creating gift baskets from items in my coupon stockpile. Each teacher will receive a fleece throw, olay bodywash, air wick candle, planters mixed nuts and a bar of dark chocolate. The best part is that each basket has cost me less than 5 dollars each!!!

  • Doreen says:

    We buy porcelain christmas plates on clearance in January every year and then make homemade peanut clusters and peppermint bark to fill them. I have 4 kids with 3 in middle school so that is 16 teachers. 2 tutors, 1 bus driver plus I make the same thing for my husbands 6 coworkers and I make smaller one’s for the trash men, recyclers, and postman too. I love making it and everyone asks for the chocolate every year!

  • Katie says:

    My favorite gifts were the notes that the kids wrote. I’ll agree with someone who posted earlier that said that they keep those notes and pull them out when they are having a rough day. I haven’t taught in over a year and a half, but I still carry around a letter that one of my students wrote me.

    As far as physical gifts, my favorite was this stuff called snow crunch that a former student used to make for me every year. After she graduated (I taught high school), she’d come back each year and bring me some. I’ve kept in contact with her since I moved away and last year I asked for the recipe for myself because it just wasn’t Christmas without it. 🙂 I always loved the homemade treats.

  • Carrie says:

    My sister teaches 4th grade and has Celiac Disease (as well as a laundry list of other allergies). People try to give her food – which she can’t eat, good smelling lotions – which she can’t use, and trinkets for her house – which (just being honest here) go straight to Goodwill when she comes home for Christmas. On the top of her wish list would be:

    1) Gift cards to bookstores (Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-a-Million) – $5 or $50, she would love it! And if you search through Swagbucks and earn points for an Amazon gift card code, it could even be free to you!

    2) Gift card to a teacher supply store. She gets very little financial help from the school for supplies, so most of it comes out of her pocket. A gift card to a supply store would be greatly welcomed! If you want to do something directly, then give a gift basket of supplies – including boxes of tissues (she has to buy those as well).

    3) Don’t try to give food – even if you know they are on a special diet. However, it would be safe to give a gift card to a Whole Food or Earth Fare or natural food store as they carry stuff for almost any diet.

    4) Gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, or a local gas station are also appreciated.

    I know people say, “gift cards are so impersonal!” – but really, it’s like throwing money away when the gift is something they don’t keep, can’t use, or don’t want anyway. No, not every teacher is that way, but with five teachers in my immediate family, I know that a lot of them are – they just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

  • Katie says:

    We are doing giftcards to this year… we got 15 – $25 giftcards for $3 each. They will be worth $25 to the teachers though… such a steal!

    We are pairing that with some homemade jams and jellys that I canned in 4oz jars and a card made by my kids.

  • teb says:

    As a teacher myself, teachers love gift cards. Gift cards make all teachers smile.

  • Theresa says:

    Last year we bought a big plastic popcorn bowl from the dollar store that looks like it is from a movie theater and we filled it with microwave popcorn and chocolate and added a gift card for the video store.

    Another thing we have done in the past is went to Hobby Lobby and bought ceramic plaques and my kids decorated them to say things like, World’s Best Teacher.

    Pizza Hut gift cards for $10. since they offer the 10. pizzas

    One year my son made a book for his teacher that talked about how special she was. I took it to Kinkos and had the cover laminated. She loved it!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Growing up we had a strawberry patch and my mom would make tons of strawberry jam and we’d give that to our teachers at Christmas and it was always a big hit. The teachers got really excited when they had two of us at the same time (middle school teachers) so they’d get two jars – one teacher even asked if he brought back the empty jar if he could get a refill! Now I make blackberry jelly and other various preserves that I plan on making a little sampler gift out of. My daughter even helped pick some of the fruit for the preserves so I may make a note that goes with it about “picked especially for you” or something to that effect. I may throw in a Panera card to go with it so they can get some “fancy” bread to go with the various fruit spreads.

    My family also makes homemade potica (some people call it povitica – you see ads for ordering it through the mail and it’s pretty pricey in there but not bad to make on your own) around the holidays and I think I may include some of that for my daughter’s preschool teacher and the school director. It freezes well too, so they don’t have to eat it right away if they have way too many food gifts to get through all at once (we often get a loaf out of the freezer at Easter as a special treat).

  • Sara says:

    I was a teacher before I had my kids. Simple kid-made cards are so special to a teacher.

    Other great gifts (if you can afford it) are classroom supplies. Many people don’t realize that teachers use their own money for supplies. Things like dry erase markers, sharpies, printer paper, gift cards to school supply stores and book stores, or supplying a needy child within the class are always very much appreciated.

    Time is another great gift. Volunteer to help the teacher make bulletin boards, run copies of worksheets, etc.

    And if you want to indulge the teacher…go for a restaurant gift card!

  • Jan says:

    I gave a teacher a 12-pk of Diet Coke with a bow on it one year- because I knew she loved Diet Coke- its was funny and a big hit! 🙂

  • Stacy says:

    I work in the office at a private school and I have seen some very cute ideas. Some of my faves are personalized paper clips where the parent hot glued beads with my initials on paper clips; customized clipboard where some very cute scrapbook paper was glued to clipboard and then covered with clear glaze then she tied matching ribbons around the clip; 2 decorated wine glasses- this mom took a dobber and put red and green circles on the goblet and then tied ribbons to the stem; customized book labels for all those books for the class.

  • Jenni says:

    My husband has taught high school for ten years, and notes are always appreciated. As for gifts, home baked goods (he has a sweet tooth) or even a $5 gift card to Starbucks are great – on a teacher’s salary, trips to Starbucks to get just what he wants are few and far between.

  • Becky Y. says:

    This year I’m getting my daughter’s teacher a winter survival kit with lip balm, cough drops, hand sanitizer, tissue, post it notes, pens, bubble bath, foot scrub, chocolates, and a glade sense and spray for their stinky bathroom in their portable classroom. And some ear plugs as a joke! I got everything for free or close too at my favorite drug store. We are including a nice handmade card with a personal note and drawing from my daughter and I. Consumables and a note from the heart are the best I think! The cost doesn’t matter- the gesture does. At the end of the school year we usually do another note and a gift card to the local bakery / coffeehouse, but this year instead of the gift card I’m thinking about making a small ($10- but it all counts!) donation in her name to a charity she is involved in. My husband is a jr. high teacher and has only gotten 3 or 4 gifts in 10 years of teaching. He has gotten a few more Christmas cards and other notes and treasures them. A lot of it is just the age group, but we also live in a very, very poor area- 80 percent free and reduced school lunch. Each year the teachers in his building adopt a students family or two to provide Christmas for.

  • Pam Smith says:

    I know this: inexpensive or no, give nothing with an apple or schoolhouse theme! I don’t know a solitary teacher that hasn’t a basement or attic full of these things! I always made each teacher a pie; it is consumable and they can always use it to share with family and friends for the holidays. An even less expensive gift that would have no calories or other dietary restrictions, and be about the most thoughtful thing: a handwritten note from you or the student, who couldn’t use a kind word, praise or encouragement? I still have a box full and would probably never part with them!

  • Meegan says:

    Being a high school teacher, I always love a good handwritten thank you card… not just the generic Hallmark that you sign your name to, but actual words of thanks from the student themselves and the parent. It seems like once kids get to highschool, teachers get forgotten about at Christmas. I go to pieces over a nice note! And the gift keeps on giving…. sometimes its those notes that are the only things to pull me through really rough classes. Just a thought.

  • Becky says:

    I think teachers get so many “cute” gifts, but I prefer to give more practical things. This year, I picked out some “free” books for the classroom from and paired it with a small gift card to Half Price Books.

    Regardless of what you give, I think a personal note of thanks is invaluable.

  • Sandy says:

    I wanted to re-iterate what someone else posted. I have written a letter that goes to the principal, superintendent and cc:ed to the teacher detailing the wonderful things about the teache and what I appreciate about him/her. I only do this for an outstanding teacher – but I have been fortunate that my kids have had a few! I also give them other things – but it definitely does not hurt to have a letter like this in their file! In times like these were schools are making all sorts of cuts – every little bit helps.

    And I wanted to just share that I think it is always best to find out what a teacher likes or needs. If you can’t then a gift card is the way to go. Giving the same gift to everyone may seem fair and is easier on us, but also assumes that each teacher likes the same things. As someone else posted – there may be allergies to lotions, food, etc. I personally get a TON of lotions and candles from friends/colleagues (and it does make me wonder if I smell – LOL!). Those are easy gifts to give – but I imagine so many of those get re-gifted. I even put some in my yearly garage sales – along with the mugs (but I seriously can’t even GIVE those away apparently!). I apologize if this seems cold – but I am trying to conserve on storage space and I just don’t have the room for more trinkets/lotions/mugs. It is NOT that I don’t appreciate them. I really do. But if you are looking to find a USEFUL gift for a teacher – one that they will be able to use and enjoy – those items don’t make many lists. Again, everything is appreciated.

    Even though I worked in social work and education for years, I never ever expected a gift. I appreciated every single one – and often they came from people who had little. I did not get into either field for the money – but it can be difficult to live on that salary when you use some of your salary to stock your room or give small items to people that were in desperate need. But, I think what people are saying is that, if you can at all find it in your budget to give a little extra (and that may be hard for most people this year) – just remember how important teachers are to your child. And how much they have given up, especially in the last few years – and a lot are in fear of losing their jobs. However, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for what they can/can’t give – as long as whatever they do comes from the heart and comes with a “thank you”.

  • Liz says:

    I actually give “disposable” gifts that the kids help to make. This year we did melt and pour soap. It wasn’t that hard and the kids and I had a blast. (A $40 purchase will make 10 bars of soap – and they will be given to teachers / relatives / friends). Last year we did peppermint scented bath crystals.

    I usually stay clear of food items due to dietary reasons / allergeries.

  • Lisa says:

    This blog has a cute idea for a push pin and pencil flower. You could get many of these items for free or at the dollar store.

  • I think a gift card tree, with gift cards collected from the students/parents in the classroom is WONDERFUL. I would have loved something like that when I taught 2nd grade! Even if each child gave a $5 card, that adds up for the teacher!

  • Christy says:

    I am a teacher. I did not have time to read through all the comments, just a few. I saw the $5 gift card idea and I agree–$5 to Blockbuster or a coffee or ice cream place is great. I am a big fan of the clutter free gifts. Another great idea is classroom supplies. We are always spending our own money on Chlorox wipes, paper towels, dry-erase markers, pencils, hand sanitizer, crayons, you name it. Last year, one family at our school gave all of their childrens’ teachers (the older grades have 2) reusable shopping bags filled with paper towels, Chlorox wipes, pencils, stickers, etc. May be a little late for this year, but maybe you have some of this stuff stockpiled? or you could pick up these kinds of things when they are at rockbottom prices throughout the year in 2011 for 2011 Christmas gifts.—Along those lines, I would also be thrilled with a ream of copy paper!

  • Tiffany says:

    As a teacher for 10 years, wife of a teacher, and now mom of 4 let me weigh in with no ornaments or apple anything. Unless you have a first year teacher they already have way too many. Be the mom that organizes the other moms to each chip and get a gift card. Most of the homemade treats end up being placed on the staff room table and then thrown out at the end of the day by the custodian. It is so great to remember our teachers. Remember that you probably tip the person who does your hair every 6 or 8 weeks. Isn’t the person who teaches your child every day at least worth that much once or twice a year? 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    I keep the kids school supplies list. At Christmas time I buy totes and reload the supplies for the teachers. Then I buy a $5 gift for the teacher and my child and I will both write letters to say “Thanks”. I feel that teachers see my children more than I do and I want them to know how much I appreciate them.

  • Natalie says:

    The parents of a good friend of mine were teachers. I remember going over to their house when I was younger, and seeing all the mugs, decorations and knick knacks they received. They told me they gave away a lot of that stuff because they just received too much of it! That has stuck in my head over the years.

    I usually give my kids’ teachers some homemade treats or other consumable item. One year I gave jam I had canned in the summer. This year I was able to combine a gift card (from and a coupon to get several liquid hand soaps from Bath and Body Works pretty inexpensively. They also gave out free cellophane bags with a ribbon. I am going to put a bottle of soap in each bag and tie on a candy cane!

  • Tina says:

    I only read about ahlf way down, but lost interest with the opinions about teachers gifts needing to be expensive. The idea is a gift, being told $5 is cheap is hurtful. Whatever happend to “its the thought that counts…”. It actually amde me sad someone can be so hurtful, I have family I dont spend more than $5 on!

    I am am doing $5 gift cards to Starbucks for the two youngest teachers, along with an ornament. I am letting the junior high kid pick for his teachers with a $5 limit. Through the years we have done many things, last year we did snowman soup, we have done cookies in the shape of a giant mitten, gift cards to the Dollar Store. There are so many ideas and a family should not have to feel as thought they can do nothing because they only have $5 to spend. I am proudly presenting my $5 gift cards this year, thankfully. I have been laid off 16 months and am a full time student, starting a buisness. $5x 8 is the half the Christmas budget of one of my four children. I am sticking to the thought being thoughtful and not regretting it at all. I hope all of you whole say it isn’t enough can appreciate what it feels like to have NOTHING at this time of year.

    • karla says:


      I agree with you.
      My oldest child is in kindergarten so I am new to giving teachers gifts. He is in a private school which along with the cost of daycare for my other child is half of our household income. We don’t have much to give but would like to. the comments about $5 not being enough started to make me worry. I was thinking $5 target gift cards. (I don’t know the teacher very well, he switched schools after 2 months of our horrible public school system where I live) I don’t have time to make anything. he also has a teacher aid in the classroom which I believe deserves a little something too.
      Thank You for your post. I feel better about giving my gift cards now.

      • Tina says:

        @karla, Never feel bad about giving in the spirit! Have the kids make a little something personal for the teacher. My kids are each going to make a magnet/ornament for their teacher with a little picture on it they made.

  • Becky S. says:

    I was a teacher for 1o years . I have to say the MOST precious gift I received which was also cost effective was a scrapbook that a parent had put together for me of all my students. To this day I really enjoy looking at it and remembering that school year. This year for my child’s teacher I got her a personalized tote bag (That I got for FREE from hosting a Thirty-One Gifts party). I plan on filling it with consumable items like…. crackers, pepsi, candy, hand soap, popcorn, etc.

  • Liz says:

    My friend just give a little talk on this very thing at her Moms group last week. She was telling me the best gift she ever got as a teacher. The mom peeked in her classroom: “Miss K, I made dinner for you it is in the teacher’s refrigerator.”

  • Tami says:

    I have a friend who has a monogram and gift business. She makes beautiful things, and even has a ‘teachers’ category. Very affordable and unique gifts- the first place I look when I am in need of a gift. Her website is

  • shelly says:

    As a former teacher, I would occasionally receive homeade goodies. I always appreciated them so, but almost always threw them away. Unfortunately you just can’t trust others anymore.

  • Jenni says:

    panera or starbucks $10 gift cards

  • Laura says:

    I come from a family of teachers and was a preschool teacher myself. The best thing is to find out what they enjoy doing outside the classroom. I enjoyed things that I could wear in front of the kids; so they could see how much I loved them. One of my favorite gifts to give is Chocolate covered ritz crackers filled with peanut butter. It is very simple and super inexpensive.

  • Alea says:

    This year for teachers we are making mulling spices. We happen to make our own apple juice and can it, so it will go with that, but it could go with purchased apple juice or cider as well.

  • Jeff says:

    We do small gift bags of some of our free or low OOP items we get from the stores.

  • Helen says:

    Sugar hand scrub!

    Get some turbinado sugar, olive oil and whatever scent you like. I use lavendar usually. Just mix some olive oil into the sugar until it’s wet, but not soaked and then add a few drops of whatever essential oil you choose. You can scoop it into canning jars, tins, anything with a lid. This gift is always a huge hit!

  • Laura says:

    My hubby is a teacher, and his favorite gifts are food and gift cards. I especially love the gift cards because it allows us to grab a Starbucks or go get a dessert at Chili’s or something. A splurge that we wouldn’t normally do. That’s a treat for us! Most teachers are on a such a limited budget (especially if their wives stay home *smile*) that even $5 somewhere can add up!

  • jane says:

    i agree – nothing with an apple, no mugs, no “teacher” things. A thank-you note that’s about something you really like about the teacher, or something special they did, is the best. Also, if you can get office supplies with your office max perks or CVS bucks or whatever, those are great because then we don’t have to buy them!

  • Jennifer M. says:

    I always make a gift bag full of freebies: lotion, facial cleansers, lip stuff, candles, razors, etc… everyone likes practical stuff =)

  • Chelsea says:

    As a former teacher, I have to say that hand-written notes (from child or parent, either one!) are SO appreciated, and mean so much! I have kept all the hand-written notes given to me from my students while I was teaching.

  • Marla says:

    My husband was a teacher. He got WAY too many ornaments! We loved the homemade treats, and the lotion. (OK, maybe I loved the lotion more than he did! 🙂 ) He also got scratch off lotto tickets and won a few dollars! His most expensive gift was a massage gift certificate at the end of the year.

  • Christie says: has really cute custom made clipboards for $15. Customize with a favorite photo or teachers name.

    Love the vistaprint idea mentioned above!

  • AC says:

    I coordinated an effort for parents who were interested to donate however much they felt comfortable donating to buy gift cards to a store of the teacher’s choice. As someone who doesn’t like a lot of “stuff”, it seemed the best option to buy something useful and also the most effective way to give a “bigger” gift. The teachers loved it! There’s only so many knick knacks and apple themed items one person can own. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    My husband is a 5th grade teacher in a very low-income area. He does not drink coffee, tea, nor cocoa, and we get probably 20 mugs a year from students. While this is very thoughtful and appreciated (I know it’s hard shopping for a man), it would help him (and us) very much more if school supplies were bought for the classroom. Just taking $1 or $2 they were going to spend on a mug and buying a pack pencils, erasers, or markers, etc, would help us so much. We spend probably $500 a year on just basic supplies that we can scarcely afford, but we do without extras so his students don’t go without supplies they need.

  • Julie says:

    Please be cautious with homemade edible goodies. I see many previous comments from teachers and former teachers who say they really appreciate the homemade cookies and other goodies. If you know your children’s teachers like them, go for it.
    However, I know many teachers who won’t eat homemade gifts. Some of them follow restricted diets or have food allergies. Some of them are trying to diet. Some just can’t be sure of the cleanliness of the home the goodies came from, so they don’t eat any of it. Yes, they are appreciative and they say those cookies or breads or whatever look delicious, but those items go straight to the trash.

    • shelly says:

      @Julie, Yes, my mom taught for 40+ years and I have taught for 10 years. Neither one of us will consume homeade goodies.

    • Kerry says:

      @Julie, I don’t know about teachers but my husband is a firefighter and unless he knows the person who brought the food he won’t eat it. They’ve had drugged brownies before and people have lost their job over it so he won’t take the risk

  • Alys says:

    I taught elementary school for five years before I had my first baby, and now I stay at home. I loved getting gifts from my students. But, I have a huge box of lotions, soaps, perfumes and bath salts that I still haven’t been able to get through. I would avoid these because they are usually given a lot to teachers.
    I personally liked getting gift cards or ornaments at Christmas time. A great gift one year was a fruit basket. It was a nice change from all the cookies and candy. Another was a homemade beaded bracelet.

  • Jennie says:

    I have been a teacher for 10 years…the best thing you can get a teacher is a gift card (any amount), see if other families in the class want to go in on it. We spend so much out of our own pocket, that it is such a blessing to receive a Wal-Mart gift card to use for supplies. I have received many mugs, ornaments, candles, food, etc. over the years; and while this is all nice, it just gets to be too much. The next best thing to a gift card, is a heartfelt letter of appreciation.

  • Lisa says:

    Last year I made casseroles in aluminum pans, froze them and gave them to all my kid’s teachers- they LOVED them!

  • nicole says:

    Flowers? Just something small and desk size perhaps. There are some that don’t have much scent and don’t add clutter or calories. No one will know how much you spent. If you are artsy you could arrange something yourself in some sort of dollar store container or something clearance from last year.
    A few smaller bunches of flowers could make a few gifts and might be cheaper a couple of weeks before Christmas.

  • Rachel H. says:

    We find out which restaurant all the teachers like for the occasional lunch out and get them a gift card for a lunch on us! Sometimes you can even get a free card for yourself if you buy a certain dollar amount or multiples!

  • Micki says:

    Our district has very strict rules about how much you can give/spend on a gift and they usually discourage gifts during the holidays. We like to give a “night at the movies” gift since this works well for teachers of all religious backgrounds (which at least one teacher this year does not celebrate Christmas). In a popcorn themed tub (bought at the dollar store) my children place two boxes of movie candy (purchased for $1.00/piece), two cans of soda (purchased for $2.00 for a box of 12 or .17 a can), one box of popcorn (purchased at $2.50/box but found a .50/off coupon) and usually a small gift card to a movie store. The kicker is our movie stores are all gone now-just redbox, so I was going to put a dollar in the box for a movie, but the popcorn we bought had codes for two free movies, so that was easily taken care of! So total for the gift is about $5.5o per gift and every teacher we’ve given it to loved it. It was consumable so it didn’t take up space, family friendly and not specific to someone’s religion.

  • Amie says:

    I purchased a cafe press Groupon and got my son’s teachers water bottles that said “Use Your Words” You can personalize them however you want. Today they are having a sale for $9 for certain water bottles. One of them says “I Love to Teach” or something similar. As a teacher I love things that are NOT coffee mugs. 🙂

  • Shelley says:

    I have been a teacher for 10 plus years and can honestly say that the best gifts at Christmas are the homemade cards kids make in their own handwriting and their own precious pictures. When it comes to gifts avoid candy and cookies, mugs, and teachery ornaments! You can only own so much of that stuff! Most teachers prefer something that they don’t normally do for themselves like a $5 Starbucks gift card. One of my favorite gifts was a coupon from a family for 10 free sweet teas the rest of the year! Since drinks at Mcdonalds are only $1- that gift only cost them $10, but they brought me tea randomly throughout the year! This was especially nice because teachers can’t leave school! Of course all gifts are appreciated from our precious kiddos! Even bringing lunch to your teacher in January or February is great. It doesn’t have to be big to be such a nice lift!

  • I taught school for many years before giving birth to my two daughters. I did a guest post on Baby Cheapskate with this very topic.

  • Courtney says:

    Check out my website at You can put together some really cute inexpensive gifts!! We have a cookies for Santa plate right now that is $10.

  • KatieBee says:

    Our school has a donation jar in the office; all the donations are split evenly between all the teachers and staff in the form of a gift card for both the holidays and end of year, which is so nice. Then we are gifting the jam or dessert sauces we put up in late summer to their homeroom teachers, with a little spoon attached on top. The kids always write a note to their teachers with the jam.

  • Rachel says:

    I make and give them reusable coffee cuffs (called Java Jumpers) that they can use every time they get coffee from a coffee shop. They’re usually very well received!

  • Kelli says:

    @Kelli, The most important thing is that it expresses appreciation and gratitude and that it’s personal. My most treasured teacher gifts were not gifts at all. They were letters the moms wrote me about how I had made a difference in their child’s life (I’m a special needs preschool teacher).

  • jessica says:

    we are doing homemade stationary . I had a ton of blank cards & scrapbook paper & stampers in my craft supply things. My kids are going to decorate them & then wrap them up w/ a ribbion 🙂

  • Zarah says:

    Lately, I’ve been fascinated with cake pops. They’re really fun to make and you can decorate them in so many ways for the holidays. Bakerella is awesome and has come out with a cook book with photos on her many different cake pops! (She has a blog too!) I plan on making a ‘cake pop’ bouquet for my son’s teacher this year =)

  • Heather says:

    I am a Tastefully Simple consultant so I have been giving my children’s teachers tastefully simple for the past few years and they seem to love it. My children’s school also started a gift tree where the teachers put ornaments on their trees and they write things down that they would like for their class and then they get a gift that you know they will love and use.

    Also another idea would be scholastic book orders that come home from the school…books are usually really cheap, you can get books for a dollar to couple of dollars each and then head to the dollar store and get a tote for the books to fit into, if you feel really creative you can decorate the totes too with the teacher’s name on it.

    • Janeen says:

      Heather, Im not a consultant but that is what I have done for the past few yrs. I give them a beer bread and the trio or mix and match a couple different things. All of them have loved it so far.

  • brooke says:

    My husband and I are both teachers so you can imagine the gifts we have seen over the years. I have to concur with some of other teacher posters, please keep the mugs. Homemade food items are also hard because you never know about the kitchens that made the food. Really, the kid inspired ornaments or home spun cards are the best. If you must buy something, even for a few dollars, just get a $5 gift card for a movie rental, Starbucks, or whatever. You will probably save a lot of time and effort if you keep it simple. HTH?

  • Zarah says:

    I don’t know why I didn’t mention this as well, but last year I gave my son’s K teacher a denim apron which I bought from the craft store and decorated it with these iron on studs I got from the same store…I made a really cute phrase, “I <3 to teach…for apples" Hopefully you'll get some inspiration!!

  • Beth L. says:

    The Kitchn has a great article today about 40 super creative homemade gifts, many of which could be very inexpensive and would work great for those who have multiple teachers to buy for. They have really yummy suggestions like Homemade Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar or Chai Tea mix.

    For some gifts this year, I’m putting together some nice little spa kits from Pampered Bed and Bath ( It’s one of my favorite online boutiques and their soaps are to die for!

  • Kelli says:

    I think someone accidentally deleted my post… anyway, I think this is the cutest idea- so personal and you could all go in on it together and split the cost- just the teacher’s initial on a simple silk ribbon. So thoughtful & stylish!

  • Kelly Becktold says:

    I am a teacher and can agree with many of the above comments! Quite honestly, my favorite gift is a gift card – $5 is perfect – and a nice note. I keep the notes and I get to use the gift card on myself or the classroom. It’s just so refreshing to be able to purchase something when the money doesn’t come out of your checking account. I have only been teaching 3 years, and I can’t even begin to count the number of mugs that I have. Handmade goodies are sweet, but I usually don’t eat them since I have severe IBS and never know how they were made.

    • Becky in KY says:

      @Kelly Becktold, Yes, yes, yes to everything you said. And even without IBS, we sometimes get overloaded with homemade goodies. I really enjoy many of them, but there eventually is such a thing as too many sweets.

      • Ash says:

        @Becky in KY, This is exactly why I give fruit baskets to teachers and coworkers:

        My mom, sister, and I all stop by a bulk store and grab (mini) oranges, apples, and maybe pears. We usually find inexpensive plastic bowls at Target or a dollar store; red or green plastic wrap is often on sale during the holidays.

        We each spend about $10, total:
        $6 for fruit
        $6 for bowls/baskets
        $1 for plastic wrap
        $3 for cinnamon sticks and other special details.

    • Lisa says:

      @Kelly Becktold, YES, YES, YES!!! Gift cards–in small amounts–are GREAT!!! I have been teaching for 7 years and that is what I would recommend. The teacher doesn’t care about the amount–just the thoughtfulness. Great places would be Target or Wal-Mart (school supplies), Starbucks, the movie theatre (yes, $5 to the movie theatre might not seem like much, but at least the teacher and his/her spouse or child could enjoy some popcorn or box of candy while out at the theatre–that would be a fun luxury! :-), a teacher supply store, ANYWHERE!

    • Amy J says:

      @Kelly Becktold, I agree, the little gift cards are nice. My husband and I are on a serious budget, and we usually don’t spring for stuff like Starbucks, but a little $5 gift card can add a little splurge to our date nights. I agree on the school supplies (dry erase markers, pens/pencils, etc) since we usually spend out of pocket.

      As I unpacked my Christmas decorations this year, I pulled out several little ornaments that have been gifts from students or classes. I no longer teach at these schools, but it’s nice to remember the fun times I had with those students.

      I don’t know about the rest of the teachers, but I get a LOT of bottles of hand lotion! I think the one in my desk drawer right now is from 3-4 years ago 🙂

    • Esther says:

      @Kelly Becktold, I agree! Use those swagbucks!

      • Stacy says:

        Yes! Gift cards ($5 is awesome) and a nice note! I’ve gotten cards to Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, etc. I save the nice notes/cards and get to spend a little something on myself. I don’t care for knick-knacks, candles, lotions, etc or anything with apples on it.

  • Janna says:

    As a teacher of 16 years, I can tell you lots of great ideas!
    –Gift certificates….even if only $10 with a note about going out for lunch. Teachers never get to leave the building for lunch so it is a real treat to know we can use a gift card and going during the holiday break.
    –Note pads/cards for personal use or professional use
    –Items for the classroom—markers, pens, pencils, papers, other craft items, books…etc… That is so helpful seeing as how the teacher spends so much of her own money on these things.

    A few things I do not recommend:
    Home baked goods…..unless you know the teacher personally outside of school, it is not a good idea. I would often throw these away since I was not sure of how sanitary the kitchen was where the items were prepared.
    Mugs—After teaching 16 years, I think I have received dozens and dozens….and I do not drink coffee.

  • Suzanne Buchanan says:

    I have 3 boys ages 4-10 that between middle school and pre-school, we have 8 teachers. I went to an outlet mall recently that had a Brighton and Yankee candle outlets and scored brighton keychains and sunglasses on sale for $6 and Yankee car scents for $1!! I know that teachers are on a buget too and rarely spring for nice named brand items. I can hardly wait the give them to them!!

  • Missy says:

    We always buy an oven mitt along with a muffin mix & some hot cocoa. We include a note that says “Enjoy your family over the holidays.” The teachers always tell me they appreciate the mix, as they get so many baked goods from students – it is something they can fix at their convience and they also say they love we have thought of their family as well.

  • Kim says:

    One of my favorite ideas is a box or basket filled with microwave popcorn packets, movie candy, and a gift certifcate for video rentals. Another is gift cards to Barnes and Noble.

  • Jen Soto says:

    I’m making homemade truffles for each of my kids teachers (1 first grade teacher, 1 third grade teacher, 7 7th grade teachers, 1 music teacher, 1 p.e. teacher and 1 librarian). I got some cute little Chinese take out boxes at the local rest. supply store and will fill them with the truffles and include a hand made card. After reading all the comments on this post I think I will include my son’s bus driver also.

  • Alison says:

    I’m knitting washcloths and pairing them with my homemade aromatherapy salt scrub.

  • Kate F. says:

    I was a teacher before I became a stay-at-home mom. My favorite gifts were always consumables. While I appreciated the other gifts, they added up really quickly and I only taught for 5 years. Stickers, pencils, post-its, small notepads, notecards, etc. were always great. I used a lot of them in the room and often had to buy them myself. One year a student used her mom’s stamps and made me notecards with my initals on them. I used them to send notes home to parents. I also had a parent who bought me a certificate for a free Scholastic book for me to add to the classroom library. I think my absolute best gift I ever received was a copy of the note a parent had written and sent to my principal and superintendent. It just told them some of the things this parent appreciated that I had done in the classroom. It was nice to not only be recognized for my hard work, but to know that she wanted the higher ups to know her thoughts as well.

    I know this was mentioned before, but please know your district’s policies on gifts. Where I worked we also had a limit for the gift we could receive. If it went beyond that amount, we had to donate the difference back to the district.

    • Lisa says:

      @Kate F., The Scholastic free book is a GREAT idea. Loved the note to the principal/superintendent idea!! Wow! If you know a great teacher out there–that would make their CAREER!

  • chrystalm says:

    Last year I gave all my teachers (4 of them) the soft socks, and a christmas nail file. They said they liked it. I figured who couldnt use socks and a file. The socks were$1.66 a piece and the nail files were $1 from bath and body works. It was a jumbo size christmas nail file. They all said they loved it. The socks were either black/pink/purple. Colors they could use or have at home or if they didnt like it they could just give it away. Practicle and inexpensive. I may do it again this year.

  • Katy says:

    I heard this one on the radio today: a mom wrote to her kids’ favorite personalities (Glen Beck was one I remember) and they sent autographed photos, which the mom then put in a frame. It was a big hit!

  • Cynthia says:

    As a pre-school teacher I definitely appreciate thanks around the holidays. Candies, cookies, and cakes are great! I usually have to give many of them away just because of the sheer quantities though 🙁 (12 kids times a dozen or more cookies per child and you get the picture). Here are some of the best gifts I have recieved.

    1. Gift cards. I can use them to buy things for the classroom or put them toward something I need.
    2. Homemade ornaments. Its like time travel to look at my tree and think of all the kids I have taught over the years.
    3. A personalized bookbag. Teachers constantly carry things back and forth from home for curriculum. The parent had embroidered my name on it and I used until it fell apart.
    4. A gift basket with savory crackers, sausage, cheese, and cocoa/coffee. It was a nice change from the traditional cookies.
    5. A homemade hat and mitten set. I take the kids out everyday and it was a thoughtful gift.
    6. A popcorn tin. the popcorn is tasty and the tin can be used to store classroom items when it is done.

    I hope this is helpful. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Becky in KY says:

      @Cynthia, I love the ornaments I’ve received! I was a high school newspaper adviser for 12 years, and several years one student (or parent) would get basic ball ornaments and write the name of the newspaper and the year on one side and the recipient’s name on the other side so everyone on the newspaper “staff” got one. Now that we have space at home, I want to put up a small tree with just school/newspaper ornaments. Such a nice trip down memory lane.

    • Carol says:

      Thanks for the tips! Just ordered my 4 teachers tote bags from Lands End! More fun than the gift cards I usually buy!

      • Laurie says:


        Carol – if you don’t mind me asking, how much were the teacher’s tote bags from Lands End? I like that idea, and think it’d be cute to put a few teacher items in there as well. Hope you don’t mind me asking the cost! =)

        • Carol says:

          Laurie-They had some totes on sale for $12.50….but the straps on those seemed a bit short. I bought the ones with long straps. I think they were priced at $23….but if you buy 3 or more, they take $3 off each one. Then there is a code for $20 off any order of $75 or more and free shipping. I also got them personalized for $5 each. So after all was said and done, I got each bag for $24.

        • Melissa says:

          @Laurie, SHIPPED
          Medium Natural Open Top Canvas Tote Bag
          Item # 098680AF2 $14.17
          Qty 1
          Color Natural/Tango

          This is what I ended up paying for mine I ordered 6 of them and ended up getting $20 off of a $75 purchase and free shipping. I believe the total for each with tax was $15.05.

  • Lindsey says:

    When I was a teacher, I worked in a “high risk” school, so there weren’t LOTS of presents at Christmas, but one of the best ones I received was a flowerpot that had been painted by one of my kindergarten students, filled with dried black beans and “bic” pens that the mom had wrapped with floral tape and put a flower on the end of. That student is in 4th grade this year, and I STILL have that flower pot sitting on my desk, even though I’m not teaching any more!

  • Jenn says:

    I’m a SAHM now (17 yrs), but formerly an elementary school teacher. The kinds of gifts I received spanned quite a broad spectrum. *Tip for PTO/PTA moms–our school’s PTO had each teacher fill out a survey form about their favorite foods/restaurants/authors/music/movies/ teams, things we collect, etc. and compiled a resource binder titled “Faculty Favorites”. Many parents utilized this to get ideas for teacher gifts.
    The Gifts I really loved: baked goods (a small sampling is plenty), gift cards (even $5 to a nearby eatery is a great treat), Christmas ornaments, small frames, assorted office/desk supplies–esp. personalized ones, a plant for the classroom, paperback books for my classroom library (usually purchased at our annual Book Fair, which benefitted our school)–and there seemed to be one mom every year that would bring me lunch from Chick-Fil-A or similar places. What a treat! Gifts I didn’t really use: Desk knick-knacks –esp. with an apple theme, stuffed animals, coffee mugs! (just got way too many of these!). Honestly, I think something smaller at Christmas is more appropriate. If you want to give your child’s teacher(s) a larger gift of appreciation, perhaps wait until the end of the school year. Keep shopping those sales and collect small items throughout the year to compile into a nice gift basket!

  • Sam says:

    After reading on this blgo about ‘disposible’ gifts…I decided that this year my son and I would make soap for all his teachers! I found a soup making kit up at Michaels and was able to use one their 40% off coupons, and got a kit that will make 7 bars for only $5. After he makes them, we’ll wrap them up in some pretty bags and away they go. That’s one less coffee cup for his teachers this year – and some thing they can use and it’ll be gone – not cluttering up any space.


    • Jennifer says:

      @Sam, I have made soap in the past. They were put in a mold and looked like candy. Please make sure that you label the pieces as soap to prevent digesting them.

  • Felicia says:

    My daughter has 1 teacher and 3 teachers aids in her class. To keep the cost down, last year I went to Lowes the last day of school/day of their class party and purchased Poinsettia’s. They had gone half off so I got all 4 gifts for around $8. The great part is, after the holidays they can toss the plant with no guilt or clutter!

  • Sarah says:

    As a former teacher- trust me, the best gift is a gift card!!!

    I know they are not always the cheapest, but even a $5 Starbucks card is amazing.

    We spend our own money all year on items for your children and get paid very poorly for the amount of time spent in our profession. A gift card is a nice way to let us spoil ourselves for once!!!

    (Maybe a groupon or even a card full of really good restaurant coupons would be great too!)

  • Janie says:

    Hi – I am a teacher and while I love hot chocolate and sweets, after exams, after getting grades in, after all the programs and extra nights spent at school, and after all the craziness involved with my own family, what would really be nice is a soup mix or other “dinner” gift. A gift card is great, but not necessary. I have made soup in a jar (layers of ingredients), pasta baskets (dried noodles, jar of sauce, bread, oven mitt), and other nonsweet treats. A hot meal to serve my family that took no effort is always appreciated.

  • I am a teacher turned stay at home mom. I liked to receive items that I already used in the classroom, but that students personalized for me (clipboards, pens with flowers on top, table skirts) None of these cost over $5. Probably my favorite though was the student who brought around a bag of various king size candy bars and let us all choose one. Age appropriate books for the classroom library are great too.

  • Amy says:

    I’ve always made homemade fudge. But this year my son has a male teacher with diabetes. So I don’t want to send snacks and of course all the cute ideas don’t exactly work for a man. Any ideas?

    • Becky in KY says:

      @Amy, post-it notes and other such classroom supplies are appreciated by most teachers, I think. Or small gift card, as others have mentioned. What about something like those neck/foot warmers made of deer corn stuffed in a sock? I haven’t priced the items, but I read a post about them on this or another blog, and they sounded easy and inexpensive.

    • pianomom says:

      I’ve given both of the following to diabetics: Homemade Chex Mix (add Bugles to it & everyone raves!!!) & the Ranch Dressing Oyster Cracker Snack mix (very fast & easy). There was a rather crotchety woman I used to work for who actually mellowed after I’d given her the oyster snack mix…it was amazing!

    • nancy l. says:

      @Amy, Our sons had quite a few male teachers in elementary school. Our standard gift was a$5.00 video rental gift card, a 3-pack of microwave popcorn and one or two large candy bars or boxes of theatre type candy (you could substitute sugar free candy). I watched for sales on the popcorn and candy and was usually able to do this for no more than $10. I thought the teachers could enjoy a movie night with their families over the Christmas break.

      • Jennifer says:

        @nancy l., My husband is a teacher, and agrees with the idea of chex mix. Also, to add to the popcorn idea, I’ve put together theme baskets for family & friends that would work for teachers also. One of my favorites was a popcorn bucket or big bowl with microwave popcorn bags, a couple of bottle or canned sodas, and a $5 gift card to the local movie rental place. If there is not one close, then a Wal-Mart gift card would work, especially with their $5 movie bin.

    • Jennifer says:

      @Amy, Last year I made an ornament scrapbook out of CD’s. I put a picture of each of the students in it with their name on it. The idea came from Creative Memories so you could probably find out how to make it from them. The only cost was some ribbon and scrapbook paper to cover the CD’s.

    • Tracy says:

      @Amy, My mom is a diabetic and she always appreciates it when someone gives her sugar-free hard candy. The cost is really minimal like $2-$3 a bag. It means a lot that someone to into consideration their health and got them a special treat.

  • Lacey says:

    A thank you note may be the most inexpensive way to thank a teacher. Simple, yet effective….and cheap!!

  • Kaylee says:

    My Mom always bought amaryllis bulbs for me to give to my teachers. They often became the class project as we watched them grow and measured the change each day.

  • Kathy says:

    So many ideas… so many opinions! I was a teacher and my husband currently teaches. Trust me… we love the baked/homemade goodies, but around the holidays we can get TOO many and they go to waste. Think about giving to the teachers early in December or in January if you want to give baked goods. This spreads out the perishable items (rather than everyone on the last day before break).
    I agree with the gift cards for small amounts. Do you know how many coffees you can get at the local gas station for $5?
    However, if you’re looking for an even “cheaper” gift… I appreciated food that was non-perishable. One year, I got a bag with pancake mix and syrup… it didn’t spoil and it was really thoughtful. Another year I got soup mix. Others have mentioned Tastefully Simple and other packaged items (which I received and loved), but you can do these things on a low budget by putting them together on your own. (Try Friendship Soup Mix or search for “gifts in a jar”). One mom even scheduled a night she could bring a meal to me after school so I wouldn’t have to cook! Who wouldn’t love that around the holidays, especially a teacher with papers to grade, concerts to prep for, etc!
    It really is the thought that counts… get to know your child’s teacher and go from there! But, alas, probably not something that sits around. Think about it… if your teacher taught for just 4 years and had 25 kids who gave her a Christmas mug and then an apple mug in June, she’d have 200 mugs! Perishable items (not just food — like post-its, etc) are a fav!

  • Kelli says:

    To the poor sad person who just wrote me a very inappropriate email- I’m really sorry for you. There are MANY companies listed above- Uppercase Living, Pampered Chef, Etsy, etc. They were asking for inexpensive creative gift ideas so I contributed one! You didn’t have to be so hateful. I really hope you are not a mom- you are mean!

  • Emilie says:

    As a teacher, I request that you do not send apple themed coffee mugs or Christmas ornaments. I also do not ask for baked goods as I get overwhelmed and have to give a lot away. Canned items or products like Tastefully Simple, that I can use later are a better choice.
    I love to receive items for my class room: craft supplies for projects, board games for indoor recess, prizes for the students, etc. I spend a lot of my own money on these items and would appreciate getting them as a gift.
    I am here for your children…send in things the like to do at home so when they have free time, indoor recess or reward time, they have something to do or play with.
    Another inexpensive idea is personlized pens or pencils. Students often “borrow” these items and they are not always returned so if they have my name on them, they re more likely to getback to my desk. I love the idea of the pens turned into flowers also.
    Volunteer in your child’s school or classroom. Make the teacher a gift certificate or punch card for a certain amount of time or ask to help them with project materials or bulliten boards. Anything to ease their workload is a great idea!
    Thank you for this post!

  • Ashley says:

    I am a teacher and it is so sweet to be thought of during the holiday times. One of the BEST things I got from a kid was on the day before break (which is always crazy) I had a mom bring in a Starbucks coffee for me (peppermint mocha to be exact). It came at the perfect time, the child wrote me a sweet little card, and when I was finished, I didn’t have to take anything home.

  • Deb says:

    I have never been a teacher and we homeschool, but one of my dear friends taught a few years and she really liked gift cards the best. She much preferred a $5 gift card to a $5 present. A Starbucks on a cold day or an easy take out dinner for one when her husband worked late were much more appreciated than a cheap $5 wrapped up present.

    There are way too many baked goods along with store bought junk floating around during the holidays, unless it is something that will last until February, like coffee or something sealed, it is really going to end up in the trash. If the teacher’s lounge is already full of homemade/store bought sweets, they just really aren’t going to be that desirable. Also, not to sound harsh, but I know for us, if the house is not clean that we get homemade goodies from, they go straight to the trash, I am not taking chances with food poisoning. People bring food into my dh’s work and I can tell you that the same thing is true, straight to the trash if the people smoke or just aren’t clean. Save your money and time, they LOVE gift cards.

  • Patricia Voss says:

    I taught first grade for years before staying at home while my children were very young. Now I am back teaching again. I must say that every year when we decorate our own Christmas tree, I enjoy looking at the ornaments that I received from my students long ago! It’s nice if you can find a small area on the ornament and simply write your child’s name and the year. There are SO many beautiful and low-priced ornaments out there now.
    I also love a $5 gift card from Starbucks so that I can treat myself.
    My family likes the baked goods that we receive.
    Also, there are some great coupons from Bath and Body Works, and many good deals if you get on their email list. They will put your items in a pretty bag with a bow, so they are ready to give. Who couldn’t use some handsoap or anti-bac hand lotion? All in all, I say mix something personal from your student with something the teacher will really enjoy for herself/himself.

  • Jessica says:

    As a middle school art teacher for four years, I had no end of gifts from students during the school day (usually of the artistic variety!) but not many from home. So l really appreciated the extra thought at Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Week. Photos of students, nicely written notes/cards, and consumable gifts (food, writing utensils, art supplies, gift cards) were always a big hit. The cost of the gift had little to do with the fact that I was glad someone liked me, remembered me, and appreciated what I did. Like parents, teachers often give a lot and are thanked very little. It’s great to remind them that we love and appreciate them, and respect the role they play in our children’s lives. It’s also a great lesson to teach our children.

    I also have to say, I learned these lessons from my parents. From my earliest years in school, my parents always invited my teacher (or favorite teacher once I had more than one per day) to our home for dinner once per year. With six kids in our family, our kindergarten teacher made it over to our house six times! Even today, my 15-year-old youngest brother bakes loaves of bread for each of his high school teachers and wraps them in festive ribbons. The local newspaper actually wrote an article about his efforts. Anyhow, there are lots of ways to show thankfulness and hospitality that don’t cost much if you’re willing to think outside the box. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    My husband has taught 2nd grade for 18 years and I can tell you that the nicest gifts have been gift cards. Several times his entire class contributed $5.00 per student (can’t get much cheaper than that) and the homeroom mom purchased a card for Barnes and Noble or a card for his favorite eatery. Cookies and other bake goods are nice, if you are a terrific baker, but you should know if anyone in his/her family has allergies and work around those issues. Many times I have had to discard trays of cookie that had nuts in them. That was a waste of the givers time and money. Ornaments seem like a great idea, however, we have so many I could decorate an entire tree in Best Teacher and #1 Teacher ornaments. Same deal with ties. I always give a gift card to the teachers, aides, and bus drivers of my children. Teachers spend more time during the week with your children than you do and certainly appreciate your gifts, as they do not receive a bonus from the school district during the holidays.

  • Carrie says:

    Since my children were in school we have always given their teachers the annual swarvoski snowflake christmas ornament with a hand-written note of thanks from the child. They are not inexpensive, but are beautiful…and I thought a great way to honor those that truly are making such an impact in the lives of my boys. I expected that this would change when they got older and have more teachers, but after reading through this I wonder if I should give something different this year (kindergarden and 3rd grade)…the money could easily be converted to a gift certificate somewhere – it just seems so impersonal to me. But oh well……I’ll figure something out. Thanks!

    • Patricia Voss says:

      I think the snowflake ornament is a beautiful idea, along with the handwritten note. Hopefuly, like me, each year when your teachers decorate their own tree, they will think of your child when they get out that ornament. Stay with your tradition! And, like Meredith said, the teacher may really appreciate having some ornaments to decorate their tree with. And a snowflake is such a pretty ornament! As a teacher, I would love it! 🙂

  • Colleen says:

    As a teacher, I am thankful for any gift I receive. This year I stocked up on good markers at Office Max (when they were “free” with MaxPerks Rewards). Also, I am giving some of my kids’ teachers bottles of wine. I know this is probably politically incorrect, but if they don’t drink, they can always regift it and bring it to a Christmas party. (If you’re worried about sending wine to school, hide it in a cute bag.)

    • Seema says:

      I don’t drink alcohol at all. A couple of years ago, a parent came after school to give me a bottle of wine for Christmas. It made me very uncomfortable to take the gift, as it’s something I would not even want to regift to someone else. There are many other things one could give a teacher besides alcohol.

      • Shannon says:

        I agree! I wouldn’t think it would be very appropriate either unless you know the teacher outside of school and can give it to them then. I’d hate for a teacher to get in trouble for having alcohol in school – even if it was a gift.

  • Allyson says:

    As a former 5th grade teacher and now stay-at-home mama I have to agree with a lot of other teachers who have already commented.

    The years I taught were really financially tight for our family and gift cards with a nice written note were my favorite. Even $5 was great.

    Usually I didn’t eat homebaked goods unless I knew the family fairly well. If I had eaten everything I was gifted I would have gained 10 pounds over Christmas break.

    Also, as a recovering returner/regifter 🙂 I have very few gifts left from my teaching days. You can only have so many mugs, apple wall decor, etc.

    I did keep ornaments, but consider finding something else out about the teacher so they don’t have 20 “World’s Best Teacher” ornaments. Also, like me they may not always be “teachers.” All my students always knew how much I liked snowmen ornaments and my collection grew quite a bit during my teaching years.

    If you go with a gift card, $5 really is enough, but only if it is to a place where the teacher could actually get something with spending only another couple of dollars. I once received a $5 gc to Red Lobster, which I just regifted since my husband and I couldn’t afford to pick up the rest of the cost. Blockbuster, Starbucks (make sure they like coffee), Movie Theatre, Panera, local bistros, etc. are good choices. I also always appreciated gc to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Joanns, Walmart, Target, etc.

    If your budget is really tight, a simple homemade card with a note written from you and your child is a wonderful way to tell a teacher that you appreciate them.

    Overall, I would say just to remember that teachers have personal lives too and like “non-teachery” things too!

  • Wendy says:

    This year I bought gift cards from since I have 2 kiddos in school with one being in middle school with lots of teachers! Don’t forget those bus drivers too! They do alot for the kids as well (like get them to school safely!)…..
    I am currently in school working towards my degree in Early Childhood Education and think these gift ideas everyone has are great and it is wonderful to see how parents appreciate teachers! Makes me excited to get done and start teaching!

  • Amanda says:

    What most people don’t know about teachers are they usually have to buy their own materials for their classrooms. Gift cards to local school supply stores, office stores, or bookstores are great. You can always purchase supplies like glue and attach notes to the gifts like “multiplication STICKS in my head because of you.”

  • Anna J says:

    I am all about finding out what people want (and can use) for Christmas so I loved it when my son brought home the wish list from the school’s teachers. The teachers there have come to agreement that they would rather have items for their classroom for gifts than anything else and I am more than happy to get them since I know that otherwise they’d be buying these items out of pocket anyway. I’ll also be including a thank-you note for all the wonderful things my teacher has already taught my son.

  • Jill says:

    We did personalized post it notes through Vistaprint. I was able to choose a background/print/patter specific to each teacher (i.e. watermark math formulas in the background for the math teacher, watermark musical notes in the background for the music teacher, etc). For about $3 each, we were able to give each teacher 2 post it notepads that were personalized. Then for the main teachers we also added a personalized notepad or notecards, for still less than $10.

  • My kids are still in daycare, but they interact with all 8 teachers at the center. In the past I’ve done a candle + hand lotion + sweets kind of thing and sometimes adding a gift card. All the teachers are women, and all but one are middle aged.

    This year it will be lotion + hand sanitizer + candle + cookie mix + handmade ornaments. I also include the center director and the secretary/ book keeper.

  • Sharon says:

    I am also a former teacher (now a stay at home mom). These are some gifts I loved to get:

    1. Gift cards–$5 cards are great and to some place fun (Stone Cold Creamery, etc)
    2. Things to help my room smell nice that were NOT candles. I taught 7th grade and, trust me, those are some ripe years for the boys, but we weren’t allowed to use candles and I’m not a fan of aerosal sprays. One student made these neat little jars, filled with potpourri and a small strand of lights so when plugged in, the lights heated the potpourri and it smelled lovely. Nowadays, there are a million “plug-in” air freshners that would be great.
    3. A friend who taught at elementary school actually had all the parents in her class chip in to pay for a sub so she could have half a day off. SWEET GIFT!
    4. My all-time favorite, though, was the year a STUDENT wrote me a letter about why I was his favorite teacher. It’s still hanging on my refrigerator. Personal thank you notes are a wonderful encouragement for teachers and teach thoughtfulness. Oh yeah, they are also FREE!

    • Amanda says:

      @Sharon, FYI…plug-in air fresheners are against the fire code for many schools. Check with your child’s school custodian for clarification. Great idea though!

      • Amy J says:

        @Amanda, They make so many of the battery operated ones, those might be a good idea. My room (music) was just relocated to the room that used to be the basketball coach’s room. Apparently all of the players used to keep their gym shoes and clothes in here, so there are still mornings when I come in, and my room smells like a locker room. :-p I love scoring on cheap/free air fresheners to make the smell in the room more bearable 🙂

        • Amanda says:

          @Amy J, You’re right Amy! There are high-value coupons for two of the Glade battery-operated ones valid right now too! I’m just waiting on them to go on sale at my grocery store! 🙂

          BTW…I know about the fire code thing b/c I got busted in my classroom… 😛

  • Susann says:

    I have an idea: use some of that super cheap Rite Aid Christmas chocolate to stuff a “Santa’s red underwear” home made ornament. It’s super easy and really cute. Print this poem on a tag: “I tried to find a stockin, but couldn’t find a spare, so I ended up stuffing Santa’s red underwear.”

  • Mindy M says:

    I gave my son’s Kinder teacher an HOURGLASS from Marshalls for $7.00 with a note thanking her for her “TIME” that she spends with our kids. She so appreciated it.

  • Kelly says:

    I usually go with gift cards for teachers, but last year I hit the jackpot with my gift giving… I found the cutest keychains at Hallmark ($8) with a single initial. They were green and black polka dots (school colors). My kids are in elementary school so I only had a few to buy, plus the principals. I got their first initial for each and made a “key card” that said “Thank you for being the key to my success” and the child’s name. They all loved them and the principal keeps all the school keys on hers! You don’t have to get the Hallmark ones, you could make really cute keychains too.

  • Joyce says:

    My son goes to a daycare with 5 teachers, so for the past couple of years, instead of getting each teacher a gift, I send a card in telling them that on ___ date, I will be sending lunch for all of them. I can usually find a lunch deal for about $25 that includes pizza, antipasto, and tea or soda. After the holidays, they love being able to not pack a lunch and have someone treat them, and at about $5 per person, I have a gift that is truly appreciated.

  • Kelly, I like to purchase items that come in groups then split them. Last year I purchased a few sets of trivets and gave each teacher 1 trivet with a goody wrapped in plastic and attached with a bow. Each gift ended up costing about 4 dollars. The teacher had something she could use year around and something sweet to enjoy then. I usually purchase something that I sell. (This makes it a little less for each teacher too.)

  • Gloria says:

    There are lots of good suggestions here! My husband has been teaching for 12 years and I think the gifts we have appreciated the most were:
    1. The year all of the high school students contributed cash toward a chain saw for him because we burned wood for our winter heat. I think the students enjoyed seeing him get toward his goal of something big and it sure helped us!
    2. We also get a fancy pen every year from one student and that comes in handy.
    3. Another gift we often got and loved was a $15 gift card for our local bookstore.
    4. Again gift cards are GREAT! We love those!
    5. Also since we are a family things like gift certificates for a babysitting night so we can have a date or for baked goods or a dinner invitation are nice. That makes it personal and also helps us out!

  • Jamie says:

    We always give my daughter’s teachers one of our fair trade African Christmas ornaments from They are unique and the teachers love knowing that the proceeds from the purchase of the ornament go to help children in need.

  • AllieZirkle says:

    My husband is a teacher. He’s mid 30s, has 4 kiddos at home, and he teaches Jr High. Here’s his feedback, from the male stand point:

    *$5+ gift card to Starbucks, Target, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Best Buy, Subway, McDs, Taco Bell (all provide a nice treat or can be used for the classroom)
    *Store bought foods in a kit: Chips, Salsa, Nacho Cheese OR Soups & Crackers OR Granola Bars & Nuts. Things that don’t perish
    *Homemade or store bought thank you cards with last name initial in black, white, or silver
    *Ground coffee (although we have a grinder, most teachers do not)
    *Dark chocolate, any chocolate
    *An actual, hand written thank you note from the parent AND student

    NO: home baked goodies, mugs, sweaters, rubber stamps

    As a wife to a male teacher, I’m with my hubby. The “World’s Best Teacher” space is taken up after several years of teaching. With money tight, and so much of our little budget being used for supplies, the gift cards are at the top of my list for my hubby. It makes him feel good to know that he’ll be able to take me on a cheap date or buy supplies for the class in Spring.

    🙂 Allie

  • Jennifer says:

    We are giving calenders this year. We found them on sale at Walgreens for $2.00 each making them a very affordable gift. They can use them at home or in the classroom. They can even cut them up and use them for crafts if they want. The kids also made thier teachers rice bags (made of “deer” corn and colorful tube socks) they can be heated or frozen and so can serve many purposes for aches and pains.

  • Bre L. says:

    I always make a mini baked goods cook book, and print is out on cute design paper. I’ve been told I’m a good baker, so I put some of the favorites in there. I also make the easiest thing in the book and give it with it.

  • Lee says:

    I was a preschool teacher for several years and one of the most useful gifts I received was a Dang It doll. This little stress relief doll has gotten me through many a frustrating moment and has lighted my mood as well. I liked this doll so much I gave them to my co-workers, their only twelve dollars on Etsy and come with a cute poem.

  • Rebecca says:

    My son is in special ed so he has had the same teachers now for 2 years. I talk to them daily and have gotten to know them quite well. Last year our money was super tight (still is) so I did small gift baskets with a theme “comfort and joy”. I filled them with things I had gotten with coupons and paid very little for, a lip balm, cocoa mix, candles, chocolates and some other little things. They all RAVED about how it was the best present they had gotten. This year my son’s main aide mentioned she loved the Loreal night cream when we were talking about coupons. My CVS had it on clearance for 75% off and I had coupons so I got it for very little so I am making her a basket of her nightcream and some other goodies. The cream is usually around $20 or more a thing so I know she is going to be over the moon. I find it’s not what you spend it’s the personal touches. I get tons of coupons mailed this time of year so I try to use those to get something personal to that person without spending lots out of pocket.

  • Genee says:

    As a teacher, I would say the most useless gift we get is mugs. Each year I get several and wind up throwing them away or giving to goodwill. Also, cookies and sweets are also nice, but receiving them in large quantities can be hard to consume.

    Some great gifts are:
    Office supplies (even from the dollar store)
    Hand Sanitizer gift certificates- which can be found for $2-$3 with a coupon code.

  • gayatri says:

    We have a room parent for our kids class. They collect the money whoever want to contribute and buy a gc of teacher’s choice. Last year we collected $200 and gave Home Depot GC.

  • Cinderill says:

    The best gift ever is when you write a nice note or card to the teacher and specifically list out why they are so awesome. At the bottom of the card/note mention that you are forwarding a copy of the note to the principal for their file. Mentioning how great they are to those boss in a written form is great. Often the only thing the principal hears is complaints. Two teachers I know say this is the gift they would love. It is nearly free to do and you could attach a little candy as well. I have 4 in school and I will be doing this.

  • Kerry-Lea says:

    Saw a fun idea for a “Thanks a Latte” gift. You can package a single biscotti w/ a Starbucks Frappucino, or a to-go cup w/ a latte mix and biscotti inside. I found the “Thanks a Latte” stamp at Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars, and made tags to go with it. Packaged it all in a clear cellophane bag. Got the biscotti’s 24/$10 at Sam’s, the Frappucinos there as well, for just over $1 each. Makes a sweet gift for less than $2. Can use it for AWANA and Sunday School teachers as well.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you! I am a school bus driver. We are typically forgotten. So, to those of you who remember us, Thank you!

  • Ann from Petaluma says:

    I handknitted my daughter’s 4 preschool teachers all eternity scarves using brushed alpaca yarn and a loopy yarn from Italy. Each scarf cost about $7 of yarn and they receive a lot of compliments. NExt year I may go simple and handcrochet flower brooches using some beads my sister gave me from Asia,and mohair yarn from the local yarn store. Those would cost only $1 to make but they retail for about $15 in an shop.

  • pianomom says:

    Hmmm..I teach both music & piano…some of my fav. gifts have been gift certificates (movies, restaurants, etc…) but I also have some sweet home-made ornaments my students have made that I’ve saved over the years. The consumables like dry-erase markers, stickers, & extra pencils are ALWAYS needed-one friend uses batteries & is thrilled to have someone notice that she needs them. (you might ask your teacher if there’s something she’s out of in the classroom)
    What about the gift of time? Can you help take down a bulletin board? Run off some papers? Give your teacher a coupon offering to help w/ the next big project if you can spare the time. (your child will love to see you at school, too!) how about helping at the end of school taking down the wall-art?

  • Megan says:

    A handmade note with a sincere message from the student and/or parents would be the best gift to me (a teacher). Receiving material gifts is actually a little uncomfortable sometimes. A message from the heart far outweighs any gift I can think of.

  • The year I moved from teaching high school to middle school was quite a shock for me at Christmas time. High schoolers don’t usually give their teachers gifts, but 6th graders sure do! I was overwhelmed.

    -Give a handwritten note of appreciation. I still have every one of those. In fact, those are the only things I kept. This is honestly gift enough, especially if buying a gift would burden your family. I cared about the notes; I didn’t care about the gifts, to be frank.
    -Give gift cards. As others have mentioned, even $5 at the book store or movie theater is great.
    -Give classroom supplies that the teacher has to buy out of her own funds. Books for the class library, for example.

    DO NOT:
    -Give mugs. There is a reason you can find a bajillion mugs at the thrift store. The teachers put them there!
    -Give knick-knacks. So many students, so many knick-knacks, so much clutter! And you likely really don’t know what the teacher likes. Just because something is displayed in her classroom (former gift, perhaps?) doesn’t mean it’s something she would have chosen for herself.
    -Give baked goods. Don’t get me wrong; they’re yummy, but with food allergies/sensitivities, dislikes, and sheer volume (I probably had a quarter of my 90 or so students give me cookies), there is a strong possibility they won’t be eaten.
    -Give scented body products. Way too personal.

  • Jeanne says:

    As a former teacher thoughtful cards or gift cards to a favorite restaurant (the whole class could go in on this for a $1 each) were most appreciated. Little teacher do dads start to create clutter either in the classroom or the home.

  • Laura says:

    I have LOVED all the ideas here! Last year we gave our teachers car wash tokens, in Illinois cars get pretty dirty and salty in the winter. I hope they went over okay. You can buy them for a little cheaper when buying in bulk (at least at our local wash). This year I think we’ll go wtih a gift card – that seems to be the #1 consensus of the teachers replying here. My mom was a teacher and LOVED the notecards and usable items too.

  • Kathy says:

    To the PTO/PTA president:
    Our small private school took a collection of money during the beginning of November. Then, the day before Thanksgiving break, it was evenly divided among all the teachers. We all appreciated the practicality of this and its timing (great for our own Christmas shopping). One family could contribute $5 for all its members’ teachers, and others probably contributed $100. It was a great way to include every teacher — art, PE, etc — and no one had to know what each family gave.

  • Angela says:

    I was going to try my hand at canning this year. Starting with something easy like applesauce. With ribbon and a pretty label I thought it would nice. Plus you don’t have to eat it right away.

  • kristen says:

    I didn’t have time to read all of the posts. Last year my daughter’s teacher asked that the student’s families donate to a charity that gives gifts to children in need. I think this is an EXCELLENT solution to too many ornaments and mugs. It also teaches the kids an important life lesson.

  • Crissy Stout says:

    My favorite gift of all time was time. I had a monthly and a daily Disney calendar. I had a student who decided to come in on a day off to cut out all of the pictures. For the pictures from the monthly calendar, she cut a scalloped edge around them. For the daily calendar, she just cut around all the pictures. She used the daily pictures on the top of my dry erase board and around the edge of a bulletin board. She used the monthly pictures to decorate the bulletin board. This bulletin board remains in my classroom as she designed back in 2006. I have had administrators threaten to make me switch classrooms and I refused unless they brought my bulletin board with me. It is my favorite gift of all time!

  • Sandy says:

    Something for their classroom would be great because they have to fund that themselves. A small rubber stamp set (purchased with a Michael’s coupon!) is one idea. Depending on the grade and subject, there are a lot of things to contribute to learning. The Dollar Tree has school items also. A lot of science classes in the younger grades grow a plant at some point, so you can buy a flower pot and paint the teacher’s name on it so he/she can have the “example plant”.

  • tq says:

    Please, Please, PLEASE!!!! No gifts that say “TEACHER” on them. I taught for over 20 years and had (past tense) so many “teacher ” mugs and tree ornaments I could have started my own store. I agree with others, by favorite and most appreciated gift was a gift card. My close second favorite was Bath and Body works stuff. What woman wouldn’t like that?

  • Michelle says:

    Last year, I contacted all of the parents in my daughter’s K5 class through email and asked what they thought about a donation toward a visa gift card. Everyone of them thought it was a great idea. Everyone gave what they could…it was kept completely secret who gave what…and I was able to give the teacher and assistant $150 EACH! There were “blown away” (their exact words) when they opened the cards…there were 14 kids in the class so no one really went over the top but cumulative, it was great! I am such a tightwad…I couldn’t bring myself to waste $10 on both activation fees on the visa…so I just put the cash in a card.

  • Allison says:

    We find out what the teacher likes and get her a $5 or $10 gift card to that place (Starbucks, Target, bookstore, etc.). The past two years, though, the parents have gone in on gifts. At the end of last year, we all chipped in $10 and got the teacher a gift card for the amusement park where her family was going on vacation. This year we are all chipping in $10 to give the teacher a $200 visa gift card. It makes a nice gift for the teacher and makes it cheap on each family.

    In January, I go to Bath & Body Works during their semi-annual sale and get a $5 wallflower to give to the teacher for Valentine’s Day. I figure that if she doesn’t like the fragrance, she can exchange it for something she likes.

    I have many friends who are teachers, so I know that mugs, food, lotions, apple/teacher items, most jewelry, stuffed animals, etc. are out of the question.

  • Carol says:

    I drove a school bus for nearly 30 years. I can’t express how much I appreciated the many things I received. One year everyone in the neighborhood went in together (I had these same students for 4 school years)and got me a gift card for the local mall. It was good at any of the stores in the mall. I always appreciated hand cream/lotion until I developed an allergy to petroleum. A suggestion would be the anti-bacterial moisturizer. If you are “coupon saavy” it would not be difficult to acquire many of the suggestions for free by planning ahead and watching sales. Earlier this year there were coupons for post-its, bic products, glue sticks, lotions and Nivea lip balm, gourmet coffee. I loved getting mixes for the beer bread. The home made ornaments still find a place on my tree every year!

  • Courtney says:

    This year we’re giving each of my kids’ teachers a Walmart gift card and one of the giant Toblerone chocolate bars.

  • sarah says:

    I’m so excited about some clearance burts bees items I found for our teachers at Target last month! I didn’t pay much, so I can also do a gift card. My sister is a young teacher and I know it means a lot to her to get anything – she doesn’t need anything, but it makes her feel so good to be acknowledged.

  • Sheri says:

    I am a teacher and the best gift you can give is a $5 giftcard to somewhere like Target or Starbucks. Although teachers are very grateful for any gift, please – no more coffee mugs or candles. Unfortunately, teachers receive way too many of these items and they usually end up regifting them or tossing them. If you want to splurge, a giftcard for a massage or facial would be the ultimate teacher gift! 🙂

  • Marianne says:

    My mom received the best teacher gift last Christmas. A student’s mom brought in a homemade lasagna dinner, complete with bread, a caesar salad in a bag, and dessert. A thoughtful, useful, delicious time-saver!

    • Susie says:

      This is my usual teachers’ gift for my daughter’s teacher and 3 paraprofessionals. She is in a life-skills class, and they really go above and beyond. Last year’s gift was ceramic mixing bowls (purchased at a local “outlet” pottery store, each filled with a box of pasta (free after coupons), a frozen batch of my homemade marinara, a loaf of (also homemade) artisan bread, a bag of parmesan cheese, a sack of chocolates from Trader Joes – all packaged with a wooden spoon, $5 Blockbuster card and dish towel. I think I figured I spent $11 on each gift and they LOVED it.

      This year (and previously at another school with different teachers) I will do the same KIND of thing, but with a Mexican theme.

  • Laura says:

    As a teacher, my favorite gift is a gift card – even small denominations are very useful and appreciated! I do want to say, though, that if funds are tight, just having your child wrap something small such as a couple homemade cookies, something from the dollar store, etc. helps your child experience that wonderful feeling of giving. I used to want to unwrap presents privately thinking I was sparing the feelings of children who didn’t bring in a gift; I’ve learned, though, that the children love to watch. It also gives me an opportunity to gush over whatever the gift is. Truly, just being thanked is very nice. Hey – have a wonderful holiday season!!!

  • Allison says:

    How about a spin off of this subject?

    Does anyone have ideas that kids can make for their grandparents? Nothing beats a homemade gift but I need help thinking of ideas!

    • Brett Marie says:

      @Allison, I usually do a gift basket of consumables: Glade candles that were recently FREE at Target – peel off the labels (super easy) and let your children decorate them (foam stickers, glitter glue, etc), homemade chocolate covered pretzels, cookies, etc. Also a t-shirt with the littles handprints in the shape of a four leaf clover on the back, with a “world’s luckiest grandpa”, cheap/free frames with photos, etc.

      Love the idea of a spin off to get more ideas!!

    • @Allison, we have made homemade ornaments in the past. This year, my daughter painted mugs (they are coffee drinkers) and had a blast doing it.

  • Jocelyn Sams says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but one of the most adorable gifts I’ve ever seen for a teacher was a homemade magnet board. It was made out of a cookie sheet covered in cute scrapbook paper. It was hanging by a ribbon and had a couple of decorative magnets on it. I thought it was really creative!

  • My sister is a kindergarten teacher and both of my parents are teachers. Most people will spend about 10 dollars on a gift for a teacher and they dont make them very personal. My sisters class did this last year and she loved it. If your childs class has a room mom maybe she can organize it. Have all of the students bring in 10 dolllars and get your teacher a gift card to the mall. Most teachers dont have alot of money to spend on themselves and a 200 dollar gift card to the mall would be perfect. Dont make it one to walmart. If your childs teacher is anything like my mom they would use it on groceries or something for their family and not themselves.

  • Kim says:

    How do you decide who gets a gift? My son is in pre-school, and there is his teacher, maybe 5 or 6 aids, speech therapist, OT and several others that come in and out of his classroom. At the risk of sounding cheap, I would go broke buying everyone a gift. Do I just do the teacher and the aids since thats all he interacts with? Or is that rude?

    • Dreya says:


      I had this situation with our oldest child’s daycare. I gave the lead teacher and 2 aides who were regularly in the classroom each a small gift. Then, I took 2 inexpensive plastic sand pails (red and green) and filled them with individually packaged snacks (crackers, granola bars, etc… things that I already had stocked from coupons or things I could get cheaply). I tied red and green ribbons on the handles, wrote a thank you for the entire staff and had it placed in the break room. They all loved the quick snacks and they also liked the sand pails, which were taken to the playground when they were emptied.

  • Brett Marie says:

    Also, don’t forget about the essential staff who often get overlooked but have very important (and sometimes very stressful) jobs – i.e. school psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, etc. A $5 gift card to a local coffee shop with a “you deserve a break” is very much appreciated by any school employee 🙂

  • WilliamB says:

    A gift from the whole class, if not for Xmas then for the end of the year: have each kid put a handprint in paint on a t-shirt or sweatshirt (black works well) and fabric pen write the child’s name under the handprint, and school and class year somewhere.

  • Denise says:

    The last couple of years I have gotten my childrens teachers a few gardening supplies from the Dollar Tree, such as a flower put, a pair of gardening gloves, a small spade and seed packets or flower bulbs. We then tied it all up with rafia and included a picture of the student with a note that said, “Thanks for helping me grow” printed at the Kodak kiosk. Makes a super cute gift for around 5$.

    We have also given a 5$ Starbucks gift card attached to a cup (which they gave me when I bought the gift cards) with a few goodies inside and a note saying ,. “Thanks a latte”

  • Anne says:

    We always made the teachers homemade noodles growing up all it cost was a bag a flour, a dozen eggs, water, and bags. The teachers loved them one teacher was disappointed when the youngest one of us graduated because every Christmas my mom’s noodles is what they ate. But that said home baked goods often go in the trash my mom is a teacher and I am a home visitor and if we dont know the family personally we dont eat anything from their house.
    For my daughter’s physical therapist I made her home made jewerly she loved it.

  • Lee says:

    For the last 2 years, I have gotten my son’s preschool teachers a small package of chocolate and a Christmas ornament. I get the Ghiradelli squares or something similar that’s around $3 and then a $2 ornament from Wal-Mart. You can find a nice-looking ornament for a small price.

  • Jennifer says:

    As a former teacher one of the best gifts that I got was a pair of homemade knit slippers. I still have them after 9 years. Now that I am on the giving end I have given a tube of lotion with my child’s hands traced and wraped around it for the card. The card said thanks for lending me a helping hand. I also gave an ornament scrapbook that I made with CD’s and put pictures of the students in it.

  • barb says:

    if you have a teacher who likes to play golf make golf club covers out of left over material. if you have a teacher that likes to cook take a basket fill it with stuff to make cookies with if you have a recipe for cookie mix put dry ingred in mason jar and print recipe and cards. or do one for bean soup or one for spagetti etc. if a teacher likes to read have your kids make a book marker and lament it for her.
    another idea we did for our boss we took a wooden box shaped like a treasure chest and everyone at work wrote on a card what they liked about the boss and we gave it to him. you could do the same with the teacher also.

  • Seema says:

    The best gifts are handmade cards or notes of appreciation. I have a folder in my desk and open it once in a while to look back at the kind words from students and parents.

    If one feels the need to give something more than that, then something useful for the classroom such as stickers, markers, notepads, wipes, tissue boxes (we go through lots of those), Post Its etc. A book for the classroom library. Help putting up bulletin boards or making copies. Offering to take things home to do to assist the teacher (cutting, stapling, printing pictures etc).

    Coupons or gift cards are great. Even $5 to a local fast food place means I can grab something to eat between grading papers and standing in line at the copy machine.

    Please no food or scented products. Teachers have allergies, too.

  • Carissa says:

    In the past, gifts I’ve enjoyed are gift cards even in small denominations especially to Starbucks, itunes or netflix or Target.

    I also like doing edible food gifts in glass jars or lidded bowls that you can save and prepare for dinner later (bonus points for things you can dump in a slow cooker) Pampered chef has come good recipes here:
    Make sure to tie a tag around the jar/handle with the list of ingredients and the instructions for how to prepare the item

  • Jeanie Vela says:

    I like personal homemade gifts so here is an idea that can be very cost effective, but personal. It does require some time but not a lot of time. I have a document with pictures and everything if anyone is interested.

    Crayola Christmas Wreath
    · 1 -8″ embroidery hoop
    · 1 -12″ embroidery hoop
    · 3 boxes of 24 ct. crayons
    · 1 roll of 3/8″ craft ribbon
    · 1 wide ribbon piece for the hanger I used SU! 1 1/4″ stripped grosgrain ribbon in Old Olive (item # 115618)
    · Various die cuts (I used all SU! paper and the Cricut Locker Talk & Doodlecharm cartridge)
    · Acrylic paint (to paint the hoops) and a sponge brush
    · Hot glue gun (I used high temp) and glue sticks
    · Wooden apple cut out
    · Paint pens (for name)

    1. Unscrews the screw from both hoops and hot glue the ends together
    2. Paint the hoops desired color
    3. Lay all crayons on the hoop in the desired color order. This helps with placement when you begin to glue them all down.
    4. Glue down each crayon. If you are a perfectionist like me, make sure that all crayons are facing the same way.
    5. Thread craft ribbon in and out at the top of crayons and again at the bottom. I tied my knot behind the crayon to keep the ribbon tight.
    6. Attach die cuts with hot glue. I laminated mine first to help them last longer.
    7. Tie large bow at the top making sure you leave a long enough loop to hang the wreath. You can add hot glue for reinforcement on the hoop.

  • Joy says:

    I know a lot of you mentioned $5-$10 gift cards. But when you have more than one child and multiple teachers, therapists and bus drivers that can add up quick and break an already tight budget. Just not do-able for my family. For families who have very little money or who already live paycheck to paycheck, buying teacher gifts is just one more added worry and stress.

    I usually try to do homemade gifts. For example, one year I made angel feather ornaments. You just stick a feather in a clear glass ball and add some glitter stars. Then, attach a gold or silver bow and a poem. Last year, I made peppermint bark.

  • Aimee says:

    I have been teaching for 13 years and have gotten my fair share of coffee mugs (I don’t drink coffee) and apple themed items. I DO not eat baked goods from students unless I have a relationship with them outside of school. You just don’t know about food alergies and eating preferences. I always liked the creative gifts that showed that the family thought about me and what I liked. I had a parent who brought me a diet cherry limade every day from Sonic for the week before break. She did it when she picked up her child so she got the happy hour price. I collected ladybugs (I suggest that every teacher collects something so they don’t start to collect something by default.). Several parents got me ladybug items like a corkboard for the classroom that they decorated with ladybug fabric, a ladybug clipboard, personalized notecards, etc. I too always loved stickers, post-it notes in fun colors, highlighters, etc. in a cute basket I could use in the room. Doing something personal that shows that you truly thought about the recepient will create a gift that the teacher will always remember.

  • Carrie says:

    This year we made the Brown Sugar foot scrub from the C&H website. I used old baby food jars, topped them with pretty fabric and added the label you can print yourself. All of the teachers were very touched. I did substitute canola oil for the almond oil. We have food allergies and I didn’t want to risk one of the teachers hands or feet breaking out if they were allergic to almonds. I loved that I could make a thoughtful gift using ingredents in our pantry, and my daughter could mix it up and add the labels herself. I am making the “Coffee Toffee” as stocking stuffers for the men in our family, it looks yummy! I have been saving all of our old jars for this.

  • Jane says:

    My mother always made homemade fudge and cookies for all ( 4 children)of our Sunday School teachers. I now do that with all of my chldren’s Sunday School teachers (5 children). I think they all enjoy the goodies, especially because they all know that I only use butter in my cookies and fudge 🙂 It is a very special gift for them. Just place on a paper plate or little gift box tied with a pretty ribbon and you have yourself a pretty inexpensive and tasty gift. 🙂 Merry Chirstmas!!

  • Dannelle says:

    I am the “class parent” for my daughter’s class and jumped the gun on this issue with the rest of the parents in the class…I made a paper loop wreath for a few dollars and then, each parent chipped in $5. I am collecting assorted gift cards and sticking them to floral picks – they will be tucked in the wreath and presented at the class holiday party before the Christmas Break. TWO teachers are in the class, so each will get their own wreath and $50 in asst gift cards.
    You can check it out (and a how-to) on my blog –>

  • Susan says:

    I wrote up some things NOT to get teachers, ironically many of which I’d probably consider giving. But after teaching 8 years, here’s what I would suggest and not suggest.

  • Gima Rose says:

    I am thinking of getting my kiddos teachers the chick fil a calendar. It comes with a coupon for every month. I plan on getting one for the bus driver too. I believe they are only 6.00

  • Ashleigh says:

    As a teacher, I really feel like I don’t need an actual gift to feel appreciated, but the gift of time is such a blessing! If a parent would slip me a coupon for ” Will grade spelling tests” or “Will grade math tests” or “Will come in for 30 minutes to read to the class” or “Will come in to do an art project with the class” etc. I would LOVE it! We can all use an extra set of helping hands.

  • Traci says:

    The saying, “It’s the thought that counts” truly applies to teachers. If a student hands me a handmade card from construction paper, I think, “awww, Johnny thought enough to make me something this year!” If a student hands me a gift, I think, “Johnny’s mom thought of me this year.” Have your child write a personal message to their teacher (or write it for them and have them sign if they’re young.)

  • Shantique says:

    I’m so excited! I went to Michaels craft store so that I could price out supplies to make gifts for the teachers. I was going to make trinket boxes that I used to LOVE to make. While there we saw these 2 packs of really pretty fabric covered photo albums. They were 12.99 for the 2 pack and I had the 40% off coupons. When I go to the register they were 50% off! They are so pretty and I spent $23 on gifts for 6 teachers. They are all very pretty and they each are different! I will also bake cookies for the whole staff and just do a goody bag of cookies to go with the albums. I am so happy!

    I was feeling so guilty bc they have all been wonderful to my children and I know they deserve so much more than I can afford to give, since there are so many of them. Now I feel good that I was able to get something nice and personal.

  • Amy Vance says:

    I have been teaching for 7 years and gift cards are wonderful even if only $5.00. I can use them for supplies or something on myself (lunch, movie, ect). But most important is the thought! Some of my best gifts are cards that the children make or a picture of the child to keep!

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