Teacher Gifts Without Spending A Fortune

Ivy says:

This morning, I went to “Muffins For Moms” at my daughter’s school. It was really nice, but LOUD! I admire Meg’s teacher greatly for being able to handle the loudness. I was there for 45 minutes and had to turn my radio off on the way home to enjoy the silence. I couldn’t imagine a whole day of it.

With that in mind, it’s that time of the year again- time to give teacher gifts. This stresses a lot of people out because they want to get the teacher something nice, that they will appreciate and/or use, but they don’t have a lot of money to spend.

Trust me when I say teachers get that, not having a lot of money to spend. I’m not going to jump on the “teachers are horribly underpaid” bandwagon, but I think we can all agree that teachers didn’t go into the profession to make a fortune.

My mom is going to kill me for telling the world this, but my mom is a teacher. She appreciates every gift she gets, but there are some gifts she gets more than others. Some more unusual gifts that she’s gotten are some of her favorites, like the doily a student and her mom crocheted for her. She sometimes gets really pretty pens and pencils. Gifts like this are terribly appreciated, and not too expensive.

Another thing you should consider is a gift card. Even $5 is a great boon to any teacher. Staples and Target gift cards seem to be favorites with the teacher set. Other things you might consider are movie passes, restaurant gift cards, even a pack of white copier paper- they go through paper like there’s no tomorrow!

You don’t have to go to great expense to let your child’s teacher know you care. Even a card with your thanks is an awesome gift.


  1. Michael on January 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I think it is important to encourage teachers in any way possible. There jobs are tough enough without the depressing news and economy intefering with the morale of children/students.

  2. Rubber Stamps on May 28, 2008 at 12:41 am

    What a great post! It’s all too true that teachers do end up getting the short end of the stick and many people just don’t see how little it takes to make a huge morale boost for them.

    If more teachers were shown more support it could only help drive them towards bettering their teaching.

    I think it unwise for anyone of us to undermine the education of children – are they not where we are heading?

    Just my two cents, again great post.

  3. Teacher on May 20, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    being a teacher is not easy. but looking at your pupil bring smile in a teachers face…. good work…

  4. Lisa on May 11, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    As a middle school teacher, the best gift I’ve received is a car wash. Our PTA organized a car wash for the teachers. It was in the school parking lot and powered by students (and supervised by PTA moms). When I got into my car the next morning to go to work, my clean car definitely put a smile on my face!

  5. Deanna on May 11, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Great suggestions. My sister and I (former co-directors/owners of a childcare center) have received more lotions and coffee mugs than we could ever really use. Now as parents of school-agers I purchase gift cards to a local teachers store for my kid’s teachers. My sister let’s her children pick-out games for their classrooms as gifts to their teachers.

  6. Jolly Green Dad on May 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    We went the easy route in my girls class unfortunately. Starbucks gift card. But they still loved it! I think teachers need coffee more than most!

  7. Bramble on May 10, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I home school. I’d like a gift card 🙂

  8. Gwen on May 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Meh. I’m glad I don’t have kids. In California anyway, teachers start fresh out of college getting paid more than I do, so I’m puzzled about why they then feel entitled to tips from parents who most often earn “even” less than they do.

    Yes, I tip chambermaids, waitrons, cab drivers etc. whose only income often actually is the tips they earn (and often have to share with the rest of the staff), and who really are accountable for the quality of service they provide.

    But they typically also don’t have college educations, professional status, near bullet-proof tenure and yearly pay increases linked strictly to seniority rather than actual performance.

    I work hard too, and put up with a lot of crap from customers and co-workers yet I keep smiling and doing my job mostly because I enjoy it, but also because if I didn’t do my job I wouldn’t have one for long. Does that entitle me to set up a tip jar on my desk, or a paypal button so I can demand tips as well as a salary for doing my job?

    So yeah, a great teacher can make a big difference in a kid’s life, and set them on the road to future success blah blah blah, but there are also a lot of mediocre ones and outright creepazoids, but thanks to the teachers’ unions and their massive propaganda machine, all are rewarded equally regardless of qualification, skill or effort.

    But I guess it’s okay as long as its For The Sake Of The Children.

  9. Amy on May 10, 2008 at 9:35 am

    AMEN, SISTAH! I teach school and while I do enjoy the lotions and candles I frequently get, when you have a class of 30 giving them to you at each holiday–they add up really quickly.

    My most favorite gifts ever were a gift card my entire class donated to at my favorite local scrapbooking store, a candy dish that one student made me, and surprisingly, MAGNETS. I use them all the time on my white board and I love the big powerful ones.

    Great ideas!

  10. HappyChyck on May 10, 2008 at 7:58 am

    The most cherished gifts I have received were thank you notes from parents and students! I also cherish school photos with the little message on back. Many teachers keep a wall of fame with these picts of former students posted. I’m not saying I don’t love a little gift from time to time, but even something that costs nothing is greatly appreciated.

  11. jennifer w. on May 9, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Skip to My Lou always has great teacher appreciation ideas: http://skiptomylou.wordpress.com/teacher-appreciation-ideas/

  12. Karen on May 9, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Nice suggestions. Gift cards are a good idea but ask around a bit first. In our school board, teachers are not allowed to accept cash gifts, including gift cards.

  13. Stephanie on May 9, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Your first paragraph made me laugh. I used to teach before we started homeshooling. Yesterday we went to a museum where other schools were at for a field trip. It was soooo LOUD and all I could think was how did I ever stand this all day?!

  14. Pam on May 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    My daughter is a specail ed teacher and has two school age children of her own…requiring lots of driving……I think this year she would love….and appreciate gas cards…..she does appreciate things for her classroom-but I think a gift card where she can decide is the best gift like target.

  15. MA on May 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for these suggestions. I have about a month left before the end of the school year and about a dozen specialized educators who work with my son, so gift-giving can get challenging to avoid cliche and expensive when added up.

  16. Angela on May 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Last year I got my sons teacher a gift certif. to a classroom store in town. She loved it and at the beginning of this year brought my son in to show him the stuff she got to buy with it. He thought that was great. This year will do the same and maybe add a $5 GC for the coffee shop.

  17. Margo on May 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Great suggestions! I like to let my kids help me bake cookies for their teachers.

  18. Taylor on May 9, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Agreed! My boyfriend is a teacher and he gets a lot of gift cards. He really likes the ones from Target and we’ve really enjoyed the ones he’s gotten from Dunkin Donuts (being able to swing in for a coffee in the AM is a nice treat for us!). Even little small ones are appreciated.

    And, of course, he loves to get baked goods from his students.

  19. holly on May 9, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Excellent. I don’t expect many gifts from my students in this, my first year of teaching high school, as I teach in an impoverished area and I know they can’t afford it. Plus, quite a few of them hate my guts :). However, these are great suggestions that I know I’d love. Thanks.

  20. La Rêveuse on May 9, 2008 at 11:24 am

    As a former teacher, I can agree heartily with this. For me, gift cards were the bomb (don’t forget Starbucks!) and I loved anything handmade by the kid just for me–I’d rather have a piece of their art than a candle or coffee mug. The baked treats were nice, too, but not so good for our waistlines. (Neither are the donuts in the lounge, but we eat those, too.)

    One year all my kids chipped in and got me a gift card to a music store (I taught music) which was awesome–I bought a mouthpiece puller and saved countless parents trips to the store to unstick trumpet/trombone/baritone/french horn/tuba mouthpieces, which get stuck easily even if the kid is good about their habits.

    A little thought is worth a lot more than a box full of coffee mugs.

  21. Carol on May 9, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Thanks! I know, I have already thought about the end of the year, and what is the correct thing to do. I got this cute little teacher bags, perfect for gift cards and a little something with it.

    At Christmas, I gave the teachers assorted teas and homemade cookies. And for the main teacher, I gave her labels with all the students names on them in the traceable font that 4 year olds practice with. It was a huge pack, so she doesn’t have to keep writing their names on the papers. She loved them! Not sure if I can top that gift now!