Teacher, Teacher, what do you see?

Dear Home Ec 101,

I’m on a fairly tight budget but I want to get my children’s teacher a gift to show my appreciation.  Do you have any ideas?

~Pinching Pennies in Pennsylvania

Heather says:

I think it is wonderful that you want to do something for the teachers in your children’s lives.  I firmly believe a handwritten note of thanks is sufficient, include favorite memories from the year and mention areas in which he or she has been particularly helpful with your child.  I belive our society has gotten so commercialized that we often give items when merely an expression of appreciation would do.  Teachers are often overwhelmed with knick-knacks and baked goods at the end of the year.  I know it is hard enough to keep clutter out of my own home, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for teachers.  While the items are appreciated, it becomes harder and harder to find a place to store each item and it is hard to throw or give away a gift given out of love.

If you must give something, a gift card to a store where they may find supplies for their classroom is often highly appreciated.  Do not feel guilted into spending more than you can afford, even small denominations help.


  1. Writing Teacher on January 18, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Great question and great answer! A note expressing a positive effect is so powerful for a teacher. If it is written by the child the teacher knows the child was involved. If it is written by the parent, the teacher knows the parent values their effort. Written by both child and parent… needless to say, a nice combination. That being said, a small thing of quality that the teacher will like is better than a big thing for which you aren’t sure of. A good candy bar that the teacher will eat is better than a great big box of chocolates left over from last year. Thanks for thinking of us!

  2. Kristy on May 15, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I am also a teacher. I completely agree with the others. A sincere thank you note is wonderful. Lisa is right. Most of the time when we hear from a parent they’re unhappy. Hearing a kind word really brightens my day.

    If you feel you must give something, personally, I would love a supply of pencils. Tie them with a pretty bow and I’d be thrilled. Another gift I’ve appreciated over the years is a $5 Starbucks gift card. I won’t usually spend the money to get myself something there, but with that gift card, I can treat myself.

    But really, you don’t have to buy anything. We don’t think less of the kids or parents who don’t bring a gift.

  3. amy on May 14, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    wanted to weigh in on this one as my mom has been an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. you wouldn’t believe all the garbage she gets as gifts! she has often said how she would prefer supplies for the classroom. give a book to the classroom in your child’s name–or ask the teacher what supplies are needed. she will LOVE you for buying something useful and not getting another apple mug!

  4. Miriam on May 14, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I just found your blog via Like Merchant Ships.

    I must second your response. As a former teacher, sincere notes of thanks were always wonderful to receive. And you’re right, teachers get a lot of knick-knacks and clutter. One of my favorite things to get as a teacher was lunch from a local restaurant. That was such a treat and much better than my turkey sandwich! Even Chick Fil A was a welcome surprise.

  5. Lisa on May 14, 2007 at 12:01 am

    I am a middle school teacher, and this year I received one of the best teacher appreciation gifts I have ever received: a car wash. Our PTA organized a car wash for the teachers and recruited students to do the washing. Was it the best car wash I’ve ever received? Of course not, but I truly felt appreciated.

    If you are unable to donate your time in such a way, Heather is right, a handwritten note goes a long way. A significant amount of the time that teachers spend with parents is spent with parents who have complaints about how their children are taught. A note of thanks is always a breath of fresh air!