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Happy Friday: Frugal & Creative Teacher Appreciation Gift

5:22 PM MST
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Sent from reader, Gigi:

My husband is a first year teacher and I know first hand how much work they do for such little pay. I wanted to put together nice teacher appreciation gifts this year but knew I didn’t have a lot of money to work with, so I started “couponing my way to a good gift” way back in the fall. We made these cute little “spa” bags with this poem (printed in “chalkboard” font) attached:

We’ve got to “hand” it to you…This has been one great year! Close to our hearts… We will hold you near! You deserve a BIG bonus… Or at least a spa day! But we can’t give you either… Not on our pay (lol)! So take what’s in this bag… Get pampered & just sit back! You’ve done a nice job… There is nothing you lack!

I had enough stuff to make 3 bags that included everything you need for an at-home spa day! Most of the stuff was free but I calculated they only cost me less than $2 each to make! It made me feel good to be able to thank the teachers for all they do without breaking the bank!


Do you have a funny, “Hip”, or unique photo to share?! Email us at happyfriday@hip2save(dot)com. Every Friday, I will post one photo, submitted by you and/or another Hip2Save reader, that gives us a glimpse into your frugal lifestyle or simply makes us smile. If your photo is published on Hip2Save, we’ll email you a $10 Amazon e-card!

** Check out all of the previous Happy Friday pictures here.

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  • Diane says:

    Thanks to all you for showing your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them! I am a retired teacher who taught for 30 years in Oregon. You support means so much in a society where public educators often feel disrespected. Teachers spend all day loving other people’s children, and your gestures mean so much!

  • Kacey says:

    I am a teacher and this is the kind of gift that I love to receive. How thoughtful!!

  • Michelle M says:

    I gave my son’s teacher a gift bag of free cosmetics that I’ve gotten through couponing- she was thrilled!

  • Becky says:

    I baked my son’s teacher a caramel pecan apple pie for her to share with her family. She had the biggest smile and said she couldn’t wait to eat it.

  • Danielle says:

    Thanks Collin! Because of you I was able to score the Nook for 19.99 and gave it to my sons teacher! Teachers do so much for our children! :)

  • Kathy says:

    Love it, I put together a little bucket with sunflowers on it, got @ the dollar store with some free samples of coffee & some snacks with a note saying, Enjoy a coffee break on me. My daughter
    Wrote a nice thank you note also.

  • Gigi says:

    Thank you SO much for choosing my photo this week… I love the Happy Friday pictures :) I can’t wait to get the gift card and see how far I can make it stretch with the help of Hip 2 Save!

  • 3lilmunchkins says:

    We purchased strawberries at our local store for $2 (2 lb big box) and some chocolate dipping sauce for $2. We printed off a piece of paper that .had strawberries on it and wrote “thank you berry much for all you do. We couldn’t have picked a better teacher”. Then we took ribbon and tied around the berries, chocolate and note. Was super cute, a bit healthy, and inexpensive. We tend to show our teachers love the whole year randomly. I appreciate the other mother (or father) they get each and every day at school.

  • Cassandra says:

    Thank you so much for showing your child’s teacher you appreciate her! My favorite is just a card from a parent saying thank you and that they are happy with the effort and love I put into their child’s day. I’m sure the teacher was very happy with your gift!

  • Carmen says:

    For every holiday, I try to do this for all of my kids teachers…I call it the beauty bag.
    They all love them.

  • Nikki says:

    Loved it!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jen says:

    We made our teachers a soap scrub made with shower gel and sugar and also a lip balm with beeswax and almond oil. Very easy and still nice.

  • Ketsy says:

    I was happy to send the new teacher something and she was happy too. She’s new and covering for our regular teacher’s maternity leave. I think she was very surprised to get a tote. My daughter’s gift was a bag with her expo marker, a paper cutter and a flower shaped from clown balloons. :D

  • deidre says:

    I’m a high school teacher so kids don’t think its cool to bring in gifts :) but I had a student bring in Clorox wipes and I was so happy because we have to buy our own cleaning supplies. He was also excited because he knew he was helping and how grateful I was.

  • Laura says:

    Almost hesitate to post this, but I am so frustrated. I am my son’s teacher’s room parent and have given Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and just today, a $100 gift (funded by the parents in the class) for Teacher Appreciation week.

    Not. one. single. thank. you. for. any. of. those.

    So disgusted! Her pay is incredible and she gets amazing support from the parent community. Is it too much to ask for a little respect to the parents and a common courtesy “thanks?” I don’t think so, but I am definitely not feeling good about the whole situation. In my 13 years of schooling with my kids, I have never seen this happen, but my daughter’s teacher has done the same thing (they are twins).

    Uggh. My husband has been unemployed off and on for the past 3.5 years, he has battled cancer in the last year, and I am clipping coupons like a mad fool just to make ends meet. A little gratitude would go a long way with us, as we are scraping to fund all these activities for these teachers.

    Okay, off the soap box now. Sorry to vent :(. Have a happy Friday!

    • Katherine Streetman says:

      This is my son’s first year in preschool and I have had a similar experience. EVERY gift I sent to school has has yet to recieve a simple “Thank you”. It would be nice to know if the teachers even got it. During Christmas they opened everyones gift in front of the parents, except ours. A few months ago, the room mom sent a note home asking for money for a class gift. I did not send it because we had already sent an appreciation gift. I recieved two more notes asking for the money, this time from the teachers! I refused to send it and secretly wished they would confront me about it. I would have to give them a lesson… on manners. This will not discourage me from sending gifts to future teachers. It just upsets me to think that they expect it.

    • JJ says:

      Wow! I mean, I just graduated college in December, but we recently saw an elementary school classmate of my 20 year old sister’s, and the first thing she mentioned was all that my mom did for our school when I was in elementary school. My mom was always there by giving gifts and helping out with parties and heading silent/chinese auctions at school (which made the yearly Spring Fling actually profitable at the end of the night). At one point, somebody tried to take over her Spring Fling duties, and after the school admitted that they failed miserably to turn a profit, they asked her to come back one more time.

      At this point, we’re grown, but I’ve got an elementary school sister who is in the same private school class as my second grade teacher’s son. She still teaches at the same school my mom did everything for and the school is now considered impoverished and my teacher talks about how she would kill to have a mom like mine that would help out at the school. My sister’s fourth grade teacher is so awful (we’ve never, as a family, disliked a teacher so much!!!) that I begged my mom to not even send in the five dollar contribution to the teacher’s gift this year!

      People like you (especially given your circumstances!) are rare and it seems like rude teachers are more rare, given the whole grand scheme of things (dozens of teachers, a few bad eggs?) I know you don’t do it for a public acknowledgement. While a little gratitude obviously cannot hurt… these teachers seem like they are just cold. I personally wouldn’t be volunteering as much for those specific teachers in the future if there’s a chance your children get them again. I don’t know if this helps at all, Laura! But, I’ve witnessed my mom be exactly in your place! The most positive thing is that the school year is almost over and you can enjoy some more time with your children! :)

    • Jen says:

      I sent weekly or biweekly gifts to my son’s teacher. She did not say thank you once. I stopped sending them. While I may search clearance, find deals or use coupons, it is still my time and money. If you can’t find the time to say “thanks”, then I am going to stop thanking you with my gifts. I was a teacher and I ALWAYS said thank with a note or card for each and every gift. During this special teacher week, we chose to thank another teacher who has been instrumental in my son’s education. Without being confrontational, you might consider sending an email to let her know that the parents would like some feedback from the gifts she has received. Then that will let you know how hard you need to work for that end of the year gift!

      • Erin says:

        Weekly/biweekly gifts?!?!? You are setting the bar too high for the rest of us!

        Great idea about the email. After an appropriate amount of time, email to ask if the teacher received the various gifts that were sent. I know I sent my kindergartener with a bag of cookies for the bus driver for Christmas one year. That day, his teacher stopped me to tell me how delicious the cookies I sent were. I was so confused–I hadn’t sent her gift in yet, and I wasn’t planning on sending cookies! We realized my son had given her the bus driver’s gift, even though I reminded him to give it to the driver before he got on the bus. I saw him pause to speak to the driver before he sat down, so I assumed they got where they needed to be.

    • Donna says:

      Please don’t let one bad apple stop you from being the incredibly thoughtful parent you have been. As a teacher, I appreciate all the thoughtful things my students do for me and cannot thank them enough. I also make a point of teaching my students to thank others for what they do. We routinely make and send thank you cards for the school secretary, nurse, parent volunteers, custodians, and anyone else that helps us out.

    • Erin says:

      I’m so sorry. That stinks. I was room mom last year, and my son’s teacher wrote beautiful, personal handwritten notes for literally everything that came into her classroom (even used items for projects). His current teacher does not. We heard nothing about individual holiday gifts (tho she gave each child a gift, and I’m sure there were verbal thank yous) She doesn’t often respond to email and tends to forget to return borrowed items. But you know what? She understands my child in a way that his previous teacher did not. I’m a stickler for the niceties, but I figure I’d rather her invest her time productively with the kids than use her limited free time (she has two young kids) communicating with me.

      Your kids’ teacher just received the gift; maybe she’ll send some sort of acknowledgment. If not, act accordingly with the end-of-year gift. Write her a beautiful thank you–and that’s it.

      Sorry to hear about your husband. Hope he’s doing better.

    • tracy says:

      I don’t have kids but I would hate to have to send gifts or money towards gifts and not get a thank you. I think it really depends on the school and how much kids are in the school. say if you put your kid in a private school with much less kids and they stay in the same grade for years and send gifts because you know them a lot better and then they don’t say thank you then that is even worse. its a lose lose situation. if you don’t say anything about them saying thank you then you feel like you havnt done anything. if you bring it up,it makes you look like a jerk. hard to figure out…

    • Shar R says:

      I’m lucky the teachers always thank me personally for any gifts I send and give me handwritten thank you notes too. Just a thought, next time you give a gift, include a pack of thank you cards in there too. Especially if you buy some with the bogo sales at Publix or with the Hallmark coupon, but even Walmart and Target sometimes have sales on the bulk cards. Or if you are a scrapbooker you can make some nice ones as a present.

      I gave them to the teacher one time and she was super thankful because she admitted she goes thru a ton of thank you cards and always has to buy more note cards. It’s definitely a big hint to give a teacher that sort of thing, but even if it’s some blank note cards, not ones that say thank you on the front, throw those in there nicely decorated and you will probably get one back addressed specifically to you thanking you for your gift. ;-)

    • Michelle says:

      Curious- how do you define well paid? Starting teachers were I live only make about 27,000. I have 20+years experience, 1 masters degree plus other grad level classes and don’t even make 50,000. Yes I get summers off but they are not paid. I have no paid holidays in fact. I also put in 10 hour days most days and work weekends. I need to move and make big bucks were you live. You are right, not writing a thank you is rude, but not enough to bash the entire profession. I am so tired of teacher bashing and judging a whole profession based on the poor judgment of a few.

      • JJ says:


        I don’t know where you read that she was “judging a whole profession,” but Laura is disheartened about two teachers in particular. If Laura didn’t recognize how hard teachers worked, I don’t think she’d be spending her free time helping them out when she can.

  • Nicole says:

    We are doing Pei Wei gift cards for our Pre-K teachers. They are running a promotion, buy $30, get a free combo on next visit. We have to buy 6 for the two teachers, two specials teachers, and two aides, so two transactions and we’ll have receipts for dinner for my husband and I. We’re putting the gift cards in their Chinese takeout boxes with a ribbon and note “Wei To Go”. Gotta love gift cards!!! :)

  • Melissa says:

    I am a teacher and would love this gift! I would love any sort of thank you from a parent or student though. I work in a high minority and a high poverty school and have never received gifts. :(

  • Lady Kay says:

    Thank you for the ideas. It got me thinking about putting together something for a neighbor on the block turning 52. I put together Poise samples in a bag with a tag that read: You get HOTTER ever year! You go girl! Happy Birthday!!!

    Thanks again Ladies. I will put something together this weekend for the daycare.

  • cassie says:

    From One parent and former teacher and gift giver… just one thought. Acts of kindness do not need thanking. I know this is hard to understand, but isn’t this what we are trying to teach our children by giving gifts in the first place? That it is the thought of giving and doing kind, thoughtful acts for others. Stay positive, take care everyone and keep your chins up.

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