"Hipsters" to the Rescue: What are your "Hip" Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas?

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Can you believe that the 2011-2012 school year is nearing an end and Summer break is right around the corner!?!  As you may already know, during the week of May 7th-11th many schools will be honoring their teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week!  Every year at this time, I struggle to come up with a unique AND affordable gift to present to my kiddo’s teachers that my kids can also participate in creating.  So I was very excited when reader, Trudy, emailed in the following adorable idea…

“Thought I would share in case anyone else likes to give their children’s teacher something for Teacher Appreciation week. Every year my kids and I like to make something for teacher appreciation week. This year we decided to use some of the glass jars I have saved from all of the great deals on spaghetti sauce and clearance jelly beans. The yellow ribbon was $1 @ Michaels and I just used a black marker to add the ruler marks. I also bought one sheet of card stock @ Michaels for $1, it had a cute school theme. I cut circles from the paper and hot glued them to the lid, and added a frame to  the label and made a little card to hang on the jar.  The label says “No beans about it (teacher’s name) RULES”.  A cute (and inexpensive) thank you for teachers.”

On that note, please share your affordable and meaningful gift ideas for teachers in the comment section below!  And, if you’re a teacher, what gifts do YOU personally enjoy receiving?

To all of you teachers out there….THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! You are so valued and appreciated! 🙂

Join The Discussion

Comments 142

  1. Toni

    I love these ideas. Super Creative

  2. jennifer

    Cute idea, but most teachers would rather have the amount spent on the gift in the form of a gift card – Target, Walmart, Office Depot, etc.

    • Renae

      $5 gift card is better than a item that isn’t useful. Especially since teachers are buying a lot of their classroom supplies beyond what the parents bring at the beginning of the year.

      • Patricia

        That is a good idea, Renae! You can get the gift card at a bookstore so they can enjoy a summer read.

    • Shanon

      as a teacher I can fully agree with what you said. We spend so much, of our own money, for our classrooms that it’s nice to have little gift cards to use in combination with what we are already having to spend. Don’t get me wrong, we love anything and everything our students give us but it’s nice not having to pay for everything out of pocket =D

    • Erica DeStio

      What gift card is under $5 though and that can be costly depending on how many kids you have. Cute idea!

    • Amber R.

      Keep in mind if your child is in preschool or a private school, some schools wont allow the teachers to accept cash or gift cards. Atleast thats how my daughters preschool is.

      • Laura

        My mom is a preschool teacher, as is my best friend, and my mom’s very close friend and all three schools they teach at allow them to accept gift cards/cash. I’ve never heard of a school that doesn’t allow it. I don’t think that’s the norm.

        • Laura

          I forgot to add all 3 of them teach at private schools.

      • Amber R.

        Perhaps it is just my school then, but its still always a good idea to check. It would be horrible to give someone a gift that they can’t even use, due to rules.

      • Marie

        I’ve never heard of any school that doesn’t allow gift cards. I work as a teacher’s aide in a private school and we LOVE gift cards but as another person said we appreicate ANYTHING we get because it makes us feel loved!

    • Linda

      Well, I don’t fall into the “most teachers” category! I love receiving homemade gifts from students! Yes, I do appreciate gift cards when I get them, but homemade gifts like these take time to create and the kids are always so proud to present them to me. It melts my heart 🙂

      • araaidan

        Thanks Linda for posting! That made my heart smile. Real gratitude and appreciation is an amazing gift that yet again you as a teacher are teaching our children! Thank you! Your students are lucky to have you.

      • Michele

        I couldn’t agree more. When I receive a homemade gift from a student it almost brings tears to my ears when I think the parents and children are thinking of me while they are making the gift! To me, that is a true gift from the HEART!!

      • Amber R.

        I am not a teacher, but it is so nice to hear that homemade gifts are appreciated by some teachers. I just think it has more meaning than a gift card.

    • Kellyfornia

      I agree. A gift card is very much appreciated. And not just gift cards to “school supply” places. A $5-10 gift card to a fast food restaurant near the school, or to an ice cream place, coffee shop or even a movie ticket are great ideas. I figure if my child and I love the teacher then why not splurge a little on them (considering they spend A LOT of time with them too).

    • Gina

      I am a teacher and I love getting gifts from my students. It’s much more personal than a gift card. The pencil holder and jars of jelly beans are cute ideas and I’d be happy to receive either as a gift. Just knowing that the child spent time making the gift for me is much more precious to me than the cash that it cost.

      • M

        I am a teacher too. Recommending gift cards does NOT mean we are ungrateful for gifts. We just don’t want you to spend your money (even $2) on something that we can’t use. That’s all.

        • kalu

          I would say that either of the two gifts shown above could be used and appreciated by any teacher. I agree with a number of you above, it’s so nice to see parent’s spending time making things with their children and at the same time teaching the children appreciation for their teacher’s. The children are learning so much more from this activity than purchasing a $5 gift card.

  3. Rachel

    Love it! Very creative!

  4. Sarah O.

    We bought a plastic tumbler from Ross and are going to fill it with homeade cookies. Then we’ll attach a card that says, “Thank you for helping to make me a smart cookie.”

    • Julie

      I will be making cookies for our teachers too. We had a 4-H project where we submitted recipes with honey. I made the “doo doo” cookies substituting honey for the cocoa and my son’s teachers loved them! They ask me to make them for their birthdays and Christmas too 🙂

    • Tanisha

      Thank you for posting the link! I was looking for this!

  5. Rosemarie

    Being a former classroom teacher, I really appreciated gift cards to Wal Mart or other stores where I could purchase items for my classroom.

  6. Sheena

    I got them personalized cards from your postings. Thanks collin

  7. Anne Marie Freitas

    I asked a few teacher friends about this because my daughhter’s kindergarten teacher has REALLY made an impact on her love for school and I don’t want to send him his 345th coffee mug to go in the cupboard. I’m going to let her create something crafty with his name or initials that he can hang in the classroom, get some movie ticket vouchers for him to relax one evening, and write a real paper letter to him with my extreme thanks for what he has done for my little girl… ♥

    • Laura

      You are a wonderful parent and I know he will appreciate it more than you know. My mom is a teacher and she would love to receive that.

  8. Mo

    Our PTSO came up w/themes for each day – Monday we’re bringing the kids’ teacher’s favorite flower (or any flower really). Our teacher and her para both have gardens, so we’re bringing potted plants versus cut stems so they can transplant them at the end of the week!

    Tuesday we’re doing a canned food drive. Each grade has been given specific things to bring and they’re having a contest to see which grade can bring in the most items!
    This time of year is hard on food banks – donations go down, but need goes up b/c kiddos who rely on free and reduced lunch aren’t headed to school over the summer break to get those meals… Kindergarten’s items are oatmeal and breakfast bars – so we’re getting in on the NutriGrain Bar deal that Collin posted about at Wags this weekend to get more boxes than we’d normally be able to afford! YAY!
    We’re also providing a potluck lunch to the teachers/staff on this day.

    Wednesday the kids are just wearing the teacher’s fave color and Thursday they are all bringing homemade thank you notes.

    I always think that the ideas people post on here are SUPER CUTE and CREATIVE – in fact – I keep a list of any new ideas I see every year when Collin puts up this post – but I often use them on the first day of school, the teacher’s birthday, or for winter-holiday gifts!

    I liked that this year our school went out of their way to come up with ideas that make it easy for all of the kids to say thanks – even those whose parents don’t have a lot of money to spend, or even time to put into cute homemade projects (many folks are working more than one job to make ends meet). Even though the country is “technically” not in a recession anymore, a LOT of folks are still working with very tight budgets and I think it must be disheartening for parents who can’t afford to buy gift cards or big fancy presents when teacher appreciation week rolls around… 🙁

    Can’t wait to see what new ideas are floating around out there this year – especially with Pinterest being so popular now!!

    • Joy

      Love, love these ideas!

    • Tomoko

      Fun and great ideas!

  9. Lyndi Hedgecock

    i personally love one particular thing my student gave me…it was a vase filled with bamboo skewers with candy bars glued to them to make it look like a vase of flowers…it was adorable! and you can get a vase for nothing at the dollar store along with the 8 packs of little candys for $1 there as well. it couldnt have cost more than $5, but it was a sweet treat that was quite nice to have! 🙂 also a card with an actual message to say how appreciated the teacher is is worth its weight in gold! i dont mean one of those, “thanks so much” cards, im talking actually take 5 minutes and write something meaningful! 🙂

  10. Pamela

    This year, I did BPA free double wall tumblers (with lid and straw) for the teachers. I individually wrapped Countrytime Lemonade, Archer Farms drink mixes, and Crystal Light packets in scrapbook paper that coordinated with the design of the cup. Then I slid a flag / pennant through the straw that said “Thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge”. Made 5 of them for my 2 girls’ teachers. You can see them here: https://pinterest.com/pin/164522192607679772/

    • Amber R.

      I saw these on Pinterest! Their awesome I love this idea!!

    • lal

      Great idea! Thanks for posting! Now I know what my kiddos teachers will be receiving this year!

    • jackie

      Teacher or not, I love those tumblers. Even better are the ones with lids/straws meant for iced coffee :).

  11. Deb

    For all the beloved homeschool Mom’s on here(I’m a former one-babies all grown now) YOU are the BEST of the BEST! No one knows your childs hearts & minds like you do. All your tireless efforts-it’s truly worth it.
    You are a treasure to your children. 🙂

    • Sheri

      Thank you for your encouragement, Deb!!

  12. Lisa

    This year we scored on some really cute solar powered flowers at the dollar tree for $1.00 each. My daughter is making a flower card for each to give her teacher. The solar powered flowers and hula dancers are all the craze so we thought it would be fun, would love to do more for the teachers but just can’t afford it.

  13. Nick

    While gift cards for any occasion are wonderful and helpful, I think the first few comments on this post were rude. The story Colin posted is awesome. Who ever sent that in is a genius. We all know that pasta sauce and candy are always free. Why not recycle jars and make something? I love it. Its a homemade gift that comes from the heart. Not every one can afford a gift card. If the person that sent this story reads these comments, nicely done and very creative :).

    • andrea

      I’m a teacher and I don’t feel the gift card post was rude. I agree that a gift card or even a handwritten note is much more valuable than something that we won’t use.

      • kalu

        Your use of the word “valuable” is surprising. From most of the posts here, I think most would agree that there is nothing more “valuable” than a gift made and given from the heart. The time spent making a gift with your child and the feeling the child has in giving a gift that he/she has made is, like the commercial says, “priceless”!

        • Andrea

          As I said, a handwritten note is more valuable to me than a parent buying something I would not use. The original question was asking for ideas. This does not mean that I do not appreciate everything that students give, I was just giving my viewpoint as teacher who has received different things over the years.

    • kalu

      Thank you, Nick! Beautifully said! I think the mistake “jennifer” made in the post up at the top was saying “most teachers” would rather have the money spent on a gift card. I think from the many comments here that the opposite is true and I love seeing this. I know we are all different, some cherish the homemade gifts made by parent and child and some would prefer money as several have made comments referring to the homemade gift as “something they wouldn’t use”. There is an “air” of rudeness there as one can pretty much tell what the person meant. All of the gifts I saw on pinterest are very pretty and useful too. I truly hope that Moms and Dads continue to make these “homemade gifts” with their children. It is a tremendous teaching situation, not only spending time doing something together with your kids, but having the children give a gift that they spent time making themselves. It’s too easy to pick up a gift card and then the child really hasn’t been involved in the procedure.

      • jennifer

        How is being honest rude? Saying something that is homemade is not something I will use is true. Would I appreciate any gift – yes! Would I necessarily use something homemade – no. Will it go to waste – probably. I don’t eat candy, sweets or junk. I don’t like clutter or cutesie stuff for my house. I am a minimalist.
        People have said money is an issue – times are hard, I get that. So if you’re going to spend any amount of money, be it $2 – wouldn’t you rather it not go to waste? Unless you know the person is going to like your jar of jelly beans, why not get them something they can/will use.

        • Megan

          I get what you are saying Jennifer. It’s not rude to be honest and if people think about it, teachers are getting lots of “stuff” from their students every year. Where are they supposed to keep all of it? And if they, like you, do not eat candy and cookies etc, or if they have dietary restrictions, then those items may end up in the trash.

          If someone wants to make something homemade, then they should just make a nice homemade card with a personal note in it and maybe a picture drawn by the child. If they can afford to add a gift card to that, great. Just my opinion, which is what Colin asked for…

          • Andrea

            Amen! Well said.

    • Erin

      I think maybe the original posts that you’re referring to may have been removed, but I have to say that when I read the post itself, I was a bit taken aback by the clearance jelly beans and empty spaghetti sauce jar. Don’t get me wrong: the finished product is cute, and I’m sure teachers would appreciate the effort. But if you don’t like jellybeans, then it’s something that collects dust until it’s tossed. Multiply that by 20 children and several gift-giving occasions per year, and you’ve got a lot candy/tchotchkes.

      I am not a teacher, but I have more than enough “stuff”–especially couponing freebies–so I would not presume to give such things to others, especially to teachers, who could quickly become overwhelmed with such items (despite the fact that I love the idea of making use of my couponing goodies this way). My son’s kindergarten teacher is a first-year teacher after years of substituting. She politely made it clear that she loves gifts that go back into the classroom in the form of gift cards. At Christmas, I had a wonderful freebie (everyone thinks theirs are, don’t they? 🙂 ) when I found out about her preferences, so I purchased her a $5 Target gift card to go along with it. My neighbor has five kids and had something like 15 teachers to buy for, and she said she didn’t get give gift cards because she thought $5 looks “cheap.” But look at it this way: if every child gave a $5 gift card, teachers would end up with a significant amount to put toward their classroom.

      Gift cards are impersonal, but they will almost always be used, whereas many of these lovingly crafted gifts will not. I’ve looked through some of the ideas and links here, and they are absolutely fabulous and I love them, but when I sit back and ask myself if I’d want or use them, I usually come up with a big “no.” I’ve always been a big gift giver (as opposed to gift card giver), but I’m really coming around to the gift card point of view, though I still like to buy children actual gifts. I think the trick is knowing the recipient well enough to be able to choose a gift right for them (and not try to one-size it from one’s freebie or gift closet stash).

  14. jamiechampagneois

    As a teacher myself, we’re ALL looking forward to the last day of school…haha…so I created a little iron on for teachers to wear the last day of school. It can be personalized and it’s a front/back t-shirt design – or it can be turned into a tote bag. It’s been a big hit where I teach! We’re all going to wear them on the last day of school. If you want to browse or message me on Etsy, feel free! The frugal part…I can email the file to you and you can print it from home and do whatever you want with it…or there’s the option of buying the transfer and ironing it onto a shirt yourself…or you can buy the t-shirt. Basically…from $6 to $15 you have a cute, personalized gift!! Just had to share with my hip2save friends…I’m proud of the design…and it makes an inexpensive, personalized gift! Thanks for all the great ideas! You can see the design here:

    • andrea

      What a cute idea! I would LOVE to receive this from one of my students! Very original and fun.

      • andrea

        Ok didn’t realize this was selling something. Though the idea of making your own iron on transfer for the teacher to put on the shirt or bag of her choice is pretty cute.

    • LoriSaves

      LOL- you forgot to change your name when you put up this “I am a person who thinks this is a good deal” …..no, you’re surely NOT the SAME person who created the original post 🙂 🙂 🙂

  15. Maggie

    Expressionary.com often has super-cute personalized note cards or post it notes in the clearance section, and they distribute GREAT sales & coupons. They just ran one that was 60% off — making the flat note cards with envelopes under $6 per set. Right now the deal is 40% off with code CINCO. Last time I placed an order, shipping was just $4, and they turned the order around pretty quickly. The note cards I received were very cute, and there are tons of font choices for the personalization. I would think a personalized “Mrs.___” notepad would be terrific for sending notes home.

  16. Alicia

    I’m a teacher, and I love gift cards. Also, handwritten notes are so encouraging. I keep a file of (encouraging) notes I’ve received through the years. This file will never be thrown away!! I also find it very sweet when students bring in a treat they know I like because I talk about it or rave about it so much (like Starbucks mocha frappaccino or McD’s sweet tea or Dove dark chocolate). . . It means they’ve LISTENED! — And sometimes that is the greatest gift of all 🙂

  17. Tammi

    I got a super cute lunch box from Thirty One gifts and I’m going to give a gift card with it with a hand written card from my son. I had a friend that was a teacher who said she always appreciated post it notes since she went through those a lot.

  18. Karen

    As a teacher I love personalized notes from kids. Another great gift is when several parents go in together and provided a lunch for all the teachers. It gives us something to look forward to enjoying that week.

  19. nardy

    i found a super special on strawberries so each of my daughter’s teachers went home with a pack of strawberries with a note of:” We are Berry thankful for what you do”. It fill good when one of them told me: yummy, my favorite fruit!. 🙂

    • Mila

      I’m a teacher and I think it’s important differentiate between Christmas/End of Year gifts (sorta big) and Teacher Appreciation Week gifts (small, cutesty, thoughtful). Your strawberry idea, the jellybean jar, candy bar flowers, and the smart cookie idea are all perfect for Teacher Appreciation Week. Gifts cards can be saved for Christmas/End of Year. Hand-written “we love you” letters are ALWAYS perfect.

  20. Kelly

    Would love opimions on this: Bath and Body Works, give or don’t give??

    • Kelly


    • rebecca

      personally, i LOVE to receive that kind of stuff, as a woman.
      for a classroom, what about the Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers? i have worked at an elementary school, preschool, and doing daycare, and i always got VERY DRY hands. i’d appreciate the sanitizers that smelled nice, and some good-quality hand lotions.
      and even if a parent gave me a body lotion or lip balm or something, it is always nice to feel pampered, even if the gift is not classroom-related. it’s nice to recognize the teacher is a regular person outside of school, and many teachers cannot afford to splurge on personal pampering products.
      just my opinions… i know gift cards are useful, but many people would not turn up their nose at a thoughtful gift that the giver gives with good intentions, and smells lovely to boot!

    • Elaine

      I really like their products, but almost never use them at school. Many staff members and students are allergic to strong scents to the extent of having them bring on an asthma attack or migraine.

    • Erin

      I think it’s a great idea, but I would ask first, in case of allergies or aversions to particular ingredients.

    • Kellyz


    • Laura

      My mom is a teacher and she loves when students give her giftcards to bath and body works.

    • Heather

      Honestly? I’d rather parents get something else. I always receive TONS of lotions/showers gels and most of the time they are fragrances I’d never use (mango and papaya, anyone?) I will say this, though, one parent made a small gift basket for me full of MEN’S products. Her letter explained that I would probably get enough of that sort of thing, so her gift to me was a good-smelling husband! I thought that was hilarious and creative—and my husband loved it. A happy husband makes for a happy me! 🙂

    • andrea

      As a teacher…YES to any of their antibacterial line! Sick teachers can’t teach students! I love to prevent the spread of germs in my class.

    • Sue

      As a rule I never give smelly stuff or personal care stuff unless I know the person closely and know they like that exact item.

  21. SK

    I’m not a teacher but many of my friends are. They love getting gift cards (no matter how small) to places like Target, AC Moore, Michaels, Staples, etc. that sell supplies they can use for the classroom. They’d probably even appreciate if you saved up coupons from these stores to give to them!

    If your school won’t allow gift cards, another thing my teacher friends LOVE are box tops for education, which are on LOTS of products. They can use them to raise money for the school. I cut them out of everything I can find and save them in an envelope. Then, when it’s a teacher friend’s birthday, I put them in their card, they are always thrilled! I’m sure any teacher would like a thoughtful card with some box tops in it.

    • rebecca

      Box Tops are a WONDRFUL idea! i worked for a school, and budgets are being cut and cut and cut. this also means donations of Kleenex, pencils, paper, and Band-aids are always useful. these items are increasingly in short supply from the school’s office. and they run out during the year, after parents supply them initially.
      i like to gather these throughout the year from freebies, filler items used with my Extra Care Bucks, cheap-cheap markdowns after holidays on bunches of pencils, etc. and try to bring some in as random acts of helpfulness.
      maybe they could go in a re-useable free bag as a teacher appreciation gift.

  22. Kelly

    I taught for a few years and honestly, a thoughtful handwritten note of appreciation from the child or parent was always my favorite thing. In my school district, I dealt with quite a few helicopter parents and was often left feeling frustrated and unappreciated. Those notes really brightened my day and I still have them to this day when I am staying at home with my little ones

    • Laura

      I agree. I even truly appreciate a personal email. I think it’s so thoughtful when a parent takes the time to express gratitude, with or without a gift.

  23. Erin

    As a high school teacher, my favorite gifts are simply notes or cards from my students. I don’t expect anyone to buy or make me anything (although of course I appreciate it when they do!), but knowing that I made an impact in someone’s life is the greatest gift.

    Also, if you’re planning to bake/buy food, it’s a great help if you find out about any dietary preferences or restrictions first. I am a vegan, and I hate giving away the homemade cookies or chocolate boxes because I won’t eat them. Again, I appreciate the time and effort, but my husband ends up eating them all!

  24. Sandy

    As a high school teacher, I can tell you that all these tips are great. The best thing my students can give me is a thank you note. A nice note makes all the “bad” days go away and encourages me to keep going!

  25. Susan

    Don’t overlook a quick email from parent directly to the teacher. There is lots of pressure on teachers these days to show their preformance and it is nice to have some positive comments for the portfolio I must keep to show what the administration cannot observe.
    And have you joined your local PTA, PTSA or PTO? Great way to support teachers and students!

  26. Stefanie

    I am a first-year teacher and teach eight grade Language Arts. It seems that there is very little “teacher appreciation” going on at the middle school level, maybe because kids have so many teachers, or maybe just because as middle schoolers they are not as “appreciative”, haha! But anyway, I know this idea isn’t something that can be used right now, but when the office supply stores have those sales over the summer on school supplies (1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, etc. for pencils, erasers, index cards, sticky notes…), stock up and save them to give as teacher gifts! They are cheaper than a giftcard, but are still so helpful and appreciated because as so many have said, teachers DO end up spending a lot out of pocket. Just a thought! 🙂

    I also agree with any written notes of appreciation, because the only time we tend to hear anything from students/parents is when something is wrong. It’s nice to know that someone out there really does appreciate all the work we do!

    • Jenn

      I think you are spot on about the kids just having too many teachers. My son starts middle school next year and will have 7 different teachers. I do not know what we will do then.

      Your idea about giving the cheap school supplies is great. I make back to school bags for my son’s teachers filled with the things I know they need for class. It is always a great ice breaker too.

    • Mo

      We do this for our son’s main teacher in the winter around the holidays. I did it in a milk crate this year and a friend of mine who used to professionally do gift baskets helped me set it up and wrap it up and it looked FANTASTIC! If you have bamboo skewers you can put smaller items on those and then tuck them into other things to let them stand up out of the basket and it looks really cool. 😀

  27. Tara B.

    Upcycle a 2 liter Coke bottle into a teacher present? I made these really cool gifts for my boys’ teachers. I packed them full of goodies for the classroom, goodies for the teachers, and a few pieces of hand crafted jewelry (with the beads chosen by my boys). The packaging is the cutest part of all. Check out the following link: https://www.cricut.com/messageboard/tm.aspx?m=4633525 Mine are a little different, but here are her step by step instructions.

    • rebecca

      incredibly clever! i LOVE this! absolutely darling….i will use this sometime. would be perfect filled with samples, treats, freebies, trial sizes, etc. for a graduate, Easter “basket”, or other gift. could fit a lot of pencils, Post-Its, and erasers in here!

    • Karen

      That’s adorable! I love that it can be so easily adjusted to whatever occasion you need (baby shower gift, Mother’s Day, birthday, Valentine’s, etc.) I will definitely be using that idea!

    • Jennifer

      Love this idea!!! I already have my End of Year gifts, but I think I’ll be doing this for next week! So unique!!!

      I’m also a high school teacher. Many of our English teachers have students write appreciation letters and then on Friday put our letters in our boxes. So nice to read! I hang mine up! :!

    • Mee

      Ohh I love it, thanks for sharing!

  28. Melinda

    A couple of years ago we purchased some of the inexpensive terra cotta pots (less than $1 for the pot and tray) and some chalkboard spray paint. I helped the kids spray paint the pots and then we planted a flower in each one (I purchased a 6 pack of flowers for $2). The kids then used a piece of chalk and wrote thank you on the pots. We also included a piece of chalk with the gift.

    • Amber R.

      I love this idea! I wanted to do it but my daughters teacher is male and not really the flowers type of guy, saving this one for next year though 😉

  29. Rebecca

    I agree with the teachers who have commented. I am a teacher and I would much rather a $5 gift card and a hand written note than a gift that cost the same amount of money. Most of the gifts teachers are given are sweet, but not things that I end up using, so they get thrown away at the end of the year. If you can’t afford a $5 gift card, go in with some other parents…everyone can afford $1 and if each student contributes a dollar, one of the parents can buy a $20 gift card for the teacher…I guarantee any teacher would rather one nice gift card and notes from the parents or students than a bunch of gifts she can’t use!

    Another thing to be aware of–most teachers will not eat home-made treats from students. Unfortunately, it is just not safe anymore.

    • Mila

      Really? Every teacher at my school (yes, I’m a teacher) gobbles them up. We often stick them in th teacher Lounge so everyone can snack on them. I guess it depends where you live and what kind of school.

      • andrea

        I’m a teacher as well and it depends on who they are from. If I know the parent well and trust that their kitchen is clean I’ll definitely eat them! But if not…I’d rather be safe than sorry and not partake.

      • Jennifer

        Yes I rarely eat anything from students. Homemade or store bought to be honest. Unless its a candy that is sealed in plastic.

  30. Lauren

    I am an elementary teacher and we LOVE when people just express gratitude!! My favorite gift is a handwritten note of appreciation from a parent…I keep these!! Then, when it’s a tough day, I read them to remind myself that I AM APPRECIATED and I AM MAKING A DIFFERENCE!! 🙂 It’s also special when a child/parent send in something crafted or just a small thoughtful gift. (Just FYI, most of my colleagues really dislike the “teacher gifts” of pencils, candles, coffee cups, and stuffed animals. ) Thanks for remembering your teachers!! We LOVE your kids!! We spend A LOT of time with them and they become my little family members by the end of the year!

  31. Alecia

    Don’t forget about middle and high school teachers as well. My husband has taught high school for five years and has yet to even receive a thank you from students during this week. It seems like the word doesn’t get around to the upper grades.

    • Alecia

      I should add that a handwritten letter from a student/parent makes my husband happier than you will ever know!

  32. Kristen

    As a teacher, I get lots of generic “thank you” cards at different times of year, and while it’s very nice that people thought of me and bought a card, it’s so much nicer when the child and/or parent writes something specific inside. Not just “Thanks for teaching me,” but something like “I really like when you taught us about multiplication. You made it so easy to understand” or “You’ve really made my child’s year great with your positive attitude every day. She talks about you every night at home.” Something like that is truly treasured by me, and I do keep the cards with messages and re-read them from time to time.

    For parents that want to give a gift, I’m sorry to have to agree with the others that suggested gift cards. I say I’m sorry because I know that’s always controversial, but there are truly only so many sweets/snacks/lotions that a teacher needs. Maybe it’s different in less affluent areas, or the upper grades, but teaching in a middle class elementary school, teachers around here get so many more sweets and candy than they can reasonably eat. School supplies are nice too though! Not quite as “fun” as a gift card, but still saves us from buying it ourselves 😉 I love $5 to Panera, Target, etc. And as someone else suggested, going in with a few other teachers is a great idea.

    A new one for me this year … a parent offered to bring us in lunch one day next week. No one had offered that before, and I am so excited! That certainly is not an inexpensive gift, as one family are buying for several teachers, but, really, this is one of my favorite gifts ever. It’s almost impossible for me to get out to buy lunch any day of the week, so this is a treat AND saves me from packing my lunch the night before. Again, maybe a parent could coordinate this with the rest of the class so it’s not all on one family.

    One inexpensive idea … last year, my class decorated my classroom door. They decorated it with colored paper and drawings, and put up a big acrostic poem with the letters in my last name and an adjective that described me for each letter. I kept it up for weeks!

    Sorry so long!!! But please just know that not every family recognizes teachers for their hard work during teacher appreciation week, so even if teachers say they prefer gift cards, every gesture really is appreciated 🙂

  33. Barb

    I appreciate the reminders that teachers in higher grades rarely get appreciated. As the Mom of kids 18, 14 and 8 I know it’s for various reasons. In elementary school, the child tends to have fewer teachers and stay with one teacher most of the day. A lot of children are also more sentimental about gifts and such at the younger ages. Let’s face it—middle school is about how “cool” you can be, not how sweet. I have sent small gift cards for the middle school teachers and have served as a room mom and even once threw a baby shower for an expectant teacher. But, it is very hard and expensive to keep up with all the teachers, especially if you have multiple children in school. Add to that the constant fundraising, and it begins to feel like a constant battle. Yes, inexpensive/free gifts can also be appreciated. In the past I have done such things as give an inexpensive oven mitt along with a special recipe and the dry ingredients attractively packaged.

    Of course every person would love to “choose” the gifts they receive, but that completely misses the point. Often a gift is as much about the person’s feelings who is giving it as much as it is about the recipient. I remember more than one occasion when a young child of mine saw something they felt would be PERFECT for a teacher, friend, sibling and I would allow the gift even when I knew that wasn’t exactly how the recipient would have chosen their own possessions. For example, my daughter chose an inexpensive glass angel for her sister once. She saw it in the store and couldn’t stop talking about giving it to her sister. In her mind, her sister was an “angel.” Hopefully, most people who receive gifts understand that it is more a gesture than anything.

  34. mj

    I think again that same thing….
    over and over opened food ….I would never give anybody other the closest family or friend something i made at home……unless they requested it…like someone mentioned here before You dont know how clean is their house etc ……the most normal looking people can have very unsanitary kitchens etc….it happens a lot ….i ve worked as a home helath aid a litlle and saw such dirty kitchens ….yuck
    now if You feel that jar with hershey kisses etc something wrapped and sealed its a clean and safe and totally cute gift……

  35. Jenn

    Before I type everything out, I will say that my son’s teachers are great and they have to deal with a lot of kids (28-30 each class), but still make adjustments for my son who is autistic. They haven’t given us any trouble and give him the extra help and understanding he needs. For that I am extremely grateful.

    I just finished up my gift card buying today. Here is what my son is doing. He has two teachers. We found two of the Lowe’s Build and Grow School bus kits that he never put together. The woman in charge at the store we go to gives him an extra to work on his fine motor skills. Tomorrow he is going to build and paint those. I am going to write their name on them. Inside I am going to put some truffles or something.

    For the gift cards. I got them each a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card and a $5 Starbucks card to get a drink or a muffin or something while they are in there. The Barnes and Noble gift card is what my son picked. He loves reading and wanted to give his teachers something meaningful to him.

    My son and I will make bookmark gift card holders for each card. I take a piece of card stock and cut it to the size I need. I cut a piece of scrapbooking paper a little smaller than the card stock layer. Enough to be able to see the outline of the cardstock. Before they are glued together, I sandwich the giftcard in between the two sheets, making sure the edge of the gift card hangs out a little. I glue the two pieces together leaving the area where the gift card is unglued, so it forms a little pocket. After they are glued, I remove the gift card so the glue can dry and the gift card is safe from getting stuck. I know my instructions are not the best, but they do turn out really cute. Then even after the gift card is used and gone, they still have the bookmarks. I will have my son write a cute little message or something on them.

    • Jenn

      I forgot to add that he will also be making cards for them with a note inside. I usually write something on one side, then he writes something on the other.

      • L

        I just thought these ideas were so thoughtful and kind to your kid’s teachers. He is lucky to have such a loving mom!

    • Nicolle

      As a former B&N employee, I hate to burst your bubble but the Starbucks giftcard is no good at B&N. The cafe serves Starbucks coffee, but is not an actual Starbucks location. They can use their B&N gift card in the cafe however.

      • Jenn

        Well I guess it is a good thing that there is a Starbucks right next door to it. So no bubble bursting happening here, LOL.

  36. Carrie

    This year for our teacher present I stocked up on some supplies I’d seen my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher using in class. Michael’s had the coupon for $5/$5 and they had a lot of $1 items for teachers, such as reward certificates, stickers, name tags for desks, birthday stickers, etc. So my husband and I each went in and got stocked up on a variety of items for her (for free!). I’m not a huge fan of giving gift cards, and this deal was wonderful. I am planning on putting it all together in a nice basket with a note from myself and my daughter and hoping she will enjoy it.

  37. Anita

    I am a teacher in a high-poverty school. I do not (usually) get any gifts for my students for any occasion. The best gift I was given was from a mother who came in at the end of the year and cried, telling me she used to fight with her son to go to school, and this was the first year he actually LIKED school. He was an angry kid, who worked very slowly, and many of his former teachers were impatient with him and yelled a lot. She gave me a big hug and I just melted. Please don’t forget to share how important your teacher is in your child’s life! I didn’t go into teaching to make money or get gifts, I wanted to help and support children. 🙂

    • Anita

      Sorry, I meant I don’t get gifts from my students!

  38. Lindsey

    Thank you for remembering us teachers…we really do appreciate it :). (Thank you Thank you THank you to you too for saving us money)!!!!!!

  39. Paula

    To be honest I’m a little discouraged after reading this. I was going to pull gifts of thanks to give to my son’s teachers from my gift closet I’ve built up using coupons, mainly consisting of “those gifts” of lotions, candies and “stuff” but now I’m a little worried of the perception of that. For me, it’s not about the item but about the act of giving but I also can imagine someone being given a lotions from each of their 12 students or what have you might be excessive for them. What should I do? Give the gift of thanks that I can afford or just forget the gift and write a note (on regular paper as I do not have the budget for note cards, ect.)

    • Janell

      Do not feel you have to give as may be wanted. Any teacher should be thankful for anything given to them and just the thought that the child does care about them and remembers this special week and is thankful for what his/her teacher has done. You do what you can and don’t feel you need to do anything more!

    • Cindy

      Do not be discouraged if you don’t have a “unique” gift. As a substitute teacher, I see tons of Bath and Body Works stuff in most classrooms. I personally love it.

      Any gift you give will be appreciated. I know that a lot of people say that a $5 gift card is a good idea, but I am one of the few that think that they are not always the best ideas. For instance, I love Barnes and Noble, however a lot of teachers that I know do not shop there because it is so expensive. If a gift card does not cover the cost of the transaction, the teacher may have to put out a lot of money that they did not intend to spend just to use the gift.

      I agree that hand-written and personalized gifts are best. Some of the best things that I received during student teaching were hand-written letters from my students highlighting why I am good teacher and what I taught them. I also received used lotion because a student wanted to give me a gift, but did not have money to go out and purchase one, so she found what she could around the house. Although it was not an ideal gift, it was flattering and humbling because she wanted to do something.

    • Erin

      Please don’t get the impression that teachers will form a certain perception of you because of gifts. The original thread was about what teachers would like to receive, if given the choice. If a teacher is ungrateful for something that you put thought and effort into, then they’ve got problems beyond accepting gifts!

      Give what you can and what you want. That means everything.

    • Kristen

      I don’t think you should feel discouraged!! I believe any teacher is truly thankful for being remembered in any way. I just think people were highlighting what they would prefer, if families have the means and intention to spend some money on the gift, so that the money can be spent “wisely.”

      Maybe you could take a piece of computer paper, fold it like a card, then have your child decorate the front and write a nice message inside 🙂

    • Jo-Ann

      Paula, don’t let the comments prevent you from thanking teachers in the way you can and you’re comfortable with.

  40. Beth

    I just wanted to say that after reading the first quarter or so of comments, I am disheartened to know that some teachers out there seem to be judging the value or worth of a GIFT by how much “use” they can get out of it. Let’s remember what a gift truly is-it is a material representation of the fact that a person was thinking of you in a positive way. Gifts are not always going to be “useful”, because that’s not their purpose. A gift is there to remind you that you are thought of and appreciated; thanked and loved; remembered and cared for. To hear anyone make such statements regarding the usefullness of a gift is, well, very sad to me, because they are missing the whole point. Since when does a gift have to be used? Isn’t it there to enjoy, to make you smile, to make you feel special? Does it matter that you can’t “use” it? It’s just a shame…. I am very aware that teachers spend much of their own funds to support their students education, which is a sad situation. But do not mix business with pleasure, as they say. Gifts are personal, from families and students to teachers, to honor them and thank them, no matter what form they may come in.

    Anyways, something is only as useful as the user makes it. Try harder, and the usefulness will come, be it mentally or physically.

    • Cindy

      I definitely see your point because a gift is a nice gesture, but should not be an expectation. I also understand that people do not want their gifts thrown out. It is nice if the gift is either useful or sentimental. I know a lot of teachers that have “crafty” items in their class. Prior to tonight, I never gave much thought as to whether they bought them or they were gifts. (And some of the teachers are middle aged men.) I know that it is the thought that counts.

    • Erin

      As a high school teacher, I completely agree with you. I think though that the first comments were responding to the the questions of “As a teacher, what would you LIKE to receive as a gift?” Of course, any personal reminder of thanks means so much to us, and just me, we appreciate everything.

    • Kristen

      I think maybe the point of the suggestions is so that people don’t “waste” money on something that isn’t going to be used/saved, and can instead spend their money on something the teacher will use. Certainly any gift is thoughtful and appreciated, but after a few years a teacher probably has enough “best teacher” trinkets, so I think people are just trying to give some insight into what they prefer. But of course families can give whatever they want, or nothing at all!! 🙂

    • Laura

      Teachers make very little money (esepcially preschool) so it makes sense that they would rather have a gift that they can use (like a $5 gift card) rather than something else.

      • Laura

        sorry, that’s supposed to say especially

    • Dawn

      Beth you have said it well. I’m actually sick to my stomach right now after reading these. To hear teachers talking about the ‘usefulness’ and ‘value’ of a token of appreciation that a family was kind enough to think of, prepare, and gift to thier teacher, I’m just so disheartened. Those teachers should send a letter home to families that says – ‘give me a gift card or nothing at all.’ I’m sure your families would really appreciate that! Those of you touting honesty, go ahead, do it, it’s what you think, right? See how well that is received.
      That said, I tend to feel pretty lame when I give just gift cards as a gift for family, friends, teachers, etc. I try to mix in a little creativity if I can, and I am fortunate enough to be able to spend a little for the people who do so much for my family on a daily basis and for whom we are grateful beyond words. This past Christmas I bought in bulk some giradelli gift sets (8 teachers, less than $5 each) and attached a gift card purchased at BJs (they cost less than the face value there). We all try to show our appreciation in the best way we know how, it is very sad to hear those who are finding ones best to be inadequete.

  41. betty

    I am currently in school to be an educator and I live in an area that I had always been told, and always assumed that teachers had to pay for school supplies mostly out of pocket. But, if at all possibly do a little asking around. The classroom that I was working in this semester received way more money than I expected and it seemed that the teachers were trying to find things to spend their classroom budget on at the end of the year. I would usually give the teacher I worked with a gift for the classroom but they don’t need any help in that area at all. As I am in college I have no money to spend on thank you gift so i’m giving what I can and hope they appreciate it. I am sure that a lot of areas have teachers that pay for stuff out of pocket but I would hate for any family that is struggling to stretch their money to buy school supplies to say thank you if your school already has enough. I sure am glad I found out!

  42. Wanda

    I enjoy receiving hand-made cards and notes from parents letting me know what things they loved about our year together. Here are other past gifts that I loved…gift card to Chipotle, bottle of wine, tin of homemade bars, homemade caramels, a bunch of lilacs, iTunes gift card, Cold Stone Creamery gift card, Target gift cards or a potted plant.

    When I spend my own money on my kids’ teachers, I pass up the cheap chocolates, coffee mugs and candles. During the year, I try to figure out what restaurants and hobbies they enjoy. This year I’m putting together a “summer” bucket that includes sunscreen, a magazine, Crystal Light, etc. I also try to send the appreciation gift a couple of weeks before school is out for summer because it can be such a stressful time for teachers as they finish assessments and report cards.

  43. Jen

    I wanted to know if anyone can recommend a good book for my daughters 1st grade teacher I can add to her book collection in the classroom. A book maybe talking about appreciation or thoughtfulness. We wanted to give her a book with her gift card. Thanks.

    • Heidi R

      What a great idea. I am a 2nd grade teacher and I am crazy about collecting children’s books for my class. It is such a good idea to connect the book theme (appreciation and thoughtfulness) to the gift instead of just giving her any book. My worry is she may already have the book. You may want to give a gift receipt with it.

      If I think of a good book for this theme I will post a reply.

  44. Carolinagirl80

    I used this pinterest idea….got everything I needed but the magazines ( I will throw in a few from my at home subs that are in good condition) from Big Lots for less than $20. https://pinterest.com/pin/269864202641587798/

  45. Makayla

    I studies to be a teacher as well and I fell teachers shouldn’t expect anything and should stop complaining about what heyspend in supplis etc, because they knew the career choice they made and they also have the choice to change it if they don’t like it. Also, other than food (which some people may not like or may have allergies) any home made gift should be greatly appreciated, even if they receive 30 of them. Don’t forget the amount of useless projects we as parents receive during the year and have to pick through to hang, keep or dump. lol Also you know which teachers are deserving of a gift and which ones aren’t. Dont be fooled by the title of the week to think everyoneter with deserves a gift. Some teachers migh do better with nothing o with a book on how to be a teacher.

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