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

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Can you believe that the 2012-2013 school year is nearing an end and Summer break is right around the corner!?! As you may already know, during the week of May 6th-12th many schools will be honoring their teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. With that being said, here are a few Teacher gift ideas I’ve received from Hip2Save readers over the years…

*For an end-of-year gift, change the note to say “Thank You for a reMARK(ER)able school year!”…and you have a cute but practical gift idea! (Thanks, Tera!)

*Use an empty spaghetti sauce jar with clearance jelly beans. Make a label and card to hang on the jar. The label could say “No beans about it (teacher’s name) RULES”. A cute (and inexpensive) thank you for teachers! (Thanks, Trudy!)

*Pick up an inexpensive movie and put a pack of popcorn and a $1 box of Movie Theater candy with it. Walmart and Target both have $5 movies and this makes a great teachers gift! (Thanks, Suzie!)


To get ya thinkin’, you may want to start off by printing these cute Thank You Notes and personalize them for each of your kiddos teachers. If you have any other creative, affordable, or meaningful teacher gift ideas, be sure to share them 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! πŸ™‚

Join The Discussion

Comments 63

  1. Amy L

    I always buy them scratch off lottery tickets (“I like you a ‘lotto’ Ms. ____!”) or Red Box movie rental codes.

  2. courtney

    I have done th free wet n wild with “you make my days bright” I made summer survival kits with all personal care from my stockpile, I send things all the time. teachers are soooo underappreciated.

  3. Mary

    Hi–I am a teacher and the best gift I can receive is a note from a parent/student just simply saying thank you! I keep these notes and read them again if I am having a tough day or need some inspiration πŸ™‚

    • Adrianne

      You rock!

    • Sarah

      I totally agree. I’m not a teacher, but I did work at an after school care for several years. I could tell you very few of the gifts I got, but when I left all the kids in my class made cards for me, which I still have. Reading them makes my heart happy.

    • Kristen

      Yes! My mom is a teacher and she loves getting handwritten notes from kids! She likes those over candy or candles or whatever else! She always brings them too me to show off πŸ˜‰

    • Julie

      Totally agree that notes are the best! My sister and sister-in-law fight every year over who gets to have my teacher gifts of things that I can not use. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the note way more than the things I pass along to other people.

    • Adrimim

      Yep! I have a “feel good file” filled with motes from students that I pull out when I need a pick me up.

  4. Holly

    Most years my room parents arrange for me to have duty free lunch and a special lunch each day. It seems so small, but it is the most amazing gift! Duty free lunch-a parent volunteers to watch my class for the 25 min. Special Lunch-I was asked for a list of what I would order at local restaurants. Each day when I dropped my students off for lunch there was a lunch waiting. I love my students, but I equally cherish a calm, silent, solo lunch. I feel sure any teacher would truly appreciate duty free lunch! Several of my lunch buddies were extremely jealous πŸ˜‰

    • Kellyfornia

      You have awesome parent volunteers! As a fellow teacher, I totally understand wanting a quiet, peaceful lunch!

    • Julie

      This is a wonderful idea! It gives you time (always appreciated) and a little treat that you would not have splurged on yourself (also always appreciated)!

    • Andrea

      I’m on the PTO for our school. We just did a duty free lunch for our teachers. We had a room set up with a taco bar, dessers, drinks, and music. We even had a candle lit. This is our second time doing that for them. The first time we made a soup bar. Our teachers and staff LOVE it!!

  5. Steph

    This isnt very frugal, but i always get my boys teachers gift cards to the spa every year near the end of the year. They deffiantly deserve it:)

    • daltonjsmom

      You rock! Wish I had your kid in class!

    • Kellyfornia

      Nice!!

  6. Mary

    As a teacher of fifth grade kiddos for over twenty five years, I wanted to put my two cents into the discussion. I don’t remember the presents…but I do remember the wonderful gift of having fabulous parent support and wonderful children in my classroom. That is enough of a gift! (And I am not just saying that!) Okay…I do remember one parent, on the last day of school coming in at the end of the day, when I was exhausted, giving me a hug and bringing me a coffee cake. I was thinking…I can sleep in tomorrow!!! I won’t need to make breakfast for my son or husband!

  7. Amber R.

    This year I am doing dollar store pitchers with a few popsicles (the bag ones), a few kool aid packets, and some swirly straws. And I’m gonna put a cute card on it with a frog that says “Have a toad-ally kool summer!” Found it on pinterest!

  8. Pam

    I guess it depends on what age your kids are, but this year I’m having my high school senior write a thank you letter to the one teacher who helped him the most (he has Aspergers syndrome, and she has been a huge help to both of us). I am going to give her a thank you card, too, and an infinity scarf I made from material I had in my craft closet. I am also going to write a letter to the principal. The letter will be put in her employment file. I didn’t actually have to buy anything to do all this, since I get cards from CVS whenever they do the $3 ECB on their cards, and I had some thank you cards already in my stash.

    • Mary

      The best gifts don’t cost anyhting! Writing a letter to the principal will be awesome! The teacher will really appreciate that!

      • Pam

        That was my thinking, Mary!

  9. Lori Stevens

    I bought strawberries and typed the message, “I am BERRY glad you are my teacher. I could not have PICKED a better one!” In my opinion, it’s both cute practical!

    • Lindsay

      I have a few ideas on my blog. A great one for the end of the year is always a summer related gift like the one here: http://www.mycreativedays.com/fun-teachershelpers-thank-you-gift/. I also put together a “coffee break” one here: http://www.mycreativedays.com/coffee-break-may-day-basket-idea/
      This year, I bought some of the berry themed hand soap/mason jars from Bath and Body Works and I am going to give those out with a gift card and the note will say, “You are a “berry” special teacher and I am lucky to have spent my first/third grade year with you!”

      • Julie

        These are great ideas! Please though think of the teachers who might have a scent allergy or do not drink coffee. If you know your child’s teacher would appreciate those scents and beverages – go for it. If you aren’t sure, maybe go with something more generic.

  10. Laura T.

    I’m a high school teacher and a little envious of the elementary school and middle school teachers because they receive thank you’s from great parents like you. Remember to thank all of their teachers…your kids usually don’t thank us and even though we’re teaching to high school aged kids, it would be really nice to hear.

    • daltonjsmom

      In 19 years as a teacher and asst. principal, the thing that meant the most was a handshake from this giant bear of a man who simply said, “Thank you for all you do.” He looked me straight in the eye, thanking me for all we had been through together with his 5 kids, some of whom had real challenges. I cried all the way home that night because it was the first time in a long time someone had said “thank you”… and seemed to mean it.

      • AmyH

        That is wonderful!! You obviously love what you do and are talented at it too!! Kudos to you!

  11. Claire

    I always pick up gift cards when there are promotions, like this week at rite aid for jc Penney and old navy. I always have some around and don’t have to scramble to find something.

  12. Nora@The Dollar Hollering Homemaker

    Thank you notes are the best:) If you know your teacher enough to figure out what kind of coffee, chocolate, or favorite place to eat is. You can include a small gift card and/or treat.

  13. Julie

    I think it depends on the teacher. My school asks us to create a wish list each year of items that we could use for our classroom. Those items could be big or small, but since they are asked for you know they will be used and appreciated.

    Some the the best gifts I’ve received:
    -personal notes from students and parents
    -time – classroom speakers, volunteering to make copies/do a bulletin board, helping with work at home (cutting out letters, collating handouts) all have been wonderful
    -gift cards to stores I shop at or for treats I will appreciate
    -used books my students have read and enjoyed to add to my classroom library

    Please think carefully before giving:
    -percent off or small gift cards to expensive stores. Most teachers will not be able to use them without having to add their own money.
    -anything “kitschy” – I have a friend who mentioned she liked ladybugs her first year teaching, she now owns over 300 ladybug items and has come to hate ladybugs
    -anything that says “Teacher” on it – most likely we have it already
    -food or beverage – the teacher may have food/beverage restrictions or preferences that you do not know about

    • Dawn

      Ha Ha! I agree with what you have written! πŸ™‚ I do have to add, it’s hard to “store” many things after awhile (meaning the handwritten notes, posters, booklets, etc. from the whole class). Yes, those ARE so nice, BUT for me at least (with kiddos of my own) I honestly don’t know what to do with it after the year is out except put them in a file or a box in storage. As a parent only now (not teaching for the last few years) I have my son/daughter write a little note tied to something “useful”, like food or bread and jam, or a gift card (when I can afford it). Anything not useful is pretty much just thrown away after some time.

    • Robin

      I agree! I just stopped teaching to stay home with my babies, but I would ALWAYS get at least $50 to Starbucks each year. My husband loved it, but I don’t drink coffee at all. So bummer for me. As a private school teacher, I appreciated grocery store gift cards or Target gift cards. I didn’t get paid much for the amount of work I did, so this REALLY helped to ease the tight budget.

  14. debbielynne

    May 6th-12th is also Nurse’s Appreciation Week. Don’t forget them too!

    • Sarah

      Yes! My child has a physical disability and our school nurse has been just as instrumental in his success as his teacher. We love both πŸ™‚

    • Sarah

      I love the beans jar! What a great idea!

  15. Em

    I always scope out the teacher’s library and replace a few worn out copies or add a few new age appropriate ones. That and a hand written note from my child.

  16. Jodi

    I hapPEN to love Tera’s idea πŸ™‚ It is always great to encourage all teachers. Thank you!

  17. SMS

    Last year I got my sons Kindergarten teacher a gift card for the liquor store. I’d been in to volunteer a lot and believe me, if I were her, I would need a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day. She loved it. Personally, I don’t think a teacher gift is a time to be frugal. They do so much, invest so much time and effort, and not to mention their own money, into the kids, they deserve a great gift. I also think a handwritten letter from the child needs to be included.

    • Meg

      That is awesome!

  18. Meg

    I’ll just add that while personal notes are awesome, if your child has a really great teacher, a well written, typed note on business appropriate paper that you can send to both the principal and the superintendent is awesome. As a teacher, I’d much rather have that than a coffee cup (Although I promise I cherish every one of them). πŸ™‚ Starbucks cards are also always a sure bet if you want to get something! You can write, “Thanks a Latte,” on a card if you wan to be cute!

  19. dawn h

    My sons in pre k and I help out a lot in his class and I take a lot of pictures of the kids and I also have gotten to know his teachers. At Christmas I made them both a 8×8 photobook from a field trip the class went on. They loved the book as it lets them remember the kids in their class. I had found a coupon from shutterfly for a free book and I also had a gift card so all I oaid for was shipping.

  20. A.B.

    We harvest our own maple syrup and put some in cute little jars for each teacher.

  21. Carole

    As a teacher, nothing changes my day like having a student tell me thank you or that they really learned something from my lesson that day. When I’m feeling discouraged, I always look back on those messages for a pick me up. That being said, when a student wants to give me a gift, I LOVE supplies. I buy many of my own supplies such as dry erase markers and it can get to be a strain on my budget!

  22. Jen

    I am all about being frugal. But as a former teacher and someone who is married to a teacher and someone who has many friends in the teaching field, I am telling you right now teachers do not get anywhere close to what they deserve in terms of respect, value, and especially pay!! Yes of course a note from a child is appreciated and brings a tear to your eye even. But also if you as a parent can at all afford it, do something nice. Give a teacher a gift card to go out to dinner or maybe if that’s too much, talk with other parents and go in together to get one! It would be so appreciated to have a night off from cooking after a long day at school! That’s my two cents anyway πŸ˜‰

  23. Mary

    Sorry…I am posting again.
    I receive a “I am Souper” cook book with receipes from my kids when I turned 40…okay…that was 8 years ago. The students wrote out the recipes and a card as to why I was “super”…I think a lot of them were forced antidotes. The laminated construction paper recipe book is one that I refer to often. Great gift! No cost!

  24. Beth

    My husband is a teacher. He gets all sorts of things – food (homemade & store bought), gift certificates, items related to what he teaches, and cards are the ones he gets the most often. He really likes the cards from the kids. He also likes the Starbucks gift cards, but he gets all kinds of them. We try to use them all but sometimes it takes a while because they aren’t for places we shop or eat at normally. Last year he got a $25 gift card to Yankee Candle which sounds like a large amount, but I ended up adding money to it to buy a large jar candle so the gift card would be used up. I usually have my kids make cookies and write notes to their teachers. I have one in elementary and one in middle school and all of the teachers love the notes and enjoy eating the homemade cookies.

  25. Tiffany

    I am a room mother for my k student . I collect money from parents and get the teacher a really big gift card from the class just easier and she can buy what she wants. She is also getting married so I am having everyone chip In for something off her registry:) love my sons teacher!!

  26. Jamie A

    I’m a teacher and my favorite gifts from students/parents are the pictures and letters πŸ™‚ other than that, I have loved getting a framed picture of students for my desk or a book or board game for the classroom.

  27. brandi

    Ok teachers out there…how do you feel about getting classroom supplies…paper white board markers pencils pens ect?????

    • Lisa M

      As a HS teacher, I would love it. Our school never has enough supplies and I am always spending money out of pocket for classroom supplies – like paper, pens, erasers, etc.

    • DLL

      As a HS teacher I would love this as well! Schools today are underfunded and often times we are out of some supplies by this time in the year (Kleenex has become a hot commodity in my building, as has colored copier paper). Also, most students have diminished thier supplies and ask to borrow on a daily basis.

  28. LMG

    From the household of a teacher….with budget cuts to supplies, boxes of Kleenex/Puffs/Angel Soft/any kind of facial tissue are SOOOO much appreciated!!!

  29. Anne

    I am a 2nd grade teacher. I teach in a really affluent community now so the roomparents collect money and give really generous gift cards. Their gifts have purchased me things I couldn’t have otherwise afforded.

    Small, more affordable things I appreciate are when our parents bring a latte in the morning or pick up a lunch for me. They usually email before so it’s like two presents: not having to make coffee or lunch in the morning and actually getting to eat or drink it. I also love the markers idea because we always need those in the classroom. Definitely when I taught at an inner city school, I would have appreciated any supplies because I bought so many myself.

    I know not everyone can do this, but because I am a teacher, I hope to save money in other areas when I can so I can be extra generous with them once my baby is school-aged.

  30. Nicole

    I’m also a high school teacher and it’s hard to not get jealous of all the elementary teachers. Our kids each have 7 teachers so, I very rarely get any appreciation gifts, but I enjoy when I get a note from the student and of course chocolate πŸ™‚

  31. Pam Howard (@phoward336)

    So many cute ideas! Thanks for sharing. I typically do a gift card (even a $5 one is appreciated – my hubby is a teacher). Often I’ll include some goodies (homemade if I know the teacher well, but otherwise purchased) and even a few small sample bottles of my essential oils and some ways to use them – here are a few examples: http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/04/fun-projects-and-gifts-using-lavender-oil/ and this one for lemon (especially a water bottle and a sample or full size bottle of lemon is affordable and great for summer!) http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/03/lemon-oil-recipes/

  32. Lynnea

    This is my first year doing teacher appreciation week since my daughter is only in pre-k but she is the public school here. She has a teacher and 3 TA’s. I know I want to include the TA’s but should all the gifts be the same? Meaning, I want to do some ideas that cost a little bit more but can’t afford it times 4! So would it be wrong to give the main teacher something different and the others something else some days? Just trying to be frugal, and fair but also fun and unique; we are supposed to do something everyday.

  33. Tera @ Adventures in Mommy-hood

    How about gift ideas specifically for male teachers? I know he loves coffee, but I’d like to do something a little more personal than a starbucks or caribou gift card…and I shy away from food gifts because there are so many different food preferences and allergies…

    At conference time, he mentioned that he loves Transformers, so for Christmas we gave him a Transformers Creo building set (that I got for free), with a gc to a teacher supply store and a note that said, “Thanks for TRANSFORMing our son’s mind.”

  34. Tera @ Adventures in Mommy-hood

    Just wanted to add, if you have a student who has multiple teachers, and you’d like to give a little something to all of them, but don’t feel like you can afford that, give something special to the main (or homeroom) teacher, and then something little for everyone else. Last year I made little s’more kits for my son’s middle school teachers, and they were so touched that someone remembered them. Just put s’more fixings (fun size chocolate bar, a couple of marshmellows and a graham cracker) in a bag with a note saying something like we need s’more teachers like you. I found a really cute printable that I linked to here: http://bluefield5.blogspot.com/2012/05/cute-easy-smore-teacher-appreciation.html

  35. KLR

    I am a room mom. At the start of the school year I asked the teacher to fill out a my favorite things list. (Pinterest) At Christmas and her birthday I sent it to the parents. For teacher appreciation week- we are all pitching in to get her a spa certificate. The PTO also has a teacher appreciation luncheon. (3rd one this year!)

  36. Ketsy

    I get them Starbucks gift cards… I buy them on the drive thru… Easy… no hassle… and if they dont drink coffee they can buy pastries… πŸ˜€

  37. Ketsy

    Ugh! Im gonna hate myself for being the Debbie downer but this one goes right on there with the “tipping”. I think some people are down right cheap and use the excuse I cant afford it way too much. Sorry if it doesn’t apply( to those who are truly struggling), but I get tired of parents at meetings claiming they cant afford dollar store earbuds for their kids. Be honest to yourself and say you don’t want to spend on teachers and thats it. I do well when I can and just don’t when I can’t.

  38. Mindy

    Is it wrong to give the teacher something a little more expensive than the paraprofessionals? My daughter has 7 paras and honestly it gets costly as I have a large family who I have to give to all the teachers and paras. Are pens with sayings too cheap or is is that it is practical makes it okay?

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