chalkboard_smallThe school year is almost over and chances are you are trying to think of a gift to give your child’s teacher (or teachers). This decision can cause some stress if you don’t have any ideas. My son’s preschool was thoughtful enough to create a binder with information sheets on every teacher which included things like their favorite stores, restaurants, and hobbies, etc.

I’ve done some searching and have heard from teachers themselves regarding which gifts have been their favorite and most useful. The vast majority say gift cards, especially if to a store or restaurant they frequent, are the most useful (and probably most preferred) gift. While teachers appreciate the thought behind any gift, most agree that little trinkets that sit on their desk aren’t very practical or useful. (That means you might want to re-think that “World’s Best Teacher” coffee mug.)

With those thoughts out of the way, here are a few more gift ideas I came across. Maybe something on this list will help you decide on a gift for your child’s teachers:

  • Basket of baked goods, especially if the child helped make them (cookies, pumpkin bread, etc.)
  • Cute terra cotta pot and some seeds to plant, or perhaps this “forget-me-not pot” idea. You could also choose a flowering plant that can be planted in the ground, such as an impatiens or begonia (easy to grow) and just wrap the pot from the nursery in paper with a ribbon around it and some handwritten gardening instructions on a snazzy tag. You could also put a handprint of your child on it for personalization.
  • Cookie mix in a decorated jar
  • Make a fabric book cover, and put it on a classic novel and include a gift card to Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books (or buy one on Etsy).
  • Photo album of all the kids in class, as a group gift (this would require advance planning to take pictures of the teacher interacting with all the kids during some of the moms’ visits to the classroom)

Ideas for Special Area Teachers

I know it may seem overwhelming but if you can, it’s nice to remember the special area teachers (PE coach, PE assistant, librarian, library assistant, music, art, computer teachers) as well with a token of your appreciation. These ideas can be smaller variations of the ideas above.

  • $5 gift cards to Starbucks (or other store)
  • Mini loaves of pumpkin bread
  • Some home-made cookies in a decorative bag

Group Gifts

I have heard the idea to organize a donation to get the teacher one big gift card from the entire class. You can contact the other parents, or maybe the ‘room mom’ could send a letter home with the kids, and everyone who wants to participate can pool their money.

This idea also works for the special area teachers. Parents could donate a couple dollars for each special area teacher or teacher‘s assistant. Pooled together, it can be a nice gift card.

Taking the idea for the flower pot above, in addition to a group gift card you could get a nice plant and have all the kids’ hand prints and/or names on the pot along with the school year.

Gift Card or Cash?

Why give a gift card; why not just a nice fat check? One teacher I came across explained the best gift she received as a teacher. At the end of the year, all the parents contributed some cash and a couple of the moms came to school and presented her with flowers, a card, a check, and a speech about how great the year was and how much they appreciated her efforts. The public speech of thanks was very meaningful to her and the cash was a nice way to start summer. That does take some cooperation and organization, but it’s a wonderfully thoughtful idea.

Another caution about giving gift cards; if you give gift cards that are not useful for the teacher, they may sit around for years – unused. That’s why many people suggest giving gift cards for Target, or another common store. Visa gift cards are another option, as well. If you can find out which stores your child’s teacher likes shopping at, that would be perfect! (And yet another vote for cash.)

Crafty Ideas

Even though I warned about getting the teacher “stuff” that may or may not be useful, I couldn’t resist including these links to some pretty amazing teacher gifts ideas. If you are the crafty type, maybe something at Tip Junkie will be just the thing:

What NOT to Give

Gift cards to teacher stores might seem fitting, but it’s not really a gift for the teacher if it can only go back into the classroom. Also, teachers probably have enough bath beads, perfume, cologne, bubble bath, wallets, handkerchiefs, notepads, desk calendars, coffee mugs, and salt and pepper shakers. And you can forget the APPLE items, too.

The Most Simple Gift

Don’t forget the most important part of the gift – the thank you note. Even if you can’t give a gift, a heartfelt thank you note would be very much appreciated. The note can be from the parent or the child. (Since my son is only two, I plan to write the thank you notes from his viewpoint.) If you can include a specific example in the thank you note, it makes it more meaningful.

The key to gift giving for teachers at the end of the year is to make it personal. The gift doesn’t need to big and flashy or expensive; just something that comes from your heart.

Wendy – Parenting Tips 365

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