As the years go by, it seems to become more and
common for parents to be expected to give gifts to their
children’s teachers at school. For many families, there’s
a fine line between showing appreciation and going broke.
Finding just the right gift — at just the right price — can be
challenging at best.
And besides, how many apple-decorated key chains or
coffee mugs can one teacher use?
Gina Dalquest, a California mother of four, says, “Every
teacher appreciates school supplies. Often teachers
spend a lot of their own money stocking their classrooms.
Pencils, paper, whatever I can get inexpensively or in
volume. I bought a big cube of construction paper and
sent half to my son’s class. Last year at the holidays, we
made decorated glass ball ornaments by pouring several
colors of acrylic paint into them and swirling the balls
around to look marbled. It cost less than $2 per gift.”
With the end of the school year looming on the not-so-
distant horizon once again, here are suggestions for
helpful — and often inexpensive — teacher appreciation
gifts for the end of the year (or any other time when a
gift for the teacher might be appropriate):
1) Shoe-box sized plastic storage box full of school and
classroom supplies that you can stock up on throughout
the year at sales, clearance stores, etc.
2) Bag of popcorn and a flavored salt sampler.
3) Gift certificate for a video rental.
4) Homemade fudge in take-out meal containers (or
Biscotti, or gingerbread men).
5) Pencils printed with their names on them.
6) Painted glass ball ornaments.
7) Flavored coffee or tea mixes.
8) Coffee and cup decorated by your child.
9) A candle and candleholder.
10) Anything for the classroom: games, writing equipment,
books, rulers, things to decorate or theme objects.
11) Handmade items from the students (potholder, pencil
12) Movie theater passes.
13) A small basket of lotions or soaps.
14) A letter from the student (and/or parent) telling what
they enjoyed about the year or the teacher’s input into
the child’s life.
15) A small plant potted in a thrift store coffee mug or
16) A child-made apple-shaped something or other
(although over the years many teachers end up with
more apple decorations than they have room for in
their house or classroom).
17) Baked goods (bread, cookies, candies, quick
18) Chocolate dipped pretzels.
19) Chocolate anything.
20) Christmas ornament.
One woman online said, “There are too many people who
get left out and probably feel bad about it, such as the P.E.
teacher, the principal, the secretary, the kitchen lady who
knows your child by name, the teacher’s aide who listens
to them say their numbers or helps with reading, etc.
And then there’s the Awana leader, the Girl/Boy Scout
leader, the Sunday School teacher, and the private
teachers like piano and dance. A parent can’t possibly
buy/make gifts for all these people.”
Her unique suggestion to deal with this large number
of potential gift recipients? Donate a book to the school
or the public library “in the names of all the people who
have been part of your child’s life this year. Then give a
card to each individual telling them why they were so
important to your child and how this gift will help other
children as much as he/she helped your child.”
It’s been my experience that people in volunteer helping
positions (such as Sunday School teachers or nursery
workers at church) are often completely overlooked when
it comes time to give out thanks. Each year my husband
and I try to invite our children’s Sunday School teachers
and their families to dinner at our house to thank them for
all their hard work and dedication throughout the year. It’s
never ceased to amaze me that I always hear comments
like, “No one has ever done anything like this for me
before and I’ve been teaching Sunday School for twelve
years.” Even just a simple Thank You card given at the
holidays or the end of the school term could be enough
to bowl them over in shock.
Remember: it isn’t a competition to see which child or
parent gives the teacher the best or most expensive
gift. Showing appreciation to assorted teachers should
be an expression of heart-felt thanks to the dedicated
people who’ve touched our lives and given of themselves
to our children.