Inexpensive End of the Year Teacher Gifts

Whether it's the holidays, the end of the year, or even just because, many parents want to find a way to say thank you to the teachers, coaches, and parent volunteers that give their time and resources to their child's class, team, or organization. Here are some quick and inexpensive teacher gifts—ways to show your appreciation for all these folks do.

(Note: Check the school's policy before you give any teacher gifts. Some may restrict what teachers are allowed to accept due to concerns of favoritism or inequity. Remember too, gift-giving is optional—teachers teach for the love of what they do, not for presents.)

Pool Your Resources for Teacher Gifts

Boy (6-8) in classroom giving female teacher apple, smiling, side view
Carlos Davila/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

If you are the organizing type (or friends with one of the other parents in the class who is), set up a class collection, asking each parent to donate $5 per child (or whatever they would like to give) so you can purchase one large gift together, whether it is a gift certificate to a local eatery or a favorite store. Purchase a card and have every child sign it and present it to the teacher at a holiday party or the last day of class.

Give a Big Night Out or In

Give your child's teacher the night (or morning) off with a fun basket full of foodstuffs that will minimize cooking for at least one meal. From a pasta dinner—a jar of gourmet sauce, pasta, breadsticks or maybe even a bottle of wine—to a pancake breakfast complete with mix (make your own or pick up a box at your grocery store) to syrup, pre-wrapped sausage, juice, and maybe even some fruit, this is a fun gift to put together as well as one that will be heartily received.

Gift of the Arts

It's the worst-kept secret that many teachers and coaches (and class moms and volunteers) pay for their own supplies for the classroom, whether it is markers and crayons or craft items like googly eyes and felt.

Take on some of the cost of a teacher's classroom supplies by either purchasing a gift certificate to a local craft or dollar store or picking up some of the items yourself—even better, ask each parent to pick up one craft item to give at the holiday time or end of year.

What Does She Like?

Does your child's teacher show up every morning with a cup of coffee from Starbucks? Do they read romance novels at lunch? Do they like to play lotto or take a few swings at the batting cage? Pick up a $5 or $10 gift certificate at the place where the teacher likes to go the most. It might not cost a lot but will certainly go a long way.

It's Movie Time!

Send your teacher to the cinema with a marvelous movie gift. You can go two ways—pick up a gift certificate to a local movie theater and include some pre-wrapped candy, or buy a big box of microwave popcorn and enclose some candy, a bottle of soda, and a gift certificate to buy some Blu-rays. An inexpensive gift sure to make for a fun night!

Indulge When Giving Teacher Gifts Even in Little Ways

If you want to really treat the teacher, try purchasing a little indulgence that they might not think to buy themself—cashmere gloves or socks, a small box of gourmet chocolates, luxurious bath supplies, a bouquet of flowers in a vase, a pretty candle, a soft blanket; the list goes on and on. The best part: all of these items can be purchased for $25 or less.

Let Your Little One Get in the Act

Never underestimate the value of a handwritten note or beautifully drawn picture from your child. These folks work with children because they want to and love to, so a simple sign of appreciation from one of "their" little ones will go a long way. One year, one industrious mom suggested that all the parents and kids in the class get together and create a scrapbook page for each preschool teacher in the class. We all chipped in a few dollars to pick up a scrapbook and supplies and went to work. The teachers were touched, and the kids were so proud of their work.

Bad-Weather Pack

Many preschool teachers spend lots of time outdoors, watching the kids run around on the playground or lining them up outside when it's time to go home. Pick up a set or two of neutral-colored gloves, hats, and scarves for the teacher to keep in the classroom in case they forget their own or have lost them. Throw in an umbrella and a rain hat and they will be good to go.

Kindness From Your Kitchen

Busy holiday baking? Get your preschooler to help you bake an extra pie or two or whip up another batch of cookies. Wrap in pretty saran wrap and voila! A tasty gift your teacher can share. And unless it's a secret, enclose a recipe card so the teacher can make it again and again.

Voice Your Appreciation

If you aren't comfortable buying a gift or just don't have the cash this year, that's O.K. But you can still show your appreciation in a simple note telling the teacher how much they mean to you and your child. Not good with words? You only need two: Thank you!

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