Frugal Teacher Gifts for the Holidays

December 3, 2009
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I did a story for the National Education Association’s website on how teachers and other educators should handle gift giving in the classroom during the December holidays. While that story was written from the educator’s perspective, I thought it would be helpful to offer some advice from the parent’s perspective. Here are some quick and frugal teacher gift ideas, broken down by age of your kid/level of school he/she is in.

DAY CARE
A gift card to a nail salon where day care teachers and the classroom aides can get a manicure is a great idea. You figure that these teachers are using their hands all day long, either changing diapers or doing hands-on projects, and they could use the pampering. Best of all, you can usually buy this gift of a manicure for less than $20.

NURSERY OR PRESCHOOL
A gift card for a manicure will work here, too, as would a gift card to a local bookstore or a book from it–my favorite gift to give my daughters’ (long-ago) preschool teachers. If you want to give a book as a gift, check out places like Costco and BJs for great prices on books.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
I still love the notion of a gift card to a bookstore, but a gift card to the local coffee shop, whether it’s a chain like 7-11, Wawa, Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, or the mom and pop “Joe’s java” shop near to the school, would go over well, too. Also, you can get away with spending $5, maybe $10 for one of these. Another great idea? Board games for the classroom that can be used during indoor recess.

MIDDLE SCHOOL & HIGH SCHOOL
In most instances parents feel that they get off the teacher-gift hook when their kids make the transition to middle school and high school. I’ll admit that I sometimes feel overwhelmed with buying gifts for seven or eight teachers. I know that the teachers here probably don’t expect gifts but if you can afford it, you should try to get them a little something–whether it’s a small tin filled with home-baked chocolate chip cookies or a heartfelt, handwritten note about how much the teacher means to you. Another idea? Make a donation to an education-related cause in the teachers’ names. For example, our school district has an education fund, or you could make the donation to the local public library.

Let me know if you have other, sure-fire teacher gifts suggestions.

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7 Responses to Frugal Teacher Gifts for the Holidays

  1. Suziqcrab1 on December 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Speaking as someone that was a long term substitute and actually talking to teachers this is what several of them told me….They enjoy receiving gift cards for the coffee or fast food places. They also enjoy receiving items that can be used in the classrooms, ie: pencils, erasers, crayons,little inexpensive toys that could be used as prizes in the class reward treasure chest and items that could be used when they have arts and crafts projects. For the junior/high school teachers gift cards same as above, extra boxes of tissue and the large bottles of hand sanitizers. Once my daughter hit middle school I always gave the largest size bottle of the hand sanitizer for the teachers to put out in the class room, two or three boxes of tissue and two or three rolls of paper towels (the students put a dab or two of the sanitizer on the paper towel and cleaned the desk. I hope this helps.

    • Leah Ingram on December 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      Great ideas. Thanks.

  2. Terry S on December 29, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Some very interesting and insightful thoughts. I like this.^_^ because I have a blog about gifts too.

  3. Berta on December 6, 2009 at 6:06 am

    As a teacher(and cousin to Leah), I rarely received gifts when I was a high school/middle school teacher. Imagine my shock when I switched to being an elementary teacher and had a desk full of gifts. The most appreciated – gift cards to Target and Starbucks. I always save the Starbucks cards for the airport when I travel. Though not a coffee drinker, their Starbucks’ hot chocolate is always a treat.
    Just an FYI, while homemade edible treats are frugal, most teachers will simply thank the child/family and not consume them. It’s like anything else – the teachers do not know the origin of how/where it was made. Personally, if I know the family and trust them, then I have no problem eating what they bring.

  4. leahingram on December 3, 2009 at 9:54 am

    That is a lovely idea!

  5. Leslie (snaphappy) on December 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I nice addition to the book store gift card idea — have your child make a bookmark for the teacher (you can add ribbon at the top with some beads, plastic sleeves can be purchased fairly inexpensively). It’s a cute, personal touch to the gift (at least I think so). :)

  6. leahingram on December 6, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I never thought about the homemade gifts that way. Food for thought–pun intended. Thanks!

    Leah

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