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.
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.
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.