If you’re like me, the end of the school year crazy almost makes you want to drink a nightly margarita.  It is that fun.  Quick, let’s finish that time capsule box.  Go to that PK graduation.  Take that class picture.  Attend that dance recital/music recital/sporting tournament/etc.  Oh, and don’t forget the teacher gift.

For the first few years my oldest was in school, I was always at a loss for what to get his teachers as a thank you.  I’m the mom of a public school teacher and I know how hard all teachers work – public, private and homeschool.  I clearly remember my mom coming home on the last day of school with her arms bursting with gifts.  Her smile was even bigger.  Regardless of the gift, it really was the thought that counted.  She used to sit at the counter and show us all the treasures her students gave her.  I think I got as excited as she did, particularly when they gave her candy.  Her most favorite gift of all?  The handwritten note.  Those never go out of style.

My #1 criteria?  It must be functional.  My #2 criteria?  Minimize the waste.  There are plenty of cute gifts out there, but my goal is to always find something I know they’ll use or consume.  If you’re looking for ways to show your children’s teachers the love, from preschool to high school, consider something they’ll really use and appreciate – without breaking the bank:

TOP TEN:  TEACHER GIFT IDEAS

1.  Personalized stationary.  You can DIY it or visit a great printable shop, like Olliegraphic.  Teachers write many notes throughout the year, why not give them something with their name or school already printed on it?  Stationary will be our gift to the teachers this year.  I had it created by Meg, then we printed out 10 copies of letterhead, a notepad, a folded and a flat card, put it into a clear folder and enclosed the CD with the files so the teacher could print more.  Cost:  All three teachers for less than $30

2.  Flower in a Ball jar.  I am a HUGE fan of Ball jars.  They should nominate me as their spokesperson.  So much functionality.  You can plant a favorite flower for the teacher with a green thumb, fill it with homemade treats, packets of their favorite tea and then it can be used as the glass.  That must be a Southern thang.  No matter how you dress it up, it’s cute as pie.  Here’s one we did for Christmas.  Cost:  $15/dozen jars

3.  Pampering Gift Certificates.  Chip in with a family or two and purchase a gift certificate for a massage or mani/pedi.  The perfect gift, just in time for summer.  Or, if you know your teacher’s favorite restaurant or movie theatre, a fun night out is always in style.  Cost:  $15-60, depending upon the service

4.  One-of-a-kind Flower Pot.  This is a spinoff from a party favor we did years ago.  Grab a terra cotta pot, paint your child’s hand with acrylic paint and stamp it on the side.  Fill the pot with pinto beans and then wrap regular ballpoint pens with floral tape and add a flower on top.  Stick them in the pot.  That way, the teacher always has pens at the ready, but they won’t walk off her desk!  Cost:  $10-15 (depending upon the supplies you have at home),

5.  Adoration Hour.  This is one of the many reasons I love being Catholic.  If your budget doesn’t allow for any cash outlay, then offer the best gift there is, time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  You can make a homemade card that indicates the date, time and place you offered up the hour on your teacher’s behalf.  Cost: $0

6.  Rosary, handmade or bought.  I’ve found a great site, Trendy Traditions, that makes really gorgeous pieces.  You can always make one yourself.  Be sure to have it blessed before gifting it and I always suggest praying a rosary with it before handing it over as a gift.  Offer the rosary for your teacher.  Cost:  a few $$ to $40+

7.  A Well-Stocked Summer Bag.  Fill it with a Southern Living magazine (a go-to favorite in the South), your teacher’s favorite coke or bottled water, flip flops and sunscreen.  Hunt around your house for that bag, I bet you have one.  This gem came from the skiptomylou blog via Pinterest.  Cost:  $15

{Photo credit:  Skiptomylou}

8.  Tiff’s Treats Frowny face if you don’t live in Dallas, Houston or Austin that offers this slice of heaven.  Tiff’s bakes handmade cookies and brownies and delivers them HOT to your door.  Amazing, right?  You can always get the gift certificate or have them delivered on the last week of school (after it lets out so the teacher doesn’t have to share!)  But, you can never go wrong with baking your own, putting them in a jar (see, I told you!) and dress it up with a note from your child.  Cost:  $12-15/dozen or less, if made yourself

9.  Personalized clipboard.  Many of my children’s teachers use these.  With some scrapbook paper, modge podge, ribbon and some embellishments you can make a sophisticated or cute board, depending upon the personality of your teacher.  There’s a great tutorial here.

{Photo credit:  Somewhat Simple}

10.  Saint Cards or Book.  When Luke was born, an anonymous friend sent us a ring, full of laminated saint cards.  It was my lifeline.  For a teacher in a Catholic school, I can dare think of something more functional and educational than this.  A classic book about saints is a great resource, as well.  Many school do a saint project and that book would come in pretty handy.  Include a card on the inside, indicating it’s from your family and perhaps have your child write a brief sentence or two to the teacher.

{Photo credit:  Amazon}

5 Comments

  1. Sarah (Bauer) Sansone on May 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Haven’t told you in awhile but I love, love, love your blog Kathryn! Such awesome inspiration and encouragement for me as a goin Mom…thank you!

    • Kathryn on May 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      That just made my day.

  2. Kimberly on May 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Loved those ideas! Here’s another one I found on a pinterest board…clear, lidded cups filled with single-serve drink mix envelopes, and a cute flag on the straw.

    http://lisastorms.typepad.com/lisa-storms/2011/05/teacher-appreciation-week-part-3.html

    I kept my eyes open and found cups at Walmart for $6 each, and I have coupons for the drink mix. I estimate it will cost me about $7 per gift. Yeah!

    • Kathryn on May 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      I added the same thing on one of my boards. Loved that idea!

  3. molly on May 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Great ideas, BK. Wish I had seen this before last weekend! We made canvas prints for the teachers, cute, but not functional. Definitely keeping these in mind for next year!

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