Is it that time of year when the school year is wrapping up and you suddenly remember you should come up with a teacher gift? Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered. This list of creative, easy teacher gifts of course also applies to the piano teacher, dance teacher, soccer coach, favourite librarian, or anyone with whom you or your child has gotten a lot from over the year. You can also recycle some of the ideas for holiday giving too!
Once upon a time I was a teacher in a middle school, and my students came into my home ec classroom, or I ventured out to them when I taught math. I had a lot of kids to get to know. When the end of the year came around so did the thank you gifts.
The range of gifts was as diverse as the kids themselves. Also interestingly, some were from the kids, and others from parents. I appreciated them all, but never expected anything, and often the most memorable and most appreciated didn’t cost anything.
Don’t feel you have to give a gift.
Truly. It’s not expected. Appreciated yes, but not expected. I would never have wanted someone to put themselves out trying to purchase or arrange something they didn’t have the bandwidth for (financially, time-wise, mentally, or otherwise).
Is it expected at your school? Is there mom-shaming or the feeling like you need to step up even if you don’t have the time or money? Stop that right now. No teacher would ever want that to be the case. And no one has time for that at the end of the year when the schedule is bananas.
If you’re going to give a teacher a gift, be genuine.
It doesn’t even have to be a gift. A handwritten card is lovely. Don’t have a card? Re-use a piece of your child’s art by writing on the back, or gluing or taping it onto a fresh piece of paper. A brief note either from you or your child can be very meaningful. So can an email. Taking the time to write words of gratitude and appreciation means a lot.
Be creative. That doesn’t mean crafty (unless that’s your jam). How many “#1 Teacher” mugs does one person need? Be creative by balancing your time and energy with something useful and thoughtful that will be put to good use once given. And you don’t even have to think up how to be creative and easy all by yourself because I’ve got plenty of ideas below!
- Does the teacher have kids? Consider a family-oriented gift certificate to somewhere they might go anyway. Don’t make your gift a burden though, so see if your child knows of something the teacher and family already does, and chip in for more of that.
- If the gift is from you and you know the teacher likes wine, a liquor store gift card might be appropriate. If it does come from your child please avoid messaging along the lines of “I am why you drink.” Ugh, no thanks.
- Coffee shops have so much more than coffee, so consider a gift card of any denomination to a local chain or independent retailer. $5 is great and buys a nice fancy drink. The teacher will think of you while they order and enjoy it!
- Does your town have a farmer’s market? See if they offer gift cards or market bucks.
- Local nurseries are great options at any time of the year.
- Gift certificate to a you-pick place nearby (bonus if the farm also has a farm stand in case the teacher does not want to pick!)
- If you have contact info for the class see if everyone will chip in $5-10 for a group gift. Other parents will love you for organizing. What you spend that on….hmmm. Make sure to state it at the outset so people know what they’re contributing to. Probably best to coordinate this at least a month – possibly two – before the end of the school year, and if you are the organizer make sure you have time and energy to follow through.
- This can include a huge range of items. If you are yourself a crafter, baker, artisan, or other maker of things, give that. Handmade is lovely. Keep packaging simple and/or reusable. Dollar stores often have inexpensive reusable containers that can double as food storage later, or check thrift shops for interesting glass containers. Add a label, bow, or tie a piece of yarn around the neck and have your child write a note. A simple “thank you” and your name is sufficient, meaningful novels not required.
- As a baker and someone who dabbles in fibre arts I have given in previous years: granola, yogurt, applesauce, jam, pickles, salsa, red pepper jelly, cranberry sauce, muffins, brownies, cookies, cookie batter dry ingredients in a jar, lip balm, salve, essential oil rollers, aprons, knitted slippers, knitted neck cowls and headbands, knitted dish cloths, home-brewed kombucha, and more. I really like making these things and tend to time my projects to coincide when teacher gifts are needed, and just make extra. If you don’t already do these things then the end of the year frazzle is perhaps not the best time to learn to knit.
Thoughtful and unusual bought things
- If you know your child’s teacher well enough to purchase a thing they might like, then do. If you or your child have a particular connection to your child’s teacher then this might work.
- Is the teacher a grammar nerd? Customized pencils with geeky sayings on them would be amusing.
- Does the teacher have a sweet tooth? Did you know you can custom order M&Ms with…a face on them? Would it be weird to put your kid’s smiling face on a batch? Maybe. But it also might be awesome.
- Adorable s+p shakers repurposed with cocoa and cinnamon to jazz up tea, coffee, or milk fluffies
- Custom reusable fabric bags with the teacher’s name, or year and grade.
- Does the teacher have a reusable water bottle? Custom options can be fun, and reduce the chances of it getting lost.
- A silicone popsicle mold set for fun summer treats.
- Reusable daily use items like produce bags and straws to reduce the reliance on single use plastics.
- A donation made in their name to a cause of your choice. One year my kids each picked a cause they thought their teacher would appreciate and we donated $5 on the teacher’s behalf. To simplify it even more pick one cause and donate in bulk to the same place, for example give $20 on behalf of 4 teachers. Write a note to say that you’ve done so. The teachers were really touched by the gesture the one time we did this.
Creative easy teacher gifts doesn’t have to mean time consuming projects, or costly shopping trips. Spend as much or as little as you want to or can – or nothing at all. Crafting skill isn’t necessary.
Letting the teacher know you appreciate them, and the impact they had on your child? Priceless.