As a teacher and a mom of three kids, I stress about holiday gifts for my kids’ teachers. I know how important it is to honor teachers and recognize all of the time and energy that they invest in our children, but at the same time, I realize how expensive it can be to buy holiday gifts for every teacher, especially when you don’t want to forget the music teacher, art teacher, gym teacher, special services teachers, office assistants … multiply that by three kids, and you’ve already emptied your holiday piggy bank.
Fortunately, teachers are among the kindest, most generous people in the world (wink wink), and they truly don’t expect – or want – you to spend a fortune during the holidays on Starbucks gift cards. I’ve compiled a list of thoughtful, yet affordable holiday gifts for teachers. You’ll save a bunch of money, and they won’t need to jam yet another holiday mug into their cupboard.
Creative Teacher Gifts
A personalized letter from your child
As a teacher, this is by far my absolute favorite gift. I have saved every single letter that I have ever received from students over the years, and whenever I feel overwhelmed by the mounting piles of papers that need be graded, I am comforted by the handwritten notes from students thanking me for helping them with an assignment, advocating for them, or simply caring about them. There is nothing better than a sweet, handwritten letter from a student expressing how they appreciate all the work we do for them.
A handmade ornament
You don’t have to be crafty to make a beautiful, handmade ornament. Many craft stores sell ornament kits, or for a simple yet elegant ornament idea, make a sequins ornament. Buy a Styrofoam ball, and simply glue or pin sequins onto it. Attach a ribbon to the top and voila! You have a fun, yet simple holiday gift that your child will love making herself.
A recipe jar
This is one of my favorite gifts to make (and receive). Buy a bunch of wide-mouth mason jars – you can get these at craft supply or grocery stores – and fill them with the dry supplies of your favorite recipes. Print out a copy of the recipe and attach it to the lid of the jar using string or twine. This works great for cookie, soup, noodle and hot cocoa recipes.
Teachers end up spending a lot of their own money on school supplies for the classroom. Replenishing crayons, markers, stickers, and even antibacterial wipes can add up. Put together a “school supply basket” and fill it with goodies that the kids can use, or supplies for the teacher’s desk. I have to admit, nothing makes me happier than multi-sized Post-It notes, colorful pens, and to-do notepads. (Tip: the dollar bin at Target has some super-cute school supplies in fun patterns and designs.)
Books for the classroom
This is a gift that will keep on giving. Teachers are always looking for ways to supplement their classroom libraries. Ask the teacher what is on her wish list, or donate a copy of your child’s favorite book in her name. Or, purchase a book related to content that your child happens to be studying at school.
Make a bookmark
Hopefully your teacher will have some time to relax with a good book during the holiday break, and one can never have too many bookmarks. I love these cute vintage button bookmarks or, if you’re a knitter, these bookmark knitting patterns from “In the Loop Knitting” are absolutely adorable. (The crayon bookmarks are amazing!)
Hand soap and lotion
This might seem silly, but this is seriously an awesome gift. Teachers are exposed to all kinds of germs, all the time, and we’re always washing our hands. Because of this, our hands are perpetually dry. Pamper your kids’ teachers with some nice, lightly scented hand soap and lotion. Attach a cute note such as “Hands down, you’re my favorite teacher!” or “We’re in good hands with you!” Hand sanitizer works great too. The teacher will love it, guaranteed.
Make a personalized coffee sleeve
The school days starts early, and chances are that your kids’ teachers need to be caffeinated to get through the day. I know I do. If you’re a knitter, make a mug sleeve in holiday colors. For year-round fun, I love the personalized pencil drink coffee sleeve featured on the blog “Finding Pins & Needles.” You need some legit sewing skills to pull this off, but if you’re capable, it’s guaranteed that your child’s teacher will never use a cardboard sleeve again.
Freshly baked cookies, homemade granola, gooey brownies, spiced pumpkin bread – yes, we love them all. It’s even better if you add chocolate chips. Homemade goodies, straight from the heart, are perfect – and affordable – holiday gifts.
The gift of time
Create a “gift of time” coupon book. Offer to help the teacher organize the classroom, decorate for the seasons, prepare homework activities, assist with small reading groups, or simply sanitize after a nasty flu outbreak. It’s the one gift that teachers will never have enough of.
What are your favorite affordable gifts for teachers? Let us know in a comment below!