Simple & Inexpensive Teacher Gifts

Teacher Gifts (2)With Teacher Appreciation Week and the end of the school year fast approaching, some people might be considering giving gifts to their children’s teachers. In fact, Pinterest is burgeoning with creative teacher gifts, many of which fail to take into consideration the cost and talent it might take to design the crafts. When it comes to frugal tricks that require little in the way of Martha Stewart’s know-how, these gifts have got you covered.

  • Gently used books. After nearly a decade in the classroom, I can still tell you one that one of my very favorite teacher gifts required no additional expense and only a little bit of muscle. That year, I had taught the family’s youngest child; as a result, they had a basement full of books from elementary and middle school days that were starting to collect dust. The father wheeled in a box on a hand truck after school one day, and my classroom scored over hundred books. It made no difference than some of the corners were bent or some of the covers had names scrawled across the inside. I couldn’t thank that family enough.
  • School supplies. Whether you purchase extra at the beginning of the year when loss-leaders abound or you re-gift supplies that your child didn’t use, school supplies go a long way. Pencils, pens, markers, glue, erasers, loose-leaf paper, dry erase markers*, construction paper. I promise we’ll find a use for it.
  • Retired calculators. In some instances, when students transition to high school, they have to upgrade their scientific calculators to graphing calculators. If no one is going to use that calculator in your household, you would make every math teacher in my building mighty happy by donating it. No worries if it’s clear that it has been used. No one will give it a second thought. Instead, it’ll be a relief when a student–or five–comes to class without a calculator.
  • Seedlings. Several years ago, I had a student who came from a large family. Her parents were determined to gift every child’s teacher with an end-of-school gift, but they also didn’t want to break the bank. They started a bunch of basil seeds in April and had adorable seedlings ready to gift by the end of May. They scooped up some inexpensive pots and gifted one basil plant to every teacher. I’ve been shamelessly recreating this idea for the past several years. For less than $1 a gift, it’s perfect for summer!
  • A note. No one is obligated to gift a teacher anything. In fact, we get the gift of spending time with your child every day. As much as most teachers love their jobs, I’d wager to say that every teacher has at least one of those days once or twice a week. There’s nothing that reenergizes and motivates me faster than digging through a box of notes from students and their families that I’ve accumulated over the past eight years. I don’t even notice that when a student used the wrong you’re…most of the time.

* The most stunningly expensive of the school supplies. Whoever invented the Expo marker, well done, indeed.

So Tell Me…What are you favorite inexpensive gifts to give? Or receive?

Simple & Inexpensive Teacher Gifts

16 thoughts on “Simple & Inexpensive Teacher Gifts

  1. Mom used to cook up amazing stir fries for our elementary school teachers. Caveat: This was always after parent teacher conferences and so she’d know if there were food preferences or allergies.

    I don’t think it would be appreciated nowadays, but back then, it was a pretty big deal for us because we were poor and the cost of ingredients was significant. On top of that, she worked 16 hour days so the time taken out to cook for non-family was a pretty big deal. Gosh I miss her cooking!

    1. I would be so flattered! One year, I had a family bring me and my team a tray of blondies (the vanilla brownie desserts) during conferences. By hour three, I wanted to weep tears of joy when I had a break to eat one. I bet your mom’s stir fried were amazing. Lucky teachers!

  2. Great ideas. A parent can easily shop with a child in a dollar store for pencils, pens, markers, glue, erasers, stickers, small calculator, etc. All those can fit into one of those plastic shoe containers also sold in most dollar stores (especially for you and your collection, Penny). They can decorate the container with ribbons and bows.

  3. We’ve been asked to pick up small gift cards for Little Bit’s teacher and TA next week. (along with getting the kiddo to make cards, and making a small classroom supply donation). I’m torn between getting a card from Target, Walmart, Starbucks, and a local book store.

  4. Gifting teachers was never really a big thing when I was in school, but I do remember in 7th grade our class loved our teacher, so we all pitched in to make a donation in his name to a charity.
    I do love the idea of gifting the gently used books, because I remember loving the shelves of books my teachers had…but I’ve been trying to literally give mine away to schools and no one has even emailed back :S

    1. That makes me so sad that people aren’t replying to you! Is there a way to look up specific teachers? Maybe search for the librarian or the English/Language Arts teachers. Regardless, that’s really generous of you!

  5. I say school suppliers. A lot of teachers are buying school suppliers for their students out of their pockets. I plan on giving school suppliers to my teacher friends as a way of giving thanks to what they do for the kids. I’ll give them my school suppliers coupon too. I don’t use them because I don’t have a school-aged kid but I do have them in handy just in case.

  6. Casey Ray says:

    All of these are amazing ideas! As a former elementary school teacher, I always appreciated notes more than anything. I also loved when parents would print pictures they’d taken of their kids – either in class or outside of class – and included them with the note. I would take this over a gift card that I’d use up any day.

    However….I sometimes had parents who were insistent on knowing where I liked to eat or shop to give me gift cards. Since I don’t like to eat out at chain restaurants and I generally buy supplies used or at a discount, I was at a loss of what to suggest (and my sincere requests for no gifts were not being taken seriously!). Then, the parent suggested movie giftcards! I never go to the movies because of how expensive they are, so it was really perfect. I thought that was such a great, universal idea since so many things are subjective but I think most people enjoy movies 🙂

    1. Movie gift cards are an amazing idea. I actually received a Redbox code and a thing of microwave popcorn for a Christmas present this year. I didn’t even know you could buy Redbox codes, but this might be my new thing!

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