10 Awesome Yet Affordable Teacher Gifts

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As the daughter of a teacher, the last day of school before winter break was always a bit like an early Christmas for us.

On that day, my dad would come home from work loaded down with presents from his class. There would almost always be homemade peanut brittle, a box of cherry cordials and, of course, apples everywhere: apple ornaments, apple pencil holders and apple-decorated mugs.

Although my dad’s apple ornaments are still added to the tree every year, a quick trip around the blogosphere reveals that most teachers aren’t into knickknack-type gifts anymore. So you may be wondering what to get the teachers in your life nowadays.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson tackles this issue in the video below. Watch it, then keep reading for more awesome teacher gift ideas.

First, some teacher gift guidelines

The name of the game when it comes to teacher gifts is practicality. Teachers have big classrooms, which can mean lots of gifts year after year. Most teachers appreciate whatever they get, but offering them something practical and consumable means they won’t be faced with the dilemma of deciding which of their 10 “No. 1 Teacher” mugs to use each day.

In addition, unless you know the teacher very well, steer clear of things such as perfume, cologne or home décor that can be subject to personal preferences. When in doubt, you could run your idea by a fellow teacher or the front office staff to get their thoughts.

Now, let’s get to our affordable teacher gift ideas.

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1. Personalized note cards, Post-its and other paper products

Teachers write all sorts of notes – to parents, to students, to colleagues. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had some pretty and personalized paper to use? You can buy card stock to make notecards using printed templates found online. Or if you’re into stamps, you can stamp generic Post-it notes, stationery pads or other paper products to personalize them.

2. Gift cards for food, coffee or school supplies

You really can’t go wrong with a gift card. It doesn’t have to be for much, either. It could be just enough for a cup of coffee, a run through the drive-through on a busy day or some last-minute project supplies. Create a 20-cent greeting card, include a groan-worthy saying such as “You mean a latte to me,” and you have a gift that’ll make your favorite teacher smile.

3. Make lunch or dinner on you

This one is tricky. Some teachers would love for you to bring them lunch or send a casserole they could easily reheat for dinner. Others may have strict dietary restrictions or be iffy about eating food cooked in a kitchen not their own. The best way to approach this may be the direct approach. Ask the teacher if he or she would be interested in having you bring him or her a meal. If the teacher seems at all hesitant, move on to another idea.

4. Create a movie night escape

Everyone needs to escape reality once in a while, and a movie night can be the perfect answer to a wild week in the classroom. Bundle together a gift card from a local movie rental place with some popcorn and candy for an inexpensive, yet thoughtful gift.

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Comments & discussion

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  • traderjim7

    Another idea would be a gift card in a small amount to one of those chain restaurants or ice cream parlors that has a location or two in your area. Then there is always the old standby, a box or basket of holiday treats purchased at a local store which could be candy, fruit, cookies, pastry, fruitcake, or any combination of those.

  • ellenmarie

    Having 5 kids over the past 28 years with the youngest now 8 yo,I have had a lot of teacher gifts to give! I like to give gift cards often because it saves me from hunting gifts down and our teachers out here love Starbuck’s,Barnes and Noble or Target(all nearby) so I often get them free anyway with my credit card reward points which saves me money(in fact, that is how I give most of my gifts through this, so I end up spending this year only 35.00 for a HUGE family in cash-even amazon accepts these points and I got gifts free).

    I also have given in the past cake pops or heart shaped frosted cookies in a Target dollar metal colored pot(buy them after Easter or Valentines day for .25 each and stock up) standing up like flowers with green shredded paper and Styrofoam placed in the pot to have the flowers stick into. This year I am giving big apple cinnamon scented candle jars (2.00 each on sale) and I saw these cute cookie jars(bought two for neighbors with kids) at Rite Aid or CVS that are in form of reindeer, penguin and snowman which normally is 14.99 and I bought them for 50% off at 7.00+ approx. and it has hot cocoa in these and after can be used as cookie jars-I love gifts that can be turned into something useful after.

    With each teacher’s gift, I also have the child make a card and write a note of thanks as well as I write my note of appreciation from our family. Oh and also buy after Christmas sales,like one year I got holiday mugs that lasted me for years of gifts and I got the mugs for 10 cents each and would wrap it prettily with coffee packages(mini),hot cocoa,chocolate spoons,candy,tea bags,pencils,etc -so many things you can do! Used these for gift baskets too-like Christmas morning baskets for muffins and hot cocoa,etc. I have also given personalized ornaments with dates and the teacher’s name or a ruler with two wood clothespins glues(one on each end and magnets glued on the back) and wrote on the wooden ruler Teachers Rule or name of teacher and this can be hung on their board or file cabinet and they can display notes,cards,art work at home or at school. It does not cost much at all.