7 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Your Child's Teacher

Family Matters on 12.19.11
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Photo: stevendepolo/Creative Commons

You know how it is - teachers do a job most of us would never dare take on, for a fraction of what they should make in terms of salary. Clearly, most educators deserve a diamond encrusted tiara or other such opulent gift for all of their hard work. Since most of us don't sport last names like Kardashian or Hilton, however, expensive holiday gifts are simply not possible. Still, it's a cinch to find gifts that your kid's weekday influence will appreciate and actually use. So, before you rush out to purchase the standard coffee mug or Christmas tree ornament, consult this list of easy, affordable, and last-minute teacher gifts.

1. Breakfast

bagel

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We all know that cookies, cakes and fudge treats run rampant in break rooms during the holidays. Rather than perpetuate a sugar-induced frenzy, choose instead to supply a healthy and delicious breakfast for members of the staff (this works best for preschools and day care centers because they don't have as many faculty members as most elementary schools). Breakfast doesn't have to be anything fancy: An assortment of bagels and a big bowl of fruit picked up on the way to school will be the perfect pick-me-up to any educator's day.

2. Personalized items

monogram

Photo: Jamiesrabbits/Creative Commons

It's easy and cheap to run by your local craft store to purchase a plain lunch tote, tumbler cup or other item that can be personalized wiith the recipient's initials (use paint, iron-on letters, or scrapbooking materials). If you're low on the crafty scale, consider selecting an item sporting the school or class mascot, or costume jewelry in the school's spirit colors.

3. Handmade items

jam

Photo: llsimon53/Creative Commons

If you have a particular skill, feel free to flaunt it come teacher gift time. Although it's usually best to avoid jumping on the saturated cookie/candy bandwagon, other homemade treats are much appreciated. For example, if you have some jam or jelly leftover from your summer canning session simply slap a bow and a card on a few jars and your task is complete! Candied pecans are also a cinch to whip up and can be stored quickly in decorative containers or jars.

If you prefer to leave the creating to others, visit a nearby shop to pick up a gift handmade by a local artisan, like individual soaps, soy candles, or painted ceramics.

4. Something intangible

trees

Photo: Trinity/Creative Commons

If you have it on good authority that the teacher in question supports a particular cause, consider making a donation in her name: Have a tree planted in her honor at the local botanical garden if she's environmentally active, or pledge to support a poor child in another country for a year if world hunger is something she feels strongly about. Associated fees are usually small, but the good vibes you send out will have a ripple effect for you, the teacher and the cause you help.

 

5. Gift cards

gift cards

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I know what you're thinking -- boring and impersonal, right? Wrong! Every teacher I know adores receiving gift cards, particularly when the parents put a little extra thought into the selection process. Is your kid's teacher a coffee or movie nut? Pick up a Starbucks gift card, or one that's good for a free movie ticket at the local theater. Cash cards good for use at local restaurants are also hugely popular. Room Mom tip: if you start a few weeks in advance you can easily and quietly collect donations from other parents, if they wish to participate. What's better than a lot of small denomination gift cards? One really big one!

6. A creation by your child

ornaments

Photo: Stevie Rocco/Creative Commons

Your kid's teacher probably picked her chosen profession because she loves children, so it's pretty safe to say that she'd adore anything your child makes especially for her. Stop by your local craft store for paintable ornaments, picture frames or similar items. Then, let your child channel his inner Picasso and give the present to the teacher with a homemade card to top it off.

7. Classroom goodies

books

Photo: Allie Bishop Pasquier/Creative Commons

You'd be surprised how many classroom supplies come out of the purses and wallets of educators, rather than a predetermined budget. Consider helping her out by sending in a goody bag of supplies easily purchased at your local teacher supply or big box retail store. Fill it with pencils, dry erase markers, age-appropriate books and other classroom essentials, so that your teacher can spend her hard-earned cash on something else.

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