Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Help This Woman: What Do I Get the Teacher?

Hi and waving! It's Lydia and Louise! Did you have a good Memorial Day weekend?! We missed you!

[[[awkwardly long internet hug]]]

So we need your advice because we are very confused about something important. It's almost the end of the school year and it's time to buy presents for our kids' teachers.

We love our teachers and we want to do something nice for them but at the same time, we don't want to (and also can't afford to) go over board.

So now what?

Do you do the gift from the whole class? If so, does it have to be some Pinterest-perfect type of craft project that we are not able to properly execute? Also, what do you do if there's an assistant teacher? Do you just get them the same thing? And are the rules different depending on how old your kid is?

If you are a teacher - what do you really want? What has been your favorite gift? What is a gift that shows appreciation in a reasonable way? Some of us can afford a little something but some of us can't. What do you suggest for the people who really can't?

We all know you deserve a $1,000 Nieman Marcus gift certificate delivered by a shirtless Ryan Gosling but since I have three kids, a limited income and the judge says I have to stop "pestering" Ryan, that is really just out of the question. I'm very sorry.

Are cookies OK? Or is that cheap? What about flowers? Or a plant? What about a Target gift card and a really nice note? Would a box of wine be weird? Probably yes. Especially if my first grader had to fit it in his backpack.

We have no idea. Please help us.

xo, Lydia & Louise

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

139 comments:

  1. I've been a kindergarten teacher for 11 years and my FAVORITE gifts are always a nicely written, genuine note accompanied by a Target/Starbucks/Cold Stone gift card, even if it's just $5. However, just so you know, this year I DID get a bottle of wine in a kindergartner's bag and I was TOTALLY ON CLOUD 9!! Seriously! I say go for it!! I also got a bag from the dollar section at Target with an umbrella, a pair of flip flops and a thermal cup filled with candy and a magazine. Perfect for the start to my summer!

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    1. The best way to know what a teacher needs or likes for gifts is to have them fill out a special sheet at the beginning of the school year with their favorites. No guessing here. I have been given notes, gift cards, plants, cups, mugs, candles, etc.... All are good. The gift is given with a good attitude means the most. Keep it simple and thoughtful and your teacher will appreciate it.

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    2. After 21 years of teaching, I still feel badly for the students whose families can't afford or simply choose not to do the whole 'teacher gift' tradition. Those students feel so badly when the others bring me nicely wrapped boxes, and the child presenting the gift wants it to be opened while they watch. A card with a gift certificate for a small amount to a place the teacher enjoys or a place at which s/he can purchase things for classroom use is always appreciated.

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  2. For the love of Dog, please do not get her another mug or scented candle! (Unless he/she specified wanting one.) I'm not a teacher, but as I have had children in our local schools for a decade now, I've had some time to research this topic.

    Our school has a form that room parents can use to find out what their teachers like. Gift cards to local book stores, coffee shops and craft stores (like Michael's or Joann's) are always welcome. If they have families of their own, how about a movie gift card? Also, if you find out what restaurant the teacher enjoys, you can ask each family to donate a small amount and go in on a gift card. Even if everyone just donates $1, if you have a class of 30, that's at least $25 buck right there (because there's always a few families that don't respond).

    My kids have been in classrooms where each kid was asked to bring in a poem and drawing for the teacher on a certain day, and then the grownups collected them and bound them into a simple book.

    One year when I was actually organized enough to be a room parent with another mom, we learned that our teacher liked big potted arrangements of annuals. So we asked our class families if they could each bring in a small annual plant (the ones that come ready to plant, cost only a few bucks each and are easy to find.) We got about a dozen of these plants, splurged on a small bag of potting soil and dug up an old but pretty plastic planter the other parent had sitting in her garage. By the time the two of us, with absolutely zero gardening skills, got through planting everything into the pot and stuck a leftover ribbon around it, it was a thing of beauty.

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  3. Gift card to Target or somewhere she WILL NOT BUY SOMETHING FOR HER CLASSROOM! A nice note is awesome!!!! I still have some of mine from when I was in the classroom:)

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  4. Having my oldest only in kindergarten, I am not yet experienced in this but one of the other moms emailed the parents of the entire class asking if they were able and willing to contribute to a circle time mat for the teacher, and if there were enough contributers and money left over, a gift certificate (I have no idea to where or for how much) for the teacher's assistant. She said that $15-20 per student would be great, but I think whatever anybody is able to give would help. I also think this is great because it gives the teacher something for her classroom, and going off of what my bestie tells me (who is a teacher), supplies for the classroom are golden, because in the seriously budget-cut schools, the teachers often have to pay out of their own pockets for much-needed supplies and teaching aids to teach our kids. Kind of sobering.

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  5. I am in the overboard crowd this year. Our most awesomest resource room teacher is retiring at the end of this school year, and she has been so incredible with my children in the last couple years since we moved to this district. I am getting her a $100 gift certificate to a local spa, where she can choose to get a massage, get her hair done, get a mani/pedi, get a facial, etc. Something just for her to pamper herself. I intend to enclose it in a greeting card and attach it to a flower arrangement.

    As for the regular classroom and lifeskills teachers, I gotta admit I'm rather cheap and rarely give anything. I've sent flowers in by request from my kiddo (it was the last day and we were moving out of town the next day...he took flowers to every teacher and female friend he had. it was so sweet.)....

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  6. Weighing in with the home schooling teacher's vote, I'd appreciate lots of husbandly help with repainting the bathroom as a nice way of saying thank you for all I did this year. Failing that, I'd want maybe a Starbucks gift card (or in my particular case, money for a large bubble tea) and a willingness to handle the kids for a few hours so I could go enjoy said gift by myself *without* calls and texts asking me about things that can really wait until I get home, or could be solved by actually looking. I assume regular teachers would probably enjoy something similar, ie time to themselves and the means to get a little treat in. The no-budget option can simply include an actual person taking actual time to sit and write real words in a blank notecard. Yes, Hallmark has some very nice writers. They do not take the place of genuine words of thanks, which can be saved and re-read whenever the teacher needs a reminder that what they do matters.

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    1. Another homeschooler here; you gave me a nice snicker imagining a "teacher appreciation gift" from my hubby. With all the "hints" I had to drop in order not to be forgotten on Mother's Day, I'm not going to hold my breath on this one! Lol!!!

      If we had school teachers to thank, though, I can only imagine that more cash would be the most appreciated. Teacher pay is ridiculously low for what they do.

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  7. I taught at a preschool, but I'm assuming elementary school gifts would be the same. I preferred individual gifts from the kids rather than the group gift (even if it was a $5 or less gift). My favorite gifts of the non-extravagant kind were chocolate or homemade cookies, kids' books, and bookstore gift cards. I put chocolate on there because I love it, but I really like the gifts that last. I haven't taught preschool in 11 years, but I still remember my kids and I like seeing their name in the front of my books or on my bookmarks. I always have a moment of aww when I use Brandon's bookmark or pull Sarah's book off the shelf. So if the teacher is a sentimental person, I'd say stay away from gift cards and give her/him a note from your kid and your kid's favorite book with an inscription by the kid (this is especially good if the teacher reads to the kids). If not sentimental, chocolate or gift card.

    When I was an assistant teacher at the preschool, I mostly got baked goods, chocolate, and notes. Whether you do the same or not really just depends on how much your kid works with the assistant. S/he certainly deserves some appreciation, but I think it's okay to do something smaller if your kid isn't with her/him a lot.

    Nothing teachery or with apples on it.

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  8. Notes of the difference the teacher has made in your child's life. It is nice to be appreciated, and to have a heartfelt note reaffirm our choice of profession (since we all know teachers aren't in it for the money!) is always a great thing. Agree with the comment above about mugs - also goes for apple themed items. Please no more!!! :-) (although the thought behind them is appreciated!)

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  9. Why not just find out what her interests are? Do you have an idea about this? There might be someone who you could call, like her husband / partner, or another teacher.
    I guess without this knowledge, a gift card would be a safe bet.
    As for who the gift is from... I would just give her something from all of you.

    Hope this helps... and good luck :)

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  10. Nice note definitely. Cookies sound awesome, end of the year paperwork goes down so much better with sweets! I agree though about mugs and candles they are a definite no no unless specifically requested!

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  11. The problem with teachers' gifts is that we treat teachers as if they were our friends who happen to love our kids enough to read them stories, when what they are is skilled professionals. Would you give your plumber a Starbucks gift card? Would you give your mechanic a gift certificate for a pedicure?

    When I was teaching, I loved each of my darling students for the precious snowflakes that they were, but I promise you after I had exclaimed over whatever candle/pencil holder/umbrella which had clearly come free with the purchase of ginsu knives it went straight into the donate pile. How many mugs/christmas ornaments/aprons do you think I need? And the baked goods. I know, you made them with love, but really?

    I wasn't really a fan of gift cards, either, because they would be for tiny amounts to stores I didn't go to. I taught about 5 minutes from a mall where I never shopped because it didn't have stores I liked, and yet there were always gift cards for the mall. And I'd get spa gift certificates for the spa I didn't go to in amounts that didn't cover any one of their services anyway. So if you must give money and your school has a "no cash to the teacher" policy, then give a visa or Amex gift card that can be used anywhere for anything.

    The thank you note is what I always really wanted. I kept those and reread on really bad days. What I really, really always wanted was a nice letter to my principal to read and then put in my file. Most of the time principals only hear from parents who are annoyed with teachers, so getting good news makes the teacher and the principal happy.

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    1. While I respect your opinion, I must disagree. Over the course of a school year, teachers become very important people in kids lives. The end of the year could very well signal the last time your child sees this person whom they have grown close to and marking that closure with a gift is a very kind gesture. Of course teacher will not love EVERY gift they receive, but I would hope they would appreciate the thought.

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    2. I would certainly agree that gift cards that do not have enough credit on them to USE at the store they are from are royal PsITA and a waste of money in general. I am a firm believer in making a gift an actual GIFT. The recipient should not have to spend money out of their own pocket in order to use it. Most teachers I know share your opinion of coffee mugs, candles and Christmas ornaments (although, of the three, candles are the most welcomed since they can typically be regifted pretty easily. haha!), and pretty much anything that says 'teacher' on it.

      All that said, I also agree w/ the Anon commenter before me who said it is a nice gesture for someone my child has grown attached to. I don't usually give end of the year gifts unless my kids request it, but I am more to celebrate things like teacher appreciation week and the holidays throughout the year.

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    3. I have to also disagree. My son's teacher has been wonderful. I want to thank her for choosing to love on each child every day. Not every teacher is equal.

      I certainly wouldn't give our plumber a gift card, but I also wouldn't trust him to take care of my child for most of the year.

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    4. My kids' teachers are not even on a level anywhere close to where the plumber would be. [although I do give gifts of apreciation to our mailman]. The job that teachers do for my children is something that deserves appreciation. If I had the money I'd give them each a million dollars, seriously. Both of my parents were teachers for 40 years too and I remember the delight they took in the sweet gifts they received from the kids they'd dealt with all year long. So, I'll keep giving the gifts, even knowing there may occasionally be a teacher who doesn't appreciate it [I think most do]. I do love the idea you had to write a letter to the principal - I had not thought of that and I WILL do it! What a great suggestion!

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    5. The teachers are paid for what they do, but unlike a plumber or a mechanic they are not paid directly by you. Nor are they paid solely for their technical knowledge, like a plumber or a mechanic is. I do not expect my plumber to listen when I have a problem with Cindy Lou because she said that she made the sand castle even though I made the sand castle, and now we're not best friends anymore because she's a liar but I'll still play with her during free time (I do expect this from my mechanic, however, seeing as he's my husband). Nor do I expect him to guide me through the process of learning how to fish Barbie's decapitated head any my happy meal watch from deep in the u-bend, and wait patiently until I feel confident enough to do it on my own. I expect him to come in, do the job, rip me off with his prices, and leave with minimal amounts of exposure to his butt crack. My daughter's teacher, however, I do expect to deal with my 4 year old's emotional problems while at school. She's given extra hugs on the day my daughter lost her great-grandfather, who she was insanely close to. She's patiently explained that there aren't 20 curves in an S. They do so much more than a mechanic, plumber, carpenter, floor cleaner, whatever. And therefore I think they do earn a little extra compensation at the end of the year.

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    6. "And the baked goods. I know, you made them with love, but really?"
      Yes, really. Maybe baking was the only thing they could afford and they wanted to show their appreciation.

      You should just tell the parents not to give you gifts then, because they are not wanted or appreciated. Because honestly, you seem to have kind of a shitty attitude. ANYONE who says all gifts get donated or baked goods scoffed at seems like they have an entitlement problem, no matter what their job is or how good they are at it. Scoffing at people who really are simply doing a nice gesture for you really sucks.

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    7. I have to back up JeCaThRe on this one. I've filled those shoes, too. While I do love Starbucks and pedicures, my most favorite gifts from the 9 yrs I spent in the classroom (I left to be a stay at home mom currently) are a stubbed chewed upon grey pencil from my first year of teaching, "letters of recommendation" my students wrote for me when they knew I was leaving and finding a new job (my position with them was part of my master's degree program), a binder full of student drawings and letters of love, and a rock with a student's name from the lake she visited that shared her name. I even have a few e-mails I printed off when I taught a few older grades! I have no idea who gave me what gift cards when I did receive a few. As for the candies and chocolates, I have weight issues and really had a hard time fighting urges to either eat them all, give them away, or trash them. I appreciated every gift and thought on the parents' part, but if people are asking for teachers' opinions, then these are some of our "on the job" opinions. (I also maintained a very professional relationship with my classroom parents, it is difficult to objectively discuss student progress or behavior if there is not professionalism. That's not to say I wasn't friendly, I was just professional.)

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    8. One more note, she was not scoffing at the baked goods or feeling entitled to better gifts. She was asking for the free gift of a thank you note if it is heart felt and wanted. Something that can be seen, touched, and read for all the years to come. My drawings are worth more to me than any money any parent or school could have paid me.

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  12. Here is the easy, sweet, and useful teacher appreciation I gave to all my son's teachers and aides:
    http://gratefullygrowingingrace.blogspot.com/2012/05/easy-sweet-and-useful-teacher.html

    I felt like this gift was cute, personal, and not something junky that would gather dust; plus it only cost me about $3 each. If I get creative, next year I'll amp it up with something else also hand-related. I stuck a $10 gift certificate to a nice store in his main teacher's bag, too.

    If you can find out what the teacher likes or wants, definitely go that direction, though.

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    1. I love your gift idea- especially the hand soap with the quote and silhouette inside.

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  13. A nice note with a specific example of how your kid was help/loved by the teacher is always nice, and gift cards are awesome. As a teacher and a parent, I'd say gear your gift card towards how much you can put on it. If you have 18 teachers to buy for and you can only put $5 or $10 on each card, make it to DD. You can still treat yourself several times for that. I've gotten $15 gift cards to places like Macy's, and while the thought is nice, I can't afford to window-shop at Macy's, and you can't buy anything in there for $15, so I would wind up giving the card to someone who would shop there anyway. But $15 to Target is great, because I pretty much sign my paycheck over to them anyway. If you can spend more, a gift card to a "better" store is such a treat. If your teacher has children, how about a gift certificate to a local restaurant and you'll watch the kids? We've gotten that several times from various sutdents, and it's AWESOME.

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  14. I've been a teacher for four years. The best presents are gift cards because you can use them when you want! Chocolate and cookies are nice, but then if you're like me and have no will power, you end up eating them all within a short period of time. No hand lotion, mugs, scented candles, etc...I have more than I know what to do with.

    Don't have your kid deliver wine...I'd be super weirded out. If a parent delivered it, it'd be less awkward.

    For families that don't have money to spend, a card is great. I actually keep nice notes and drawings in a box to look at for if I have a hard day.

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  15. I think that something that the teacher will not buy for herself (yes, I'm assuming mostly females here) is great. We got my son's pre-school teachers gift certs to a local spa so they can pamper themselves. Don't we all feel guilty getting nails/hair/etc. done in this economy? Each family just gave whatever amount they wanted to give. A dollar or two per kid would get at least a manicure or maybe almost pay for a haircut.

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    1. But what about the teacher who doesn't like going to the spa, or who has a specific spa that she uses and you don't know what that is? I hate going to a new hairstylist, and I'm very picky about manicures and pedicures because those tools have been used on someone else's feet.

      As a teacher I loved many of my students dearly, but I wasn't friends with their parents. I greatly appreciate the work my kids' teachers do, but they're not my friends, and I don't know how they spend their free time. I'm not in a position to choose which coffee shop or spa or whatever would work for them.

      I'd rather have a nice thank you note from the kid and/or the parent than $1000 in gift cards to stores I don't like.

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  16. Consumables! Gift Cards are fabulous. I loved your little rug rat like my own, but I don't want or need a mug or some stinky smelly thing to remember them by forever. A hand written note will always be treasured also....

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  17. I'm not sure what to get, as I was a high school teacher and therefore invisible (meaning, I didn't get presents while my elementary school teacher sister raked them in), but I will say not to give alcohol. Not that the teacher won't like the gift, but some schools are so strict on the zero tolerance for possessing alcohol that you could get your kid into serious trouble. I remember a case where a student brought a bottle of wine to his teacher and was up for expulsion. I suppose if you show up and hand it over yourself, that would maybe work, but it's just probably not a good idea.

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  18. Another thing I have stockpiled from my teacher days is bath products. I haven't taught in over a year and I still have enough to last me about another year, maybe two, some I won't touch because they're super-scented and I don't want to smell like my Great Aunt Tessie.
    I always liked a little something made by the kids, with a picture of them, which is a gift that can be made on the cheap, and I can put them in the album and remember all the little ones I've loved over the years.
    For those wishing to indulge, take cues from the environment, if you can (it was easier since I taught in a daycare setting, so the parents had to pick up every day, but I'm assuming you see the teacher a few times a year) and use that to get a gift card. If you don't see the teacher without a coffee in hand, Starbucks gift card. Or a gift card for a nearby fast-food place for those days they have to run out, grab something to eat, and be back before being missed. If you can get enough get a teacher who likes fashion a certificate for a TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or department store where they can have a large selection, a teacher with a new baby would probably like some extra $ to clothe the little cherub, a teacher who is a foodie could be given a card to a new restaurant or local hot spot.
    And when you present a gift, please at least include a note written by your little one. I make my daughter do this, and I've been told by the teachers they love it, and they keep it.

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  19. I teach 1st grade. Think about the gifts that you generally re-gift, and don't get them. Most, not all, of the crafts on Pinterest are cute but impractical. So I would say don't waste time and money on a cutesie decoration because chances are it won't fit in with the teacher's home decor. Candles and scented lotions are some of my least favorite gifts because I don't like certain smells, so they usually get re-gifted or tossed out. A nice hand-written note goes a long way. Don't feel like you need to buy something. As far as cookies go, I only eat treats sent from homes where I have met the parents, and the child is well kept and clean :) Depending on the school's policy with volunteers supervising children, one of the most helpful gifts is to take the kids to the computer lab, media center, or somewhere else so the teacher has a few minutes to get report cards and end of the year paperwork done!

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  20. I have taught high school for 10 years and my most favorite gifts have to be HAND written notes!! In today's age of texting/emails it really is nice to know that someone (especially a teenager) took a few minutes to write a "thank you."

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  21. I agree with anonymous. The best things I have ever gotten from students is a well-written thank-you note. I don't need trinkets or other "stuff" (as cute as some of those crafts are). If you feel you must get the teacher something, a small gift card to a coffee place or a bookstore.

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  22. A thank you note, without question. Written by you if the kid's too young, and by the kid if he/she is old enough - or, better yet, both! Be specific about something that you know your teacher did for your child this year. You can't imagine how important it is to remind teachers that you notice what they are doing for your child and your family each and every day. I have a folder of these filed under "don't quit!" and they are sometimes what gets me through the last few weeks of the year when frustrations and parental attacks over final grades, etc are at an all time high. Bonus points if the kid writes a note, and you follow up with an email and cc the principal/their department head, etc. Make sure everyone at that school knows how awesome you think your teacher is, and I promise you, that teacher will be eternally grateful.

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  23. I gave both of my twins Kindy teachers a heartfelt short letter, and a $5 gift card to Target.
    they were both very happy with it.

    I kept a copy of both letters to go into my kids files with their report cards, etc.

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  24. A specific thank you note written by the child. Gift cards for wine/starbucks/Tim Horton's or Chapters/Indigo (bookstores up here in the Great White North). The best gift I ever got was a book a student had read that she thought I would like, but she was a high school student. I've taught at Elementary level and at high school. I've got maybe 7 presents total from high school and a bajillion at elementary. The high school ones meant more because most high school teachers don't get presents, and they were all chosen by the students rather than by the parents.

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  25. As a former second grade teacher, I can tell you one of the most interesting gifts I ever got was $500 cash from the whole class. (I worked in a very affluent area of Virgina.) But my favorite gifts were always the notes from the parents and the kids. I always kept them. I haven't taught in ten years and I still look at them. I have one from a student that simply says, "Thank you for helping me read." That's what it's about.

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  26. If someone will organize a group gift, no one is ever sad to receive a hefty gift card. One recent year, the class was able to give the teacher a $200 gift card for the local mall. (Fair Oaks, ahem.) The teacher was thrilled. Who wouldn't be?

    However, this year my youngest has been in kindergarten. He is much more of a handful than any of his older siblings have been. I'm trying to figure out how to find out if the teacher drinks and what she likes. I'd like to give her a fifth of Scotch.

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  27. As a teacher, I have a policy of never eating anything homemade brought in by students. No offense, but I don't know what their kitchen looks like or where their hands (or their mom's hands) were before the treat was made. Sorry. I'll be very thankful and sweet when the student hands it to me, but then into the trash it goes at the end of the day.

    I would NOT like another coffee mug or something cute to sit on my shelf that I have to dust. I kill potted plants, but a flower arrangement is nice. A gift card to anywhere, even for $5, would be lovely. Store-bought goodies like candy are wonderful. If a parent would volunteer to come in just for a couple of hours and do the things it's hard for me to find time for (like filing papers, putting up posters, making extra copies), that would be amaaaaaazing. (I work at a middle school and this never happens.)

    The best thing is a hand-written note of thanks. I save them and look through them when I need a little boost. Delivered with a heartfelt hug? Perfect.

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  28. PS - Some teachers don't drink. I have a Muslim teacher friend and a straight-edge teacher friend who are both dry, so they regift the wine. So make sure the teacher drinks. How you do that, I don't know!

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  29. PPS - When I was a kid, we always gave a note with flowers from our garden because my mom was too broke to buy us presents. The flowers usually stayed on the teacher's desk for a day or two, which I thought was AWESOME.

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  30. My daughter has been blessed to have the same wonderful teacher for kindergarten and 1st grade. For holidays and thank yous, I get her a little something for her (like a bottle of wine) plus a gift card to the Dollar Tree. Teachers in our district (and I'm assuming across the country) spend a lot out of pocket to stock their rooms or do special projects. Money goes so far at the Dollar Tree in terms of crafts and supplies. Our teacher is always ecstatic to know she won't have to foot the bill for the things she wants to do with our children.

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  31. I only eat food from my own home or people I know very well. Not everyone loves spas. I have regifted every spa gift certificate I ever received (at least $500 worth of certificates).
    I would much rather have a gift card to Target. You don't know the personal finances of your teacher. If you give them a gift card to Target they can either spend it on something frivolous and fun or toilet paper if money is tight. Target gift cards or Visa/AMEX cards are the only way to go, no matter the amount.

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  32. As a brand new teacher, I will be surprised to get any gifts at all, but I do like the idea of wine or any alchohol (we here in canada pay a premium due to taxes, cheap wine is $10) or barring that, I think restaurant gift cards would be sweet.
    I think I would most like some sort of large-ish card with all of them writing something on it, but it might even be better if it was electronic and permanent, so I could keep it without cluttering up my closet.
    Or a mix tape (CD) as I am a music teacher, with each student choosing a song and explaining why they chose it. Yeah, that sounds even better than wine. (and why does everyone assume that teachers are women?)

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  33. I get TJX gift cards (good at Marshalls, home goods and TJ Maxx). That way they can buy themselves clothes, or something for their home.

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  34. Gift card...and as a former spec ed teacher who had nil budget and used a TREMENDOUS amount of my own $$ for my closet of a classroom, I would have LOVED it from a book store or Amazon (what CAN'T you find on Amazon?) to help augment my teaching supplies.

    Also, a couple of the best were a painted flower pot (painted by one of my students) with culinary herbs (though another type of herb would have been welcome after THAT year-LOL!) and a simple tile that another student decorated with markers to be used as a trivet. I still have both. So personal, so perfect. And didn't cost the parents and arm and a leg.

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  35. I taught for 9 years before staying home with my now 2 year old (who I now teach 12 + hours a day). I will reiterate a hand written note of thanks or gratitude is more than enough. If you didn't like your kids teachers then don't worry about it at all! If you were really pleased or impressed perhaps write a letter to the principal and then copy it for the teacher. If you must get something then a grade appropriate book for her library with an inscription would be nice. Want to go overboard? Save the expensive gift card and call the teacher and offer up an hour of your time to help her/him pack up their classroom. We stay hours after school the last weeks of school to clean out and put away. We don't need any more candy, cookies, mugs, frames, plastic or ceramic figurines. By the end of the year we need help and a token of thanks is appreciated. None of this is expected or required and we don't sit around talking about who didn't bring anything. It's not that big of a deal. It seems to be more of a parental competition in some communities.

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  36. I am a quilter by trade so every year I make some kind of fabric gift for the teacher. Granted, some years, they haven't actually gotten the gift until after summer break is over. :/ This year I am ahead of the game and they will be done about 5 minutes before the last day of school...yeah me! I find a way for it to be a person gift from my child. I have 5 kids and now the bigger kids have more than one teach at a time so I am thinking the gifts will start getting smaller but they will still be personal. I also find a way for the gift to be not only a thank you from me but also personal from them. They sign the label or hide a note. It takes a lot of time to make these gifts but I think that if he/she has spent 9 whole months and only manages to teach my son/daughter one thing that year it is totally worth it. We have had a couple of extra amazing teachers this year so they are getting extra special gifts.

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  37. My mom is a 6th grade teacher in a lovely small town. She has the best students and parents, just ask her! After 25+ years f teaching I can honestly say she doesn't need another mug, vase, pencil holder, candle or bottle of scented lotion. She appreciates it all and the thought behind it, but they usually end up in the re-gift pile. She LOVES the thank you's from students, they melt her heart and always make her ugly cry. If you want to get her something a gift certificate is great, but not necessary.

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  38. I have 3 kids who each have a teacher and assistant in each class, plus the 'specials' teachers (gym, art, Spanish, music, etc.), so I'll have to give out ~12 gifts each year. I was advised by a 1st grade teacher friend that consumables are the way to go. So I've made mini-loaves of zucchini bread, or muffins, or a plate of cookies (these can then be shared if they're reluctant to eat it all themselves). Last year, I gave out Lemonade Jars. Get the large wide-mouth ball jars, put in a small baggie of sugar and two large lemons. I use Photoshop to create 4x6 Thank You cards with my kids' pictures on it, plus (last year) directions on how to make the lemonade. Then I'd upload the pics online and order the prints at my local drugstore. This way, even if they don't like lemonade, they can use the lemons to make their garbage disposal smell nice, use the sugar and use the jar as desired (or give it to someone who cans). I heard from teachers with kids that they would take the jar on picnics, and kept using it all summer.

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  39. My kids' school has an awesome parent org that surveys every teacher. So we parents have a list of the teachers' favorite stores, restaurants, hobbies, interests, even favorite meals, snacks, and beverages. I was the room mom for 2 of my little guys this year, and we asked the parents to send in $10 per student. We bought gift cards (fave restaurant & store) and then added the teacher's favorite treat/candy to the gift bag, along with a note. It's a relief to know that we parents are giving the teacher something she will use. For the specials teachers (art, music, PE, etc.), when I can afford it, I buy a $10 gift card for each one. I chose a fast food place that also has great salads (Chik Fil A) for these teachers, who my kids will have every year as they move from K to 5th.

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  40. Alcohol, provided you know the teacher likes it, is a welcome gift for most teachers, but only if delivered by the parent, not the kid. Chocolate and treats are great if the teacher is not diabetic or allergic. As almost everyone has noted, the most treasured gifts are handwritten, heartfelt notes of appreciation. My husband teaches special needs children and the "gift" he treasures most is a note from the parents of one of his non-verbal kids who has had behavioural issues that with much effort he has started to overcome this year. My hubby is a super teacher, in my totally unbiased opinion, and it is incredibly gratifying to see that the parents of these very special kids truly understand how hard he works and how much he values their children. That being said, he also likes coffee cards from Starbucks, Second Cup, or Tim Hortons (Yeah, we are Canadian too).

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  41. As a preschool teacher in a special ed school, Ive gotten it all over the last ten years- candles, mugs, picture frames, Christmas ornaments aplenty, gift cards to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, target, Home Depot, the local teachers store (which I absolutely did NOT mind since I didnt have to spend my own money on classroom stuff) handmade gifts, chocolates, a Coach wallet (!!!!!) even maternity clothes! But as thoughtful as the gifts are, particularly the hand made ones with the sweet notes- I'm going to be brutally honests here-I love when the class gets together and gets me one big Visa gift card that I can spend on whatever I want. My other favorite gifts ever- a box of popcorn, a bottle of Coke, some Goobers and a gift card to the movies all wrapped up nicely by the children. The other was a big beach towel, suntan lotion, flip flops and a Cosmo magazine. (a few parents had gotten together and did that one. It seems so impersonal, but when a teacher has been at a while, the last thing she needs is another teacher- related gift. Dont go nuts- simple is best. She'll appreciate whatever you give. As for the assistant, if you have the means to get the same gift as the teacher then absolutely do so. A lot of times smaller, lesser gifts make the TA feel inferior. but she should ABSOLUTELY be recognized!!!!

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  42. A Giving Tree! Have everyone bring in a gift card (of any denomination-can be $5 or $50) and attach it to a shrub. We use knockout roses. It makes a wonderful presentation and parents can spend as much, or as little, as they are able.

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  43. I teach first grade - the greatest thing you can do, echoing the thoughts of these other wonderful ladies - are great, meaningful, genuine thank you notes. They're a great way, at the end of the year when things are chaotic and crazy & you're stressed because of having to clean up your classroom, to reminisce about great times you shared with your kiddos & the effect you didn't realize you had on someone. Gift Cards, if you "must" spend money (as some parents tell me), are great.


    PLEASE! NOTHING WITH APPLES ON THEM! (You have no idea how quickly you can acquire countless items covered in apples...)

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  44. Don't forget the day care teachers! We looooove wine, gift cards would be fab too, or a gorgeous notebook and pen, I use last years as my shopping list notepad now. But definately a note from the family saying thanks for something specific that the teacher has done, or one of there more fabulous traits eg thank you for settling in _____ and for being so caring, handwritten by the kid is even more gorgeous

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  45. I was a teacher in a previous life (the one I had before I had kids). The BEST gift is a sweet card with a handwritten letter inside about what the school year has meant to you and your child. It's nice to include a small gift card for some place they like (usually the kids know- if they come to school 3 days a week with a McDonald's cup or a Starbucks mug your kid can tell you).

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  46. I have a special needs child in Grade 3. Grade 2 was NOT a good year... but his teacher was phenomenal. We did give her glassware... but it was 2 beautiful wine glasses with a gift certificate to the LCBO (liquor store). There are days when he would drive a saint to drink, so we figured we might as well get her something that she'd appreciate! (She loved it, and loved the note he (tried) to write for her.)

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  47. Another vote for the handwritten note. They are meaningful and store flat--two fine qualities. I keep anything hand-written by a kid. Also an e-mail from a parent about what they appreciated with a CC to my administrator would be golden! I'm an arts teacher so I am always having to justify my existence. As for the other things, think about what you DON'T know about your teacher's life. For example, I'm diabetic and I get cookies and chocolates that I have to give away all. the. time. My husband and son are allergic to most synthetic scents, good-bye candles, soaps, etc. We've had to downsize our home and can't even unpack the knick knacks we own, so I have to donate or toss mugs, crafts, etc. I feel badly about it, but there it is. Gift cards that I've really appreciated include Starbucks, Movie Theaters, Home Depot and Target.

    Our Holiday gift to my son's teacher was a Shell station gift card--so she could visit her new grandchild about 150 miles away. Not very cutesy, but we know it was used and appreciated! Also we know now that she is a paper crafting fanatic, so the end of the year gift will be a Michael's card.

    Honestly though, you don't need to spend money--handwritten note, homemade cards--these are the BEST.

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  48. As a teacher myself, I always appreciate a hand written note and a gift card. Don't bother with the cutesie handmade items... We get tons of those (or candles and mugs, or funky spelling lotions), and, to be honest it will most likely end up in the trash can about an hour after school. It's not that we don't appreciate it, it's that we have no use for it, space and feel it is a waste of money. I'd take a $5 Starbucks card over a $20 crafty item.

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  49. If you're going to give a gift card, make it one of those visa/mastercard ones that can be used in ANY store, not just one. People kept giving me Target cards for Christmas, and I never shop there! :)

    something handmade by the kids that they actually spent time on would be more appreciated than anything that will die or be eaten. If this had been posted a few month ago, I would have suggested a quilt for the retiring teachers, with the fabric squares drawn with fabric pens or fabric paint by the students before they were sewn, but now there won't be time! :)

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  50. I've been retired for 7 years (after 30 years of teaching) and just this morning ran across a note written in 1995 by a parent. Trust me, the notes are appreciated over and over. The most unusual gift I ever got was a goat donated in my name to Heifer International.

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  51. We have gone the group gift route and purchased a gift card to Nordstoms or some other "non-kid" store we know the teacher will like. We also have one parent go in and take a "stealth" class picture usually doing art/music/P.E. when the teacher is not around. We then have the kids all sign the mat in colorful markers and frame it. It is not terribly expensive and it gives the teacher a reminder of that year's class.

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  52. As a retired middle-school teacher, for the love of Maude, do NOT give a teacher ANYTHING you see on Pinterest, other than gift-certificates.

    I still occasionally have nightmares about the year that all the parents decided that homemade bread was a perfect holiday gift. Let me tell you, as a single woman, living alone, with a tiny freezer and an airline ticket elsewhere the day after break started, EVERYONE I knew got a regifted loaf of bread . . . and I STILL had some go moldy in the fridge while I was gone. Yuck!

    Then there was the year they all gave me cinnamon scented candles. 5 years later we had a week-long power outage and yes, I used all of my candles. Great, but to this day, decades later, I can't stand to be around scented candles.

    I know, I know, it feels "impersonal" to just buy a gift-card and write a nice note, but really, if you're tempted to do a craft project, count your time into the cost-factor. A gift-card will usually be cheaper (and more appreciated).

    Mind you, I still have the oddly shaped wooden Christmas tree that one of my 6th graders chose and painted himself. It's a nice keepsake, but that's one out of the thousands of weird gifts I've gotten. I wrote all the thank-you notes, and I appreciated the thoughts, but I appreciated the gift-cards more. I'm not your child's Great-Aunt Maude, and cutesy craft projects are best saved for the kids, not for me. Treat me like an adult, not like one of my students.

    Also, to agree with one of the other posters: stick to major retailers for gift-cards, not the expensive boutiques that you and your mommy friends who can afford to send your children to private school can afford. I work for the private school and can NOT afford to shop some place where they'll sell me a $40 scented candle. No, really. Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Starbucks (if you're sure I like their coffee), or Target. Stick to the big names.

    As for the thank-you note? That's always the BEST part of any gift. Do me a favor though, and send a note to my administration too. You can make a photocopy for me of what you sent to them. That'd be a great gift even without a card! I may not have any of those scented candles left, but you can bet I've got a binder of all the great thank-you notes from parents and kids. 'Cause really, that's what counts!

    Love,
    Mrs. Turkey

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  53. My oldest is only in preschool, but she's incredibly shy and has type I diabetes. I figured the teachers deserved a little something extra for keeping a close eye out for her. So I made them each a quilted wine tote and stuck a bottle of white zin in each bag (on sale for $3.99 each!). They loved it! I figure, if I did their job, I'd drink daily so alcohol as an end of year gift is perfect!

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  54. Absolutely nothing scented unless you're sure they like that sort of thing and aren't allergic to it. And no food unless it's really good and you're sure the teacher will eat it (they won't eat if, say, they don't really know you or your kid had lice half the year).

    The most thoughtful student gift I've ever gotten was a $50 gift card to a local restaurant and a voucher for a night of babysitting from a mutual friend who sits for us on a regular basis, along with a really great thank you card. You can mix it up by giving them gift cards to teacher/office supply stores as well, so that they don't have to use their own money for classroom supplies. If you feel you can't put a price tag on it or can't afford what you think they deserve, offer to help with manual labor getting the classroom supplies stored and organized for the summer. They often have to come in even after the last teacher day to do these tasks. Offer a half day of your time and pay for lunch (and/or take her to get some more classroom supplies once you see first hand what she needs!). If a parent had offered that to my mother this year, maybe she wouldn't have broken her ankle getting a box down from a shelf all by herself.

    After teaching both high school and college, I can say that a hand written note from the heart goes very far. I got an apology note from a student with anger issues one year, and it meant so much. I wrote notes to my favorite college profs before graduating, and now that I'm teaching I can say that I feel very good that I took the time to do that!

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  55. My child is still in daycare, and he has 3 providers.... I showed up one afternoon with movie tickets, a nice handwritten/personalized note for each of them, and huge chocolate milk shakes from Chick-fil-a! They were a hit on a warm June day. I even helped watch the remaining kids so they could take turns drinking their shakes in peace ;)

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  56. The schools my children attended seem to be very structured. One elementary school had a list of "wish" books at the book fair and you simply picked up the book, got a sticker to adhere a note from you child and you made a donation to the classroom library, or to the general library, if you wished. Other schools have had room mothers collect $10 from each family in the class in Sept and then the room mothers appropriate the money for various gifts for the main teacher and any classroom aides during the year (I assume that one-on-one aides are treated by that child's family). I think families have supplemented the $10 donation as they see fit with cards, gift cards, baked goods, etc. as they wish; oh and not all families contribute to the class gift, which is awkward for the room parent to designate the gift from the "class" when they didn't all contribute, but what can you do. In middle school, my son brought a variety bag of Lindt chocolate to let his teachers choose a chocolate as they wished and he always felt that was good - he probably had over a dozen teachers in ms, so I had no idea where to start. We gifted the guidance counselor at the end of ms cus she was a constant contact and a huge help for the 3 years. Our entire school system has a "gift fund" program where you donate money in the teachers name and the money is put into an account for them to use for the classroom, which must be appreciated because I hear that teachers spent hundreds preparing for the class each Sept....

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  57. I'm an elementary school teacher. I, like all the other teachers here, LOVE the thank you notes. Love them. Love. Them.

    As for a tangible gift, if you must give one, PLEASE make sure that you really, really know what the teacher likes. I was the room mom for my daughter's class this year and two of the other parents really wanted to give the teacher a gift certificate to a spa. I happen to know the lady and she is NOT a spa person - so we got her a (group gift) $200 Visa gift card at Christmas. (I told those two moms that she could certainly use it for the spa if she wanted. That's the fantastic-ness of a universal gift card.) She bought a small digital camera to mostly keep at school and made all the kids CDs of the pictures she'd taken for their end-of-year gift. They loved them, she loved her camera, the parents were happy, etc. I'm a big fan of gift cards to generic-type places (Target, Panera Bread, Starbucks, etc.) or a Visa card. Flowers are nice. Cookies, apple butter, bread and the like is nice. Trinkets are not.

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  58. Grand Poombah and Chief Muckety-MuckMay 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Gift cards and handwritten thank you notes!! I am *still* using up $5 and $10 Starbucks cards from last year, and the handwritten notes make us feel appreciated. Please don't buy lotions, mugs, flowerpots painted by your kids, or anything that's "stuff" the teacher will feel obligated to keep, and nothing with apples or "World's Greatest Teacher". I think the best gift I ever got, though, was a photo album comprised of candid photos the class Moms had snapped throughout the year. I still have that album (with all the handwritten thank you cards tucked inside) and I flip through it from time to time. It was a great present.

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    1. Preschool ParentMay 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      As a parent of a preschooler, I want to make sure to show my son's teacher and the teacher's assistants how greatly they are appreciated. I asked around and found that most people do give gift cards to various retailers as thank you gifts. Personally, that is what I would want in their shoes, and that is what I purchased (for the bus driver's, too!). For those of you who have suggested Visa gift cards, those would be great gifts BUT please consider that oftentimes there is a $5 fee just for buying the card. So your $10/$15/$20 gift is now +$5. If you're a parent of multiple kids, like my friends, those $5 fees add up quickly and are just not ideal for a family who wants to show appreciation, but is also on a budget. Also, I sent an email to my son's teacher on Teacher Appreciation Day with accolades and specific examples of how my son has grown since entering her classroom. I cc'd the school principal so he would be able to put it in her file and/or pass along to the Administration. Just food for thought from the perspective of a parent who really, really appreciates the teachers! Thank you teachers for all you do all year long!!!

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  59. Personal note and something they can use or do (or just a personal note). Avoid the cute crafts!!!!! While it is great people take the time to do something nice, just because someone is a teacher doesn't mean they like crafty things. Also, as a teacher, I must admit that while I really do love working with kids, I appreciate it when parents remember I have a life outside of my profession. I have so many great memories from kids over the years, but I don't have the space for a photobook from every year I've taught.

    A couple favorites that I've been given...
    ***Gift card to the movies - LOVED it. Even if it isn't enough to cover the whole cost, it reminds the teacher to get out and enjoy his/her own time - most of the year they don't have time to do it.
    ***A pre-made scrap book - WITHOUT pictures of the class in it. All I had to do was drop my own family photos in from the year (After cutting things out for a class all year, I don't have much time to do it for my family - ) Also - a gift card to shutterfly.
    ***A genuine offer to cut things out/copy papers for me over the summer - it opened up soo much time for me the next school year.
    ***A small gift card to a basic store (Target/Grocery) - that way it isn't wasted.
    ***Class gift - either all money together into a gift card, or an email sent out to the class suggesting just a couple of places the teacher likes - that way people have the freedom to do their own thing, but the teacher can combine cards for a purchase.
    ***Restaurant gift card

    About the wine--I have recieved wine before(and loved it), but you have to be careful. A few times parents that knew me pretty well dropped a bottle off to me after school hours, or off campus. One time a student brought it into the classroom - it was totally innocent - he came in directly from the carpool line. However, someone else saw him with the wine and created a HUGE fuss with our office stating the family had broken the law (drug free/weapon free zone)and wanted the police called - ridiculous, YES, but just something to keep in mind - you never know how others may react.

    Above all, the personal notes from the kids are the best!!

    Jen Deming

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  60. Also, I'm wondering... Could a parent or teacher get in trouble (through the school or law enforcement) for having booze on school property, even if it's a thank you gift?

    A nice way to gauge your teacher for what he/she might want for a gift is to ask what they're doing over the summer. If it's a vacation to Cancun, the wine might be a great idea. If it's taking a second job to pay the bills, practical gift cards. If it's reorganizing the classroom for a room/grade change, gift cards for supplies. If it's reading, bookstore cards. You get the idea.

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  61. For the truly wonderful teachers in my children's lives, my children make something small for them and write a note thanking them for their hard work. If there is a teacher I think deserves extra I write a letter to the principal and/or superintendent of their school/district praising their hard work and dedication to their profession, citing specific examples of how they have gone above and beyond for their students. I will also send a copy to the teacher for their own personal records.

    I don't have the money for expensive gifts and I don't really think they're necessary anyway. I have many close friends and family who are teachers and most of them appreciate words of thanks and praise far more than the material things they receive.

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  62. Please nothing with an apple on it!! I love handwritten, kid created notes and gift cards are always nice to get. There is a new kind of card that let's all the families in one classroom contribute what they want. Then the teacher gets a gift card called a Tango card they can use at a bunch of different places, redeem it for cash or donate to charity. It's a pretty easy way for the room mom to collect $$. https://teachergift.tangocard.com/

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  63. My kids write notes as thank you's and I sell Scentsy and LOVE the ABC warmer, it's so cute and fun and not expensive so I have a bunch of them. BUT, last year someone tried to return one that one of my son's teachers had re-gifted her! Awesome right?! I'm sure she had more than one, but it was still super tacky!! I exchanged it for the other teacher who's now a faithful customer. ;) Either way, I usually pair it with a cliche scent like Red Candy Apple.

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    1. She chose to pass on your gift rather than throw it in the trash - that isn't tacky. Just b/c you like cliche Candy Apple doesn't mean a teacher has to. I'm sure she still truly appreciated you and the fact that you gave her something.

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  64. I'm an untenured teacher. I would just be happy with a heartfelt note cc'ed to my principal that would be part of my permanent file. There are 13 schools closing in my district and with me being untenured- you know what that means!

    Maybe that letter or note would have me back on the rehire list. Seriously if anyone wants a NJ teacher that hold 4 teaching certifications.. email me: cmb92191 at yahoo.
    Personally I don't want stuff, need stuff and I also feel bad accepting things. My students are at poverty level and I just feel so awkward accepting anything. Some of the younger ones used to "borrow" something from home and I would love it. Personally there are days that are from the trenches and a positive letter would mean the world.

    Sincerely

    RIF'd teacher

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  65. We did $10 amazon gift cards to all the child's teachers and I know they were appreciated despite the small amount because many of the teachers wrote him notes that it was nice to have a little chunk of amazon cash on had for downloading songs or ordering instant videos on a whim. Given that amazon *does* have stuff like that (mp3s, kindle books, instant videos) for 2.99 or less, $10 doesn't seem as cheap as it might otherwhise! :)

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  66. One year a boy wrote my mom (an art teacher for 30 years now long retired) a sweet poem about how much he loved her class, and she framed it. To this day she still has it up a wall, 3 moves and 20 years later. That is how important the hand written notes can become.

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  67. I have four kids in school and our school runs "pods" like a mini high school where the teachers "share" students- one teacher teaches 3-4 classes science, one teaches the same classes phys ed, etc. So I cannot buy gifts for 16 teachers plus administration! At Christmas we do baked goods and a goat from world vision, in the summer we do handwritten thank you notes, the "homeroom" teachers will get a small gift (herbal tea, foot lotion, etc- I try to tailor it to the teacher)and I go in a few hours in the last week of school and give the gift of "time" I try to do all the mundane jobs that need to be done but are no fun (I do a lot of filing! lol!)

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  68. As a special ed teacher I am frequently left off the gift list (even when I have the student more than their gen ed teacher). My two favorite gifts for this year were both hand written cards from the student and her parent saying thanks one a christmas and one today. I try to do small things for all my kids teachers (art music etc) this year I gave the support staff a small pinterst inspired gift and the teachers who taught my kids academics a gift card to the local liquor store (I work with them and know they all drink) with a thank you note. It was well received.

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  69. I taught at a private school that was extremely mixed income (some kids on scholarships). My absolute favorite gift ever was handmade cards from the kids telling me what they loved about our year together. Baked goods are great and thoughtful but teachers get so many - I often had to give them away so they didn't go bad. I did once get the COOLEST magnifying glass ever - a student brought it back from a trip to London. I was a science teacher. So, maybe something to fit the teacher's interests?

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  70. I gave my kids teachers' DIY skin care baskets, I made it myself, the hardest part was going through websites to put together the book of DIY recipes. I couldn't go all out and I tried to stay within the what could they get from the grocery store so they don't have to hunt all over the state. I included coconut oil (apparently all the rage right now), olive oil, an avocado, baking soda, and some bath salts I made myself, a carrot, a cucumber, and a banana. Oh and home made chocolate covered caramels (so not as hard as it sounds) Bag of caramel bits, mash 3 or so together so they're a little bigger and still bit sized, them melt some chocolate in the microwave, like 30 seconds the first time stir and then 10 seconds at a time. Chocolate should have a glistenyish look to it. Like a shine or what ever if not you may have messed it up. Then you dunk your caramels into the chocolate. It's a bit time consuming if you to one at a time, dump in a few roll'em around pull'em out. Let them harden on some wax paper, I wrapped mine in just regular cling wrap. They have cute little boxes at the dollar store I just kept forgetting to go get them. Plus I had 3 teachers so it took what felt like forever.

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  71. I have been a teacher for 8 years, and I pretty much agree with the other posts...hand written notes are awesome, and mean more than the mug filled with candy, etc. A little book with a hand written note on the inside cover is nice. Gift cards are the best - and yes, $5 is plenty - it is the thought! The best gift I ever got was a cd with pics from all of our field trips that year. One of the room moms put it together and it was great!!

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  72. My mother taught 2nd and 3rd grade forever and always said that Post-It notes are the best gift ever. She always needed them and never had enough. And they come in so many cute sizes, styles and colors now so it's not like she ends up with 30 packs of yellow notes.

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  73. Gift cards are awesome...lotions, mugs etc are a nice gesture...but not super useful and one thing I have learned about teachers universally is that we are practical people. A well thought out hand written card, for Christmas I got a really tasteful handmade ornament with the students name and the year on the back (a nice reminder) and a good gift if the teacher is early in her career. From one child I got a gift card for the liquor store (super awesome IMO). For my child's daycare providers I did smaller denominations of Starbucks/Tim Hortons cards and a personal note and I think it was very much appreciated. Chocolates...nice but let's be honest bathing suit season is upon us!

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  74. Hi - At my children's school, they have a Keurig machine for the teachers in the Teacher's Lounge, but the teachers have to provide their own K-cups. Having been a teacher, I know how important coffee is the proper functioning of a classroom, so, this year, I'm getting them all the multipacks from Costco! I will also include a handwritten note from my kids.

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  75. I've been a teacher for 7 years, and please NO more mugs, candles, or ornaments. Of course I welcome all these things when given, but later I cannot use them they all go to the second hand shop. Store bough candy, flowers, or gift cards are best. Handmade cards are very sweet too. Also, any classroom supply donations are greatly appreciated any time of the year (as long as you know what the teacher prefers/needs). We are neurotic to the bone about our school supplies. Cheers!

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  76. Also (and as mentioned above) we are not SUPER likely to eat homemade goodies. We know the love is there, and it is the thought that counts. But, I wouldn't put a lot of time into Pinterest worthy snack treats.

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  77. Just had Teacher Appreciation at week at my son's pre-school and were asked to give daily gifts. At the end of the week, I gave each of my son's teachers a bottle of 'Mommy's Time Out' wine. I'd crossed out 'Mommy' and replaced it with 'Teacher', and included a thank you note that said 'some wine to deal with all the whining'.

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  78. I have coordinated a class gift of a SPA gift card with a book of letters from the students who contributed for the past 3 teachers. They loved it! I send out letters or email to the parents to ask everyone who wants to participate to have their child draw a picture/write a letter and contribute whatever amount they can. (I have received anything from $7-$40). I buy a pretty 3-ring binder and plastic sleeves to make the book, and go to the local spa, or if I can, find out where the teacher likes to go to buy the SPA GIFT CARD. The teachers have been so touched in the past and who doesn't like being pampered! Especially after an entire school year with our children!

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  79. This was my first year with a kiddo in school and one of the parents (and by parents, I mean moms) organized a whole class gift of having a brick at the library dedicated to their teacher. It'll be inscribed with her name and the year and a thank you from the class.

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  80. Ooh- just had a good idea - how about a class going in on some type of entertainment - gift card for a music venue or theatre.
    Jen Deming

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  81. I'm a teacher and a nice note and target gift card are nice, & you don't have to spend a lot. Also, try the website Beads for Life. You can purchase a beautiful necklace for $13-$18 and the profits go to charity in Africa. I can't find anything saying this website is a scam. I bought a bunch for my children's teachers and paraprofessionals. They shipped quickly and are beautiful. Best of luck.

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  82. I am a teacher and a nice note, gift card are always nice. My children have teachers and paraprofessionals in their and I have a lot of gifts to give. I ordered necklaces from the website Beads for Life. It's a charitable company and I can't find anything to say it's a scam. I bought beautiful necklaces for $13 each and they arrived in the mail quickly and are lovely. Best of luck - Barbara

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  83. When I was teaching we had the parents of the entire class get together and give like 5$ each for the teacher and then 1 or 2 parents would get it together and give a gift card or a gift basket that almost always included a giftcard. Target was one store that just about EVERY teacher wanted to get. Starbucks was a close second since that was within walking distance of the school :D

    The other times I really loved was getting a card with a nice note and not just a generic we love you, but something specific. I had a parent put a card in my box about how much they really appreciated the time that I spent with both of their children (I was a Spanish teacher who had both children in different classes) then each child said what their favorite part was and a 50$ gift card. Same goes for if you just let your teacher know they are good at their job. Made my month!

    I appreciated anything but I was not a big fan of knick knacks just because I had no where to put them. Coffee mugs and magnets and what not are cute but not useful.

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  84. Our PTA rocks!!!! Every year they post online a spreadsheet of all the teachers favorite things, food, restaurant, snacks, candy, stores, hobbies and weekend activities and also a list of things they do not need anything of. It is awesome to refer to and get ideas for Holiday, Teacher Appreciation and end of year gifts. Maybe mention something like that to your PTA to see if they would consider doing that. I believe they send out a questionnaire to all the teachers and then just fill in the spreadsheet with their answers. That way the teachers are motivated to get it back to them so they don't get more mugs or candles or whatever they have too much of.

    With that being said, I have 2 friends who are teachers and they love gift cards. One is very allergic, has a sensitive nose, and doesn't drink coffee, so many of her gifts she ends up giving away. However she was amazed one year when the class went together and got her a Barnes and Noble gift card. That was her most special gift. I usually end up getting a gift card from the teacher's list along with either a bag of candy or snacks from their favorites list.

    Jrseygirl in VA

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  85. One of the things I've given my son's teachers is a World Vision "one year of education". You can purchase a year of school supplies and tuition for a child in a poor country (it's around $30). The teachers I've given this to have told me how much they appreciate it. World Vision sends you a card to give letting the recipient know that this gift was given in their honor. I usually tuck in a Starbucks card and a note of thanks. Meaningful yet not cluttering. www.worldvision.org

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  86. I'll agree with an earlier poster in NJ (I'm in CT). The greatest thing for a lot of us would be a positive letter/email sent to administration to go in our professional file. I'm blessed to be a certified teacher in a DSAP area (middle school science, prayers accepted!!) so I have some job security, but CT's recent "reforms" may make all my certifications useless in the name of cost saving. So honestly...that's the kindest thing I could ask for, because it means I can continue doing what I love without worrying that my job will be sacrificed over budget concerns.

    That being said...well, honestly, anything is nice. Flowers, coffee, wine (I'm having a glass now; today was ugh), cute notes, school supplies...truth? Last Christmas, a kid gave me an insanely tacky rhinestone encrusted necklace set...and I wore it anyway. And maybe cried a little bit. Because...teachers are sentimental beings and regardless of practicality, a sweet if slightly tacky gift still initiates the waterworks. Humor is good. If you don't have the money (I'm broke too), print up a funny as hell internet picture and write a cute note. We'll love it and keep it forever.

    Laura in CT

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  87. Hey Mommyland!

    I am a third grade teacher and first of all, thanks in advance for wanting to do something nice for your kids' teachers! Here are my thoughts:

    1. If you know the teacher well enough, and (s)he seems cool with it, a T box would be amazing. (Side note: last year I got 5 bottles of wine for Christmas... maybe I seem TOO cool to my kids' parents?)
    2. If booze isn't your thing, I always love getting gift cards. We spend SO much of our own money (the Target dollar bins are my JAM) and it's nice to have a chance to treat ourselves. If you don't feel like you can do that by yourself, then maybe get together with a few parents and go in for a gift card. One year 4 or 5 families got together and gave me $50 to a restaurant so I could go out with my husband. It was GREAT!!
    3. No mugs.

    OH! And have your kids write a note or poem to the teacher... if there's a way to ensure that it's HILARIOUS, that definitely helps.

    Either way, thanks for appreciating your kids' teachers!

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    Replies
    1. Love #3. My mom was a teacher. We hauled out the crate-o-mugs for the holidays each year, just so she could honestly say she used them. It was insane.

      Delete
  88. I would love books for the classroom library! Especially great are those high-demand books that all the kids want to read at the same time: Hunger Games, Wimpy Kid, Kingdom Keepers, whatever your kiddo loved (age/grade appropriate) would be great. I'll even take used books. Either way, make sure your kid signs the inside cover so we know who donated them! -TeacherMom in IL

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  89. I am a teacher and the most memorable gifts I've received are the letters written to me by both students and parents. Now, I teach high school, so those lovely notes are few and far between, but when I get them, they get immediately placed in a special notebook - one I can visit when I have days that I want to drop-kick some smart ass across the room. My vote is for a nice card, maybe cool print (have you seen "Story People"? check out the print: Mystery of the Universe), and a Target gift card, or something of the like would be well-received.

    Screw the crafty crap. It's nice, but it doesn't last.

    Wine works, too. ;)

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  90. This is one of those rare situations when Pennsylvania's archaic liquor-control laws work in my favor. If I know the teacher drinks (and really, how could you be a teacher and NOT drink?!), I get a gift card for the Wine & Spirits Shoppe (the quaint name for the booze prison in these-here-parts). It's great b/c $10 will do ya AND it's a great way to kick off summer (I should dig out some of the hilarious thank-yous I've gotten...). If I'm not sure, I do the Starbucks thing.

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  91. When i was a kid my Mom would find out what Yummy treats the teacher liked and get a cute box or something and let us decorate one for each of our teachers (there are 3 of us girls in my family) So we would decorate them,put the yummy treats each teacher liked into their respective (and still useful) box and toss in a 5 or 10 dollar gift card on the bottom so there was a bonus when she/he got done with the yummies. We would also write a little note and put it on top of all the good stuff. I remember upon leaving 3rd grade my Mom made an uber drenched Raisin Rum cake and gave those to the teachers when she picked us up. Needless to say she warned them don't eat it before they left school or they wouldn't be able to drive ;P

    My Mom was a Teacher's Aide at my school up until she took us out when i was in the 4th grade. The mug full of candy is a no no since each teacher ends up with more mugs/cups per year than are made in the entire US of A in 6 months. But she did always appreciate a nice letter and a good treat! If you want to do the wine thing, I suggest walking in and giving it to the teacher yourself since putting it in your kids backpack is probably going to make the teacher or other staff go WHAT THE WHUCK? And in the case it gets broken that is a danger to the kids. If all else fails, a nice note works wonders.

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  92. I am a teacher and also a mom, and this is what I have been doing for my son's awesome-est teachers through the years (he is now 13). If they are truly exceptional, and he has had some who are, I write a letter on their behalf addressed to the principal, superintendent, and the school board president. I write all the ways this teacher has made my son's time with him/her special. I also send a copy of it to the teacher. This is a great way to make sure that the teacher knows they are appreciated and also bringing all of their hard work to the attention of the "higher ups", which may mean praise, higher evaluation ratings, job retention (sad, I know), and recognition.

    Every time I have done this, the teachers have just been blown away. You guys are such good writers, I know you could craft a beautiful letter!

    If the teachers have just been proficient, I send over a gift card to Starbucks or Barnes and Noble or Jamba juice...nothing extravagant. As a teacher, I LOVE gift cards of any denomination, to any place!!!!

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  93. I'm a teacher and I've worked in the poorest of the poor schools and the richest of the rich! Gift cards are always nice, but never expected. One time a kid gave me a stick of gum and a penny that he had scraped from the bottom of his Mom's purse! That was the most thoughtful present I've ever had, considering the child had NOTHING to give. Teachers do NOT want candles or mugs. Cookies, candy and any type of food are a pretty good standby.

    BUT, my suggestion for any parent no matter how much or how little they have to give, is this: write a letter. Nothing is better and more reaffirming than a heartfelt letter from a parent that shows they've been paying attention to all the things their kid has learned and that they're grateful!

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  94. I am a 1st grade teacher, and I have to say the homemade class "craft" gifts are so cute and thoughtful...but after awhile, you are kind of at a loss of where to put them! I LOVE baked goods and once got a bottle of wine and thought it was the best gift ever. I also appreciate any small gc to Target or Starbucks or something. For CHristmas, each family in my class gave a small amt of money (I think $5 or something) and got me a bigger gc to a local mall, which I thought was a great idea. that being said, a nice note and cookies go a long way. I had a parent write me the nicest note this year and I still have it on my desk to read whenever I have a frustrating day. No need to go overboard! I think I speak for us all that just a simple gesture is fantastic.

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  95. I taught preschool for several years and the one gift that stands out as being practical, original, and just plain awesome was a cute, girly cooler. Mine was a big, hard plastic, lavender one and it was so cute. I have seen cute bag style ones at target for under $15.

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  96. Someone wants to buy me a gift? Lordy. Who cares what it is?!

    Though, gift cards are always awesome...like Target.

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  97. Best gifts were...

    homemade treats but in small quantities (3 brownies or cookies or whoopie pies)
    gift cards to Starbucks or Panera or something close to the school and common in the area
    gift cards to Barnes and Nobles

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  98. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gving CASH (and a heartfelt note, of course). We give our daycare provider cash for Christmas and her birthday, and gave Christmas cash to our daughter's kindergarten teacher, and will do the same for the end of the year. These fabulous women can decide how and where they want to use it, and they have been oh-so grateful for it. We've all seen how kids react to getting cash at a party. Pretty much the same for adults!

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  99. Gift cards and wine! The keys to a teachers heart!

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  100. I have been a teacher for 10 years. Gift cards and a nice note are wonderful!!! Homemade food that you have made and not your children is good. Store bought treats are nice. PLease no more candles, mugs or notepads.....they are appreciate but really we have enough :) I got gardening items from a student.

    Speaking as the special education teacher in the room... I am sometimes not treated the same as the regular ed teacher and I have to be honest my feeling do get hurt especially when I get nothing and the other teacher gets a really expensive gift. Just my two cents. :)

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  101. I am getting my Kids teacher a refurbished kindle. With the 20$ coupon amazon had it is costing me $49. Shes is an avid reader so she will have good use for it.

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  102. target gift cards and hand made notes from my kids.

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  103. I have several close friends that are teachers. They have told me that they do not eat any gifts that are homemade. Your kid is very cute, but they also see them on a daily basis and know how gross your kid can be. They are not pumped to consume cookies or a zucchini loaf that a store did not make. I was told that all of the homemade food they receive they take down to the maintenance shop and leave for the maintenace guys who will eat anything. My grandma worked at a daycare for years. Every holiday she received many gifts from different children which always included a photo of the child. Now that my grandma is older and lives in a nursing home there are boxes of photos that I have gone throw. Everytime we find a photo of a random kid the comment is always "must be a daycare kid." The thought of including a photo is nice, but really what will the teacher do with it? Make some album of all the photos they receive? Your kids photo will be thrown in a drawer or thrown away. My vote is hand written note, a gift card to a store you know the teacher goes to, or chocolate/candy that was purchased.

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  104. Really and truly, a note. One for me is the best! One for my administrator is great too.
    10 years ago (or more- time flies) a parent put together a 3 ring binder with sheet protectors. She filled it with nice notes from families. I still have the binder on my shelf and add to it every time I get another card. It is nice to have a place for the letters to go and it puts those really tough days (few and far between- thankfully!)in perspective!
    About gift cards: If you feel you *need* to give something like this, it is good to keep it at $5. Any more than that can make many teachers uncomfortable. We are doing a job we love as professionals, and if you look on teacher-led websites, you will see a wide range of opinions on this matter. Thought it was worth noting:-)

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  105. Get a new white (or other pale-colored) pillow from your local cheap store. Get a few tubes of shirt/fabric paint. Put each kid's thumbprint on the pillow and then use a black fabric marker to turn the thumbprints into flowers, bugs, etc. In the center, write something like, "Thumbs Up to Mrs. Smith from your 2011-2012 2nd Grade Class!"

    For little hands, you can do the whole hands around the border of the pillow and in the center write something like, "Mrs. Smith - You're the Best Teacher Hands Down! - From Your 2011-2012 Class".

    Sometimes if your school has a nice art, library, etc. teacher, they'll let you "come in to volunteer" during your child's class time and be super sneaky about getting the project done during one class period.

    If you can't find a pillow, anything will work. Apron, t-shirt, etc. Good luck!

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  106. Handwritten note and a gift card to Target or Barnes and Noble. That's been a hit with my son's teachers.

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  107. I found this on pinterest... it looks like a GREAT way to send a hand-written thank you note from the kiddo. http://whattheteacherwants.blogspot.com/2012/05/10-things.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WhatTheTeacherWants+%28What+The+Teacher+Wants!%29 That's what we'll be doing this year.

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  108. Being a teacher...i believe that this wonderfully hilarious blogger (who also happens to be a "retired" teacher) has summed it up perfectly. http://not-your-average-mom.com/?p=434#comment-144

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  109. Two years in a row we've given my son's preschool teachers baskets of goodies that ALWAYS included a bottle of alcohol, they were the hit of the preschool.

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  110. I never expected gifts (really!) but they when they came, I definitely wasn't saying no!

    I've gotten crazy gifts like a cell phone and yes, alcohol and more simpler ones like a sweet picture drawn by the child. The best ones though were gift cards to a gas station and the bookstore.

    A note that tells him/her specifically how they've helped your child this year is always great too!

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  111. A nice card and a donation to the Unicef or World Vision surival gifts - educational section - on his/her behalf. I did this at Christmas and it was greatly appreciated as a unique, thoughtful gift.

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  112. I am a librarian at a public school, and have been a teacher's aide for a number of years. Please don't leave them out. They don't expect the same "level" of gift as the teacher, but they often do the same work (minus planning) for minimum wage and no benefits. It's especially nice if the aide is working with your child one on one, to send a nice note stating that you know they were there and working hard for your child. The classroom gift is wonderful because it doesn't leave anyone out. Ignore the ugly complainers who want the teacher to know not everyone gave money for it. Honestly, every teacher knows the kids in her/his class who can't afford to chip in on the gift. Don't suggest an amount, even families struggling financially would like to give something, but will feel like they can't if their buget is $5 and you suggest $10. I received a cute bucket of microwave popcorn, two bags of m&m candy and a gift card to the local video store. Wonderful!

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  113. Last year, the families got together as a class and bought a Kindle and an Amazon gift card for our wonderful K teacher. She was having foot surgery over the summer and we knew she would need something to do while she was laid up. She LOVED it. This year, I didn't get as organized so I did individual gifts. Our school is moving to a new building this summer and is right next door to Panera. I got the teachers each a $10 gift card to Panera, which would be enough for lunch or several drinks, and a reusable straw cup. One of my friends made the "School supply cake" from Pinterest http://pinterest.com/pin/29062360065612596/ and the teacher loved it.

    For anything else, you should really have a sense of what the teacher likes. For example, I don't want food of any kind. I'm dieting and I don't need the temptation so most of it goes home with other teachers or into the trash. General retailers like Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc are great! Anything specific, like spa cards or boutiques should probably be avoided.

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  114. As someone who is married to a teacher, we love gift cards :) Our school keeps a list of the teacher's favorites, which is great when the parents actually stick to the list. No one ever seems to read my husband's list (which does not include Starbucks) and he tends to get a lot of Starbucks (which I gladly use). Since I'm married to a teacher, we clearly cannot afford expensive gifts for the teachers (even though they truly deserve it). I tend to get small gift cards to their favorite place, along with my famous homemade chocolate chip cookies. Again, I enjoy getting baked goods from my husband's students-saves me having to bake stuff for a few days (or hours, if our kids find the goodies). If you are determined to make something crafty, last year, a mom and I painted a plate at a wired and fired pottery place. We put stick figures of the kids around the edge and put their names under each one. We wrote something about "We love you, Mrs. So and So" and made it pretty. Actually, the other mom made it pretty while I cheered her on. Anyway, it was personal and sweet.

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  115. Waylande Gregory
    Wow! I would love to let you loose in me house :) You sure rock at organizing!

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  116. I am a teacher, and I honestly just love a heartfelt note (written by the kid, if possible) about what a great time they had in my class and how much they learned. I keep a binder titled, "Why I Teach" and flip through it when things get rough, and I guarantee you every nice note I've ever gotten has gone into the binder! I had a student write me the sweetest little note last year for Christmas (she also included a package of my favorite candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups), and out of all the things kids BOUGHT for me, hers was my favorite gift.

    If you feel like you HAVE to spend money, I personally love books for my classroom. I also love getting school supplies like paper and art stuff that nobody ever really buys. You wouldn't believe the amount of money I spend on that stuff out of my own paycheck; I would MUCH rather have a parent buy something like that for me as a gift, rather than, say, ANOTHER pad of paper with my name on it and some apples. (Not that I don't appreciate gifts like that, but let's just say the school supplies are much more quickly used. Ahem.)

    And if both of the above-mentioned gifts pains you because they're not "personal enough," how about a small Starbucks or Sonic gift card? Pretty much every teacher I know runs on caffeine. ;)

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  117. Hi! I was a high school teacher - when your kids get to that age, maybe you could remember them? Elementary school teachers get tons of gifts, but the upper grades, when the kids don't show any of the love they do in elementary, the teachers get a total shaft. I think I got one candle and a mug the entire time I taught (three years). I was really grateful for those gifts - it's been years, and I still remember, just because one or two kids thought of me.

    The notes are really more valuable than anything, just as everyone else said.

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  118. After 20 years of teaching, a handwritten note is absolutely the best gift... as well, a donation made in my name (or anonymously in lieu of a gift) to a local charity has also been very appreciated. I don't need "things" but there are many organizations out there who could use the money that would have been spent on those "things."

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  119. Okay, this is super late, but just to add in... I love handwritten, thoughtful notes. They are the reason I do my job. If your kid is in elementary, I would suggest asking your child what the teacher likes. I have gotten a few really nice things that were clearly bought by parents (expensive lotions, etc.) but what I really love are when kids clearly saw a frog or Packers thing in the store and INSISTED that their parents buy it for me, even if it's kind of useless, just because they know I love those things. When kids make or pick out the gift, I love it... and honestly, I let the kids get to know me and the things I love really well. One year the girl picked out a little stuffed frog and her mom added a small Shutterfly gift card because the girl told her how much I like to take pictures. Another time a girl made me a beaded bookmark for me to use during read-alouds (because she knew I was always scrambling for a scrap of paper.) This year another kid brought in a bag of a book that he thought I would like for my classroom library with his name inside so I wouldn't forget him. (SO sweet!!) Basically... go personal whenever possible :)

    If you're crafty... I also got a necklace made of a Scrabble tile with my initial once. Not something you'd wear just anywhere, but as a teacher, I have gotten a lot of use out of it! I also think packs of supplies like Sharpies, colorful gel pens, and Post-Its seem simple, but a lot of teachers I know like to have them and will DEFINITELY use them.

    I'm also apparently in the minority. Except in cases where I specifically don't trust the home it's coming from, I totally eat baked goods from students. And I love getting chocolate, especially when it's not fancy. Sometimes parents get super fancy chocolate, and I'm like, "Dude, I don't need Ultra-Rich Super Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate... just get me a Hershey bar or some M&M's!"

    Also please remember that not every teacher likes Starbucks. I'm just not a coffee girl :)

    Jenny
    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

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  120. I worked in Kindergarten in a Catholic elementary school. Each year right after Thanksgiving, they put up an "Angel Tree". A tree with only lights was set up in the foyer of the school. A bunch of moms would scout out all the local dollar stores to purchase all types of angel ornaments. Students could purchase an angel ornament for $1 during their lunch period. Then the helper moms would have the student write a note to the teacher. The note and the angel that student selected were placed together in a brown lunch bag (each assigned the same code number). On a Monday before Christmas break the students would come in and the entire tree would be covered with angels. The day we left for break, helpers would place the angel in the bag with the note and deliver them to the teachers. These $1 gifts were so special to me. It has been 11 years since I worked at this school and I still put those angels on my tree each year. It is an easy way for families to give and it is amazing how pretty some of the ornaments are.

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