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Teacher Gifts

I feel kind of silly asking this question, but I am having a really hard time trying to figure out what to do. I am a very giving person, however this year money is really tight and what I need to do is figure out how I will give my kids a christmas this year! I have 3 kids all in school, my daughter has her regular teacher plus a helper, my son has his regular teacher with 2 helpers, and in my younger sons preschool class he has 3 teachers. Plus I would always give to the bus drivers as well which would be 2 different bus drivers....WHAT IN THE WORLD DO I DO? I want to show my appreciation with all they do, however I just can't afford to buy 8 teacher gifts, plus 2 bus driver gifts. And you always here different things that teachers appreciate, HELP...I need ideas without being really cheap if you know what I mean!!

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Hi L.! You sound a lot like me... I give to the crossing guards near us as well! ha,ha Anyway, one thing you could do is get hot cocoa packets (buy a couple of boxes and give each teacher a couple of them with a bag of homemade cookies, candy cane, some hershey kisses and maybe a ziploc bag of mini marshmallows along with a nice card. - under $15 to give to approximately 10 people! good luck!

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Last year we made a donation to a charity in the name of my childrens teacher. We picked a cancer charity, since two of her family members were diagnosed in the past year.

Place like Justgive.org you can buy them a gift card, and they can chose which charity the money goes to. (I believe that is how is works, you probably should do a little research)

We did PreventCancer.com last year. The monetary amount was never disclosed to the teachers. It was just a "donation."

The gift touched them so much, they were nearly in tears. And giving to others is really the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays!

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I usually make a donation directly to the school for large upcoming expense in the name of the teacher(s)or to a charity which will send them a note saying a donation was made in their behalf. As for the bus drivers I usually give a hand made card with a gift card to the local supermarket (everyone needs to eat)

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I have the same problem, my son is 12 and has 8 teachers and my 9 year old son has a teacher and a helper. What I have decided to do is for Justin's team of teachers I am making tins or platters of homemade cookies for his teachers and for his 4 main teachers and the band teacher (who is a family friend)I will probably do jars filled with chocolate dipped pretzels or something. For Derek's teacher I am making her a stuffed 3-D Christmas tree with his help plus a jar with layered cookie dough and directions printed on the outside. All in all it shouldn't be very expensive to do and they love it. I have done this in the past with my older 3 kids and found that the teachers appreciate it much more. Justin is in a magnet school, the teachers are beyond fantastic so it is killing me I can't do more for them, but we all have to cut back.

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Homemade gifts for teachers are great! (I teach Kindergarten!) Go to http://familyfun.go.com/ to find some really neat gifts that are easy, cheap and your kids and you will have fun making them. (key chains for the bus driver, ornaments for the teachers, etc.) Enjoy!

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Hi L.! You sound a lot like me... I give to the crossing guards near us as well! ha,ha Anyway, one thing you could do is get hot cocoa packets (buy a couple of boxes and give each teacher a couple of them with a bag of homemade cookies, candy cane, some hershey kisses and maybe a ziploc bag of mini marshmallows along with a nice card. - under $15 to give to approximately 10 people! good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
I am a teacher of art and see over 500 students every week. I get so many gifts at Christmas time that I spend my whole vacation writing "thank you " notes. Despite the fact that everyone is very generous and thoughtful and I really appreciate that, I really don't get anything I need or want. I have closets full of candles and costume jewelry. I usually pack it all up and donate it to charity. What I never have enough of is time. Why don't you write a hand made "gift certificate" to the teachers, offering to give then each some set hours of your time? Volunteer to spend, for example, 3 hours of your time grading papers, helping children in class, organizing teacher materials, doing classroom displays, cutting out teacher materials or shopping for them? Follow up after the vacation, asking them what day and time they will need you to pick up the work, or come in to do, the work. Helping out will set a good example for your children and demonstrate how much you value what their teachers do. Give the 2 bus drivers a $5.00 gift certificate each to Dunkin' Donuts, and you have only spent $10.00 this year. I promise you, that will be the teachers' favorite gift!

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Hi ~ One of "our" parents made a fabulous lunch for us. She set it up in the faculty room with a nice table cloth, plates, the works. Perhaps you could do this with another mom? We all thought it was a great idea!

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Last year we made a donation to a charity in the name of my childrens teacher. We picked a cancer charity, since two of her family members were diagnosed in the past year.

Place like Justgive.org you can buy them a gift card, and they can chose which charity the money goes to. (I believe that is how is works, you probably should do a little research)

We did PreventCancer.com last year. The monetary amount was never disclosed to the teachers. It was just a "donation."

The gift touched them so much, they were nearly in tears. And giving to others is really the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays!

1 mom found this helpful

Make a batch of cookies WITH your kids helping and have them wrap 4-6 cookies for each person in a little box lined with some waxed paper, I bet you can find real cute little boxes at the nearest dollar store. Wrap a ribbon around it (you probably have some ribbon laying around the house, we keep most of the ribbon we receive on gifts to use again) and that's it, simple, sweet, nice and inexpensive! It is the thought that matters, not the value of the gift....and besides receiving a gift made by your kids is alot more meaningful than some useless nik nak people never end up using.
Happy Holiday's!

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On some nice Christmas stationery, write an individual personal letter to each teacher, helper, and bus driver. Decorate the envelope in holiday stickers, or even tie a colorful ribbon, with a little bow around it. Your sincere, heartfelt words of thanks and appreciation are a meaningful GIFT too!...that will touch their hearts. If you still feel that is not enough, enclose a flat, folded, pretty cotton handkerchief as well, as a small token gift.

Please remember that teachers just want to be appreciated. The worth of a gift in dollars is not important. If you are genuinely pleased with the teacher, consider writing a letter to the principal explaining how great the teacher is. That's always great! A homemade card from the child also means a lot, even if it's filled with scribbles from a 3-year-old. If the teacher celebrates Christmas, a homemade ornament is great because he or she will think of your child each year when the tree gets decorated. (I'm a teacher and still have ornaments from my first year teaching 12 years ago). Some of the bus drivers in my district appreciate pictures and cards made by kids. They decorate the inside of the bus (near the ceiling) with them. Good luck and don't panic.

Hi L.-
You could buy little stockings and Santa hats and fill them with Hershey minatures. It's the thought that counts. If you go to www.lillianvernon.com, there are little treat holders in the shape of Santa's pants with Santa's suspenders as a handle. They come 6 in a set. You can also make ornaments from different arts and craft books and personalize them.
Hope this helps-

How about baked goods? I always appreciate a nice loaf of banana bread, pumpkin bread, cinnamon swirl,or cranberry. You could make gingerbread men and let the kids decorate them, or regular cut out cookies, I used to sit the kids down at the table with a piece of wax paper in front of them and let them go at it. The only expense is the ingredients.


I am an elementary school teacher and I promise, the gifts we treasure the most are the ones that show how much you appreciate us. I love the idea about a handwritten note on holiday stationary. I have kept all the letters over the years that parents and students have written to me. Those are what I treasure. Have your kids make a special holiday card for each of their teachers and helpers. Maybe you want to do some crafts with them as well. Have them each make an ornament for their teachers. It's honestly about the thought, not about the amount of money you spend. I'm sure they wouldn't want you to feel stressed about this.


I am a High School teacher and mom of 2 school age children. In the past the kids and I have made candles, soap, muffin mix, and bath salts. All are pretty inexpensive and fun to make together and very appreciated! You can find some great recipes online for cocoa mix too! I don't think that it is the size of the gift, just the thought that you are thinking of them!

Who said that you had to get teachers and bus drivers presents for being good to your kids all year long? Everyone is experiencing the same difficulties. I don't think that people expect presents either. That is their job after all. You should focus on your children. Not that presents should be the focus of Christmas, or any time of year for that matter. Just get them their top two presents on their lists and do something fun that day. We usually go to the movies! We don't go all year long...so it's a special treat. Also, I bake special things to say thank you, or that I appreciate you. It's even more special when someone puts their precious time into it. The thoughtfulness behind it is definitely recognized.

Good luck, and don't stress too much about it.


Hi L., This is not the first time I've seen a post like this in Mammasource. I didn't answer the others because when people say they are hurting financially I feel It's insensitive to offer them something that they have to pay for.
I think most of us are feeling the crunch this year including teachers so I'm sure they would understand. A nice card made by the child themselves might have to do. If you could afford a small gift, how much would you spend? Are they all women? If I can be of any help with my Candle Business we can do something with some Votives in a nice Xmas scent. Let me know ASAP so I can put something together for you before time runs out. I live in NY so shipping won't take too long.


As a former teacher...a handmade card from your kids expresses all the appreciation that is needed. Happy Stress Free Holidays!

HI L.,

I am a mom and a teacher... honestly as a teacher I rather not see families spend on little gifts that really are not useful. For instance how many mugs can I get? As a mom I was going to buy my daughter's teachers a mug and put a gift card to starbucks in it, then I stopped and thought, another mug? This is what I would do. I would order books for the teacher's classroom from scholastic. If your kids bring home those book club orders that is a nice gift and sometimes, scholastic also give a certificate to the teacher purchased from a parent to order any book they like for a specific value. AS for the bus drivers and helpers, I dont really know, the cookie idea is a nice one. Good Luck and remember a simple thank you goes a long way. I think the teachers feel the crunch this year and do not expect lavish gifts. I know I don't.

My best friend is a teacher and she always talkes about the dodads and trinkets she gets - meaningful gifts but still, all that stuff adds up. She loves it when she gets homemade goodies - cookies, candy, etc. One of her favorites was a really nice cd of calm music that a parent burned for her - she plays it in her class all the time. This year, I am making chocolate dipped pretzels, mini brownies and sugaar cookies. I found cute felt buckets in the $1 bin at Target that I am going to put all these homebaked goodies in and give to my daughter's teachers, speech therapist and our paper delivery person. I'll probably spend a max of $30 and be done with it in 2 hours. Good Luck:)

Make them Brownies with red and green sprinkles. I am sure that people know we are on hard times - it happens. Sometimes you may find a little picture frame at the $1.00 store that are nice - I actually have a few around my house. Good Luck to you and don't worry about it.....people do understand!

Many years ago when my husband and i were in the same situation,lack of extra funds. i use to bake little loafs of banana, pumpkin, cranberry or whatever was on hand . I would wrap them in tissue paper and hand them out. I think right now everyone is in a tight position so people should understand. A little thankful note goes a long way.

Hi L.,
I don't have to buy teacher gifts yet, but we have several family friends that I like to acknowledge at Christmas time. For several years now I have been giving each family a tin of homemade cookies. You can get cookie tins cheap in the dollar store or walmart. Have the kids help with cookie cutters and sprinkles. If you aren't much of a baker, get the slice & bake cookies. Don't worry about being "cheap" - everyone is hurting financially right now and I think they would understand if you aren't handing out phenomenal gifts. I also like the idea of donating to a charity, that one of the other moms suggested.
Best of luck with the gifts and more importantly, making Christmas special for your own family! Merry Christmas!

Dear L.,
I always found it easiest and least expensive to go to the craft store to find easy-to-make gifts for teachers. Cross-stitch tree ornaments take an evening or so to make and cost a couple of bucks. Erasers come ready-to-paint, so you paint an apple on them with the teacher's name, and they become a keepsake. I once recieved an egg that had been blown out, decoupaged, and made into a tree ornament - it hung on our tree for years (and the boy was not even one of my favorites). Homemade baked goods are always a favorite, and at the dollar store you can find adorable tins to gift them in. Also at the dollar store you can find mugs to fill with candy; a little cellophane and you create a gift. For bus drivers, we 3 Moms at the bus stop would go into together to buy a T-shirt, or hat, or driving gloves. I hope I've given you a few ideas - be creative!

Have your kids help make them cookies. That is what I do every year. I get Christmas tins from the dollar store and we fill them up. Each kid gets to pick a different cookie to make. Then we put all three into each tin so the teachers have a nice variety. I then use what is left to give to close friends and family members. The teachers really love them and since the kids helped make them it makes it more special. I also have the kids make their teachers a card and they each make the bus driver one.

PS I was a room Mom last year when my kids were in private school. We took a collection to get the teacher a gift card and ended up being about to give her $160. But most of the families gave her separate gifts on top of that too. It kind of defeated the purpose of the collection. Some of them also told her how much they gave towards the gift card, which then made those who could only give $5 feel badly.

Hi L.!
You don't sound silly at all. And this is coming from a teacher!! I advise you to make or bake your gifts this year. It truly is the thought and the smallest gestures that count. I just had my 34th birthday on the 18th. Professionally, it was my best ever!! My students (most of whom come from low-income families) threw me a surprise party complete with a homemade cake and a couple bottles of soda and a card they made and had many staff and students sign! I couldn't be more grateful. Honey, times are hard for all of us...TEMPORARILY! As for giving your children a christmas this year: use the financial deterrent you're experiencing now as an opportunity to place emphasis on what's actually more valuable than a bunch of toys under a tree (that they're gonna break and/or leave under a bed or couch and forget about soon after anyways...LOL!: and that's the blessing you have of each other. You mentioned you just celebrated a wedding anniversary (10 years...CONGRATS!) I'm sure you and husband found a creative way to spend your special day without have a bunch of money. Instill that ability in your children, so they don't take for granted the huge Chritmases to come once our new president fixes the economy (smile).
Perhaps you and the kids can make things together for their teachers and drivers. You can tell them that "creative-gift-making-and-giving" is your family theme for this year. That way, you can do the same within the family and they don't even have to know that christmas is "unaffordable" this year- unless you want them to know via a discussion you choose to have with them about it.
Hope I was helpful!
Happy & Loving Holidays to You and Yours!

Have the children make cookies or candy and then wrap them nicely. This is what my mother always did when I was in school and is what I plan on doing this year for my children's teachers.

Hi L.,

I come from a family of teachers (although I am not one) and I can tell you that teachers don't expect gifts. It is completely unnecessary. Certainly not from parents. If a child wants to give a gift, have them spend extra time making an extra nice painting or drawing, given with a handwritten note of thanks from the child...that is way more meaningful to the teacher. If your child doesn't like to do art, have them take some pics of themself and make a hand cut paper frame and give that instead...or there is always the plate of cookies or fudge...made by the child of course. Money is tight for everyone this year and it is simply not necessary to give gifts to everyone we know. Trust me on this one. Teachers value gifts made by the child way more than something the parents bought.

mom to 5, with one more on the way

I am in the same boat although I have only 2 in school. And my son gets special services so that leaves 8 teachers and specialists for him alone. What I have figured out the past couple of years is to buy some nice, cheap containers and make cookies or muffins. This year I found $1 ceramic mini loaf pans from the Christmas Tree Shops which I will fill with cookies (I am nervous to bake breads on them since they are from China and I am not sure of the glaze) and wrap in pretty mini loaf christmas bags I found at JoAnn Fabrics. All in all I spent about $35 (counting cookie supplies) for 14 teachers. I have my kids write or decorate little labels and that is it. It makes for a hectic couple of baking nights before break but the teachers seem to love them and it is financially easier on us. Good luck!

two quick thoughts- check out etsy.com for little handmade bits that might come in handy packaging your baked goods, or maybe you could give a set of cards. also, if you worried that they'd be getting too many baked goods at once, you could put together the dry ingredients for cookies or brownies and then give that as a bake-at-home kind of gift. glad you have so many suggestions! i know my mom as a teacher would second the notion of appreciating, but not knowing always what to do w/ a lot of trinkets. happy holidays! woah!!

As a former preschool teacher, the gifts i really appreciated were the handwritten notes with real specific words in them. Also maybe decorated by the child. Even a few pilsbury dough cookies with a little thank you is so nice. DOesnt have to be elaborate at all, but the personal touch, even brief is so appreciated.

i am making a small donation to a local charity in the names of my daughter's teachers. i am actually doing that for many of the people on my christmas list this year. i plan on making small homemade cards telling them about the donation. this would be good for you because you can get all the gifts done at once and will spend a much smaller amount than if you "bought" gifts.

Hi L.,

Ceramic cups which can cost about .99 cents in some stores with some pepppermints in it and some celophane paper and tie a ribbon around it can be a very inexpensive and a good gift for men and women. Your children will have fun putting it together.

I hope it helped a little.


I was a teacher and I can tell you that we get way too many mugs, frames, key chains and other little things. My favorite thing to get was a note of thanks from the parents. Gift cards are also nice. $5 to Dunkin Donuts is plenty. You could also make a muffin or cookie mix in a jar and attach the recipe. That's better than baking something and giving it. Some teachers get a ton of food gifts and don't know what to do with them all at once. This way the teachers can bake the muffins or cookies later. Remember, it's the thought that counts. A heartfelt note is the best gift a teacher can get. I've saved them all!

Hi L.,

As a teacher AND a mom, the best gifts (and the ones that I cherished and kept from students) were the sweet, thoughtful, barely cost anything handmade gifts.

A drawing, a card, a poem, a simple small sewn pillow with dried herbs and rice inside, tissue paper flowers, a string of fingerknit yarn, yarn knitted into a square potholder (or weaved), a letter embroidered onto cloth, a simple drawstring bag, paper cut outs of animals/people, a 'wish' stick with decorations tied on (like yarn wrapped around or shells or feathers tied on), felted ball... or whatever your child wants to make for them.

Hand made gifts are from the heart. You and your child have quality time together making them, talking/thinking about the person they are for, and perhaps learn a new craft.

In fact, at our house at the holidays each family member gets one handmade gift (knitted socks this year!!) and one bought present. That is it. These gifts are cherished for years to come. There is no breaking the bank and my children observe and learn from my perseverance and reverence for the hand made task. They treat their toys like gold because they understand what precious time and energy goes into making them. This is also learned from making gifts for their family, friends and teachers.

Lastly, I have a rule at my school, only handmade gifts may enter school for any occasion: any and all handmade gifts are precious bits of love, even if I get an envelope full of cut up pieces of paper from a 3 year old.

I feel your pain, and I only have one child...but he has three classroom teachers and four therapists. I have to say the first year - kindergarten, I went all out, buying each and every one of them something, and then the next year I just couldn't and I feel bad, but we do not do anything for his therapists anymore and for the classroom teachers we contribute to a class fund that the Room Mother/Father handles and she buys the three teachers something out of that. It ends up costing me maybe $15 total at Christmas for them, but you have that times three children, not one like myself. Have you thought about making their teacher's something? An ornament for the tree with their picture or something like that? Luckily all of his therapists understand our and everyone's financial situation right now, and they know that I appreciate them very very much. Can you imagine if you were a teacher and received a gift from each one of our students every year? That poor teacher. So I let those that can "shower" their teachers and there are still a lot of those people out there. And unfortunately I am not one of them! Good Luck.

The PTA at my kids school does a teacher tree which gives suggestions of what the teachers want that are affordable. One suggestion I loved was post it notes.

Hi L.,

I just became part of Mamasource and I read your question. My daughter is now 21, but I remember how difficult it was with all of the teachers, etc. What I tended to do, if you want to try this, is rather than buy something, make something, like cookies or cake or brownies. I used to make pralines (a New Orleans candy) sometimes. I've lost the recipe since then, but receiving something baked seems to be appreciated by most people. And with money being tight, especially today, baking something won't bust the budget. I used to also get cute/nice little boxes to put the baked goods in.

J. M.

The point of Christmas gifts is to say thank you to your children's teachers. So, instead of buying them something, include your children in an activity that expresses your thanks, such as writing a note that says something personal, such as "Johnny really appreciates the way you help him hold his pencil." or "Susie really likes the way you read "Liitle People" to the class and got so involved in the story by making different noises." -- something that's personal. Have your children draw a picture or write a poem or short note. That's the true spirit of Christmas, not another gift the teacher doesn't really use or you can't afford.

Most people are having issues financially. Have the gifts come from the children: A hand written thank you note with a piece of candy or a bookmark attached. The best gifts come from the heart and are personal so instead of something expensive from the parent, it can be a token of thanks from the student. It will be much appreciated--you'll see.

I was a teacher and I can tell you that edible gifts are nice. You can do the standard homemade cookies or something a little different. chocolate covered cranberries, a box of tea (no cup, teachers already have lots of those), small bags of coffee. If you have the time you can offer to do extra prep work for the teachers on a day of their choosing. I don't know what you budget is but $5 gift cards to starbucks or your local coffee shop would also work. Teachers don't need more stuff. Have your kids write/draw a story about their teacher. I once had a student who gave me a painted small wooden picture frame and I still use it today. If you have books in good condition that your children don't read anymore or puzzles or other education materials you could donate those. One time when I was student teaching a parent brought all of the teachers lunch. You could have the bus drivers and teachers arrange a day when you will deliver them a homemade lunch. good luck and don't stress. Teachers even just like a simple card from your child with a personal message or drawing that shows their heartfelt appreciation.

I only have 4 (the bus driver and aid, and the 1 teacher and aid) for my 'special needs' child. I try to give $10/20 to the driver & teacher,and/or the same or a gift to the aids. I'd like to hear what others do. We're really strapped for cash this year.
Chris in NJ

my mom used to bake for my teachers and bus driver when i was young. focus on the gesture, not the money. it's the thought that counts!

Okay ladies,so many great responses,but I just have to add something.So many of you said sweets,cookies,fudge etc.While that is great,a teacher can only use so much of that.Baking stuff is not necessarily as cheap as you might think either,unless it is basic cookies.
Some of you suggested gift cards,which I think is wonderful,a nice homemade card and a gift card to a book store,gas station,coffee shop etc.
Here is something every teacher will use,lip balm,hand lotion,and hand santizer.

Hi L.,

Great question. I've even gotten some great ideas from some of your responses. What I usually do is ask the kids what their teacher likes. One told me his teacher loves candy, so that's what she got. Another told me books, so I got her a giftcard to Barnes & Noble. The third told me that her teacher likes peace and quiet. That stumped me, so I got her a gift card to Starbucks. There are also wonderful craft shops around, and you can have the kids make something for their teachers. For example, if the teacher likes to cook, have them make potholders. Accompany everything with a thank you note, and you're set. I would also like to add that if you bake cookies, instead of getting the tins (teachers may end up being bombarded with tins), buy the holiday cellophane and wrap it up with nice curly ribbon. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you and all the mommies on this board!!

Hi L.,

I am a teacher and can tell you that my favorite and most used gifts were always little gift cards, even just $5 at Dunkin Donuts or at my favorite lunch place by school. It can always help when the teacher needs a quick coffee or bite! Anything is appreciated when it comes with a nice note from the parent or child. I have held on to some notes much longer than I have any gift.
Another idea is one I did for my daughter's daycare teachers last year. I collected money from parents and we combined it all, divided it evenly among the teachers and got each of them a mall gift certificate. That way, they get enough to actually get something they want and everyone can give what they can. The only thing I ran into was that I had a few parents give $50 and one in particular who only gave me like $10 to be divided between 4 teachers. I felt like the ones who pitched in the $50 got cheated. (the one who put in $10 had twins in the class) If I do it this year, I am going to set one amount and those who don't want to give that, don't have to participate. Hope this helps!

Keep in mind most everyone is having the same problem this year so my guess is no one is expecting lg. gifts.

A card with a hand written note of appreciation and holiday wishes is enough....

But check out the dollars stores...they are filled with token gifts you can give along with your written note.
A few useful Dollar store gift ideas:
a gift of assorted holiday wrappings, vases, candles, dish towels, stationary, pin-up note pads
key chains, picture frames, xmas tree ornaments, kitchen tools, coffee mugs, gloves, socks, candy, etc...these stores are loaded with assorted things that make great little gifts.
If you know how to bake, you can buy empty tins at a dollar store and fill them with your cookies.
You can buy tins with cookies or candy already in them.
You can get them in Rite-Aid or Walmart stores...

Two suggestions: expensive: $7.50 gift subscriptions to Wondertime magazine. Fabulous, down-to-earth parenting kind of magazine. Very fun, lots of great ideas for teachers to use.

Cheaper idea (what I'm doing for everybody outside of immediate family)... on Christmas morning, I think every family spends 3-5 minutes looking for scissors so they can enjoy their new presents (packaging nowadays! ack!). So I'm giving them scissors (3/$2.50 at Ikea) in an envelope that says "open me first", then a note inside that says basically, I give you the gift of time; how much time is lost looking for scissors (no house seems to have enough pairs!) -- so here is scissors, to give you those lost moments back. Include a poem about time with family or the like, and voila! a thoughtful, useful gift.


I teach in a district where many of the children come from low income families and I am very used to dollar store gifts. I love when one of the children come in and tells me Mommy let them pick it out for me and with the gift is a card made by the student. Honestly it is just as touching. Even more so a simple card with a heart felt note is the best. I have gotten nice gifts in the past but I can't remember what and who gave them to me but all those wonderful notes I have received are in a box and I get to read them again from time to time and remember that child and the family who gave it to me.

I usually make a donation directly to the school for large upcoming expense in the name of the teacher(s)or to a charity which will send them a note saying a donation was made in their behalf. As for the bus drivers I usually give a hand made card with a gift card to the local supermarket (everyone needs to eat)

This is what I did last year, and plan to do again this year. I made a donation to the local fire/rescue squad in the name of the school/staff for the child. Then I typed a letter on holiday-themed paper (as many as I needed) informing the teacher/bus driver that a donation was made in their honor. The wording is key, I think. I made a donation to one caring group of people who do so much for the community in the name of another caring group of people, etc. etc. It was very well received. Folks thought it was a great idea and some teachers actually thanked me for using money for a greater benefit than another mug with a snowman on it that they really don't need! I felt good, they felt good and no one received stuff they don't want. Talk about happy holidays!! Good luck and DON'T STRESS.

bake cookies, brownies or make fudge.

Dear L.,

As a teacher I can tell you any token of appreciation is welcomed. As long as you acknowledge us weather it be through a homemade card, or homemade Christmas cookies it is all in the thought that counts. We all understand times are tough and the teachers are probably experiencing the same things. I have received many gift cards, coffee mugs, etc. and the gifts that meant so much to me were the homemade gifts. I have a box of them I have saved over the years. So don't stress have your kids sit down with some markers, glue, construction paper and make the teacher a homemade card and maybe attach it to a few homemade cookies it will mean the world to their teacher. Not that we do not appreciate the mugs but you can only have so many. You don't have to spend money to show you care trust me you are not being cheap. It will also show your children the importance of putting thought and love into their presents. Anyone can put a twenty dollar bill into a gift card and hand it to someone. They will learn a great lesson at the same time. Have a happy and healthy holiday!!!

Hi L., I'm a second grade teacher. And as the holiday season approaches, I always wonder what little trinkets a students will give me. Personally, I'm never offended if I don't receive a gift. I've sometimes received a thoughtful note from a parent about how much they appreciate what I do for their child. But if you still want to get something small, I suggest something useful. Hot cocoa mix, a couple of Yankee candle votives, or a couple small hand creams. You might even ask your children if their teachers talk about what they like or what they do. That can also give you some clues. If you have a teacher's supply store nearby (There's Education Works in Orange across from Hitchcock Plaza on Post Rd.)a $5 or $10 gift card is always appreciated. Oh...you could also buy a book. Have your children pick one out for the class. Teachers love books. Last year I got a $5 gift card to Barnes and Noble. I was able to pair it with others and buy some books for my classroom. I could probably go on but I just want to make sure that you don't waste money on silly holiday junk (mugs,picture frames, etc). Note cards are nice too!! Good luck!!

Hi L....

I think most are in the same boat as you are! This year I went to the Dollar store and bought cookie tins...the kids and are going to make cookies for their teachers.

Last year, we went to Michaels craft store, bought clear glass ornaments, glue and beads the kids decorated the inside of the ornaments...

Also, a $5 gift care to Dunkin' Donuts is always appreciated...it's the thought that counts.

Merry Christmas!

L. - I find baking something special and wrapping it nicely is a nice treat for the teachers. They don't always have time to bake. I make up a batch of carmel popcorn, pack it in decorative bags, with a card saying how much you appreciate all that they do. Hope that helps!

homemade cookies are nice, you can even write "thank you" and "Happy Holidays" on them and have the kids help you make them. Or you can buy a few items at places like BJs and Costcos and put a little basket together. Most teachers will understand that this is a tough year for a lot of parents and would really appreciate homemade gifts of the heart then purchased items. Anything made by the kids would be great as well. It's not how much the gift is, it's how much thought and time you put into putting th gift together. Have the kids write a nice note card and attach it to the gift. Or you can get a bar of chocolate, melt it in a pot, get some big strawberries to make chocolate cover strawberries. Place about 6 in a nice box and wrap it with some nice (not necessary expensive) ribbon. You can even write your family name on the box with Crayons or decorate it. Food is always the best gift. Cheap is not spending least $$, cheap is when you run into the store and pick up a $5 item. Your time is more valuable then $$, especially when you have kids. If you need more ideas please feel free to contact me. Good Luck and Happy Holidays.

I am in a similiar situation so I did Bath and Body Works Handsoap. They were 4 for $10. Another idea - bake cookies.

I am a teacher as well and can tell you that I always felt the nicest gift was a well written note. I teach high school so I got some really nice cards from parents and students alike. Words are worth more than any gift you can give and most often most memorable. People don't go into teaching for the money or the Christmas gifts. Yes, everyone loves a present, but when you think about all the students that a teacher will have each year, multiply that by the number of years taught and wow...lots of stuff can accumulate. If you really feel the need to make or give, I suggest stationary, or a special cookie, brownie or soup mix in a little jar ready to make. Many people are experiencing the same economic pressures. Relax and try to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

The best gifts I ever received from my students were the personal letters of gratitude from parents. We don't expect gifts, a card is really ok. But if you must...

Do your kid's have classroom moms? If so you may want to suggest to them that they organize a group gift from the class. $5.00 per child ends up being a very nice gift card for the teacher.

If you have a Christmas Tree shop near you you can find lovely things at dirt cheap prices.

CHocolates were always my 2nd favorite. Nothing says thanks like a bunch of hershey kisses or a lindt bar.

I do the same thing only take it to the extreme! I have guardianship of my special needs grandson who happens to be very loved by the whole school. I found the best dollar store called Real Deals & the cutest gifts ever. They are worth more than the dollar I pay!!! This year I found school desks about 4 x 5 that the top opened for trinkets, tacks, paper clips, ect. There's a place to put a small picture of him. I thought it was pretty cool & unique. I've seen little door hangers w/ bells, little sleds to hang as decorations, ect. Sometimes I add ribbon or holly to ad a touch more. It's usually something I already have in my Xmas stuff. I get 20 gifts for $20.00 Another nice gft is a handmade gift from your child with their picture on it. Imagination is good & we all have one. Good Luck & Have a Wonderful Holiday !!! Hope I was helpful !....Try a few dollar stores... they usually have different things.


These are tough times for everyone and I'm sure the holidays are going to look a bit different this year. Have your children make thoughtful cards for their teachers and bus drivers. You can add a few words on the inside cover like "We appreciate all that you do for our child. Happy Holidays." If you're up to it you could bake a couple batches of cookies, brownies, etc... and wrap six or so up in some foil for each of them. Your kids' teachers will definitely appreciate it! Another idea is to wait at the bus stop with a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate for the bus drivers as your child gets on or off the bus, and say thank you face to face... very thoughtful and remembered. Finally, if you have time to write a personal letter to a teacher, it will be kept and more meaningful than anything you could buy. I've been a teacher for 14 years and still have all the homemade cards and letters I've gotten. Don't stress about it. Simple and thoughtful is best.

Hi L.,
There's nothing better than a homemade gift. And even better than that are homemade baked goods. Consider baking all of these people some sweet treats for the holidays. Have your kids help to make it especially fun and sincere. I make all kinds of sweets... cookies, fudge, candied nuts, etc, and i either put them in holiday goodie bags (from dollar store) or put them in jars with a festive ribbon and tag. I make some especially easy treats, which aren't so tough on the wallet either. Have you ever made the puppy chow from rice chex cereal? It is sweet and easy. ALso, I make cute little treats from pretzels, hershey caramel kisses and holiday m&ms. I would rather get a gift like this than some cheap trinket anyway. Email me if you would like recipes/ideas.
Good luck and happy holidays!!! :)
K. G.

Hi L.,
My daughter is in preschool. What they do there is all the parents give about $25 each and they buy gift cards for the teachers and aides (there are about 5 to each class). Maybe you could get a couple of parents to go in on it with you. We get gift cards to the mall. We do $50 for the teacher and $25 for the aids. Also I just bought the new Martha Stewart Christmas magazine and she had a great recipe to make peppermint soap so I think I'm going to do that too. I'm sure you could find the recipe on her website. I don't think teachers really expect a lot. Also, maybe for the bus drivers some homemade cookies or fudge.
Happy holidays!

Would home-baked cookies in dinosaur, car, truck and other kid shapes do the trick? Place & Trace® by Discovery Toys does triple duty as 3 puzzles/stencils/cookie cutters for your children. They can be involved in the giving project of baking all those cookies, too! You can find them at www.toysofdiscovery.com
Happy Holidays!

Bake a big batch of cookies and give some to each teacher/helper/bus driver. And have the child appropriate for the teacher/helper/bus driver make a hand-made card. Will be way more personal and touching than anything you could buy.

Don't worry about teacher gifts. Frankly, I've never even heard of bus driver gifts!?!?! These people are paid to do their jobs, the gifts are extra and unnecessary. I am both a teacher and a mom and NEVER expect a gift from a student. As a matter of fact, when I get a present it is usually inappropriate since I don't even celebrate Christmas. I appreciate the gesture, but the gifts usually end up in a drawer. My personal favorite is a drawing or thank you card from the student. These are the one thing that mean the most to me, and the one thing that I ALWAYS keep and cherish. The spirit of the holidays is about giving from the heart. Keep it simple and heart-felt and you will be OK.
Good luck.

I am not a teacher, but a have a few friends that are. The best gift you can give is a gift card. It doesn't have to be for much money - $10 is suffient. A big box store, or a teaching store. One thing I know they get too much of are candles, ornaments, and teacher figurines. Keep it simple, they will appreciate anything!

Hi L., We have all been in this position. Now with our bad economy many will add to the bunch. I believe it is the thought that counts. I have found lovely scarves in the discount stores or festive coffee mugs. Teachers get so much and hopefully appreciate the thought. I as a teacher have many times re gifted what I could not use and that in itself is a gift. For the bus drivers, you could never have too many warm gloves. Good wishes, Grandma Mary

A heart felt note of gratitude and thanks means the world to a hard working teacher. The little gifts are nice but that note telling them how important they are to your child is priceless. Depending on the childrens ages a hand made picture is also a special gift. The nicknacks and "dust collectors" are cute but appreciation, expecially in a world where not much is shown, encourages a teacher and lets them know they are making a difference in at least 1 childs life for the better. That is why the majority of teachers do the job to begin with. (It isn't for the money;) usually) A.

One thing that my family loves is homemade goodies. I have found some easy ones that are quick and they think you spent a lot of time doing them. Go to walmart or any other store where you can buy chocolate disks. melt them in the microwave and pour them into candy molds. You can get them at the dollar store or the craft store. This makes alot of chocolates. and you can get fancy bags at the dollar store for them to be put into with a nice ribbon.. they would be a nice gift.
I also make a bunch of different cookies. My kissie cookies are soooo easy... 1 cup of peanut buttter, 1 cup of sugar and 1 egg... mix together and make 1 inch balls. and roll in sugar. Bake until lightly golden brown in a 350 degree oven. about 12 minutes. keep checking until its browned but not too brown. When its done place a kiss in the center of it. Or use a spoon and create an indent and put jelly in it. My kids love the strawberry peanut butter cookies. Quick, Easy and very cheap to make.

There are lots of home made goodies that you can make..and alot of the ingredients could be bought at the dollar store or the family dollar stores. We even have a dollar foods store that has alot of baking goods. and a batch of cookies makes alot of cookies and doesnt usually cost much.

Hope this helps some...

W. in Watkins Glen
Mom to 3 kids.
Korey-Mikel 16, Whitney 13 and Andrea 6

I am as well a teacher, and SAHM now. But, the homemade gifts were the best. Note cards and gift certificates too. Don't spend a lot of money. I was working at a small school once and a mom gave me $100 and I didn't know what to do. So a great note from you and the child and a few small things are great. I loved the ornaments with there name on them, I have a lot of those and I put them on the tree each year. Take care and best of luck. A.

L., teachers love presents that a child makes more than a bought present. Ask your chldren, but before you do brainstorm things that your children can make with things or drawing and put in a frame you can get at some $1 stores. I know tht perhaps, ask your children what they think they can make to give to the teachers. The reason I sid for you to brainstorm just in case they can't think anything off the bat an dyou can give them ideas and hey can come up with their own or use your idea. Help them to be creative and they will feel great with accomplishments they have done and they will blossom and find they have a talent in something. Busdrivers will feel the same.

No more mugs, please. I've been teaching for more than 15 years. My favorite gifts include a hand-written note of appreciation and a giftcard for a cup of coffee, ice cream cone, etc. To me, it really is the thought that counts! And remember that you are not the only responding to these tough economic times.

Hi L.:

I would suggest perhaps just baking cookies. You can place them in a cheap chritsmas plate you can probably buy at the dollar store and this can be part of the gift.

Another suggestion would be, have your children do a "homemade Christmas ornament" it will come from the heart, the kids can write a special note for them and date it, -- it will come from the heart!

Enjoy, Aida G. from East Windsor

Being a teacher I always appreciate a card saying Thank You! the best, 2nd place was something home made.It was more meaningful to me. Please remember it's not about how much you spend.

i second that.... we have enough mugs and kicknacks... something homemade, especially a heartfelt letter, is the best thing. there was a request just like yours a little while back and they got lots of good ideas for homemade treats, crafts, i like a little token for luck, maybe the kids could paint little flowerpots and you can buy one or 2 houseplants and split it up, anything accompanied by a nice note is awesome. or just a note itself.... look back in the requests, you will see it. dont stress about it.

Salt-dough ornaments or cookies, cookies cookies...

They get many, many gifts each year that they don't need or want.. but everyone likes cookies.

Salt-dough ornaments are easy, cheap and involve the kids making them...

Hi L.,
I work in an elementary school, and I can tell you that no one is looking badly on someone who can't afford a gift or on the size of a gift! Home baked goodies are always appreciated! You can make a charitable donation and give them the ackowledgement paper - even if you give just a dollar for each!
In the elementary school my kids have gone to, and in the one that I teach in, it's customary for the class parent to take up a collection of a $3-5 per child in class, if the parents opt to give, and buy a nice, larger gift from the class, including any teaching assistants, aides and monitors if there are any in the class. Before giving any individual gifts to teaching assistants, aides or monitors, find out whether they are there for the whole class, whether they just work with the special ed students in the class or whether they are a one on one assistant for a particular special needs students. While these personnel may help other children, if your child is not in their caseload, do not feel obligated to purchase them a gift.
Good luck!

I hear ya! I have 3 kids, 2 in daycare part time with 2 teachers each and one in public school. Usually the room mother in the public school organizes something where everyone chips in 5 dollars. For the daycare teachers I think I will just do 5 dollar gift cards to dunkin donuts and a coffee mug from the dollar store. I will do that for the bus driver too. It keeps things under $50.

I used to teach Middle school, and although I received many material gifts, the ones that I have kept for many years were the most meaningful; the handmade simple yet thoughtful ones. I have letters with a small collage from students. The letters mentioned small incidents that they remembered from class or little ways that I touched their lives. I've always cherished these handwritten and handmade gifts the best. Maybe you could make a small collage for each each teacher with a picture of your child and a handprint and include in the letter things that your child says that she likes about that person. Also include some way that validates the teachers role in your child's life. If you really want to include something else you can make "hot chocolate mix " there are all kinds of recipes around for homemade instant hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and put it in a cute bag with glittery stickers?? Or else write out a recipe or two for something really yummy. I always like getting new recipes. Hope this helps.
P.S. Nothing material is neccessary, I think people always value a sincere gift that shows time invested, at least in the long run.

hope this helps!!!!!,i am also a sahm..of 3,one in 4th grade,one in 1st grade and a 2 year old...so i am no stranger at baking and crafting....i always leave it up to the kids what they would like to do...sometimes they like making picture frames and paper flowers(you can wrap in a big red bow or we've done pretty vases i just had laying around).they like to bake so when we do our holiday cookies and chocolate lollipops...we fill up holiday coffee mugs and glasses with the items in tissue paper along with AWARDS we print and fill in according to teacher status(you can pick up a package of awards at staples)and put in a nice but inexpensive frame(or one they make-youre choice)!as cheesy as these ideas may seem i must say that i have had past teachers stop me and thank us years after that they still have the "whatever" and love it!let me know how you do!


You are under no obligation to give gifts to school personnel, however, I do agree that it's a nice thing to do especially if you're lucky enough to have some teachers, helpers, bus drivers that "go the distance".

Remember it's the thought that counts. Have your child make the teacher a card or an ornament. If you bake, you might want to give a few small treats.

Hi L.,
Honestly whatever happened to the days of giving cards?! When I was a kid, we have cards, or I remember my mom having me make a pomander. You take an apple or an orange, and you push in whole cloves, and then you let it dry. The end result is a very pretty, very nice smelling holiday gift. You can put a ribbon on it to hang on a tree, or as part of a center piece.
Gratitude doesn't come with a dollar equivalent. I feel like you can do 1 of 2 things. 1) Give what you feel you can, and be ok with it. Write a heartfelt card with it. She'll treasure that for longer. 2) Contact the other parents to give to a fund that you all give as a joint gift. That way, no single contribution is singled out. Christmas isn't about breaking your bank...and it should be about stressing out about all financial obligations you have. You can be sending your children a wonderful message right now with how you handle this. Best of luck!!

Do you have ny money to spend at all?

You might, along with the kids bake some delicious cookies,put them in beautifully designed cellophane bags tied with different color ribbons for teachers and bus drivers.Deliver them yourself and let these very important people in your child's life know how much you appreciate them."Remember you can give a dollar gift but always with $miilion worth of recognition and appreciation

Buy Mary Kay products for skin care. Some of them are as little as $8 and teachers love them, because they last for several months and are very soothing. I can help you select what products, because I am a Senior Sales Director for Mary Kay, Inc. You can have the products you select within a day or two. Call me at ###-###-####. I. Collins. Or you can email me back through this service.

I think this is the year for homemade. Everyone gets that this is a tough year, and people are cutting back. Baked good that are wrapped nicely or a wooden picture frame that your children decorate are thoughtful ideas.

A little about me: I am a mom of 3 great kids, 15, 13 and 2!

My bff is a teacher and she always says if I get one more mug...but honestly, I usually give my kids' teachers wine...sometimes you can even get Zinfindel 3 @$10...and let me tell you, every year I am the only mother that gets a hug from the teachers for it and they tell me best gift ever...because too even if they don't drink it they can use it for the holiday for others...plus I find this is cheaper to give since as a class we chip in of a gift as well.

Maybe you could make them all some homemade goodies ( cookies, fudge etc) I have a home based business that I have been doing for three years now, if you are looking to make some extra income email me back.

Betty W.

Write them notes of appreciation on nice paper or in cheap cards. These people work hard and need to know they are appreciated far more than they need another mug! Mention how they touch your child's life and the good things they do and say thank you!

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