November 21, 2010

GUEST POST: Best (and Worst) Teacher Gifts on a Budget

Today’s post is a guest post by Crystal at www.survivingateacherssalary.blogspot.com. Her husband is a teacher and she works hard to make the best use of his income.

Teachers work very hard during the year, but when it comes to the holidays it seems our budgets are just stretched a little too tight to consider a gift for our child’s teacher. Many times they are the last ones on the list, but it’s not hard or expensive to show appreciation for their hard work. I’ve compiled a list of the best (and worst!) ideas for teachers for Christmas based on not only my husband’s opinion (an elementary teacher) but also from other teachers that read my blog.

The two best (and inexpensive!) gift ideas to give to teachers is something handmade from the child, and also gift cards.

Most teachers will treasure anything that your child has made them because it is a thoughtful gift that took time and effort, and that is what they are expending into our children. They like to know that they are thought of in a good way-not just as a strict teacher. One of my past favorites was artwork or cards that the student has made for our children. If you know your teacher has small children at home, let your kids make their children a card or picture. Many times my husband has brought artwork home and hung it in our house from his students.

Gift cards are an all-around favorite for most teachers as well. And it doesn’t have to be a lot, a $5 gift card will suffice. Some ideas in getting a gift card is to save all the gift cards during the year that you receive from mail in rebates-then re-gift it. If you go shopping, say to Target, and they have a deal where you buy 2 items and receive a $5 gift card, instead of spending that $5 gift card, just save it in an envelope for a teacher’s Christmas gift. Do you do online surveys for points or gift cards? Re-gift one of those gift cards! Even gift cards from your credit card rewards. There are so many ways to get gift cards as a gift for your child’s teacher without you spending a penny on it! Some favorite gift card ideas is to a bookstore, iTunes (they can buy audio books for the classroom), restaurants, mass retailers like Target/Walmart, etc. Even if it’s just an Amazon code that the teachers can use to buy something for their classroom!

Another easy gift idea is to buy something for the classroom. It could be age-appropriate games, book sets, computer games, etc. A few favorites (in addition to handmade & gift cards which were BY FAR the #1 choice!) that teachers who read my blog have chimed in for was a personalized clipboard, a plant for the classroom, and homemade goodies.

The hands-down worst ideas for teachers as Christmas gifts (and I apologize if you’ve given these as gifts to teachers in the past!) are MUGS, candles, and bath stuff like shower gel. Yes, I know, mugs are a biggie. But a large amount of kids get their teachers mugs- EVERY year, multiplied by 20 kids a year, yeah-it adds up! Another “worst teacher gift idea” is lottery tickets. Yes, seriously, I said lottery tickets! I can’t tell you how many times my husband or his dad (also a teacher) have received lottery tickets as a Christmas gift! He seriously gets it almost every year! Your teacher may love them, but most do not.

Be creative, be thoughtful, and your teacher will love it! A little bit of appreciation goes a long way to make our teachers feel loved and thought of during the holidays!