By Kristie Touchstone

Log on to Fox 8 Morning News at 9:30am today to see us present these items live with Shannon Smith on Mommy Matters! Be sure to check our“Gift Giving” category often (found under the Shopping section). We will be running blogs with many gift giving ideas over the next few weeks for everyone on your list and you won’t want to miss these blogs!

Teachers do so much for our children and with all that goes on during the school year; the holiday season seems to be the perfect time to shower them with our appreciation. So what’s the problem? We don’t always know what they already have or what they could use. I have never been a teacher, but from what I have heard, they cherish every gift that they receive. However, I think I can safely say that teachers most likely have plenty of ornaments, coffee mugs and apple-related items.

I am the type of person who likes to give teachers something that they will (hopefully) remember my children by. The problem in my family is that between three children, there are a total of 7 elementary school teachers to buy gifts for. Yep, seven. So whether you are giving gifts to one teacher or seven, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. There IS a way to give cute, memorable, useful gifts without breaking the bank!

I found a few ideas online, asked teachers and friends for their suggestions, and also came up with a few of my own.


Is it your always your intention to get your shopping done early and you find yourself only a few days away from winter break? The following gifts are useful and don’t take much time when you are in a pinch.

Gift cards – Choose a gift card from the teacher’s favorite store, restaurant, spa or coffee. If you know the teacher is smart phone/tablet savvy, gift cards to online retailers who sell e-books or phone/tablet apps would make the grade with those techie teachers!

Gift wrapping set – I know I am not the only one who has had to hunt for a fresh roll of wrapping paper or tape during the holidays! Teachers will love this and it is a unique idea for friends and neighbors as well. Buy a value pack of wrapping paper, a value pack of tape and separate those into sets (see photo). Tie the tape around the roll of paper with a ribbon and include a small tag which says:
“Since November you’ve been shopping, Barely sleeping, never stopping. Now it’s late ~ you’re in a scrape… Out of paper, out of tape! Hope this helps you get it done, (Teacher’s name), you’re #1” Happy Holidays!

Clear thermal cup filled with classroom items – Extra pencils for the classroom and a convenient non-spill travel cup for the teacher. Several teachers expressed to me that anything for the classroom is appreciated and will end up saving them time because they will not have to go out and purchase inexpensive yet necessary supplies. Fill the cup with staples, Sharpies, ball point pens or even reward stickers.


I personally like to go this route when I want to give meaningful gifts. Some of these are easy for when you have many gifts to make and some are a little more advanced. The advanced ones may be more doable if you only have one or two teachers to make something for.

Tile note holder
– These are really easy! This is a note holder made with one piece of tile, a few stickers and a wooden clothespin. The possibilities are endless, but all you need to do is have your child decorate the tile, Mod-Podge (an all-in-one glue, sealer & finish) over it and use hot glue to attach a clothespin to the back of it so it stands up. You could also choose to put felt on the back of the tile instead and it can serve a as coaster. Waterproof Mod-Podge is recommended for this option.

Bookmarks – I keep a stack of heavy card stock (different colors) at home. It comes in handy for lots of things such as homemade bookmarks. Cut a strip 1-1/2” wide x 8-1/2” long from your choice of card stock. Purchase some inexpensive letter stickers and have your child spell out the teacher’s name, a quote, or something meaningful on the front. You could also add other small stickers or cutouts that pertain to the teacher on the back. Have your child write their name, maybe add a picture and the date and presto, you have a customized bookmark as well as a keepsake. The teacher could use it at home, at school or while traveling. If you are able to laminate it, it will stay intact for years to come. If not…most teachers have access to a laminator at their school.

Colorful initial – If you have been on Pinterest before, I am sure you have seen this one pop up a lot. Crayons, glue and a frame! How easy is that? It looks like an intimidating project but it is quite simple. Grab your computer and open up a program such as Microsoft Word. Pick out a sans-serif font, type the first letter of the teacher’s last name, increase the font size so that one giant letter will fit on a page and print it out for your template. Make sure the material you are adhering the crayons to is strong enough to hold the weight of the crayons and will also fit nicely into a frame – without glass.

“Subway” art – Several of the teachers I talked to mentioned that they like things they can put up in their classroom. In the example below, I found a free ‘printable’ (again…Pinterest) that I thought would go well in a classroom, printed it copies of it out on photo paper, bought plain black photo frames from the Dollar Store and a can of red spray paint and went to town. Once assembled, I had my kids write their name and the year on the back of the frame. I was able to give seven teachers a creative gift which didn’t take much time and it cost me less than $20 total. Score!

From The Class

In most cases, there is a grade parent or class coordinator who will suggest pooling resources together to give a large gift from the entire class. Not all parents can contribute the same amount of money but just a little bit from a large group can turn into a nice, thoughtful gift. It takes some advanced planning to collect the money so be sure to start early for these.

Customized director’s chair – Something for the room, something crafty and something memorable all rolled into one! Purchase a plain director’s chair and using fabric or acrylic paint, have the class decorate it with hand prints and other designs. Use the teacher’s favorite team/school colors and it will give it even more meaning. Don’t forget to include the year somewhere on the chair. The one featured here was made for a teacher who is a Wake Forest grad and she uses the chair daily in her classroom.

Gift card wreath – A fun way to give multiple gift cards purchased by individuals or with the classes’ contributions is to attach them to a wreath. Add a bow and some décor and not only can the teacher use the gift cards, she or he will also have an extra wreath to use year after year.

Glass frame with fingerprints – This is an adorable, memorable gift that is simple and inexpensive. The only tricky part may be getting the class to do this while the teacher is out of the room! Purchase a frame that holds a ‘floating’ picture between two pieces of glass as shown in the photo. Using paint, have each the children put their thumb print and their name (with a Sharpie) on the inside of the glass. When it is dry, add the photo and reassemble the frame. This could be done from an individual as well…I love this one!


The following gifts may be considered as ‘old-standbys’ but they are truly appreciated!
– Books for the classroom library
– Basket full of supplies for the classroom (stapler, clipboard, pens, dry erase markers, notebook paper, index cards, and boxes of tissue etc.)
– Note cards and stationery (personalized adds a nice touch)
– Visa gift card (if you are not sure of their ‘favorite’ places)
– A drawing or note from the child

Whatever you decide to shower your teacher(s) with, be sure to jot down a few kind sentiments to go along with your gift. The words will reinforce their passion for teaching and remind them how rewarding it is. When you are deciding which gift to give, be aware of which holiday your teacher celebrates. So, collect your class money, get out your supplies and don’t wait until the last minute! With this helpful list, half of the work is already done! If you have other teacher gift ideas that you would like to share with us, please do. Teachers, you can chime in too!

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