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Inspired End of the Year Teacher’s Gifts

Moms Columnist Kellyanne Koemp discusses some great gift ideas for teachers.

It’s that time of year again; another school year comes to a close and we find ourselves wondering where the time went. We also reflect on the many new and wonderful things our children have learned. How do we thank the women and men who have taught them their reading, writing, and arithmetic?

Speaking as a former teacher, if you decide to give an end-of-the-year gift, it need not be large or expensive.  I never expected anything at the end of the year, but even the smallest token meant a lot. I taught high school, and at that level - when students have so many teachers - gifts really don’t come around all that often. The best gift I ever received was handmade, from a freshman named “Nate” who decorated a small hatbox big enough for my hall passes. He said “I figured you could use something to organize them,” he had had a clear view of my cluttered desk all year, and I guess he felt he needed to step in! I loved that gift, and used it regularly.

Giving cookies is a big hit as well. You and your child can go to a craft store and pick out a nice tin or basket, and then buy some nice fabric - about a half yard - to line the basket, after washing the fabric first, of course. I suggest a school theme fabric if they have it in stock – for example, owls if your school mascot is an owl. Add cookies and a card, and you are good to go! Then you can come home and make some cookies, although some store bought ones will work just fine too.

When my son Chris left preschool last year, we went to the craft store and found some unpainted bird houses. We bought some paints and then decorated them for each teacher.  On those, we placed a note thanking them for nurturing the “baby birds” for which they were responsible.  They seemed to love these, as it was something from his heart. Along the same lines, a wooden picture frame can be decorated as well. Perhaps a handmade necklace if you have seen the kind she wears and you are crafty. I make jewelry, so this year my son’s teachers are getting a bracelet.

If you want to spend a bit more, gift cards are appreciated. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, or restaurants are all viable options. Gift cards are a good idea if you know the teacher and their interests well. If you only have a passing familiarity, you should try to get a gift card to something that just about any teacher can use.  For example, gift certificates to office supply stores and parent teacher store are terrific, since nowadays teachers tend to spend more of their own money on classroom supplies. Gift cards that offset that make a great and thoughtful gift!

Maybe you took a nice photo of the class during an event, or might have had the occasion to take a photo of the teacher working closely with a child on a project. I took a nice one of my son’s teacher making a gingerbread house with him during his Christmas Party. Something like this in an inexpensive frame is a nice keepsake. Or, if you prefer you could make a small photo album with pictures from a class event or field trip, especially since the teacher might have been too busy “shepherding” to enjoy the sights of their class.  Candid shots are probably the best, think back to your wedding or one you attended, the reception candid shots are the ones that bring back the greatest memories.

Flowers and a card will work and be completely unexpected. If your teacher has a green thumb they might like a plant.  When we left Arlington, Chris bought his teacher a cactus, since she was raised in southern Arizona and we thought she might be missing home a bit.

Most teachers will tell you that the best gift they ever received was a handmade card with a sincere thank you for all the time they have taken with a student all year. No amount of money can buy heart felt appreciation.

Any of these options can be tailored to fit your student and his teacher. Remember, it isn’t how much you spend, it’s the thought that counts, just make sure to think “outside the box” so your teacher won’t be going home with 25 “My Teacher has Class” mugs!

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