I can’t believe that Christmas is so close. My boys will be having their last day of school before the winter break in less than a week, and I haven’t done my teacher shopping yet.
Teachers perform an amazing service for our children and communities, and recognizing them with something special at the holidays is a great way to say thank you.
Like most mamas, I don’t have a huge–or even medium–budget for these gifts. Plus, with my kids having multiple teachers, that budget gets stretched really thinly. So, I have to make the most of every last penny.
Just because a budget is tight, doesn’t mean you can’t do something nice for your children’s teachers. Especially if you’re savvy, crafty or both.
The first thing you have to do is figure out your budget and how many teachers and other school personnel–such as the bus driver, crossing guard, speech therapist or principal–you need gifts for.
You don’t have to go crazy and give gifts to everyone your child comes into contact with. But, if there’s someone special, like a librarian who always lets your daughter know when her favorite author has a new book out, a special gift might be a thoughtful gesture.
Once you have your list and budget, it’s time to get to it. Figuring out how you’re going to make your budget stretch starts with your style. Do you like to make gifts or buy them? Do you like single gifts, like an ornament, or gift bags with several small items or baked goods?
If I have to buy for a small group of people, like teachers at school or church, I like to either get a variety of styles of the same thing, like picture frames or ornaments, or make a small gift bag for each.
Buying individual gifts doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. You can give beautiful gifts that will be special to your children’s teachers without spending a ton of moola. Remember, something doesn’t have to be flashy and expensive to have sentimental value.
Some simple, inexpensive single gifts for teachers are:
- Picture frames
- Pretty or funny notepads or sticky notes
If you like to put together little gift baskets or bags, pick a theme and check out a dollar store or aisle. I’ve found the dollar or holiday aisles at craft stores or big box stores, like Joanne’s or Target, can offer some awesome gift ideas.
Some inexpensive basket and gift bag ideas are:
Pampering baskets: Get a scented candle, a sample box of chocolates (they’re like $.88 at Walmart, check the card section), a small package of cookies and a few packets of cocoa mix.
Movie night basket: Get some microwave popcorn, a theater-style box of candies, a couple bottles of soda or water, and a big popcorn or plastic bowl. I’ve picked up old fashioned plastic or paper popcorn bags or containers at the Dollar Tree and Target recently. They add some traditional charm to any movie night. So fun!
Coffee basket: Around this time of year, there are a lot of stores with those single-pot bags of flavored coffees. Pick a pretty Christmas mug and add one or two of those bags of coffee on a bed of chocolate (like a few Hershey’s kisses or some fun size candy bars). Pop on a bow and voila!
Office supplies basket: Pick out a small plastic basket or holiday mug and inside add: one or two cool pens, some sticky notes or a note pad, a box of cute paper clips, some stickers, a rubber stamper and a couple holiday pencils.
The greatest part of doing the baskets or gift bags is you can make a present look more flashy by choosing the container it comes in wisely. If you have a smaller mug or basket, it takes less goodies to fill it out. Ahh…I love stretching a budget.
Also, the bonus with this type of gift is that you can buy a large package of something, like a package of candy bars or gift pack of candles, and split them up amongst several presents. Savvy!
If you like to get crafty or bake, this is the perfect time to use your skills and save some dough…sorry for the pun…no, I’m not.
Baking is a great way to send your appreciation and stretch a dollar. Putting together a small tin of cookies, brownies and homemade candies is a delicious way to say thank you. If you don’t have the time or money to go nuts baking 10 different kinds of treats, pick a favorite recipe and bake it up. Add a copy of the recipe on an index card or some holiday paper, and sprinkle in some holiday wrapped candies to add some festive flair.
Handmade ornaments are always beautiful gifts, especially if you let your child do the decorating. Pick up a small box of shatterproof ornaments, some puff paints, glitter, glue and sequins and let them make something special. You can guide their creations by applying the glue in the shape of a star, gift or Christmas tree and add a simple message, like Merry Christmas, Mrs. Smith 2011. Then let your son or daughter add the glitter or sequins to your glue outline.
Print up some stationery. You don’t have to be an awesome graphic designer to make a pretty letterhead. Using a basic program you can find a pretty font and make a simple header that says: From the Desk of Mrs. Smith. Add a small clip-art image and print 25 sheets out on pretty, colored paper. Put her new stationery in a gift box with a fun pen and you’re set.
Teachers really work hard to brighten our children’s futures. Giving them a simple token of your appreciation during the holidays is thoughtful and shows them your family really cares about the time, effort and love they put into their work.
What inexpensive gifts for teachers do you like to give?
Photo: flickr.com/photos/41431071@N00/320434816, flickr.com/photos/biglot/5033948441