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Teachers’ Gifts: The Bi-Annual Conundrum

Every Christmas and end-of-year, there is the conundrum: What should I give my children’s teachers?

I like to give a little something as an expression of thanks, but what to give is often a challenge because I don’t want to be giving something that will end up in the lunchroom with the tag “free!” on it. And, well, I also don’t want to go broke either. Max has three teachers at his preschool and Stella has two teachers at her elementary school — a total of five gifts can really add up in the cash department! But whenever I feel stuck, this post from Kristen at Motherese reminds me what is most important to a teacher’s heart — a simple note from a student. 

This year, as in — right now — I have just spent a weekend with in-laws arriving from Australia, Max celebrating his 3rd birthday party, and preparing for moving house this Wednesday. So, not much creativity is left in my little scattered brain at the moment! Thankfully though, a facebook friend shared her teacher’s gift idea and was not only gracious enough to let me copy it, but also made me the beautiful hand-crafted labels that really finish the gift off perfectly! So, massive thank you to Heather of Heather’s Hints of Happiness for this … not only am I short on time, but all my scrapbooking materials are already packed up! You are a sweetheart (and a talented one at that!).

Here’s what you need if you’d also like to do this gift idea, which was originally found by Heather on the Tip Junkie site:

#1. Reuseable and portable cool drink holders: I saw these at Pier One for $13 each, but ended up buying mine at Loblaws’s Superstore for $5 each (thank you Loblaws!)
#2. A package of lemonade that has individual sachets. This box that I bought was on sale at Loblaws for $2.99 (again, thank you Loblaws!)
#3. Simple sheets of paper for a personalized thank-you note, to be tied up with wrapping ribbon. Taken from Grandma’s notebook for free.
#4. And the piece de resistance — the super cute labels which read: “Thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge”


And here’s how mine turned out (you’ll forgive the terrible photograph quality, right?):

For more teacher’s gifts ideas, Andrea from a Peek Inside the Fishbowl compiled a ton of them last year, which you can check them out by clicking here (read the post and the comments). Or, if you’d like to keep it simple, here is an idea to help your child make a thank-you note.


  1. I have to say, I find teacher gifts difficult because I have visions of hundreds of #1 teacher mugs and cutesy dust collectors…and thought I always think about buying LCBO gift cards (because that’s what I’d appreciate) I never do because 1) I don’t know if they would appreciate it and 2) I’m never certain of the appropriateness of the message (Buy some wine, drink away the stress of teaching my kids, lol). I usually fall back on a thank you note that I write, and to which I have the kids contribute something meaningful about their year. No gift as such.

  2. Nice!  I usually get them a cute pack of napkins!  I love napkins!  Every time I come home with more my husband gives me the big “Eye Roll” with a “More Napkins!” comment.  You NEVER know what occasion will arise and I’d hate to not have the perfect napkins!

  3. Fantastic! I’m stealing this. THank you thank you because I was at a loss!

  4. What a great gift idea!  I give it my former teacher seal of approval.  😉  Those reusable cups are so handy.  I’m going to have to keep this one in mind for Christmastime (maybe substituting a mug and hot chocolate sachets for the lemonade).

  5. Javamom says:

    I don’t know how appropriate this would be for grade school kids, but for my second, who, like the first, went through a Montessori daycare, I made cards. Specifically, because the daycare was small and all the teachers were exposed to both kids throughout each of their three years there, I made the card with pictures I took off my flickr account: on the left Benjamin as a toddler entering the daycare, on the right Sonja as a toddler, and in the middle, both of them together at Sonja’s last day at that daycare. On top I wrote a little note: thank you bla bla blah.

    Other than that, I am an advocate of giving hand made things. Cards, letters, pictures…sometimes, the kids will pick flowers on the first day of the last week to leave in the classroom.

    To date I have not bought a present for a teacher. I do not know if I will in the future, and having gone to grade school in Switzerland where I do not recall this as a practice parents engaged in, I am not sure if I even agree with the idea behind it. Please understand that I do not disagree with giving the teacher a gift in general, it’s more the commercialized aspect of it, that it has to be something bought. A heartfelt verbal thank you and a hand shake or a hug from a child can go a long way, in my view, but this does not mean that I may not buy something for someone in the future. (I don’t have that much experience yet, Ben is only starting grade 1 in the fall, Sonja JK).

    I was astounded at Benjamin’s first exposure to daycare that many parents left little gifts for the toddlers in their child’s class at each ‘event’ (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s day, etc)…and then each teacher would receive something too….not only was I shocked that people were that kind in thinking of all those little kids by going out and spending money on them, but also at the expectation that resulted due tp those early exposures. I can’t participate in it, it rubs me the wrong way, but I did not want my kid to feel left out so I organized a potato stamp card making day. Once the child could write his or her name they would have to sign the cards themselves. This was actually a fun experience, but required weeks of planning ahead and had to be organized weeks ahead of an event, since little children aren’t always interested in time consuming projects.

    Didn’t mean to ramble so much…thank you for this post, Julie!

  6. This year, I’m on the other side – I’m the parent giving the teacher gift and not the teacher receiving the gift. Honestly, the best gifts ARE the notes and cards of thanks. Letting the teacher know how thankful you are and that he/she is appreciated is always the greatest gift – we actually keep all the notes and cards! However, if you do want to purchase a gift, one like Julie posted is great. Using your creativity shows the teacher you really care. It’s heart felt. You can find a ton of these idea on the internet. If you’re not the creative type, gift cards are great from all stores – LCBO, Chapters, Scholars Choice, Winners, etc. Also, special supplies for the classroom are wonderful, no teacher ever has enough Sharpie markers! This year, a mom friend gave me the idea of personalized stationary; I’m going that route. Don’t stress, remember, it’s the thought that counts.

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