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Preschool Teacher Gift Ideas

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Thoughtful Teacher Gifts

My daughter goes to a preschool five times a week. She goes to two different classrooms. So, she has four lead teachers. They are all very sweet and great teachers. I would love to get them nice expensive gifts, but with four teachers, I just can't. So I was thinking of making them t-shirts for Christmas gifts. Does anyone have an idea for a t-shirt from my daughter to the teacher? Or any other good ideas?

Gifts Teacher Will Use

I try and give expendable gifts to teachers as they have plenty of cute knick-knacks from many students from previous years. Although I have done many different things, here are some of my favorites:

  1. "A night in at the movies" - Include a video store certificate, candy, soda, etc. Wrap in the microwave popcorn tubs that look like the tubs you get at the movies.
  2. "A pasta dinner" - Include a jar of spaghetti sauce, a bag of fancy pasta (at Christmas time you can even find pasta shaped as trees or angels), and bread sticks. I wrapped this up in a cute basket that I found at a garage sale. (I have also done something similar for a pizza dinner, including a pizza crust, sauce, and pepperoni)
  3. "Homemade mix" - Make up some spiced tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, seasonings, etc. Many mixes can be found on the Internet or in cookbooks. One year, I did a homemade pancake mix and included a bottle of syrup for Christmas morning breakfast.

Allyson, TX

Teachers Welcome Homemade Gifts

I am a teacher and it's wonderful to get homemade cookies or any kind of goodie because I don't have the time to make it for my family. Just bake a little extra when you bake, freeze it, and pull it out at Christmas. The teachers will love it.

Related: Homemade Holiday Gifts

Insider Report: What Teachers Really Want

As a former preschool and elementary school teacher, I have some advice for parents looking to give something thoughtful but inexpensive to their children's teachers:

  1. Go in on a larger gift with other parents in the class. If each person contributed a couple of dollars, the teacher could be given a restaurant or mall gift certificate. This would be a great treat for teachers who usually have very tight budgets.
  2. Put together the ingredients for cookie baking, including dry mix, icing, sprinkles, etc. This would be especially good for a teacher with children. Or cut and bake the cookies yourself so that all that is left is the decorating!
  3. Give magazine subscriptions. Does your child's teacher have a favorite hobby? Give a gift subscription to a related magazine or a children's magazine that can be used in the classroom. Many subscriptions can be found for under $5 on the Internet.
  4. Give a beautiful ornament. Don't give one with cutesy little apples or "Worlds' Greatest Teacher," but a nice, attractive ornament that she (or he) will enjoy hanging on the tree year after year. This has by far been my favorite Christmas gift I have ever received from any of my students. Each year, I pull out all of my ornaments and remember each student that gave one to me. Find an inconspicuous place to write your child's name and the date in permanent marker. For multiple teachers, buy a boxed set of ornaments and divide them up for everyone. After Christmas this year, stock up on 1/2 price ornaments for next year!
  5. Does your teacher have a class pet? If she/he does, that means that teacher spends his/her own money to provide for it. Put together a gift basket of hamster (or bird, or whatever) food, treats, shavings, etc.
  6. Give a coupon for a homemade lunch to be brought to the teacher in the New Year. Life gets hectic when it is time to turn in report cards or have parent-teacher conferences. Your teacher could cash in the coupon for a wonderful meal that she/he didn't have to prepare and would be of little cost to you. I have had parents do this and also pick up my class from lunch and read to them (first getting permission from administrators), so that I could have more than the usual 25 minutes (at best) to eat. You could also bring a frozen casserole (coordinate this with the teacher first) for her to take home and use over the holidays.
  7. Use rubber stamps and create handmade note cards and envelopes. If you child is old enough, have him or her help. Teachers have to write lots of notes! This would be a good gift for other adults at your child's school, too (see below). Buy card stock and envelopes in bulk from a paper supply store.

All gifts, no matter how big or small, are appreciated, but keep in mind that teachers already have lots of mugs, cutesy "teacher" knick knacks and enough potpourri to stuff a couch.

If possible, try to remember the other important people that make your child's school experience a positive one, such as the custodians, secretaries, administrators, bus drivers, music, art and P.E. teachers, etc. It may be too overwhelming to remember everyone at Christmas, but try to let them know they are appreciated at other times. Bake some pumpkin bread in November to let the office staff know you are "thankful" for them, or help your child create Valentine's cards and cookies for the custodians, etc.

Meet the Supply Need

Teachers often spend their own money on classroom things such as books, art supplies and rewards. A gift certificate to a craft or teachers' supply store would be much appreciated by most teachers. Even a $5 certificate is useful or go together with other parents and get a larger certificate.

Inexpensive, Yet Priceless

I received a wonderful gift from my Brownie Troop last year. One of the parents took a photo of the group and made a copy on iron-on transfer paper she bought at Wal-Mart. The photo was transferred to a shirt and each of the girls signed the shirt with a fabric pen. If you give this gift from the group, the cost per person would be pocket change.

A Handy T-Shirt

As a teacher, I would much rather receive a personalized gift made by the child than something fancy. A cute idea for a t-shirt would be to have your child put her handprints all over the front and back of the shirt, leaving an empty spot in the middle of the front. In that spot, help your daughter to write, "Hands Down, My Teacher is the Best!"

Related: Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

Give Your Time

As a former teacher, I always enjoyed wearing T-shirts that corresponded to different holidays. So I think that your homemade t-shirts would be a hit! It is not the amount of money spent that counts, but the care spent in making this gift.

Another gift idea would be to offering your time/talents to make some sort of craft project with the class. You could teach the kids to make some sort of easy art project. That would give the teacher some down time as you lead the class in the project. I had a parent that used to come into my classroom periodically to lead my class in various art projects. I think that is one of the best gifts I ever received!

Teach a Lesson in Giving

Instead of a t-shirt or any other gift, which can be so hard to get right, we fill a charitable need in the teachers' names. At my child's school, most of the parents participate, so it becomes a very substantial gift and the teachers choose the charity. In the season of giving, it teaches a great lesson to the children and makes everyone feel good.

Nothing Better than Books

This is my daughter's idea and I think it is great. Last year, she bought hard cover books (from bookstore on special or Scholastic Books) and donated them to the school library in the teachers' names. She volunteers at the library so she knew the kind they could use. She said the teacher really seemed to appreciate how useful this was.

Aprons are Useful

I am a preschool teacher and I will tell you about a gift that one of my students gave me last year that I just loved. The mother went to Wal-Mart and bought an apron from the craft section. They are very inexpensive. Then, she bought some of the fabric paint that is washable. She had the child paint his hands and feet and then put them on the apron. In the middle, she put my name and the year. At the bottom, she helped him write his name with the paint. I just love it. I wear it everyday. You could do this the same way with a t-shirt, but an apron, smock, or tunic can be worn everyday.

Make This Treasure

How about making a colored t-shirt with the handprints of the entire class all over it? Write the names of the children under the handprints with a fabric pens. You might even place the hands strategically so they look like flowers, and use ric-rack to make the stems and leaves. Have the kids make thumbprints and turn them into ladybugs and butterflies with fabric pens. We did this for Father's Day for my husband and brother-in-law a few years back, and it is a treasure that still gets many compliments. T-shirts can be found for under $10 at Wal-Mart and many craft stores like Garden Ridge and Hobby Lobby. One black (or gold) fabric pen will be more than enough to do all the names and embellishments.
Sue in Dallas

Reviewed November 2017

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