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Teacher gifts with the homemade touch

Feeling creative or looking for a one-of-a-kind teacher gift? GreatSchools parents have some ideas for you!

By GreatSchools Staff

If you've got some time and want to give a teacher gift that will be cherished for a long time, get out the camera, paints or baking supplies! You and your child can create a special gift with a personal touch. Here are some suggestions from GreatSchools parents for personalized or homemade gifts bound to please any teacher.

Photos, poems, and scrapbooks

"I'm never without a camera and always take loads of photos, lots of candids," says parent Mary Wallace of Connecticut. "I pick one that has all the children and their teacher in it, a class trip or an event at the school. Then I print the date, event, and everyone's name to add to the photo and we frame it for the teacher. If you can, make a wide-bordered mat and have each of the students sign, or print their name on the mat. So far, it's been a favorite gift for each teacher and they have a 'permanent' reminder of that year's class."

A Pennsylvania dad also had an idea of a photographic gift. "When our children were in elementary school, we'd have a copy of their class picture transferred to a mouse pad," he writes. "Not only was it inexpensive (approximately $5) but would serve as a lasting memento for years to come."

One mom with 15 years of experience with teacher gifts writes: "I have always loved to write poems or letters from my heart telling the teacher how much they have meant to me in all they have done for my child and all of the others they teach and take care of. It really takes no effort on my part when thinking about the job they do each school day."

A teacher in Washington writes: "My students always ask me what I want for Christmas. My answer is the same every year. I ask for a homemade Christmas ornament with the child's name and year on it. Each Christmas, as I hang these ornaments made by precious hands, I remember those students. I reflect on the difference that I made in those lives and my new year's resolution is already made, to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of my students! I have over 25 years of ornaments that I now display. Each one is filled with memories."

Other ideas for special mementos include working with the students to create a class scrapbook or thank you book, and creating a billboard or poster for the class with the signatures and notes from students to their teacher.

Cookies, potted plants, and a bag full of surprises

An Oklahoma mother of two children, ages 8 and 5, offers this homemade teacher-pleaser: "Every year the 8-year-old and I spend a weekend making homemade candy and cookies. We purchase baskets at yard sales during the summer and fall. We clean up the baskets, line them with cheery Christmas material napkins and then fill them up with cookies and fudge. The teachers love it! It is also a good way to have 'girl time' with my daughter."

Another parent has this idea for an inexpensive but practical gift with a homemade touch: "I purchase an inexpensive cloth book bag from my local arts and crafts store and have my children decorate it with fabric paint. I then fill the bag with inexpensive items such as a tube of sun block lotion, a bookmark and a gift certificate to our local used bookstore. My children have been presenting their teachers with this gift for 5 years now and every teacher has loved it!"

Another great idea is to pot a plant, buy some paint and have your child decorate the pot with handprints. Make a card in the shape of a seed packet, write a note thanking the teacher for helping your child grow and stake it into the soil.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

12/19/2011:
"Need More info Need pictures "
12/12/2011:
"Lame article - just focused on little kids. Do a better more thorough job and include middle and high school kids too. "
12/23/2008:
"I had no problem figuring out great gifts for my children's teachers when they were in elementary school. We almost always gave class gifts that combined gift cards with some kind of art project made by the class. They were always appreciated. But now that my children are in high school and each child has 8 different teachers plus a counselor, and there are other faculty and staff members I'd like to recognize with a gift, it is much more difficult, not to mention expensive. Does anyone have any ideas (other than gift cards or homemade treats) specifically for high school teachers?"
10/28/2008:
"We have an innovative teacher's gift idea. We created the Secrets of Life & Words of Wisdom, LLD. It is a button that sits on a teacher’s desk. When pressed it verbally relays wisdom and motivational tid-bits from some of history’s greatest achievers. Successories, the world's largest retailer of motivational products will be selling the “Secrets of Life & Words of Wisdom, LLD� in their January catalog. To learn more about our product please see the attachments and visit our website at: www.lifelearningdevices.com (click on teachers) "
06/2/2008:
"My son's teacher has two children of her own...I offered to make her a homemade dinner on a particularly busy pre-Christmas weekday. She absolutely loved having dinner ready when she got home...I simply took my crockpot to school, plugged it in and put a salad and dessert in the fridge...all she had to do was load up her car at the end of the day and her evening was free to do other things. She LOVED it! It's going to be my new 'standard' Christmas gift. (Plus, I doubled the recipie and filled a second crock pot, which I kept at my house for our dinner too!)"
12/6/2007:
"I usually make gift baskets with several things in them from goodies you eat to supplies you use & I've found some great poems on the internet for teachers, so I'm going to make plaques for the teachers to put in their classrooms, you can buy or make inexpensive plaques print the poems on nice paper, add it to the plaque & then make it personel to match the teacher, the family members I've made for loved theirs it reflects them."
05/17/2007:
"Thanks so much for these ideas. I have been racking my brain for something personal to do and these have given me great ideas. Thanks so much."
05/11/2007:
"Great Tips ! One idea we have done for teachers is just getting treat bags, some unique (wrapped) candies, chocolates, little debbie cakes, and coffee bags, tea bags, and cocoa. we place an assortment in the bag, usually we include a pen and pad of sticky notes too. Even if any or all of the treats are not to the taste of the teacher, they could use at their home for guests . we have also put them in a small basket or glass bowl to have them use for serving."
05/7/2007:
"I am always looking for something to say thank you to our childrens' teachers. Every year, I really enjoyed the ideas shared in this article and I will be using and passing them along too. Something from the heart goes a long way!! "
05/2/2007:
"Any ideas for 'thank yous' to house parents, advisors, special teachers, for a full scholarship student at an exclusive boarding high school. Obviously, we have so much gratitude to express for the wonderful opportunity offered our daughter but not much extra money."
05/2/2007:
"great ideas! thanks so much! I so tired of just giving the gift card and I know they don't want anymore plaques, statues, cups, etc."
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