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. Whether your child prepares a gift or writes a thoughtful card or email, the most important thing is to help your child show gratitude for the teacher who’s such a big part of their life.

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 five 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.

Ideas to get started

Here are directions for two simple, but special handmade gifts:

Laminated bookmark

Most teachers like to read and often encourage their students to read, so what better gift than a bookmark made by their student!

Materials needed:

  • Colored paper
  • Glue
  • Colored markers
  • Colored yarn
  • A hole punch
  • Scissors


Cut a piece of colored paper into a strip, 8½ by 2 inches. With colored markers, write a special message or draw a picture. You can also add stickers or a photo. Take your bookmark to a print shop and have it laminated. Punch a hole, centered at the top, with the hole punch. Make a tassle by cutting three strands of colored yarn and feeding them through the hole. Then tie a knot.

Snowman card

A homemade card for your child’s teacher makes a great personal gift. It also gives your child practice in the skills of cutting, drawing, and writing.

Materials needed:

  • An 8½-by-11-inch piece of card stock or construction paper
  • A piece of heavy white paper and small pieces of black, orange, and red paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • A hole punch
  • A pipe cleaner or two twist ties
  • Markers or crayons


Fold the piece of card stock or construction paper in half. Tear or cut three white circles from the white paper for the snowman’s head and body. On the head, use the hole punch to make two tiny black eyes (or draw two eyes), cut out or draw a red mouth and use the orange paper to make a carrot-shaped nose. Glue the circles to form the snowman on the front of the card. Before the glue dries, tuck the pipe cleaner or twist ties under the middle circle to serve as the snowman’s arms. Cut out a small, black hat and paste it on the snowman’s head. Help your child write a holiday message inside.