WORDS: Melanie Wegener, Money Savvy Mamma
With a little bit of consideration and planning in advance, you can take the pressure off during the last few weeks of school and reduce having to spend more money than you need to.
As a teacher, I would never expect a family to give me a gift. I love my job.
However, classroom teachers normally hand out presents to their students at the end of the year. Teachers work incredibly hard and it is nice to acknowledge the unique role they have played in helping your child grow into their full potential.
It feels good to be generous and it is an important lesson for children to learn. When they play a part in making or picking out a gift, they have some ownership and will feel a sense of pride as they hand it over.
It’s not about the amount you spend. It is about the thought behind it. A heartfelt card and some handpicked flowers is such a beautiful gesture and one that would make anyone’s day.
You can show gratitude and thoughtfulness on any budget. Some of the following suggestions are for individual gifts and others could be organised with a few mums, or even the whole class.
Here are 12 useful gift ideas for a teacher
1. Indoor Plant
Indoor plants are quickly gaining popularity. They add life and vibrancy to rooms and brighten up a space. These can be bought from a nursery or gardening store, or propagated with a cutting from an existing plant you have.
The great thing about choosing an indoor plant as a gift is that it doesn’t matter if other parents have the same idea. The more the merrier (and let’s be honest, the more you have, if you kill one by overwatering at least you have a few backups!). I love the different colours and types. They really do have a calming effect.
Your child could choose a cute pot or basket for it to go in with a little note attached. The plant could stay in their classroom or go home with the teacher as a beautiful reminder of the impact that they are having on the next generation.
2. Personalised Stamp
What do you get a teacher who has everything? A personalised stamp of course!
After almost a decade of teaching, this year I finally splurged on a couple of gorgeous personalised stamps from Teach It Co. They weren’t cheap but honestly they have been worth it. Simply writing your name and date on each page of a student’s work to show that you have sighted it is time-consuming and after a while hurts your hand. I only wish I had known about these years ago.
I have just organised a few mums to put in and buy one for our children’s teachers (who team-teach). They have put so much effort into setting our little ones up for success in their first year of school. Their teachers are older and don’t need a whole lot of stuff, so this is a practical present that they will love and use everyday.
When purchasing, you can select the type of stamp, size, font and colour. I chose purple ink for one and pink for the other based on the colours they wear and knowing that the stamp will easily identify which teacher has set and marked the work for that day. I can’t wait to see them open it!
3. Gift Voucher
Gift vouchers are simple to organise and always gratefully received. It makes the receiver smile when opening it and they get to choose what they spend it on. I think it is the ultimate thoughtful present, especially if you just don’t know what to get someone.
It reduces clutter and stops unwanted presents being dumped at op shops in January or sent to landfill. It’s such a waste of money and resources.
Gift cards can be a good idea if a few parents want to put in together. The types of cards or vouchers are really unlimited. Think shopping (Coles Myer, Westfield, Amazon), massage or pampering (Endota Spa), books (Book Depository, Audible), stationery (Teach It Co, Officeworks) or movie tickets (Hoyts).
If you feel that a gift card is a little impersonal, consider picking some flowers, baking some cookies or adding some chocolate to go with it.
Mugs can seem a little boring but there are some really cute designs out there. They are a low-cost gift that can bring a smile every day. I have been given mugs in the past. Some I have kept in the staffroom at school, others I have used to put pens or other stationery in, and others I took home. You can purchase personalised ones from places like Vista Print and Officeworks or find cute ones at department stores.
For the keen coffee drinker, double-wall latte glasses are a great idea and can often be picked up on sale.
Add your teacher’s favourite chocolates, lollies, or a hot chocolate sachet and mini marshmallows and wrap them with cellophane. Alternatively, buy some sharpies or coloured pens for marking and pop them inside the mug instead.
Chocolate is a fabulous idea. (Need I say more?!) It’s an easy go-to present because most people (and teachers) enjoy chocolate. It is quickly consumed and doesn’t become clutter to deal with later.
It is often shared around with partners and family members which makes them happy. I know my hubby reaps the rewards when I am gifted chocolate that I’m allergic to. It makes for easy regifting to others if you get too much.
Chocolate is also a great gift because it is affordable. You can buy boxes like Cadbury Favourites on sale and pop them aside for when you need to bring something (unless you are like me and can’t trust yourself to keep them in your house).
Gifting a tree ornament can be a special way for your child’s teacher to remember your family. These can be sourced at any department store or personalised.
Ornaments can also be handmade. This saves money and can often be more meaningful. There are dozens of Christmas craft ideas here if you need inspiration.
Wrap them up in cellophane and a festive ribbon, and add a homemade card to it.
7. Coffee or Tea
Most teachers enjoy a hot beverage come recess or lunchtime, even if like parents they end up drinking it cold by the time they get to it. Coffee sachets or tea bags make a super useful, practical gift especially if you know their favourite choice of drink.
If they have a machine at home, you could buy some nice ground coffee or beans (depending on which they use) and wrap them up. This will bring a smile to their face and provide much joy for many mornings to come.
A gift idea for female teachers is a set of earrings. This doesn’t need to be expensive. There is a huge range both in-store and online. Earrings are sold on platforms like Etsy, and your business can really make their day.
Ask your child to help pick out a pair. I still wear some gorgeous hoops a family once kindly gave me. I always think of them and keep them proudly in my jewellery box.
These can be casual, fancy or festive. Many teachers enjoy dressing up with Christmas attire and would welcome another pair of fun earrings to pull out in December.
9. Home baked goods
If you don’t have much spare cash but enjoy baking, consider making some yummy treats for a teacher gift this year. Your child can get involved or at least help with the decorating part.
Think gingerbread biscuits, honey biscuits, shortbread or brownies. Use festive cutters to make a basic cookie look Christmassy. Decorate with coloured icing, sprinkles and shiny cachous balls and wrap in cellophane.
Be sure to list the ingredients in case of allergies.
10. Potted plant
Consider buying a flower pot for their garden. Sourcing something for your child’s teacher to plant in their garden means they will have it for years to come, instead of lasting a week in a vase.
Your child could help pick out something from Bunnings Warehouse or your local nursery. A cheaper option would be to buy some seeds and grow them, or grow a cutting from your garden. I’m grateful to have neighbours who regularly give us cuttings of their plants. Maybe see if one of your neighbours would be happy to do the same.
It doesn’t just have to be flowers. Herbs like basil, parsley and coriander are wonderful kitchen staples and would be gratefully received. Succulents are easy to grow and also make great gifts.
You could even decorate a pot to make it more personalised.
11. Picture book
Primary school teachers often like collecting picture books to display in their classroom. These are chosen by students to read during Silent Sustained Reading or when they finish their work early.
Another thoughtful gift idea would be to buy a picture book and write a heartfelt note in the front. It could be a favourite title of your family or a fun book to read at Christmas time.
This would mean so much to your child’s teacher and one that they would keep and use. It would always remind them of your child and the impact that you had on their life.
12. The silly but oh so useful
Here are some ridiculous but oh-so-useful gift ideas for teachers. They may seem incredibly boring but they would, however, be gratefully accepted and used. No wastage there.
- Lead pencils
- Boxes of tissues
- Hand sanitiser
- Spoons and forks tend to go missing in staff rooms. There have been many a time when I’ve gone to heat up my lunch and there has not been a fork in sight (eating salad with a spoon is tricky). One time I used a wooden spoon to scoop sugar into my coffee (zero spoons of any size in the drawer, sink or dishwasher). Where they end up is a mystery. (Jokes. But seriously, you’d make some teachers happy by buying more utensils).
The weeks leading up to Christmas can be busy and stressful, especially for the mums in the house. Whatever you can organise and buy in advance can take off pressure during this time.
Ideally, it’s great to give gifts that can be eaten or used rather than items that end up in op shops or landfill. The thoughtful, homemade, hand-picked and created presents are meaningful and normally don’t cost much money too.
Your child’s teacher will be so grateful for any present given.