Thoughtful and Budget-Friendly Gifts for Teachers

It’s the end of the school year, and you want to show your appreciation for your child or children’s teachers, bus drivers, school nurse, coaches, or whomever played a part in keeping your kids safe, offering guidance, and educating them this year. 

Now more than ever, it means so much to the teachers and care providers who give their all to make a difference in our children’s lives. It’s no small thing to be able to place your trust in someone who starts out as a stranger, hoping that each day your child will be treated with and taught respect, led by example in how to get along with others, inspired to do his or her best, and positively influenced in a lasting way.

But the thing is… you’re not the only person thinking about what to get the teacher as a way to say thanks for all his or her hard work and dedication. If you’re determined not to be just another parent out of 30 who sends in a Best Teacher Ever mug on the last day of school, then take a look at these creative and unique gift ideas to show gratitude to your child’s educators and caregivers before everyone heads home for summer vacation.

1. Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks Gift Card

Who doesn’t love a hot or cold cup of their favorite caffeinated (or even decaf) beverage? Even just a $10 gift certificate yields 2 or 3 cups of coffee or tea, or 2 cups of coffee and a muffin, donut or small cup of munchkins. Don’t underestimate the power of coffee to deliver a hearty “thanks for keeping my kid alive, sane, learning and happy at school this year!” Throw in a box of donut holes for the class to enjoy, and you’ve got an end-of-the-year gesture of thanks that will surely be appreciated.

2. “Best of Our Class Memories” Photo Collage

If you’ve taken lots of pictures on class trips, at school parties, and sports events with your child and his or her classmates, teachers and coaches this year, a photo collage makes a terrific and memorable gift that your child’s teacher will cherish for years to come. Keep in mind that other parents may have photo memories of the class that would make a nice addition to the collage along with yours. Reach out to them via text or social media as you’re putting this project together, and you’ll have a framed set of memories for everyone to enjoy. 

If you prefer to go thrifty, head down to your nearest Goodwill store or other consignment shop and pick up a gently used frame. Big Lots and other overstock and “odd lot” stores like this often have picture collage frames marked down as well. 

Need to put this teacher gift together in a hurry? An alternative to a photo collage made at home is one done completely on the computer. Head to your favorite photo printing website like Snapfish or Shutterfly, where you can upload your favorite images directly from your smartphone, computer or other device, directly to their platform. Select a collage design and frame, place your order online and you’re good to go.

3. Potted Plant or Hanging Basket

A bouquet of flowers will surely be appreciated, but cut flowers soon wither and die. Why not take your end-of-the-year teacher’s gift one step further with a potted plant or hanging basket that he or she can enjoy all summer long and maybe even have for years to come? A trip to your local nursery, Home Depot or Lowes, or even a quick pit-stop to the grocery store parking lot could result in a beautiful and economical plant for your child’s teacher. You can even write a cute message on the card like, “A special plant to match your nurturing spirit, thank you for all of your hard work this year.” Or how about “Thank you for tending the garden of our children’s young minds.” 

4. Letter of Thanks

Money can’t buy everything, especially when you’ve got a reason to express your heartfelt gratitude to someone else for going above and beyond. Sometimes the most cherished gift of all is a letter of appreciation. Take some time to write down all the ways your child’s teacher, caregiver, coach or bus driver has made a difference for your child as well as others in the class.

Was there a special project that he or she conducted with expert guidance and led the children to greater learning and success? Did your child’s teacher step in with one-on-one support for a tough personal or learning challenge? Did he or she vouch for your son or daughter in some way? Hand-write your letter on stationery, and also type it up on email to send to this person’s boss i.e. the principal if this is your child’s teacher. With education jobs being what they are these days, this testament to a teacher’s worth could make the difference in future employment scenarios for him or her.

5. Small, Homemade Gift

Are you into candle making, pouring soap, or crocheting? Does your child paint or do pottery? A small knick knack or home décor item can be a welcomed teacher gift for the end of the school year. Just be sure to allow yourself enough lead time to get crafting or creating without turning this into a high-stress endeavor. 

If you know your child’s teacher, coach or driver would be into a small home item like this, you can also hit up your local gift shop. Other options would be to find something cute and original on a site like, and buy a bunch of these for all of the special people in your child or children’s lives.

6. “I’ll Remember You” or “My Teacher is Special” Handmade Bio

Here is a gift that’s unquestionably personal, best for the teacher who has really made an impression and positive influence on your child’s education and life. You may want to convey special thanks for helping deal with a tough personal challenge, guiding your child to overcome learning obstacles, going above and beyond with a school project, volunteering after hours, or otherwise helping and making a difference for your child or for the class as a whole. 

Your child’s teacher has likely sent him or her home with an array of precious memories – artwork that they personalized for your Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Gifts, special holiday projects focusing around your family, or other sweet keepers that you will cherish forever. Why not repay the favor and have your son or daughter spend an hour or two creating something from the heart that makes the teacher feel happy inside? 

Ideas include a list of the teacher’s favorites (child can even interview the teacher briefly for this); a cartoon-drawn caricature of the teacher; photos of the teacher and class, pasted onto construction paper with various captions; Certificate of Recognition for being a Super Awesome Teacher. The details will depend on the age of your child and how much of a personal connection they and/or you made with the teacher during the school year. Whatever details you decide, know that this is one of the nicest and most cherished gifts a teacher can receive at the end of another challenging school year!

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