With all that your child’s teacher does for them, it’s only right to show them some love during Teacher Appreciation Week. But how to convey how much you value all of their dedication, patience and hard work?
For starters, skip the gift cards and big ticket items.
“Over the years, I’ve gotten gift cards to every store and restaurant under the sun, and while they’re always appreciated and useful, it’s the little trinkets that come with a handwritten note that I never forget,” says Shannon Jensen, a teacher in Canandaigua, New York.
Alyson Schultz, a first-grade teacher in Cranford, New Jersey, agrees, saying that the small, thoughtful gifts always leave the longest-lasting impressions.
“One year, one of my students went to Disney World during Spring Break and brought back an autograph book for my son,” she says. “He remembered me saying that we hadn’t done autographs the year prior. I was amazed that he remembered that snippet from one of our conversations. It meant so much!”
Want to show your teacher appreciation without breaking the bank? Check out these 15 unique gifts any educator would love.
1. ‘Toe-tally’ awesome socks
Teachers will get a kick out of these silly “If you can read this…” socks, which are a good reminder that summer break is around the corner. It’s only a matter of time until they’re kicking up their feet!
2. Smart cookie gift
Most teachers can appreciate a good pun — as well as a good cookie. For a few dollars, this oven mitt/chocolate chip cookie mix combo — along with a cute note, of course — will be something they remember for years to come.
3. Teach, love, inspire bracelet
This sweet, understated bracelet is a cute addition to any teacher’s jewelry collection. It’s dainty enough to go with a watch or other bracelets, but it carries a big message.
4. Nutritional facts mug
“One year, I got a personalized ‘teacher nutritional facts’ mug,” says Yasmyn Callender, a teacher at Whitney E. Houston Academy in East Orange, New Jersey. “It was so cute!”
Sweet sentiments plus a place to put caffeine? A win-win for teachers.
5. Crayon earrings
For teachers with young students (or art teachers), these kitschy crayon earrings are sure to be a hit. And the best part? (Besides the fact that they’re just $7?) They come in a variety of colors — one for every day of the week!
6. Teacher signs
These colorful teacher signs — which come two in a pack — will make any teacher smile. They’re perfect for classrooms that have aides (one for each teacher!), or they can even be given to a librarian or art teacher, in addition to your child’s main teacher.
7. Handprint art and a note
“I like showing my son’s preschool teachers how much he’s learned, thanks to them,” says Jaclyn Santos, of Hazlet, New Jersey. “We usually do a little project. We’re big into handprint art, and I’ll have my son write a small note as best he can. It’s a tangible reminder of their incredible impact.”
8. Teacher T-shirt
Whether she’s working out, running errands or hanging out at the beach, this cute teacher T-shirt — which will remind her of her students — will definitely be put to good use. And for under $15, you really can’t go wrong.
9. A teacher ‘bouquet’
Instead of flowers — which, yes, are great, too — why not have your child (and maybe everyone in the class?) list all the things they love about their teacher? Who wouldn’t want a “bouquet” filled with positive words describing them? Such a cute idea!
10. ‘I drink because…’ wine glasses
Yes, teaching is rewarding and fulfilling and inspiring, etc. But let’s be honest, it’s also emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting. Make sure your kiddo’s teacher knows that you get it’s not all sunshine and roses with these cheeky wine glasses — because, yeah, students.
11. Scrabble letter name signs
How cute are these teacher name signs made from Scrabble letters? You can either order them for $15 from Take It Personal by Ashley or try your hand and making one yourself.
12. Teacher candle
Give your teacher’s olfactory system a break from smelling chalk and markers with this cute teacher appreciation candle. From cedar and saffron to lilac blossom, there are dozens of yummy scents from which to choose. It’s a great way to wind down after a long day.
13. Thumbprint art
This will take a bit of organizing, but if you can pull it off, it’s super cute — and incredibly meaningful. A heartfelt message along with a tree made of thumbprints from everyone in the class will be something your child’s teacher will treasure forever. (And it can be made for next to nothing!)
14. Teacher spatula
Who knew a spatula could be so stylish? Thanks to the cute message, this wood and silicone baking staple will be a constant reminder to your child’s teacher of the importance of their job. And it’s really good-looking to boot!
15. Nacho average teacher bucket
Read next: Ideas for kid-made gifts for teachers