My mother was a primary school teacher and every Christmas she would line up all the mugs she received from students. Many were filled with chocolates, some had been hand-painted, but every year she received so many mugs the cupboards ended up overflowing. While I am sure she loved the sentiment behind all those well-meant gifts, there is only so many mugs a teacher needs. And after reading this great list of ideas from a teacher friend of mine over at Top Notch Teaching I thought I would add to her ideas with some of my own, and all are available in Australia.
For a simple way to collect money from parents without worrying about envelopes of loose change, why not check out my article on Group Together.
The gift of time
Consider asking parents to donate an hour of their time for a busy-bee for your teacher. They may have a storeroom that needs organising, toys that need cleaning or craft supplies that need sorting. Ask parents to bring a plate of something yummy to share and make it a special morning tea for the teacher.
Re-supply their box of prizes
Some teachers like to award students with little prizes for good work, completing sticker charts or simply as a gift on the child’s birthday. Things like this always come out of the teacher’s own money, so you could help by asking all the parents to bring in similar items and adding them to a nice box for the teacher to use the following year. This is a great opportunity to re-gift small presents and find a new home for all the leftovers from party bags you may have accumulated during the year, such as bouncy balls, stamps, stickers, fancy pencils, erasers, toy medals and you can always find great ‘bulk’ toys at discount shops.
I love this idea from US site PTA Social (scroll down to find it) although it is really for the younger year groups. Photographing each child holding a sign with a letter that spells out T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U M-R F-O-R-B-E-S (or whatever their name is) would make a lovely card or poster that anyone would want to keep.
Another great idea (especially when there are multiple teachers responsible for a class) is making a book where each child answers questions such as ‘my favourite things about school this year was…’ and ‘I love my teacher because…’ and ‘when I grow up I want to be…’ This works particularly well for the younger years because their answers are always pretty hilarious. You can usually find cheap deals on photo books at places like Snapfish and Big W. Here is my article on the THANKYOU sign.
These are great if you are asking everyone to chip in, as a $5-$10 donation from an entire class makes for a very generous gift. If you want a really practical gift then great places are Officeworks, Kikki K or Typo (for the teacher who loves stationery) or a generic Coles or Woolies gift card (where they can get anything they want from a case of wine to a year’s supply of tissues).
If you think your teacher had a tough year, then consider a Gold Class movie card (so they can relax on the holidays), a Dymocks voucher or magazine subscription (so they can read for pleasure rather than for work). You can buy both online and the Dymocks giftcards can be personalised with a message from your class.
If you know the personal hobbies of your teacher, then gift cards from places like a garden shop or craft shop may be suitable. Some teachers might enjoy a voucher from a local spa or restaurant.
If you really want to make a statement and raise enough money, then a gift voucher for an experience from companies such as Adrenaline could mean your teacher can get a hot air balloon ride, a drive in a supercar or swim with the dolphins. They certainly won’t forget your class for a while.
One of the best things about gift vouchers is that there are dozens of different options easily available at your local Coles and Woolies stores.
Organise a Hamper
Families sometimes like to give their teacher something tangible, rather than just cash which is absorbed into a single gift. In the past we have done a group gift of a large beach bag, into which people were able to place their own small gift. People baked cookies and rocky road, some donated a bottle of wine or some chocolates, some home-made chilli jam (and I am sure there were a few mugs in there too). Individually wrapping them made for an exciting (and work-free) morning for the little kids as they made the teacher open each and every one in front of the class.
Personalised stickers and gifts
Teachers spend a lot of their own money buying stickers and stamps to encourage their students. Why not return the favour with customised stickers with their name or favourite motto on them. There are a number of companies who make a range of beautiful personalised gifts for teachers, including mugs, tote bags and notepads. Last year my daughters ordered a tote bag for their art teacher, which she really loved, and they love seeing her carrying it around.
Flowers (with a difference)
There is nothing wrong with a bunch of flowers but sometimes they lack the ‘wow’ factor your teacher probably deserves. If your class budget hasn’t stretched to a decent gift voucher, then why not consider a special edible bunch of chocolate flowers. There are a number of online suppliers, your local florist might make one for you or why not try and make one yourself.
If you want to try something a little more risqué, why not try a beer or wine ‘bouquet’ for that special coach or teacher from Brewquets.
For some easy and affordable gifts your child can make at home, visit my article on the Best DIY Teacher Gifts.
And don’t forget to check out my article on 30+ Teacher Puns for end of year gifts, which are perfect if you want to make a number of small, inexpensive gifts for multiple teachers and staff. You will find a range of simple ideas such as:
“Thank you for making my year so bright” (highlighters)
“I donut know what I would do without a teacher like you” (donuts)
“Thanks a latte for being an awesome teacher” (coffee gift pack, coffee shop gift card)
Updated October 2019
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