It is that time of year again! School is starting to wrap up and as a parent, you may find yourself wanting to give the teachers something special. But before you make your best cookies or fudge, let's think about what the teachers really want or need!

I am a parent coach now, but I spent almost six years as a teacher. I have seen gifts come and go, and here is truth: I was grateful for every single gift. Yes, even the “World's Best Teacher" mugs. Yet, looking back (and seeing my children's teachers now), I know that some gifts absolutely stand out. So, here is a short list of some great gift ideas (and a few of gifting no-no's!).

What to buy your teachers

  1. A hand-written note or picture from your child and you, the parent! The best teachers work tirelessly, and never truly know their impact. When you specifically make note of how a teacher helped your child or your child recounts his favorite memory, it is deeply gratifying for that teacher.
  2. Gift certificates to Amazon. Teachers will often spend their own money to buy supplies for the classroom, so it is very much appreciated when a teacher can buy something for her or his own family.
  1. Food that you think that teacher would enjoy. A mom have me a great idea of giving a nice baking pan with the banana bread in it, with the recipe attached. A beautiful fruit basket, a box of soothing teas, an assortment of gourmet chocolates, and of course, something your child helped make is always appreciated. Remember: Your teacher may be receiving quite a bit of food, so make it small, healthy, and delicious.
  1. A gift certificate to a book store is always a treat for your little one's hard-working teacher.
  1. A gift certificate to the local coffee place is lovely, especially when placed inside a nice travel thermos.
  1. Plants. Flowers are lovely, but difficult for your teacher to transport home (vase + water + car = spilling). A beautiful indoor plant in a pot (think orchid) is appreciated, as well as a small pot of herbs! What a delicious and useful gift for any teacher.

What not to buy your teachers

  1. Stay away from gifts of clothing or jewelry…it often creates another job for your teacher if they need to return it.
  2. Stay away from mugs, unless it is a nice travel thermos. Chances are, your teachers have plenty of mugs at home.
  3. Avoid craftwork from your child. While you may love it, your teacher doesn't know where to put it!
  4. Chances are good that your teachers have plenty of stationary, so unless you really know their aesthetic, I would not give stacks of pesonalized paper.

Whatever you give, be sure to include a personal note and give a big hug (if your teacher is the hugging type!).