We're now in mid-August and back-to-school time is in the air. The freedom of summer is coming to a close and teachers are prepping for students to hit the classroom — and all the delightful chaos that comes with our beloved little tornadoes whipping through the halls. We love our kids, but let's be real, teachers deserve medals for taking on that many children at one time. But since we can't really bestow an official honor of any sort, a thoughtful gift will have to do.
Here are almost three dozen budget-friendly gifts that any teacher will actually appreciate and use.
1. Gift card bouquet
It is hard to go wrong with getting your child's teacher a gift card; however, I love this idea of a gift card bouquet from The Cul-De-Sac blog. This would be perfect if you are doing a gift from the entire class or if several of you are going in on this together. Pick up gift cards from your teacher's favorite stores and restaurants and glue them onto a paper flower attached to a stick. Insert the sticks into floral foam that is placed in a colorful pail. Paint the words, "Thank you for helping us grow," for a great finishing touch.
If the gift card bouquet would be too expensive, you can never go wrong with a gift card to her favorite restaurant, Target, grocery store or Amazon. For middle school kids who have multiple teachers, buying $5 Starbucks gift cards with a thank-you note attached would also be appreciated.
2. School supply bouquet
This inventive school supply bouquet is the perfect way to set your teacher up with all the best supplies.
Next Up: Cookies in a jar
Originally published April 2016. Updated August 2017.
3. Cookies in a jar
Cookies. In a jar. That is all.
4. Supply cup
Two gifts in one: This supply cup has everything a teacher needs.
Next Up: Personalized cup
5. Personalized cup
This personalized cup is perfect for keeping your teacher hydrated!
6. Personalized notepad
Teachers are always sending notes home for parents… often saying what a model student your child is (wink, wink). She will undoubtedly appreciate having this cute personalized notepad to deliver her notes in style. Pick up this Apple A Day Notepad for around $15 at Shutterfly. (Shutterfly, $15)
Next Up: Bath salts
7. Bath salts
Bath salts are the perfect cure for after-school stress.
8. Movie gift cards
Both male and female teachers will appreciate a gift certificate to the local movie theater. You can slip the movie gift cards into a thank-you note — or you can get creative with this idea from Skip to My Lou and put the movie gift cards into this cute striped fry box (she includes a free printable template) as well as a tag that says, "Thanks for making me feel like a Star." Then fill the box with some of his or her favorite goodies to take to the movies.
9. Teacher’s Favorite Moments photo book
Help your amazing teacher remember all off those special field trips, performances and other special moments by creating a photo book. You can either print out the photos and put them into a photo album, or upload your photos online. Shutterfly allows you to upload photos and add text, as well as incorporate cool backgrounds and layouts. They have five sizes of photo books starting at aroung $15.
10. Grading stamps
Make grading papers a little easier by gifting your teacher with grading stamps. You can pick up generic stamps that say things like, "Good job!" or "A+" or "Needs improvement," or you can personalize them with her name, such as this personalized self-inking stamper. (Personalization Mall, $20)
Next Up: Eco-friendly teacher gift
11. Eco-friendly teacher gift
Does your teacher also have a green thumb? She will love this gift idea from Silly Pearl, in which she gifted her kids' teachers with tomato seedlings from her own garden. Print tags that say, "Thank You for helping me Grow!" Silly Pearl includes a free printable on her website. She simply placed the seedlings in Jiffy Pots and wrapped the pots with fabric. You can get all the details on her website.
12. Walking Robot Pencil Sharpener
An automatic pencil sharpener will get lots of use in the classroom, so why not give your teacher one with a little personality? Kids will love gifting this Walking Robot Pencil Sharpener to their favorite teacher. (Amazon, $11)
Next Up: Monogrammed stationary
13. Monogrammed stationary
Monogrammed stationary is not only a thoughtful gift, it is practical as well. You can choose to just have their initials for a clean and simple look, or have their entire name monogrammed. You can pick up a set of classic monogrammed bordered note cards for $55 at Paper Style. (Paper Style, $55)
14. School supply basket
Every teacher will appreciate school supplies, since many times they have to purchase these items out of their own paycheck. Some items that are frequently requested include glue sticks, markers, crayons, notepads, antiseptic wipes, tissues, paper clips, erasers and pencils. Fill these items in a colorful bin or basket (that can also be used in the classroom) so she will be ready for the next year of school.
Next Up: Chalk packs
15. Chalk packs
This chalk pack is the perfect way to wrap any teacher gift.
16. Paper mug
This paper mug is sure to make your teacher smile.
Next Up: Funky bulletin board
17. Funky bulletin board
Fashionable and useful, this bulletin board is great for organization.
18. Personalized tote bag
From the stacks of papers to grade to planners and more, teachers have a lot of things to tote. Help your favorite teacher tote her stuff in style by gifting her with a personalized tote bag. One great option is the personalized tote bag from Lands' End where you can choose from various sizes, colors and designs.
Next Up: Charity donation
19. Charity donation
If your teacher has a cause that is near and dear to her heart, perhaps you can consider making a donation to the charity in her honor. Your favorite science teacher may appreciate your child adopting a sea creature in her name, or perhaps the art teacher has a favorite charity that supports arts in the school. Find out what is important to your teacher. Give her the donation slip, letting her know a donation has been made in her name, along with a thank-you note.
20. Class thank-you notes
This gift is sure to bring tears to every teacher’s eyes! Slip in during lunch or pick a day when there is a substitute teacher and pass out note cards to the entire class. Have them write a thank-you note that includes their favorite memory of the year or what they love about the teacher. Place the note cards in a photo album, along with a class picture, for a gift she is sure to treasure.
Next Up: Autograph frame
21. Autograph frame
Frame the class picture in an autograph frame and have the entire class sign the photo for a thoughtful and memorable keepsake. Stores like Target, Walmart and Michaels all have autograph frames for a reasonable price. (Walmart, $22)
22. Teacher-approved water bottle
Your teacher already has a million coffee mugs, so gift her with something she can use throughout the day such as a water bottle. She will love the colorful sleeve of this Eco Vessel glass water bottle which is BPA-free — and the plastic taste that often goes along with having a plastic water bottle. (BackCountry, $14)
Next Up: Personalized clipboards
23. Personalized clipboards
Teachers use clipboards a lot. Add a little pizazz to her boring run-of-the-mill clipboard by giving her one that has her name on it. We love this "Teachers Change the World" personalized clipboard from Script and Scribble. (Script and Scribble, $42)
24. Flower pot
Brighten up her classroom with these adorable flower pots, which you can have personalized with her name or add a sweet quote, such as "Where children bloom" or "A place to grow." Add her favorite flowers or plants for the gift that keeps on giving. (Personalization Mall, $30)
Next Up: Chalkboard flowerpot
25. Chalkboard flowerpot
This awesome flowerpot only takes a few supplies, and is a great after-school craft.
26. Personalized key ring
Your teacher will surely get lots of use out of this practical and sweet gift. This personalized key ring includes a charm with the teacher's name, as well as a stamped apple with the grade that he or she teaches. You can pick up a personalized key ring at Lilly Ellen Designs. (Lilly Ellen Designs, $20)
Next Up: Books for the classroom
27. Books for the classroom
Is your teacher trying to build up his or her homeroom classroom? Ask the teacher for an idea of what kind of books are needed and have each person in the class buy one book. Place them all in a gift basket for a thoughtful gift that can be used for years to come.
28. Personalized bookmark
Help your teacher keep track of his or her lesson plan with this cute and practical Personalized Red Tassel Apple Bookmark. This would be a great idea for your child's tutor or classroom helper as well! (Personalization Mall, $16)
Next Up: I love to read bookmark
29. I love to read bookmark
Need a quick gift idea? This bookmark is super low-stress and fun!
This is the perfect teacher gift for your older child that has multiple teachers. This coffee/candy combo is a teacher's dream — and who doesn't love See's? This is a sweet and budget-friendly way to give thanks for their hard work. (See’s Candies, $11)
Next Up: Cuff bracelet
31. Cuff bracelet
The holidays are the perfect time to up the ante and give your child's teacher a nice piece of jewelry that she or he will wear all year long. This handmade cuff bracelet from Etsy is simple and understated — but it gets the message across. (Etsy, $16)
32. #1 Teacher ornament
OK, so we know it's not exactly in season, but this adorable #1 Teacher ornament will be a fun take-home for winter break — reminding her how much her students care and how they want "s'more" of her good teaching. Hokey puns aside, this ornament is pretty darn cute. (Amazon, $10)