Teacher Gift Ideas On A Budget


I have received quite a few people who are looking for budget minded Christmas gifts for teachers. I know that teachers prefer to receive items like gift cards, but  many of you are working on a very limited or no budget. Some of you only saved catalinas, ECB or UPR – perhaps even your stockpile.

There was a great suggestion on Facebook I wanted to share.  I think this is a GREAT idea if you don’t have the money to buy a gift. Nicole said that many teachers have to buy supplies for their classrooms.  I quickly made this basket from items in my stockpile.  Items you might want to include:

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Gum
  • Post It Notes
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Lysol Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Sharpies
  • Crayons
  • Hand Soap
  • Lotion
  • Glue Sticks

You can use a basket or a tote.

These were all items I had on hand. If you can afford it, perhaps a $5.00 gift card to a coffee shop or a book store. This may not be the perfect gift, but it something they can use – and you can afford.

Reader Beth suggested that if you can not afford a gift, perhaps a letter of appreciation. You could put it on cute Christmas stationary.

There are a ton of great ideas here on Facebook – check out over 75 suggestions.

Do you have any gift ideas?



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  • Janice K.

    I also did this for our teachers. I put in wipes, colored pencils, tissues, crayons, markers, hand sanitizer, lotion, post it pads, pencils, pens and best of all…….A Thank You card. Teachers love to receive thank you cards!

    BTW: I got my baskets for just .75 after Easter. They are square, white baskets and bought the clear wrap around it using a 40% off q for Michael’s. Stock up on baskets after Christmas too!

  • Kerri

    I’m a teacher and I never expect a gift from anyone of my students. Of course a gift card is nice, but as many say, school supplies is wonderful. In the past, I have spent up to $500 out of my pocket for supplies, with budget cuts I currently get $125 for 60 students for the year. Well since I’ve been couponing for almost a year, I’ve cut that down twofold. Maybe something you could keep in mind for next year, when all those free or cheap school supplies come up in July- Sept, you could purchase them and put them aside for Christmas. Usually by January my supplies are beginning to dwindle and it would be great to get some new supplie before Christmas break.

  • Kristie G.

    What I did for my daughter’s teacher :

    I went to my daughter’s school during lunch time when the teacher is away from the class and had all the students write their name on a flower pot and I placed dirt in the pot. I had the children surprize their teacher by presenting the flower pot to her. One by one each student placed a seed in the dirt to represent how much that each life will grow through the school year. The teacher loved it. This is a low cost gift that will keep on giving. I also gave her a gift card to the teacher supply store.

  • Carol

    both of my kids’ teachers sent home letters asking us that if we planned to get them anything to please make it school supplies and other things they can use in their classroom. So this basket is perfect. I was just planning to use a gift bag and pack it with stuff like this. It’s easy and cheap for me and hugely appreciated by them since they have to buy all this stuff for their classrooms and go through so much.

    Thanks Shannon for all you do!

  • Great idea! I made this Best.Caramel.Corn.Ever and put it in a giant Ball Mason Jar for my son’s teacher. On the last day of school before Winter Break I went in to the school for something and my son’s teacher said the gift I gave him the day before was already half devoured. I went home that day and made him a coupon for a refill in the new year. He loved it! Here’s a link to the recipe and you won’t regret trying it, really!


  • Heather C

    you can give the free gift cards you get at cvs, too.

  • Raina

    I’m a teacher too. I’ve gotten several great gifts over the years. I do love when the child has a part in it. It shows that the family appreciates you. The best gift I can remember was a nice cozy pair of socks (well, a set of two) and a card from the child. Perfect! I also really like chocolate! I stock it away in my desk and use it on those “long” days! We plan on making this for my daughter’s teacher (see link). http://familyfun.go.com/magazine/familyfun-magazine-archive/familyfun-june-2011/colorful-crayon-letter-1015552/

  • Kara

    To tell you the truth once kids get to Middle School and High School teachers rarely get gifts from students. So I think anything that you can do that shows that they are appreciated would be great. With having so many teachers in one day they can’t expect anything huge. I would say make each a tin of cookies or a loaf of banana bread and a Christmas card with words of thanks. My husband teaches high school Chemistry and each year he recieves many 2 or 3 presents out of the 100+ students he has. And he usually gets cookies or candies. On a few rare occasions a gift card but usually only if he had written a recommmendation for them or did something above and beyond for them to say thank you. If your child has a favorite teacher they really like or that has done extra for your child maybe something a little extra. I think Christmas should be more showing people that they are appreciated.

  • Andie

    It might not sound like enough hours in the day for 12 different classes ” my favorite are professionalism and the hunger project which has nothing to do with food lol but rather find a topic learn about it”

    7:15am in their seats; the lineup line starts 6:45am.

    School from Mobday to Thursday is from
    7:15am to 5:30pm

    Friday is from 7:15am to 1:30pm unless the child got anything less than a 70% or missed a school day or your uniform was not professional

    Then Friday runs from 7:15am to 5:00pm.

    The staff is extreamelly nice but I still can’t afford these web picking of teacher’s blogs.

    No dukin onky starbucks “per web rech…. What really lol.

    7:30 in their seats; the line up line starts 7:00am.

  • Andie

    I have been searching high and low fir ideas.

    Not having any kids of my own and only raising my cousins for a few months after my aunt and uncle were killed by an illegal drunk driver.

    I have been very frustrated bc all I read is “as
    I had seen before” teachers making their voice heard that all they care for or really want is gift cards …… Gift cards ….. Gift cards.

    I had been thinking to myself; how in the world could they not care about anything a child made? How is a movie ticket or gift card better than a note written well from a first grader expressing their wishes of hapuness to you?

    I even asked one of my old college friends who is teacher and she was not surprise by what I had read.

    Here is my lack of understanding, if I put it right.

    One of my little cousins”5grade” has 12 teachers that is correct 12 teachers on a daily bases, 3 homeroom each morning and end of the day are always present.
    1 science teacher
    1 math
    1 social studies
    1 English
    1 lit
    2 elective teachers”she takes ballroom dancing and feencing”
    1 eng. & tech…….
    Oh the principal stands infront of the school and shakes every child’s hand…. Yes everyday. Let’s not forget the school manager
    who feels the need to stand in the drop off lot everyday “pouring rain” just to ask who our drive in was.

    So 12 teachers which she will see everyday plus the school nurse and psychological supporter every 5 graders gets one.

    I am thinking not all schools get this much attention but still.

    How do teachers expect only gift cards “per my research online” plus nothing less $10.00 please?

    I asked my brother about this today bc I am at lost.

    12 teachers X 20 “since nothing less will do”
    = too much money for an engineer to afford.

    I haven’t even gotten to the HS one yet and the kids and their class. The 5th grader came home on Wed. With a list of items not acceptable to bring in for classmates, which I get ….. No sugar they couldn’t on Halloween either.

    For the people out there who have experience I am all ears.

    You get the point

    • Cmat

      While I stay at home now, I taught before I had kids. I will say that the things I remember and loved (not that I didn’t appreciate all that I was given) were the things that were made.

      So, Andie, my suggestion is to gather up your kiddos and have some arts and crafts time. Maybe you can take a trip to the dollar store and get some craft paints and raw wood ornaments to paint (I still have about 10 of these on my tree with the child’s name and year on it, I treasure these).

      Or you can grab some ornament balls and have your kids put painted handprints on them with their name and date on the back (you can turn the finger portion into snowmen if you like). You can grab some buttons to make a button card (glue buttons down in the shape of a tree on the card with some ribbon at the top for the tree topper) and have your kiddo write a special note in it about how much they enjoy their class.

      I won’t lie, the gift cards rock. BUT now, a few years later I don’t even remember what I got with those gift cards. I do still have and make a point to keep track of the handmade stuff though.

    • Kristen

      Teachers love gift cards, but by no means do they “expect” one from each of their students, certainly not $20+ from each student!! I think maybe what you’ve read online are teachers’ suggestions for those who are planning to spent a bit of money on a present and wondering what to best spend it on. But teachers are fully aware of the current state of the economy, and not expecting of gift cards (or any kind of gift) from everyone. In my experience, if parents are going to give a “big” gift they usually give it to a “main” or favorite teacher, not the same expensive gift to every person their child comes in contact with during the school day.
      Coming from a teacher, while gifts are very much appreciated, I don’t remember who did or didn’t give me one, but a truly heartfelt thank you note is something I treasure and often re-read if I’ve had a bad day. If anyone is going to write a thank you note I would recommend writing one or two specific things your child likes about the teacher; anyone loves to get positive feedback, right? :)

    • Anonymous

      Handmade ornaments are always my favorite. I had two children who made ornaments using melted beads and cookie cutters. (you melt the beads on a cookie sheet/pan then cut them out while they are warm with cookie cutters. Attach a ribbon and voila!!) I have a tree with ornaments I have received from my students over the years! It’s one of my favorite things about christmas!!

  • Rebecca G.

    I am planning on making made from scratch chocolate chip cookies for her teachers and than homemade banana bread for my friends. I will also be giving out thank you cards.

  • Erin

    Wow, this sounds like a great idea!! I might do something like this for my daughter’s two teachers! I also have a few packs of highlighters and dry erase markers from a good walgreens deal a few months ago that would be a nice addition. Thanks for the ideas!!

  • Rachel

    As a teacher, one of my favorite gifts would be ornaments for my Christmas tree! I love teacher themed ornaments or ornaments the students make for me themselves. Also love books or supplies for my classroom!

    • Sarah

      I have been giving teachers ornaments for years, and they seem to like it a lot! Also sometimes I take a Christmas mug and stick pencils and other supplies that they might need in it.

  • Thank you!!!

  • Heather

    I try to host a Tastefully Simple party in my home sometime during late October or early November. I use my free products for teacher gifts. This year each teacher is getting a gift bag with Apple Cake Mix, Potato Soup Mix, and a Beer Bread Mix. All packaged for me by Tastefully Simple. :) Total out of pocket cost $0.

  • Jessica Hongel Ambrose via Facebook

    We gave away the make-up bags that I got for free from Target and filled them with Christmas socks, lip balm (free from Target as well), little ABC ornaments I bought from January’s clearance sale at Target. Both teachers loved the gifts. Gotta love Target :0)

  • Becca

    I’ve been a teacher for 9 years and while a gift card is well appreciated any thoughtful gift is extremely nice.
    To be entirely honest, the best gift I ever got was a basket of Elmer gluesticks. You wouldn’t believe how many gluesticks elementary students can use in a year and most districts buy cheap gluesticks. Nothing compares to Elmer’s gluestick and Crayola crayons.
    Teachers buy so much out of their own pockets so any gift for the classroom is wonderful.
    Thanks, Shannon!

  • Noël Winblad

    This is also a great idea if you have a “white elephant” exchange coming up with family, friends, or coworkers.

  • Michelle

    This is a great idea! I am student teaching in an elementary school and we go through so many supplies. The teachers have to buy them with their own money, so a basket like this would be perfect. Tissues, chlorox/lysol wipes, and pencils are ALWAYS needed!

  • Had an idea for the teachers: Thank you notes! Hubby ends up running out to buy some…

  • tiff

    Love your basket shannon!!!! Perfect combination

  • tiff

    So I am broke this year and was able to score a kitchen spice Yankee candle from hallmark for $5 using $5/$10 coupon and it on clearance, a free hand soap, home made chocolate covered pretzels, and my daughter (who is 2) painted a snowflake ornament and decorated a Christmas card. :) so very inexpensive

    • Laura

      Love that, Tiff! <3

  • Sonja

    I am a teacher and would love love love to get a basket like this. I get my son’s teacher a gift card to a book store or restaurant. Wawa is a good one too for coffee or snacks. Thanks for posting the ideas.

  • Yomy Seltzer via Facebook

    Any ideas for coworkers :)

    • TT

      give a box of muffin mix or homemade muffins with a note:
      “you’re getting “muffin” for Christmas”…just a thought for you.

  • Susan

    That looks like a great gift!