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By Charlestien Harris

May is the month that recognizes the hard work and dedication that a teacher has poured into your child all year long. Why not show your appreciation by sharing a budget-friendly gift with that special educator in your child’s life?

Teacher Appreciation Week is a national holiday celebrated in the United States during the first full week of May. Although the week has passed, it is never too late to let someone know how much they had a lasting impact on a child’s life. End-of-the-year programs or graduation ceremonies are great times to give much-deserved recognition to that special teacher. Below are some neat ideas and places that can fit into anyone’s budget, and even some you might be able to make yourself with a little creativity!

  1. Bargain Dollar Stores: One such store is known for its low prices starting at $1.25. There are lots of items you can choose from, like candies, toiletries, nail and hand care products, facials, teacher supplies, and an array of other items. You can buy items and use them to put together a gift basket. You can find practically everything you need to fill and wrap it.
  2. Handwritten Thank-You Notes: A heartfelt note expressing your gratitude can mean a lot to a teacher. It’s the time you take to express your appreciation to that special educator who made such a meaningful impression on your child. You might even have your child write a note of thanks as well. You will never know how much that really means to a teacher who hardly ever hears the words “thank you” nowadays. You can get as creative as you would like. All it takes is a little time and thoughtfulness.
  3. Baking Homemade Treats: If you are a whiz in the kitchen, this would be a wonderful idea. It gives you a chance to show off your baking skills, and you can ask your child to help with the preparation and wrapping of the baked goodies in a container. This would save you quite a bit of money depending on the type of baked goodies you choose to prepare. Consider the extra cost of buying pre-baked items, traveling to the store, gas, and wrapping, which can drive the cost of the gift up.
  4. Gift Cards: You can find out which favorite store or retailer at which the teacher likes to shop. Giving a gift card with a predetermined dollar amount allows the teacher to choose what they would like to purchase. They may decide to spend it on themselves personally, or they may decide to spend it on items they need for their classroom. Either way, the gift card you gave will have accomplished the task you wanted to complete.
  5. Teacup, Coffee Mug, or Tumbler: Again, you can scour the thrift and dollar stores to find these items. Everybody drinks some type of liquid, hot or cold, and having a nice beverage container can brighten someone’s day. Some may even have clever quotes and quips about teacher appreciation or the teaching profession itself. You and your child can have fun reading the different sayings and deciding which one best fits the teacher, or think about what that teacher means to you or your child.
  6. School Supply Goody Bags: These are always a teacher favorite. You can fill goody bags with classroom supplies teachers always need, such as glue sticks, erasable markers, highlighters, sticky notes, and travel-size hand sanitizer. These are items that any teacher can use all year round. The more supplies you provide, the less the teacher has to supply during the year. If you asked a teacher, they would probably tell you that they are usually the ones who have to buy the “extras” that the school district does not provide automatically. TIP: The Educator Expense Deduction allows eligible educators to deduct up to $300 worth of qualified expenses from their income for 2024. Qualified expenses include purchases such as books, classroom supplies, and technology and computer software used in the classroom during the process of teaching students.

A teacher’s hard work deserves to be recognized. But sometimes, it’s hard to pick out gifts for teachers when you only know the person through your child, not to mention the pressure of giving a teacher a gift they will actually like. When you need to find gifts for dozens of school staff members for teacher appreciation or other occasions, it quickly becomes important to keep costs down. But always remember that it’s the thought that counts, and no matter what gift you pick from this list, don’t forget to pair it with a heartfelt thank you note!

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Until next week – stay financially fit!