-Think outside of the classroom. Consider the teacher’s interests—outside of the classroom. For example, if your teacher is also a marathoner, he or she might really appreciate a subscription to Runners World instead of another pencil holder.
-Get practical. Make everyday more special with stylish accessories like a lunch tote or water bottle. Does your teacher commute? Consider buying something to make his or her drive more enjoyable.
-Get personal. Skip the “World’s Best Teacher” mug and opt for a more personal gift. For example, instead of flowers that will wilt in a day, ask the students to write notes of thanks and put them into a pretty vase that the teacher can use for years to come.
-Make it yourself. Use your talent for photography, knitting, jewlrey making, or cooking to make a one-of-a-kind gift. Or, if you’d like someone else to do the work, check out Etsy.com.
-Add some elbow grease. Take a look around. Is the staff lounge dingy? If so, invite some families to come to the school for a paint party. Everyone who works with children deserves a relaxing place to recharge.
-Pool your resources. Ask other parents to pitch in toward that one perfect present. Two years ago, I collected donations and gave my daughter’s teacher a much appreciated gift card to her favorite store.
Finally, don’t just buy a gift to buy a gift. Even a small budget can be spent thoughtfully. Set a good example for your children by showing them that it really is the thought that counts.