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48 'Easy' End-of-the-School-Year Gifts for Teachers and School Staff

For most kids, the end of the school year is only a step away. I have three children, and they are all excited about being done with school. My youngest, who has Down syndrome, has been telling people for several weeks now, “I’m in fourth grade,” while showing four fingers in one hand, then tapping it against her other hand which then pops with five fingers and she says, “and look, it’s fifth grade now.” I personally love it so much I ask her to show me the hand trick over and over. She loves my amusement and happily complies.

But the end of the year also means transitions and a change in routine. I have two children with disabilities who have a team of people who have been working with them this past year. We have been so thankful for the teachers, therapists, aides and specialists who have invested in our girls. And while I know teachers and those working with students do not expect an end-of-the-year present, for me, it is hard not to think about doing something at the end of the year to thank the people who work with my kids.

Yet, realistically, I cannot afford to give gifts to all the people who make up our teams. Plus, I have a child in middle school who has several teachers. Our list is close to 20 people, so when/if we do something, it has to be simple and cheap.

We reached out to our Mighty parents and asked them what they to do at the end of the school year to recognize the people who work with their children.

So before we share these ideas, let’s make something clear because you should feel not an ounce of guilt if you do nothing at all: doing anything for teachers at the end of the year is optional and not expected of you. Doing something for the teachers is supposed to be fun, so if the thought of doing of doing one more thing sounds stressful, a “thank you” at the end of the year is more than enough.

Here are some ideas from parents in our community:

1. “I give pretty plants or indoor flower plants to represent helping my two special extraordinary kids grow.” — Desirae R.

2. “I have donated in their honor to a favorite charity and wrote a letter to accompany the acknowledgment of the gift.” — Jennifer B.

3. “I just email them something personalized.” — Silvia FB.

4. “I am a retired special ed teacher. One of the things I cherished most were thank you notes from students and parents. I have saved all those notes!” — Rosemary E.

5. “Movie ticket in a popcorn box.” — Karen E.

6. “Gardening theme. We include a packet a beautiful flower seeds with each handwritten or hand print thank you card. Sometimes also with a pretty plating pot or some gardening tools. Such a symbol of beauty and growth.” — Judy M.

7. “I bake cookies and muffins and make little treat baskets. I always have [my child] make the cards.” — Jessie D.

8. “One of our favorites is making these cute paper flowers, then giving them to teachers, therapists, paras, etc. with a little tag that says, ‘Thanks for helping me grow this year!’ These are always a huge hit (and they’re so much fun to make)!” — Aimee L.

Image of paper flowers made with different papers

9. I do ‘thanks for helping me grow!’ cards and stick them in a 4.5-inch flower (gerber daisies, geraniums, etc. that you can get for a few bucks at a greenhouse).” — Julie L.

10. “I have never bought gifts for my kids teachers. I send a thank you note to my special needs daughter’s teacher and will buy a small box of chocolates for the bus driver and his helper. That’s it.” — Nancy SP.

11. “Personalized thank you cards with a photo of my son on them. They make giving a thank you card extra special. I also like giving personalized stationary (with the teacher’s name) and gift cards.” — Jessica C.

12. “Last year I ordered socks from John’s Crazy Socks (owned by a young man who has Down syndrome) and we spent quite a bit of deciding which socks were appropriate for each teacher (Shakespeare socks for the English teacher, for example) and we
included a little description provided by the company about John and the business. I felt like we helped out John’s company and also educated the educators with a little gift chosen just for them that was useful as well.” — Maria CL.

13. “My son’s class cooks so I had some of these oven mitts made with, ‘Love, Adam’ on the back so they are reminded of him after he’s left the school.” — Susan J.

14. “I smuggle my teachers little things through out the year. Top of the list: velcro dots, extra large crayons, triangular markers, laminator sleeves, colored card stock, peppermint patties (vital). I also show up to IEP meetings with chocolate (it makes things run so much smoother, seriously!) I try to get them things they usually pay for out of pocket. So by the end of the year a thank you card is sufficient.” — Maurine L.

15. “I’m a teacher and a sincere note is always the best and most appreciated.” — Pam H.

16. “A student brought me a Coke Zero and bag of skittles once… best gift ever.” — Yvonne E.

17. “I have been a special education teacher for 30 years. A simple note from the parent with an example of one way I may have helped a student is always my favorite gift. I save the notes in a folder. When I have a particularly rough day I will pull the folder out to remind myself of all the good things I have done.” — Karen L.

18. “I don’t have as many to give, but I’m giving a rubber spatula, hot pad and cookie mix along with homemade card that says, ‘Thanks for helping me be one smart cookie.” Everything came from the dollar tree.” — Star W.

19. “I usually make, ‘The Kids may be gone, but Professional Development looms’ candy survival bags. A lunch bag full of different types of candy, chocolates, granola bars and gum. I make them for my kids’ teachers, elective teachers, janitorial staff and admin staff (when they were in carpool, I did it for them, too). You come out cheaper, and it’s usually more appreciated. (Don’t forget the thank you note.)” — Lisa J.

20. “I bought things the day after Christmas at 50 percent off to use through out the year. Sometimes I sent a box of bagels to homeroom teacher with invitation for the others to find their treat there; also did a specialty coffee. Would do small bags with thank you notes and cool pins all bought on sale, bookmarks that were unique, ornaments at Christmas time especially when I could buy sets and divide them. I would often find really cute item at second hand stores or would make homemade cookie, candies or cheese balls.” — Rhea C.

21. “I’ve done different things every year but this year they rotate classes and teachers. With therapists, aides and teachers we were well over 10 for just one of my kids. So I did bath baskets with thank you notes this year for teacher appreciation. One for his main teacher, one for his main aide and then a big one for everyone else to choose a few items from.” — Mandy F.

22. “I do gift cards with a short, heartfelt note…it’s quick at this time of year and Pinterest has tons of free printables to make it a little special. Even if it’s $5, it’s appreciated. Target, movies, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and a local coffee shop and bookstore are favorites. When I think about how much extra effort my son’s village of teachers, therapists, and aides put into giving him a great year it seems like the least I could do!” — Sara P.

23. “The best gifts I ever receive from my student’s parents are handwritten thank you notes. Absolutely my favorite.” — Tammy S.

24. “I always printed out the, ‘I am the Child’ poem and framed it to give to all the spec education staff with a small gift bag of practical things like travel size hand lotions, hand sanitizer, gum, tissues and pens or sharpies.” — Ericca F.

25. “One year I made up a big basket of snacks and drinks: individual bags of chips, granola bars, raisins and small water bottles, iced tea and lemonade. I wrote inspirational messages on blank greeting cards and tucked them in, no names on the envelopes but one for each teacher, therapist, aide who worked with my daughter. They loved having grab and go snacks and comparing the messages in the cards they picked.” — Sue D.

26. “I have done a couple things. 1. A basil plant with recipes and a ‘Thanks for helping me grow.’ 2. I made homemade thank you or note cards and give a set of six to each of them that they can give out. One card we sign. 3. Gift cards for summer treats. I print out a 5×7 thank you card with my son’s pic on it, too.” — Debbie N.

27. “I buy things throughout the year for the following year. After holiday clearance for the next year especially.” — Debbie T.

28. “I don’t do end of school gifts, just a nice card thanking everyone. I throw in treats for them throughout the year… bottle of hand soap with a note at Christmas, coffee during conferences week, muffins during teacher appreciation.” — Brooke S.

29. “I have done homemade sugar scrubs, microwave popcorn wrapped to say, ‘Thanks for helping me Pop.’ The kids painted small flower pots and put either seeds or artificial flowers in them, we have also done a simple carnations.” — Joyce J.

30. “I did coffee gift cards once, with just $5 on each, enough to treat them to a special drink.” — Heather T.

31. “We are donating to Reece’s Rainbow to help with the adoption of a child [with a disability] who needs a family, and will include a card and explanation. And chocolate.” — Courtney K.

32. “I don’t buy the teachers or EAs or Therapists anything, not end of year, Christmas or whatever. I do tell everyone that will listen that I think they are wonderful and I feel grateful to have such caring and supportive teachers and EAs.” — Amber K.

33. “We do gift cards or favorite candy treats, along with a card. Fifteen people add up even with $5 gift cards!” — Cathy B.

34. “I buy small Starbuck gift cards throughout the year — when I’m at Walmart or Target I’ll pick up one for $10. When Christmas or the end of year comes along I have a nice pile of them for everyone from therapists, bus drives, aides and teachers.” — Dayna C.

35. “For the holidays, I brought in breakfast for all the staff that work with my daughter. Coffee, fruit and doughnuts. And I have my daughter make one giant card.” — Aimee J.

36. “When leaving 6th grade — elementary school had been awesome — we made a photo-slide-show to music and PTA let me show it at their meeting and each teacher, aide, etc. from every grade got a copy along with a tearful thank you.” — Sandra M.

37. “We stopped doing individual gifts a couple years ago. There would be 30+ staff people with all of mine! We cater a lunch from a local sandwich shop and set it up for the special ed staff (including supports and specialists) in their buildings.” — Leah S.

38. “I used to do small potted flowers and used a paint stir stick from Menards and stuck a picture of [my son] on that and wrote on the stick something like, ‘Thanks for helping me grow this year.’ Cost me around $1-$2 each.” — Mindi N.

39. “I never expected, and was always surprised by any gift I received while working as a school based OT. So don’t stress, most of us just love working with the kids.” — Becki M.

40. “I like to make gifts as I feel like it’s more personal and it goes a lot farther! One year I made salad dressing for Yummy healthy summer salads and put them in mason jars. I usually put a cute little note that says something like, ‘thank you for dressing my child for success!’ Another year I made salsa for everyone from the tomatoes and peppers from my garden! Sometimes I will do a gift card for coffee or a smoothie place. It does get expensive if we buy too much because we have so many people to buy for. One year I bought Dollar Store reusable tumblers with straws. I filled them with candy and again added a cute little note like, ‘it’s been a sweet year you are a sipper star!'” — Kathleen T.

41. “I almost always do a $5 Starbucks card with either homemade treats or some small store bought treat if I run out of time.” — Denise V.

42. “All natural jams made by adults of all abilities at A Different Kind of Jam by Steamers. We give this fabulous jam to Michael’s care team and they love it! Love giving gifts that are made by folks in our ID/D community. Employment matters!” — Mary W.

43. “We’ve done pizza parties for the teachers.” — Paula B.

44. “I go to the dollar store. I buy one bucket and since I have about five teachers/aids/therapist per child, I buy five of everything. So like small hand sanitizers (they usually come in multiples), box of hot chocolate (one packet per person), maybe a hot pad (they come in a set of two, neutral colors and split between two, then maybe a tea packet or some chip clips.” — Lisa W.

45. “I do not give end of the school year gifts for my daughter’s team rather I ‘spoil’ them at Christmas time.” — Lisa M.

46. I give honey from my hives, or jars of my jams (peach Bellini, heirloom tomato and port wine, yellow tomato and fresh ginger, etc.) with a hand written note of sincere thanks.” — Tara H.

47. “Roller balls of essential oils.” — Danna M.

48. “As a sped teacher, gifts are not expected! Your child is a gift to the teacher every day.” — Emily M.