Monday, May 19, 2014

End-of-year thank you gifts -- 10 ideas for almost any budget

How can it be that the end of the school year is upon us? It feels like just yesterday I was preparing the girls for the start of their academic year, and yet here we are ready to say goodbye and thank you to another set of teachers. If your family is anything like ours, your list of people to thank is extensive. Both girls have amazing teachers. Little Miss M has an incredible full time aide, and K-Bear has a sweet woman who helps in her room. Both kids frequent the nurse, rely on the school secretary and admire the principal. The girls love their music, art, physical education and library teachers. Thankfully they share most teachers, except for art. Then there are the therapists and the psychologists and all the supporting individuals who go into structuring a successful school day. Plan A was to win the lottery and send them all on the vacations they clearly deserve. Plan A did not work, so it's on to Plan B! Here are ideas that I've come across and things we've done to say thank-you and happy summer to those who make a difference for the kids.

1. The Wooden Sign
These are very popular right now and can be purchased or made at home. This is my project of choice this year. My father is going to cuts some wood for me and sand it down. Then I will paint, letter and mod podge (the best stuff ever invented) the signs. Doing it myself saves a ton of money and allows me to personalize the signs with quotes that mean something to us. Blank wooden signs are available at many local craft stores if you aren't lucky enough to know someone able to cut and sand the wood.

2. Spa Jars
After the bustle of the end of the year, a little pampering is much appreciated. Mason jars are really cute and can be purchased in bulk from sites like Amazon. Customize them with lotions, polishes, bath salts, nail files, pumice stones, and maybe a chocolate bar. Have fun and make them as simple or complex as you desire. Directions can be found at

3. Journals
Journals are a sweet and simple present. You can customize the covers with artwork, or just hand them out plain. Include a cute pen or pencil to help them get started.

4. Coffee or Iced Tea
Coffee and tea are delicious treats. Whether you make a grand presentation inside a coffee mug, an iced coffee tumbler or you spring for the coffee shop gift certificate -- the gift of caffeine is sure to be appreciated.

5. Frame a Note
Have your child write a note, a word or even draw a picture that makes them think of that teacher and then frame it. This is a sweet and personalized gift that will not go unnoticed.

6. iTunes gift card
New apps, music and books are so useful in this day and age. Give the gift of an iTunes gift card to allow them to add to their digital library. You could even print out a gift tag with the gift card sharing your favorite website,, to help them find some great apps.

7. Chocolate Bars
Make a chocolate bar with a sticker saying something sweet for someone sweet. There were some great ideas for labels at

8. Beach Bags
Either purchase a beach bag or a blank canvas bag for self-design and fill it with a good magazine, a water bottle, a towel, a hat, sunscreen, or anything fun and summery. I found a great sample at

9. Gift cards
Purchase a gift card to a book store, restaurant, Target or any store you think the person might like. Even a $5 gift card will be appreciated!

10. The flower pot
Purchase inexpensive ceramic flower pots and allow your kids to decorate with paint. Put in seeds and a note saying: "Help these flowers (or plants) to grow, just like you helped me!"

Lastly, remember a heartfelt note goes a really long way to let a teacher know you appreciate them. Presents are not necessary, but as I try to teach the girls, it is always important to say thank you!

I could keep going, but we'd love to hear what you're doing for end of the year thank you presents. Whether you are super crafty or tying a ribbon seems awfully hard, share your ideas in the comment section below! Also, be sure to check our Pinterest page for more great ideas.

Amanda has to find time to work on these gifts when there aren't kids around to throw paint at her.

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