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How To Get a Teacher a Gift Without Breaking the Bank

06/23/2014 12:44 EDT | Updated 08/23/2014 05:59 EDT

While gifts for teachers are not mandatory, many parents and kids like to show their appreciation for a hard job well done. However, as families struggle with their monthly budgets, there isn't always a lot of extra cash for teacher's gifts, let alone gifts for kids' favourite teaching assistants, librarians, school secretaries, bus drivers, and others who help make their school experience just a little bit nicer. Also, however well meaning, most teachers already have enough ceramic apples to fill an orchard, and enough "#1 Teacher Award" mugs and key chains to stock a store selling well, only #1 Teacher gifts.

So this year, get an A+ in the art of Teacher Gift Giving; with these value-added suggestions:

1) Classroom supplies: Many teachers' classroom budgets are stretched to the max and they often end up having to dip into their own wallets to make sure they are fully stocked. Markers, paper, glue, scissors, crayons and other arts and crafts items are always appreciated. Most supplies are available at your local dollar store.

2) Gift Cards: It can be hard to know what a teacher's personal likes or hobbies include, so giving them a generic gift card can be a perfect way to help them get something they really want. If you have a good idea of what they like, a gift card for a specific store or service works as well. Cash in reward points like PC points to get gift cards they'll appreciate; browse a complete selection at www.giftofchoice.ca

3) Consumables: A small jar of gourmet jam, truffles, or a French pate can be a fun and fancy pick me up for a teacher to enjoy when they get home or on their short lunch break. The President's Choice Black Label products at Loblaw are perfect for the foodie teacher or bus driver on your list

4) Homemade: Many teachers and support staff are too busy and tired at the end of the day to prepare a home cooked meal. Make up one of your family favourites, list the ingredients and heating instructions, pack with an ice pack and voila, dinner is "on you". Homemade baked goods are always appreciated as well.

5) Kid created: It truly is the thought that counts, and teachers love to get a hand written note from a student and/or a parent. Make sure you give it a personal touch by relating a story or situation that really helped your child succeed in class. These are especially treasured when they come from tweens and teens.

6) Joint gift: Get together with other parents and pool your budgets to get something a bit bigger for a great teacher; whether it's more school supplies, a gift certificate or a dinner out.

7) Weather beaters: Many teachers and support staff have to pull "outdoor duty" during the school year, and the weather is often far from perfect. A spare hat, mittens, scarf, umbrella or rain poncho is a great "just in case" item for a teacher to have on hand.

8) Stationery: Teachers teach good manners, and they have them. A hand written thank you note for the gifts they receive is much easier done if they have a stationary set ready to go. Put it together with a pen (often missing in classrooms) and you'll probably be amongst the first to receive a formal "thanks" back.

9) Make a donation: No matter how big, making a monetary donation to a teacher's favourite charity or non-profit organization is a terrific way to show you support them. It's always appropriate to ask them where you might donate, or choose a cause you suspect is in line with their values and interests.

10) Release your inner poet: Take the time to create a short poem or sonnet with the kids that describes the teacher's best qualities and some fun times in the classroom. A simple frame makes for a fun and memorable keepsake of the school year

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