Monday, December 04, 2006

Meaningful, But Frugal Gifts for Teachers

It was a scrapbook to remember, organized by a few parents as a going-away gift for a beloved early-childhood teacher. Each family was given a blank page from an album, with instructions to fill the empty space with photos, recipes or decorations.

When the individual pages came together, the scrapbook was filled with irreplaceable records of shared moments in the classroom, dance festivals and other school events. As a bonus, families also contributed cash for a beautiful silver candle set.

There are many ways to select and package holiday and year-end presents for educators and classroom assistants. At one area school, PTA members collect small contributions from parents and compile the funds to provide a substantial gift certificate or cash gift for each teacher, with each family signing the card.

At my house, my children have enjoyed making necklaces, pictures and cards for their teachers. From their enthusiasm, I've learned the importance of incorporating children into the gift process for teachers. Kids also enjoy customizing calendars, T-shirts, mugs or canvas bags as gifts for their favorite teachers.

More ideas, including a wide range of activities for the child to do alone or with parents, are posted on These projects can involve the entire class or a single family.

Homemade gift projects include personalized calendars that are printed from your home computer, with children drawing pictures and graphics. Other gift ideas include a mini-garden, decorated trays, a handmade storybook or scrapbook, a custom collage on a clipboard, poems and letters.

The classroom cookbook is one of my favorite ideas. This year in my son's English class, each student wrote down a favorite recipe and filled the page with a story and an illustration about that food item. My son contributed a story about the hamburgers our family had prepared on the grill and consumed during the power outage following Hurricane Katrina.

Although it was a classroom assignment, the project -- and a gift certificate to the teacher's favorite restaurant -- would have been an ideal holiday present. I'm keeping it on my file for next year.



The Frugal Duchess Boutique

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