The following is a post from Contributing Writer Staci of Simply Staci.  For her day job, Staci teaches sixth grade science.
I’m in my 9th year of teaching middle school. That’s 9 rounds of Christmas & End of the Year gifts. Throughout that time, I’ve gotten some…um…interesting gifts!
Let me preface this post by saying that I’m not writing this as a wish-list of gimmie, gimmie, gimmie but it is merely some suggestions. Middle school presents a whole new set of circumstances. In elementary school kids have 1 or 2 teachers all day, but when they get to middle school they can have up to 8 different teachers! I know it’s overwhelming and can really add up…but it doesn’t have to!
The end of the school year is less than a month away, so here’s a few tips to help you out:

  • DON’T feel like you have to buy for every teacher. One option is to spend a little more money on those teachers you feel put a little extra effort into your child and something smaller for the rest of them.
  • DON’T, for the love, give us a-noth-er mug!! (Oh, and filling it up with candy doesn’t make it any better!)
  • DON’T give us a whole bag of candy or chocolate.  Unless it’s a specific kind of candy or chocolate you KNOW your teacher loves, don’t assume we want to gorge ourselves on a bag of candy.
  • DO consider a nice, handwritten letter.  One of my favorite gifts I got at Christmas was from a parent who wrote me a note in a card about how much I helped her daughter ease into middle school and helped her self confidence in science.  I treasure that validation as a teacher.
  • For future years, DO study and take note of of your teacher … either at an open house, a parent-teacher conferences, or just volunteering in the class.  If you’ve never seen her wear any kind of pendant or brooch, then don’t assume she’d love a cubic zirconium, purple bird pin.  Does she wear bracelets?  Bows or ribbons in her hair?

So here’s some ideas:
Honestly, you just can’t wrong with these. Ice cream card, gas card, grocery card, office supply card, iTunes, Target or Wal-Mart card. Honestly, any gift card you give will probably be spent on classroom anyways, so it’s an investment. My all time favorite gifts are Starbucks gift cards. Don’t feel bad for getting your teacher a $5 gift card.   Chances are, someone else will too & they add up!
2. Crayon Initial Plaque
It just doesn’t get any cuter than this!

3. Magnetic Bookmark
Don’t negate practicality. I got one of these one year and use it to keep my place in my teacher’s edition book.

4. Paper ream
All teachers need paper. Why not spice it up and let your child pick out their favorite color.

5. Pencil Vase
I got one of these my first year teaching and still put it on my desk every year. This link is for a tutorial that uses colored pencils instead of regular pencils, which I think is a cute version.

6. Personalized stationary
I didn’t realize how much I actually liked this until I got it. Then I realized how much I actually used it.
7. Pleated Poppy
A very simple little accessory item like this is always fun & unique.  I would LOVE to get one of these!

8. Homemade goodies on a cute plate
You can get some really cute, cheap plates at Crate & Barrell or even Target.

9. Kitchen gadgets
Who doesn’t love kitchen gadgets? Why not put a bow on a nice grater with a note: Thanks for being a “grate” teacher.
10. Earrings
This one walks a fine line. If your child’s teacher is young and dresses fashionable, then a pair of earrings from Forever 21, Charlotte Ruse , or Charming Charlie would be a hit.
11. Flip Flops
How cute would it be to dress up a $2 pair of flip flops from Old Navy with a bow tied at the top?  I keep a pair of old, ragged flip flops under my desk for those days that I just can’t make it in my heels!
12. Umbrella
There’s nothing worse than walking out of the building after a long day, seeing the rain and realizing you’ve left your umbrella in the car!  Between the carpool lane and the bus lane, we usually get stuck parking far away from the building, so on those rainy days it really stinks to forget your umbrella.  A teacher would love to have a cute umbrella that she could keep in her room for such days.

I hope this helps and alleviates any stress or concern about those end of the year gifts.  Honestly, we will appreciate anything you get us. I certainly didn’t go into teaching for the end of the year gifts! I love what I do and want to be the best teacher I can be.  I won’t love your child any less if you get me a “World’s Best Teacher” mug filled with leftover Halloween candy…just don’t be surprised if you see it in a garage sale!