"If you have much, give of your wealth;
if you have little, give of your heart."
Traditional Arab proverb
Maybe you dearly want to give your teacher a special gift, but have very little – or even no – budget to work with. Or maybe your teacher is someone who truly appreciates gifts from the heart: the handmade, the homemade and the unique.
These ideas don't cost much money, and in some cases nothing at all. But they come from the heart, and so you can be sure that they will reflect the true meaning of gratitude and Teacher Appreciation Day!
After all, it's often the smallest things that mean the most.
Here are 10 ideas for teacher gifts that are cheap or even free, but make a big impression:
For a 'little something' to tuck into your thank you note, why not make some origami? Try this beautiful origami heart (that's easy to make too!) or some origami flowers.
Or how about making this cute teacher's desk and chair? Write your teacher's name on the chair to make it really personal!
Or for more experienced origami-ists, this fantastic origami apple puts a fresh spin on 'an apple for teacher'.
Another cute small – and useful! – gift is a pretty bookmark. You'll find paper, card, leather, fabric and even beaded or metal ones in gift stores and book stores for just a few dollars. Or check out Etsy (and Folksy in the UK) for a huge range of beautiful designs – many of them personalized.
Alternatively draw, paint, embroider or cross-stitch one yourself! Felt, silk, pressed flowers... be as artistic and creative as you like!
3. Quote Jar
A quote jar is easy to make, and delightful to receive. Write or print the quotes onto colored cardstock and select a jar with a top wide enough to put your hand into. For quote inspiration see my thank you quotes for teachers page.
4. Home baked goodies
Home baked goodies are always a winning gift – cookies, cupcakes, fudge or toffee, or perhaps a 'teacher appreciation cake'! If you're the artistic type ice your cookies or cake with your teacher's name, or – in a sweet twist on the quote jar idea (above) – fill a cookie jar with cookies, each iced with a word describing your teacher (kind, supportive, great etc.).
A fantastic jar of thank you cookies from the wonderfully creative 'I am baker' blog.
Flowers are always a lovely gift and make a big impression! Pick a beautiful bouquet from your garden, or jazz up a store-bought bunch with a pretty paper wrapper. A big silky bow is a great finishing touch to any bouquet!
And if it's winter and your garden is bare, then how about paper or silk flowers? (Just do a Google search for masses of ideas and inspiration!)
6. Homegrown food
Gifts from your back yard don't have to be limited to flowers. Homegrown fruit or veggies make great gifts, as do pots of herbs (consider decorating the pots with acrylic paints). And of course jams and preserves always make welcome gifts.
7. A drawing or painting
Are you artistic? If so, do a drawing or paint a picture – perhaps a portrait of your teacher? Or how about a local landmark or beauty spot, or a view of the town where your school or college is located? Or even a fun cartoon strip about everyday classroom events?
8. A poem
If your talents are more literary, then why not write a poem for your teacher. Or simply copy out a favorite verse. If prose is more your thing, then create a 'word portrait' of your classroom or school. Written out on beautiful paper, or even framed, it's sure to be something your teacher will treasure for many years.
The template to make this beautiful pentagonal box can be downloaded from papercraft site 'The Toymaker'
9. Little treasures nicely packaged
Little gifts – a pair of fun earrings, a brooch or a fridge magnet for example – become 'little treasures' when presented in a beautiful gift box, fabric bag or special paper wrapper. For example, this gorgeous little box from the Toymaker website, free to print out, is perfect for holding a single chocolate or candy – and transforming it into a special gift!
10. Keepsake card
Anyone can buy a teacher appreciation card in a store, so instead make something yourself – a keepsake card for your teacher. Pop up cards are fun, and not so hard to make. Or use pressed flowers, paper scraps and ribbons... or create a photo montage. The ideas are endless, and your teacher is sure to appreciate the time and effort you've put in to make something so special.