It’s customary for students to offer teachers small tokens of their affection, whether it’s during the holiday season, at the end of the school year or both.

Choosing a gift for a teacher can be challenging, as the relationship between student and teacher and/or parent and teacher is not personal, and it’s very possible students and parents have little knowledge of a teacher’s interests outside the classroom.

But the following gift ideas are essentially universal in their appeal, making them great gifts for the special educator in your life.

* Handwritten notes from students:

Rather than trinkets that proclaim “World’s Best Teacher,” students can write their own sentiments about their teachers and present it with a gift card or another gift that doesn’t take up much space. A heartfelt note of appreciation and gratitude can be all it takes to put a smile on a teacher’s face this holiday season.

* Food:

Food can be enjoyed in and around the season. Avoid making items yourself, as some people are particular about eating foods that were cooked in someone else’s kitchen. Stick to pre-packaged food baskets, or even treat the teacher to a meal with a gift card to a restaurant.

* Something scholarly:

A gift that provides a teacher with some intellectual stimulation might just do the trick this holiday season. For example, a set of safety goggles or a kit for doing in-class experiments might work well for a science teacher, while a biography or a best-selling novel may fit the bill for English teachers.

* Gift cards:

Very often all of the students in a class donate a small amount toward a gift card. Consider a card that is redeemable at a nearby store or a generic cash card the teacher can use anywhere credit and debit cards are accepted.

* Classroom supplies:

Budget constraints have forced many teachers to supplement classroom materials out of their own pockets. So a gift of school supplies or a gift certificate to an office-supply store or teacher-supply center may be greatly appreciated.

* Catered lunch:

Consult with the school principal to set aside a day when teachers can enjoy a catered lunch provided by the students. Each class parent can collect funds, which can then be pooled to host a lunch for the teachers. When gifting teachers, there are some gifts to avoid.

* Trinkets and mugs:

Through the years a seasoned teacher has likely collected a fair share of trinkets and coffee mugs. Chances are he or she does not need another one.

* Perfume and lotion:

Avoid scented lotions, perfumes and other cosmetic products, as such items are more personal.

* Overly expensive gifts:

Do not give a gift that is beyond the standard range of others in the classroom, which usually falls between $10 and $20. It could appear as if you’re buying affections for the student, and it could make the teacher uncomfortable.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.