Best Gifts to Give To Teachers, Coaches, Bus Drivers, and other Leaders | Kids Out and About Rochester

Best Gifts to Give To Teachers, Coaches, Bus Drivers, and other Leaders

Give Them What They REALLY Want:

The best end-of-the-year gifts for teachers, coaches, leaders, and all who enrich our kids' lives

Compiled from suggestions sent in from readers

(Bus driver gift suggestions are at the bottom.)

It's the end of the year. You are feeling grateful for all that someone special -- a teacher, a coach, a scout leader -- has done to enrich your child's life. It's time for you, and your child, to say thank you.

It has become customary -- still strictly optional, mind you, but increasingly popular -- to honor with a small gift these special individuals who have dedicated their careers or free time to helping our children. But what to give? After all, one can only have so many hand-painted mugs before they become clutter. So we here at set out to ask readers who ARE these people what they really want.

Overwhelmingly, the top gift received by teachers who responded to our request for ideas was...


Gift cards to bookstores and craft stores were the most popular, but several teachers reported that their favorite gift was when a class got together to plan for everyone to give a small gift card from a different local venue, store, or restaurant. Several teachers mentioned coffee shops and garden centers or local nurseries. One enterprising parent even took the initiative of gathering all of these from the parents in the class, and organized them in a small photo album that the teacher could use after all of the gift cards were used. As one teacher said: "I love to get gift cards, as do my friends. With tight budgets, we don't get to go out much, so even a $5 gift card at Dunkin Donuts is a big treat!"

Other ideas sent in by readers:

    • When I was teaching my favorite gifts were either the homemade-by-a-child variety (even just a note or card) or a small gift card. Although I appreciated all the other things, you can only use so many candles, bottles of bubble bath and items with apple decorations.
    • Charm Bracelet -- Diana Flora, in Canandaigua (web site ) sells silver charm bracelets and charms, and I gave her website and list out to all the parents. The bracelet cost $16, so each parent pitched in $1 for that plus whatever the charm they chose cost. I collected the money and charm list and bought them all, creating a very cool bracelet for the teacher, reminding her of each child in the class. This idea does take some coordination and worked well because all families were involved, but you could also get the teacher a charm bracelet with just her initial on it or colorful beads, etc. I had called Diana before I presented this idea to the class to be sure she would have supplies on hand.
    • Gift Certificate Booklet -- One energetic Room Mom asked all families to donate a small amount, and she used the total to buy numerous gift certificates for the teacher to use throughout the summer. She put them in a photo album that the teacher could use after all the gift certificates were gone. There was one small one to the ice cream place, one for a nail place, a movie rental, etc. and a fairly large one for a craft store where she could buy supplies for the next year or supplies for her summer hobbies. This is great for teachers because it is thoughtful and makes the teacher keep thinking about that class, however there is nothing for her to dust or store! It is also thoughtful to think about the teacher’s family, and give gift certificates that she could use with her family over the summer, such as mini-golf or movies, to let her know you appreciate the time she (or he!) spends with the member of your family she works with.
    • I have some treasured gifts from my teaching days, like the afghan one little girl’s family gave me (a more expensive gift than I think is necessary), and a few books signed by the child or class giving it to me. The notes are very special, especially when you think about how old those children are now!!!!
    • Embroidered canvas bags. I made one for my daughter's teacher last year, and she LOVED IT!!! Also, they are very practical for teachers. I run a small embroidery business from my home specializing in Baby Items.... But I am always looking for anything flat that can be embroidered. Web site is
    • I make goat's milk soaps from the milk of my own goats in Macedon, NY. My children have many times given these products for holidays or year-end gifts. In fact, my son has two bars in gift baskets he created for his Sunday School teachers for tomorrow! They are always received with great pleasure and interest. They are handcrafted and locally made, a great way to support the local economy! The soaps and natural toiletries are all priced at less than $10. They are available locally at Main Street Mercantile, 62 N.Main St., Fairport and The Palmyra Canal Shop, 323 E. Main St., Palmyra. I have a website,, although I don't yet have a PayPal system set up yet to order directly through the site.
    • My personal favorite gift is to give a gift card to the movies or Blockbuster, along with some microwave popcorn, candy and soda for a "start your summer off relaxing" type of gift.
    • An idea for a crafty gift is to paint a terra cotta plant pot black, and use a white paint marker to maybe draw some stick figures, an apple, write ABC, & 123, as though it were a chalkboard, etc. The top lip of the pot can be pained a color of your choice, and can then be personalized with the year, grade, teacher's name, and child's name with a thank you or poem. Then we put a plant in the pot and include a message in the card to the effect of thank you for helping me grow.
    • Each year we present a gift to my daughter's teacher for the classroom. Last year it was a potholder maker loom and a huge bag of loops. My daughter stated last year that the old loom (frame) was in bad shape and hard to use now. She was "passionate" that we replace it as our gift last year.
    • Each Spring they raise butterflies in the classroom and release them outside after metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly (6 week process). This year, we are giving two butterfly bushes to her teacher for next year's butterfly release. If your child's class doesn't raise Painted Lady butterflies in spring this is a great gift to give first, for next spring. You can order them through, or he butterfly habitats are available at the Strong Museum of Play's Gift Shop near the butterfly exhibit. The habitat comes with a mesh container to observe the caterpillar process and a gift certificate to order your caterpillars. Each year after you can just order the caterpillars through
    • Chuck Jones from Mud About You at Four Corners in Penfield, NY reminds us that hand-painted pottery can be a very personal, meaningful gift.
    • My son’s preschool class had such a fantastic teacher gift idea! Every child (parent) fills out a recipe card with a favorite recipe and then the child wraps some type of food item that is included with or goes with the recipe. After 30 years of teaching I am sure that his teacher will appreciate a gift that is both consumable and able to be filed away and used again and again!
    • New teachers are still "collecting" to build up their classroom so gift certificates to educational supply stores/websites are a good thought. Discount School Supply,, etc. Also, last year for a gift I received a subscription to Scholastic's Teacher magazine. Of course, you should know if they already have a subscription, but some companies will just tack on another year to the existing subscription.
    • I decided to get my kids' teachers gift certificates for the Colonial Belle Boat tour out of Fairport, NY. With living expenses getting higher, I figure they might not spend $$ on leisure/entertainment. A 1 1/2 hour tour is only $9 a ticket. For $18 (tax included), they and their spouses can relax and enjoy an afternoon on the canal. Also, I feel good that it is a little boost for the Colonial Belle - I am sure they are feeling the pain of higher fuel prices and fewer customers...
    • Since the end of the school year comes right at the time of "pick your own strawberries" at the local farms, I take the kids out strawberry picking. We take the strawberries home, make homemade strawberry jam, put it in containers with a decorative bow and the kids give it as a gift to their teachers. The kids enjoy every step in making this special gift for their teachers!


Bus Driver Gift Ideas

    • I hope to give my son's bus driver a gift card from one of the major gas stations since the link between the "driving" implication of the card and the reason for the thanks seems appropriate. However, when I attempted to do this last year, the minimum for a gift card was $25, which was more than I wanted to spend. So, last year I gave the driver a gift card to WalMart. I'll check around at a few gas stations again this year to see if I can find one that issues $10 cards before looking for an alternative gift idea.
    • Homemade cookies...Gift cards to Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts...These poor people NEED their caffeine especially in the winter! :-)
    • We adore our bus driver -- and for the one time a day/7 minute trip my daughter takes - I entrust him with her LIFE and give him Wegmans gift cards at all opportunities (Christmas & end of year)! Everyone goes to Weggies!
    • [We usually get our bus driver] some sort of eatable or drinkable, like some fancy apple cider, chocolates, etc. Just like teachers, I think they probably prefer gift cards, or money, or something that can be consumed with pleasure.
    • Even just homemade cookies will let them know how much they are appreciated. Or maybe a fun dollar store summer kit with sun glasses, a water gun, etc. At times on really cold days I've also given them a disposable cup and package of hot chocolate to enjoy after they let the kids off. You could also do the same with lemonade on the hot days.
    • We usually get our bus driver some cookies from Cole & Parks with a bunch of lotto tickets attached. The card says, "We are lucky to have you as our bus driver!"

Compiled from readers. If you have a suggestion for gifts that teachers and bus drivers appreciate, please email