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It’s the time of year we all start to panic and worry about buying our kid’s teachers a thank you gift. This is the first year we have to think about end of year gifts. Honestly, I’m not worried. I have our gifts all picked out. But, I don’t really understand why moms get so crazy with worrying if what they are giving is enough. Moms, I assure you whatever you have to give is enough. Everyone loves to be recognized and thanked for their hard work and the gift itself doesn’t really matter. And if it does matter? Well, whatever. You took time out of your busy life to thank a teacher for inspiring, loving, nurturing, and in some cases tolerating your kid six hours a day, five days a week.

Gifts do not need to be elaborate to reflect how much you appreciate your kids teacher. We all have different budgets, time constraints and crafting abilities. If another mom goes bigger than you this year, just let her have it. You can walk away knowing you did something to say thank you. Besides, who has the kind of storage to keep 50 coffee mugs, 22 photo frames and 3,000 hand made kid cards? Giving a smaller, more thoughtful gift will have bigger impact than fifty Pinterest perfect gifts!

Here are some great ways to thank a teacher:

1. Write a heartfelt thank you note. The only cost is your time. Take it back old school and use that pretty penmanship they no longer teach. Write your note on some fancy stationary, or type up it on your computer. When we are lucky to find a teacher that our kids just click with, or one who goes above and beyond to care for kids, we shouldn’t be shy about telling them. Write a letter describing the many ways you’re thankful for their work and hand it off, or leave on their desk.

2. Take help from the store. No time to write, or make a card? It is perfectly OK to get a store bought card and put a gift card from a local supplies store in it. Popular stores teacher’s shop at: Micheal’s Craft store, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Joanne’s Fabric, Walmart, AC Moore, The Christmas Tree Shop or the dollar store. This will help off set the cost of supplies your teacher pays out of pocket each year. This is a big help! Plus, no storage required!

3. Make a donation to the classroom. If your child attends a private school you can make a donation directly to the school for teachers to use toward supplies. If your school has a website, check if there is a donation button you can use to donate online. If you feel like the $10 you can spare this week isn’t enough, pair up with some other parents in the classroom to contribute toward a larger donation amount. Helping your teacher support the children in her classroom is a great way to tell them, “I believe in you.”

4. Make a gift basket of supplies. Teachers are spending out of pocket more and more on materials for their classrooms each year. Let them choose the educational materials, but help them out by stocking their classroom with basic staples like boxes of Kleenex, crayons, pencil, craft supplies, note books, etc. Again, pair up with other parents to contribute to a larger basket. Get the kids involved too so they can see first hand how much teachers give to their class outside of academics.

5. Go home made, not home baked. Baked goods are cute, inexpensive and very personal to make, however, so many people have different diets or food allergies. Showing your gratitude with home made baked goods could be in vein if your teacher has to toss them out because they can’t eat them. Instead, make something useful for your teacher: a personalized canvas bag filled with some supplies, paper heart seeds they can plant with the kids in their classroom as a memory, or decorate a small box your teacher can use to store their favorite hand made cards in.

My inside teacher sources tell me it’s the gifts from the heart that are the most appreciated. Heartfelt words from parents are a reminder to teachers why they love their job and it keeps them motivated through out the year. (Kind of like how we like to hear someone tell us we are doing a good job as moms).

Please feel free to comment below with what you love most about your kid’s teachers!