Since this is the season of TEACHER GIFTS, I'm taking the liberty of reposting an oldie (but I think still goodie).
No, I'm not going to recommend that you buy a mug with an apple on it. Or a mug that says A+ Teacher. These are to be found at any Dollar Store.
There are also scores of such mugs, along with similarly emblazoned teacher gift items, at any thrift shop. Do not burden your child's teacher with these; your teacher has already donated last year's gifts. Since my definition of frugality involves getting the most from the resources of time and money, even $1.00 mugs are not frugal, since every teacher is given scads of these, every year.
Frugal Son had a wonderful teacher in grade school. Mr. Callahan was so gifted at classroom management that his class was filled with a large percentage of kids with behavior problems. At assemblies, I would watch with awe as he, with only a small gesture, would quiet down a kid about to go out of control. Mr. Callahan was also an artist, and retired in his 40s to pursue that full-time. He disappeared from our purview after Katrina. If you see him, say hi.
Mr. Callahan also had a gift for gifts. He told his class that he didn't really need anything. So no gifts were necessary. This in itself was thoughtful, since more than half the children at the grade school received free or reduced lunch. But, he said, if their parents HAD to buy him something, they should mention that he didn't need any coffee mugs. He already had a lot. Oh, and he needed socks, calf-height, size 10 and always appreciated coffee beans.
What a wonderful gift to us. Frugal Son and I spent perhaps an hour at the local coffee shop deciding what kind of coffee beans to purchase. There were so many choices: Colombian, Tanzanian, Ethiopian, and more. We picked two half pounds because we couldn't decide on one kind.
At the year end party, Mr. Callahan opened his gifts. He got a lot of coffee and a few pairs of socks. Then he opened a box and out came a mug. Grade school kids don't have the "politeness" of adults. One child blurted out, "You said you didn't want any coffee mugs." Without missing a beat, Mr. Callahan replied, "I wasn't talking about THIS mug. This is the exact one I wanted."
Many thanks, Mr. Callahan. The lesson here for recipients: if possible, indicate what it is you want. For givers, consumable gifts (who wouldn't want coffee? or tea? or a gift card?). We often gave teachers bouquets from our garden. These were always well-received. The best-received gifts: appreciative notes from parents and children.
Dear Readers: what are your best gifts for teachers?