Much-loved by older children and adults; easy to purchase, if a bit generic.
Many schools run an ongoing fundraiser called scrip, essentially selling face-value gift cards that generate a percentage donation from the company. You spend no more on the card (that is, $25 buys you a $25 gift card), but the school still makes money.
Find out if your child’s school participates in a scrip program. If they do, they will have a list of gift cards available for sale, which you pay for up front and either receive immediately or the following week.
Toys, books, just about anything else
Find out if your child’s school is a member of Amazon Associates. If they are, there should be an Amazon link or search box on the school’s website. Whenever you shop at Amazon, instead of starting at the Amazon website, start by clicking the link (or performing a search) from the school website. Anything you buy at Amazon during that session will net a small percentage for the school, again, at no cost to you.
This tip doesn’t just work for the holidays, so keep it in mind every time you shop at Amazon.
Donating money in a loved one’s name is a wonderful holiday gift. While it would be awkward to donate to your own child’s school as a gift to someone else, donating to their child’s school would be remarkably generous.
Another option: DonorsChoose.org.
Teachers often purchase school supplies with their own money. Help supplement their unofficial classroom budgets with gift cards for office- and art-supply stores, or open-ended gift cards such as Visa. You might even get a two-fer; find out if these gift cards are available through the school’s scrip program!
Any other ideas I’ve missed?
Related: Ideas for teacher gifts