Almost any teacher will tell you that the most important year-end gift is a personal note from a grateful student.
And, of course, gift cards and classroom supplies will consistently come in handy. But for that teacher who's gone above and beyond, it's nice to say thank you with something extra special.
Here's a selection of choices for $25 and less, plus a few nonmaterial ideas (also nothing over $25) for teachers who really, really don't want you to make a fuss.
Just remember to include a note from your child.
Carnaby Monogrammed Mugs
A is for apple, T is for teacher and C is for "more coffee, please." These charming Carnaby Monogrammed Mugs by Jonathan Adler come in every letter of the alphabet (even Q! even X!) and are made of microwave- and top-rack dishwasher-safe, high-fired porcelain pottery; $18 at jonathanadler.com.
SmartPlanet Eco Collapsible Deluxe Salad Bowl Meal Kit
Most teachers bring their lunch to work, so why not make it easy to bring something tasty? The SmartPlanet Eco Collapsible Deluxe Salad Bowl Meal Kit comes in four colors and has two inner compartments for salad and toppings, plus a special dressing container. The lid stores the included spork, and the whole kit collapses to store at half its size after it has been used. The bowl is dishwasher and microwave safe; $14.99 at all Long Island Bed Bath and Beyond stores and bedbathandbeyond.com.
Grass Pen Stand
This waterless, faux grass pot keeps pens, pencils and even a phone within easy reach. The Grass Pen Stand by Kikkerland works with almost every writing instrument and most phones (charger not included), so it's a handy place to store what's important without losing track of your sense of humor; $15 at Sun Paddle, 120 E. Main St., Port Jefferson.
Handmade Italian Leather Keychains
Whether your child's favorite teacher loves music, motorcycles, dogs or cats, one of these fair trade Handmade Italian Leather Keychains is sure to suit. They come in plenty of different whimsical shapes and colors, and are as practical as they are adorable. $15 at Wit & Whim, 6 Carlton Ave., Port Washington.
Leather Single Snap Cord Holder
Teachers carry a lot of things to and from school. Help keep the tangle at bay by gifting this Italian Leather Single Snap Cord Holder. Handcrafted and sealed with 12 layers of wax, this tiny luxury is designed to protect cords and earbuds from damage. Available in chestnut or cocoa; $15 by special order at Restoration Hardware, 69 Main St., East Hampton and rh.com.
Clark Botanic Garden membership
Long Island is lush with gorgeous gardens, and summertime is the perfect season to visit, since so many of the gardens offer free summer concerts, talks, tours and walks. With the gift of a membership to the Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson, you'll be giving discounts for its garden shop and programs, discounts at local merchants and participation in the American Horticultural Reciprocal Admissions Program at more than 240 gardens across the country; $25 for a one-year individual membership through Clark Botanic Garden, 193 I.U. Willets Rd., Albertson, and clarkbotanic.org.
Fandango gift card
Sometimes it's just as much fun to see the movie as it is to read the book. With a movie gift card that's enough for two tickets, the next big-screen, air-conditioned Hollywood blockbuster's on you. Try giving a gift cards for $25 from fandango.com.
Show your teacher how she lit that literary fire for your child with a $25 donation to a local library, made in the name of your child's class. Make sure to have your child write a special note to the teacher, explaining why the donation was made. It's a great way to help keep community libraries funded while commemorating the school year. Find a list of local libraries at either nassaulibrary.org or sclsmap.info.
Fringe Stuff Tray
Sometimes it's just good to have a place to put all those wrapped candies, paper clips, pennies and the occasional pet rock. This 9-inch-long glass Stuff Tray by Fringe helps corral all those odds and ends and brings a tiny amount of order to the chaos; $25 at Bloomingdale's Roosevelt Field and Walt Whitman and bloomingdales.com.
Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe membership
The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, located in Shoreham, is electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla's last remaining laboratory. Since 2012, a team of dedicated science lovers have worked tirelessly to clean up the site and prepare it for eventual use as a full-fledged science museum and learning center. Support that endeavor by gifting a Tesla Science Center membership to a beloved educator. Membership includes newsletter subscription, reduced admission and/or preferred seating at events, discounts on learning center programs, and a membership card; $25 at teslasciencecenter.org.
The Vineyards Golf Club membership
Make the world's best teacher feel like a real VIP with a one-year dining-only membership to The Vineyards Golf Club in Riverhead. This special deal allows dining-only members to eat and drink like a club member at Palmer's East Wednesdays through Sundays for lunch and dinner (at regular club prices, of course), and it also grants limited access to certain additional benefits, such as reservations for the members-only rooms for special events; $25 for one year through 631-740-9300.
Kate Spade Idiom Pencils
Sometimes it's important to be able to erase mistakes like they never happened. That's where these Idiom Pencils by Kate Spade come in handy. The 6.5-inch-long, bridge-size pencils are just a tiny bit smaller and fancier than the standard classroom size, and come stamped with phrases such as "Take Note" and "Spell It Out;" $20 for a set of 10 by special order at Kate Spade Walt Whitman and katespade.com.
Ocean Mist Votive Candle
Remind an educator that summer's always just around the corner with a breezy Ocean Mist Votive Candle by Nest Fragrances. Made with cosmetic-grade wax that lengthens burn time and optimizes fragrance diffusion, the gently scented candle fills the room with beachy notes of ocean mist, sea salt, white tea and coconut; $14 at Nordstrom Roosevelt Field Mall and nordstrom.com.
Ben's Garden Scribble Pads
Teachers are always on the hunt for something to write on. Make that search a little easier with a set of Scribble Pads from Ben's Garden. Printed with the phrase "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" from Ralph Waldo Emerson, this set of two 100-page notepads provides that ideal nudge of encouragement just when it's needed the most; $14 for a set of two at Ben's Garden stores in Oyster Bay and Huntington and bensgarden.com.
Kalkgrund soap dispenser
Teaching can be dirty business, especially during cold and flu season. Offer your favorite educator an elegant way to store and dispense that much-needed hand sanitizer with this Kalkgrund soap dispenser. Made of glass and corrosion-resistant chrome, the specially designed fingerprint-proof surface stays shiny no matter how many pumps it delivers each day. Extra points if you buy a bottle of Purell to go with it; $9.99 at Ikea, 1100 Broadway Mall, Hicksville and ikea.com.