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Anything but apples: Readers share end-of-year teacher's gift ideas 

Across the country, kids are getting ready to trade the school day forsummer play. But before they head off into the no-more-homework wilds, there’s a little something that needs to be given to a big someone: the end-of-year teacher’s gift.

Since we all know it’s usually moms – and not kids – who are the creator or purchaser or at least idea-gatherer of gifts, we figured the best way to find out what teachers are getting this year is by asking TODAY Moms Facebook readers what they are giving.

Many moms say themed gift baskets are a great idea, because you can go in so many different directions.

mike flippo / Today
When it comes to gifts, teachers will tell you: Avoid the apple!

TODAY Mom Nicole McNally is thinking her child’s teacher is in need of some beach or pool time. Her gift basket will include “a beach towel, magazines, and sunscreen.” Meanwhile, Jennifer O’Donnell Snell is going the movie route, with popcorn and Redbox gift cards, while Sally Ashe Wood is doing lunch survival kids. What’s that? “A lunch box for the days when [the teacher brings her own lunch] and gift cards to the top two restaurants that deliver to the school for the days when just getting out the door is hard enough,” says Wood, who is also a teacher.

Karen Myrick Ford says: “I’m making a summer vacation basket with non-toxic products... Ava Anderson non-toxic sunscreen and lip balm... and a 'good' trashy magazine.”

For some moms, sentimental or homemade gifts are more appropriate for teachers.

Mary E. Williams says she hates the pressure of having to give a gift to her kids' teachers because she often doesn’t know what their likes and dislikes are. “Last year on the last day of school, I snapped pictures of my girls with their teacher. Used Shutterfly and made each teacher a card and each of my girls and I wrote a little note of appreciation.”

Lindsay Kroeger has given teachers a flower pot and a pack of seeds and a simple note saying, "Thanks for helping me grow from my kids.” She has also done scented candles with a note saying: “Thanks for lighting the way.”

Jenn Denisky Kupferschmid’s daughter has Down syndrome, so she prefers to make a donation in the teacher’s name to a national Down syndrome organization or to Special Olympics. She writes: “This year I'd like a donation to be made to a local charity in our town to build a playground for children with special needs.”

Ashley Lewis Freeman, a teacher, says she most appreciates notes of thanks from students. She says: “I've always kept a file in my desk labeled "why I teach" and I'd tuck notes and cards into it. On particularly rough days I'll pull out that file and read a few and it always makes me smile and renews my spirit.”

Of course, gift cards are and easy and a popular gift to both give and receive, many moms and teachers agree.

Writes Sherry Gasper-Keller:

“I am a firm believer of a popular restaurant/bar gift certificate!! I SERIOUSLY don't know how teachers do it nowadays.”

TODAY Mom Shandra Burke says she usually gives a gift certificate for a massage or a manicure/pedicure. “After a long year with all those kids, they deserve to start summer off with some relaxation,” Burke says.

Some moms say it’s fun to “dress up” a gift card with a clever theme or play on words.

Jenny Wright Golowin gives a gift certificate for Chinese food and some fortune cookies. She includes a note from her child that says: "I was so very fortunate to have you as a teacher."

Shelly Graffice Mott gave gas cards with the following quips: "Hope your Summer is a Gas!" and "You always go that extra mile for us . . . so here's a little something to say 'tank' you!"

And Jessie Keckeisen gives a gift card to a coffee shop with a note that says, "Thanks A Latte for all you do!"

Torey Compton, who is both a mom and a teacher, likes gift cards for supplies. “We spend a lot of our own money for the classroom,” she says. “I've also gotten gift cards to a local coffee shop or spa before, which was greatly appreciated. Be sure a homemade card from your child accompanies the gift with a heartfelt message, they really do mean a lot!”

As the daughter of a retired teacher, Sugar Magnolia has strong thoughts on what to give. “Do your kids' teachers a favor and donate money to a charity, give them gift cards for school supplies, or buy them school supplies. Teachers buy a LOT of supplies for their own classrooms these days with budget cuts going on,” Magnolia says. “And lay off the apple stuff. When I was a kid our Christmas tree looked like a pine apple tree with all of the "#1 Teacher" apple ornaments adorning it!”