The holiday season is here and you don’t want to forget all those hardworking teachers and school support staff. But with limited time (remember, you’ve got to get it done before the break) and multiple teachers, it can be hard to nail the perfect gift. The secret? Pair up simple, affordable items from the grocery aisles to make it extra-special. Just add a homemade card by your kids and you are done. Scroll down to get ideas.

1. Tea & Biscuits

A beautiful box of tea is always a lovely gift, but you can one-up the package by adding a box of simple cookies in the English biscuit style: We love green tea and ginger snaps; black tea and lemon thins; chai and snickerdoodles, but there’s really no wrong pairing here!

 

2. Candy & Mason Jar

Help teach keep her blood sugar up in the afternoons with a sweet gift in a reusable jar! Also, gummy worms blue Ball jar = the perfect gift. Any kind of Mason or Ball jar will do, of course. Just fill it up with colorful bulk candy such as gummies, individually wrapped caramels, Jelly Bellys, licorice, etc. You can buy a set of jars and make these gifts for all the teachers in your life.

 

3. Balsamic Vinegar & Strawberries

It’s hard to go wrong with fresh fruit, especially something as perfect as strawberries but you can elevate that little basket with a simple addition. Include a small bottle of an aged balsamic vinegar. If you’re feeling up for it, try writing onto an index card this simple recipe for marinated strawberries. It’s shockingly delicious.

 

4. Chocolate & Magazines

Whether it’s a box of chocolates or your favorite local artisan bar, give the gift of “treat yo’self” directly to your favorite teacher by pairing chocolate (or another candy) with fun magazines. Choose 3-4 of the latest issues on a couple different subjects: if you know your teacher’s hobbies you can tailor the stack or just go for general coolness (House Beautiful; Conde Naste Travel; National Geographic). Tie the magazine stack together with twine and tuck the chocolate bar inside.

 

 

5. Lemon Curd & Crumpets

For a proper tea time, package a nice lemon curd or jam with traditional crumpets. If your grocery store doesn’t have crumpets, you can opt for a nice English muffin or a packet of scones.

 

6. Honey & Goat Cheese

Eating local honey is said to be good for staving off illness and allergies, and the soothing properties for a teacher’s throat after a day in the classroom can’t be beat. Take this treat from sweet to indulgent by adding a nice round of goat cheese: bonus props if you can find the kind with edible wildflowers pressed in.

 

7. Sparkling Water & Lemons

You can’t go wrong with a bottle of fancy bubble water: look for one in a glass jar to make it uber-special and then add a few fresh lemons to the mix. Paired together in a small basket, this simple gesture is cheerful and healthy at the same time.

 

8. Champagne & Alka Seltzer

Give the gift of celebration and recovery! Assuming your teacher partakes in a glass or two on the weekends, a nice bottle of wine or champagne is always a treat. Add box of effervescent relief of a different kind and you can make it a funny-but-practical gift, too. Warning: do not give this gift if you or your giftee do not have a sense of humor.

9. Sea Salt & Olive Oil

A nice coarse sea salt is a handy kitchen item: some grocery stores sell them in bulk and include Hawaiian red clay; pink Himalayan salt and more. Choose your favorite and then snag a bottle of olive oil to go with: look for an extra-virgin and stick to a smaller bottle so you don’t break your bank.

10. Coffee & Raw Sugar

For many teachers, coffee goes with everything (especially grading papers and report cards) but even if you didn’t have time to paint a mug in advance you can still pair a pound of coffee with something spectacular. Look in the sugar aisle for a nice raw sugar, cane sugar or turbinado sugar.

11. Apples & Brie

The traditional teacher gift of a shiny red apple gets an upgrade when you place a triple-cream brie in the mix. It’s a simple pairing that never goes wrong: we’re pretty sure if your teacher doesn’t like brie there’s someone in his house who does.

 

12. Vodka & Olives

This one is only for a teacher you know well enough to know that she drinks vodka! You don’t have to go top shelf, just make sure to steer clear of the bottom shelf. Grab some queen stuffed olives for her martini mixer and you may just become the most popular parent on campus.

 

13. Crusty Bread & Olive Tapenade

You can grab this one the night before or even the morning-of gift giving because the fresher the bread the better. Choose a crusty, rich loaf and then pair with a spreadable olive tapenade. You can also look for a rich roasted red pepper version, or opt for artichokes. The point is, give them something delicious to spread on their bread that screams “special occasion” and not mayo.  

 

14. Fresh Oranges & Tissue

Fight cold and flu season (which is year round for teachers!) with a big basket of fresh oranges. Add in a box of tissue (go for the kind with lotion infused in a fancy-patterned box) and you’ll not only give them a chuckle, you’ll actually give them something they will use. Like, right away.

 

15. Epsom Salts & Cupcakes

There’s self-soothing, and then there is self-soothing. Put the epsom salts in a beautiful jar (ahem, Mason jars to the rescue again!) with a tag that says what the contents are (bath salts) for soothing weary muscles and then get a package of mini-cupcakes or bite-sized brownies. Tell your teacher to take a bath and eat a brownie, because they deserve it!

 

What’s your favorite supermarket pairing for last-minute gifts with love? Tell us your suggestions in the comments below. 

—Amber Guetebier