As a homeroom mom at my children's school, I've had the fun of pulling together a gift for the teacher at Christmas time to thank them for their hard work. Since our small Catholic school only has female teachers, finding the perfect teacher gift has been easy.

However, when my oldest son started high school, he had at least one male teacher each year. Some of the gifts I did for our female teachers weren't the right fit for the male teachers. Thanks to help from my mom friends, I've rounded up gift ideas for male teachers over the past few years. Finding the perfect gift for a male teacher was easier than I thought.

If you’re unsure about what to give a teacher, talk to the school secretary and other parents about gift ideas. I have a few mom friends who have children in multiple grades; I know I can rely on their past experience for ideas when I'm stumped.

Easy Teacher Gifts

Gift cards – Starbucks, gas, car wash, restaurant, or Staples

You can't go wrong with a gift card. Most men drink coffee, drive a car, and love to eat. They'll appreciate a gift card for any of these activities.

Donate a book to the school library in the teacher’s name.

Check with the librarian first about making book donations; she may have a list of suggestions for you to choose from. Ask your kids if the teacher has read books in class. The teacher may have mentioned their favorite author to the students.

Items for the Classroom

All teachers appreciate items for the classroom in these days of limited school budgets. Your kids may have noticed if the teacher is always running out of certain supplies. The school secretary is another good resource. In my children's classrooms, cleaning supplies always go quickly, especially during the winter.

• Office Supplies (Post-it Notes, Dry-Erase Markers, Paper Clips, Notebooks, Pens, Paper, Scissors)
• School Supplies (Markers, Paper, Pens, Pencils, Erasers, Colors)
• Cleaning Supplies (Wipes, Sprays, Paper Towels, Washcloths)
• Age-Appropriate Books (Chapter Books, Learn To Read Books, Non-Fiction Books)
• Personalized Labels (“This belongs in TEACHER’S CLASSROOM”)
• Gift Cards to stores like Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Walmart, or Target

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Organizing the Teacher Gift Purchase

Once you have your gift idea for the teacher, decide how you'll handle purchasing the gift. In my children's school, the homeroom mom collects money from parents at the beginning of the year for parties, supplies, and gifts. Collecting all the money at once makes it easier for the homeroom moms to focus on organizing parties and other activities during the year. Parents don't feel like they're receiving constant requests for money.

If you need to collect money for the gift, ask the teacher if you can send a note home to the parents or email them at the beginning of December. Many parents will respond to the initial request giving you fewer parents to follow up with.

Always be sensitive to parent concerns. Some parents may prefer to do their own gift and not contribute to the class gift. Some parents may be not able to contribute financially; perhaps they have time to help with shopping at the store. Unfortunately, you may have a few parents who don't respond at all. Keep this information confidential, and only let the teacher know if they ask.

The bottomline: keep the teacher gift practical or consumable and your gift will be a home run!

Guest Contributor: Barb is a mom of 4 boys and 1 girl who spends her day keeping track of Nerf guns, Legos, stuffed animals, and library books when she isn't writing about the organizing, cooking, crafting, and reading she manages to fit in between the crazy, loud moments. Her idea of quiet time is a trail run in the woods. Barb can be found at A Life in Balance.