I know we just did this, so this is really just a recap of everyone's great ideas, plus a few new ones. If you have more than one teacher to give to, you probably want to keep the cost modest, but that's easy to do and still make it awesome.
1. Ex Libris Custom Bookplate Stamp, $38 - Is this beautiful or what??? Custom initial notecards are also cool but I can't get over the perfection of this stamp for a gift. (That's HICKMAN, or DISCOMOM, for those of you with spelling problems.) Round out the gift with a copy of Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.2. Custom Alphabet Print, $15-25 - Speaking of custom, who says alphabet signs have to be cartoon-ish, or in primary colors? Sing the ABC's for the 1-millionth time in style.3. Book & bookmark - Just choose your latest favorite read; if you liked it, a teacher probably will, too. Have your kid make a personalized bookmark as a thank-you, and laminate it at Kinko's or at home with contact paper.
4. Gift card - mani/pedi, restaurant, bookstore, carwash, craft store, anything teachers may not have time or money to treat themselves to during the school year.
5. Bath & Body Works stuff (lotion, soap, bath salts) - I load up at their semi-annual sale every January and June - handsoap, lotion, shower gel, lip gloss, etc. It's easy to just plan ahead and have a reserve of these. Then pick up a cute basket somewhere and you've got an awesome gift.
6. Awesome water bottle/travel mug/insulated lunch bag filled with fruit, candy or something homemade. I saw a boatload of these last time I was at Marshall's - very cool lunch bags that look like little purses, funky water bottles, etc. Leave them empty with a ribbon tied on or fill with anything you can think of - hot chocolate, sunglasses, new socks, whatever!
7. Movie tickets - What a great idea my friend Kristin suggested! At our Costco you can buy Regal Cinemas movie passes, 2 for $15 (tickets at the theater are $10.50 each.) So every time I go I pick some up and keep them in my wallet. Just pick up a few more and they make the perfect teacher gift!
BONUS: Feeling crafty? Make a cool decoupaged clipboard with the kids, instructions courtesy of Martha!