When the school year comes to a close, many families like to give their children's teachers gifts as a way of thanking them for a wonderful school year. Gifts of any kind are always appreciated. It shows that you cared and took the time to express what a good year your child had.

That being said, you certainly do not want to go out and spend your hard earned money on something for the teacher, only to have it sit in a closet, sold on Ebay, regifted, returned, or donated to charity.

How can you avoid this? Here are some tips from me, a teacher.

First of all, no coffee mugs, please. It does not matter what is filled inside-gourmet chocolate, coffees, teas, hot chocolate-it is not the first time the teacher was mugged. Put the candies or coffees in a pretty gift box or bag you can purchase at a party store or the Dollar store.

Unless it is a teacher's first year, no plaques, paper weights, picture frames or anything else that says, "#1 Teacher". While the sentiment is appreciated, you can express it in other ways.

Unless you have been inside the teacher's home, please do not give any items to decorate it. Even the most expensive towels are useless if it does not match the bathroom! Flower vases are pretty, but do not give ones that have wild and crazy designs. It may not match the teacher's taste or décor.

Picture frames are thoughtful, but you can rest assure you are not the first person to give one as a gift. If you choose to give one to the teacher, make sure it is neutral, like wood or metal.

Candles are another generic gift that teachers get in bulk quantity. If it is a fragrance that the teacher does not like, then it will not be used.

The same goes for perfume. I have received some very expensive bottles of perfume, but never wore them as I did not find the aroma pleasing. If you want to know what fragrance a teacher likes, the next time you see her and she is wearing perfume, say, "I like the fragrance you're wearing. What is it?"

While I personally LOVE home baked goods from students, there are teachers who do not. Some may have food allergies you are unaware of, and some will not eat anything that a student has baked at home. Before you invest time and energy in baking a present, find out if the teacher has any kind of food issues.

Clothing is another gift to avoid. You may think something is the teacher's "style" but you can miss the mark. Also, ease up on the silk scarves and pins.

Plants are a great gift for those who like to care for them. If you are unsure, a bouquet of flowers will be appreciated.

This article is not meant not sound unappreciative. On the contrary. Your time and money are valuable. You want to give a teacher gift that is used and liked. Just think about gifts that you have received that you did not care for and how you felt about it.

Use these suggestions as a guide for selecting the perfect thank you gift for your child's teacher.