What's the best way to thank teachers this holiday season? We went straight to the source. The National Education Association (NEA) represents over 2.7 million educators. Here's their advice:

Check the School Policy

Some district policies discourage buying gifts for teachers to prevent feelings of inequity or concerns about favoritism. In such cases, consider making something. Bake cookies or cupcakes, or send a handwritten note. "A note from a parent saying, 'My child has never been so excited about science before, and I can't thank you enough' is a gift that any teacher will treasure," says NEA President Reg Weaver, a veteran classroom teacher of over 30 years, who still keeps copies of some of the notes parents and kids wrote to him.

Don't Break the Bank

Remember that giving a present is optional. Teachers appreciate gifts, but they do not expect them. If you choose to buy a gift, keep it simple – extravagant gifts are unnecessary.

Organize a Class Gift

Any parent can take the initiative and collect money based on each person's ability to pay. If someone can give $5, and someone else can give $20, that's fine. Scrapbooks and photo albums are also popular gifts a class can give to a teacher – a gift's value grows when the whole class contributes.

Buy a Gift Certificate

Sometimes it's nice to buy something just for the teacher, rather than classroom supplies and materials. Treat your child's teacher to a night at the movies, a trip to a favorite bookstore, or a visit to the spa. Indulge an interest, or just plain indulge!

Bag the Apples

It's guaranteed that every teacher has accumulated a multitude of items – from soaps and socks to mugs and oven mitts – engraved with every kind of apple imaginable. Try a unique spin on "an apple for the teacher" theme: a bottle of sparkling cider.

Give the Gift of Time

Give the teacher a book of coupons that can be redeemed for volunteer hours in the classroom. You don't have to spend any money to find that perfect gift for a teacher. Your child's class could benefit from your time and attention more than anything.

These tips were provided by the National Education Association.