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Gifts for Teachers: What Teachers Want (and What They Can Do Without)

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Gifts for Teachers

I always struggle with what to buy my sons’ teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, Christmas, and the end of school.  When I was teaching, I appreciated everything and was always surprised when I would get a few gifts, even for Valentine’s Day or Easter.  Parents are so sweet to think of their child’s teachers any time of the year.  Teachers work hard and deserve to be spoiled a little bit from time to time. 

I asked a few of my teacher friends what they always love getting from students.  I thought this could help parents like me who really don’t have a clue about gifts for teachers!  Of course, every teacher is different, but here are just a few ideas of what was suggested:

  • Supplies for the classroom.  Teachers spend a lot on classroom supplies, so giving a few things to help out would likely always be appreciated.  Or ask the teacher if he/she has a wish list!  (I always loved getting sanitizer…ha!)
  • Personalized gifts – anything personalized to the teacher, or even monogrammed is great.  One teacher said she loves her monogrammed notepad she was given.  If you are close with the teacher or know a little about her life, personalized things like Origami Owl would be great.
  • Drinks – I heard this from most of my teacher friends.  A case of their favorite soda, a bottle of cold water, coffee, or a fountain drink from Sonic is greatly appreciated!  (You might ask them nonchalantly what their favorite beverage is or get your child to ask so you know what they like!)  Drinks are a nice surprise and pick me up, I know!
  • Snacks – Same as drinks, but this gets a bit trickier because of diets and food restrictions.  For instance, one teacher I asked said she does NOT like to get chocolate, while one said chocolate is always welcome!  So do your research if you’re going to give food.
  • College or Professional Sports Gear – Most teachers love “stuff” from their Alma Mater, and a lot of teachers I know have at least one favorite sports team, especially male teachers.  This opens up many choices, because you can find anything and everything with college or sports teams’ names on them.
  • Gift Cards – You can’t go wrong with a gift card, that’s my motto at least.  Craft stores, book stores, or restaurants are good.  See if your child can give you some clues as to what they like…if the teacher sips coffee in the morning, chances are he or she will like a Starbucks card.  If all else fails, pick up a gift card to a teacher supply store or you know…Target.  🙂  And they don’t have to be worth lots of money, either.  Teachers can make $5 gift cards go a long way, I promise!
  • Hand written cards – You wouldn’t believe how touching and meaningful a handwritten note is, whether it be from the student or parent.  A note about a specific incident or how the teacher helped your child is a wonderful way to show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them.  It’s the cheapest, but probably best gift ever!  Add in a handmade picture or photo of your child to make it even better.

Now, I asked teachers what they prefer not to get.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t love and appreciate every single gift given to them, because they really, really do!  But these gifts are given a lot and if a teacher has taught for years and years, this stuff really piles up.  And most teachers I know love to be organized and also have a hard time parting with things their students have given them.  So, after ten years, they’re left with “what do I do with all of this?”  So, unless you know that your child’s teacher collects one of the things below, get something else or save your money and write a sweet card.

  • Teacher-y or Apple Themed stuff 
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Ornaments
  • Coffee Mugs

​What is an awesome teacher gift that you’ve either given or received?


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Saturday 29th of November 2014

When I taught, the gifts I liked the most were the ones the kids had made.  Second favorite were the things that it was very obvious the child had picked out.  Beyond that, if the parents gave a gift, gift cards to bookstores were usually my favorite because I could get books for the classroom.  I know a lot of teachers liked chocolate too :)

Gift Maker

Wednesday 21st of May 2014

My wife is a teacher and she says it means the most to her what children give her. She gets all kind of gifts (usually self made, virtually $0 value) from kids and she loves them. It shows that she has the right approach towards them. She gets a lot of "love letters" - pictures with "i love you teacher" note ;)

  One cool idea for a teacher farewell gift is a photo book, but whole class has to be involved, otherwise you can't do it.


Monday 5th of May 2014

THANK YOU! Love this. Pinning.

Alice Chase

Monday 5th of May 2014

My default is usually a gift card but I also try to throw in something cute and handmade from our kids as well for a personal touch. Our shool puts together a booklet of all the teachers and volunteers favorite things the week before to help parents know what they like as well. 


Monday 5th of May 2014

That's such a great idea!  I wish my son's school did that.


Sunday 4th of May 2014

What a great list! My mom is a school librarian and I know she'd appreciate these!!


Monday 5th of May 2014

Ah yes, can't forget the librarians!  Librarians are so awesome.  :)

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