Tips for Terrific Teacher Gifts

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Teaching is hard work. Whether your students are your own flesh and blood or someone else’s children, the life of a teacher is one of giving. And so it’s nice when others give back.

Plus, thanking one’s teacher is a great habit to instill in our children.

Here are some tips for making your teacher gifts a little extra special.

Consider the teacher’s habits and tastes.

Some people assume that all teachers love red apples and rulers. Unfortunately, this is not the case, despite the glut of red apples and rulers that infiltrate the teacher gift section of your local gift shop.

Unless you plan on getting your teacher a new computer, I’d veer away from the apple theme. Instead, determine what he or she likes to do when not in the classroom and try to find something that fits him or her.

Does he like to cook? Is she into basketball? What’s his favorite coffee? A few well placed questions can help you find a well-suited gift.

Avoid the coffee mugs.

Unless you know that your child’s teacher has a coffee cup collection — on purpose — opt out of the frugal but abundant gift of choice for teachers. A $5 giftcard to Starbucks or a local coffee chop will go much farther and clutter up his kitchen less.

Be considerate of food allergies.

While I know that my mother-in-law totally appreciated every teacher gift she received, there were not many food gifts that she could enjoy. Due to nut allergies, she had to pass on almost everything homemade due to cross-contamination issues as well as many store bought items that were clearly labeled that it contained nuts.

A gift card goes a long way.

Few of us have a ton of excess these days. But, a gift card, even in smaller denominations is much appreciated. Join forces with other parents and perhaps you can up the amount together.

A simple thank you matters.

It’s wonderful if you have the means to give a gift to your child’s teachers, but sometimes this isn’t feasible. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Just don’t neglect to say thanks.

So many times, teaching feels like a “thankless” job. And granted, there are some teachers that don’t toe the line. But there are many who do who need your encouragement. A handwritten note expressing your appreciation for their hard work matters more than anything.

What kind of teacher gifts do YOU give?

For more holiday inspiration and daily giveaways, check out The Christmas Fun series.

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  1. This is actually one area, I like to “splurge” on. My kids go to a Christian School. I know their teachers don’t make tons of money! Most importantly, they CARE FOR MY KIDS for many hours a week. I start collecting “fun” things at the 50% off sales right after Christmas. Last year, I found adorable Christmas nightlights…I then add a piece of “teacher-ish” jewelry. Also, found at huge bargains, I put small homemade treats in their bags, but I also put in a 20.00 gift card to Walmart or Target…
    they work SO HARD, I figure they deserve it!

  2. Thanks for the update on checking for food allergies.. I was planning on gifting a basket of homemade brownies but now I am going to rethink that..

  3. I have given homeade greenery centerpieces (using boxwood, holly, etc.). These are a bit akward to carry into school (especially the time I took about 5 into the daycare!), but the teachers seem to appreciate them. Remind the teachers to water them!

  4. We’re getting my son’s Kindergarten teacher a gift card to Target. I figure it can be used for either the classroom or for her personally. And we also got a small Vera Bradley notebook because she loves Vera Bradley!

  5. The best gift is a handwritten note from your child to their teacher – even a kindergartner can draw a picture. Include a note from yourself that tells the teacher how much you appreciate them. Those notes come in handy on rough days (yes, teachers save those and use them as a morale boost).

    1. @Melinda M, I totally agree!! As a teacher myself, a heartfelt note from mom and/or dad along with a note from the child (or drawing) is SOOOOO special to me!! And yes, you are right…..every one of my teacher friends has a stash of parent notes to remind us why we are in this field!

  6. Great ideas. We are going the gift card route. I have a couple of friends who are teachers told me that they love most gift cards to places where they can purchase items for use in the classroom (Target, Office Max, a book store etc.) Often they need to use their own $$ to purchase supplies and this helps them out allot.

  7. I made the teachers Tom’s BBQ rub from the Diners, Drive ins and Dives Cookbook. I put it in a 500ml mason jar with a ribbon and included the recipe and a BBQ sauce recipe using the rub.

  8. I’m chuckling over here because I’ve seen my son’s teacher 3 times in the last month….all 3 times I went ‘fishing’ to see what she likes…making a comment about coffee– or an ice cold soda, asking if they were baking cookies & their holiday traditions (she has 2 sons similar yrs apart as mine) & all 3x’s I came up with nothing!
    DH was teasing me that it’s the 1st time in awhile I haven’t been able to figure out a gift

  9. Don’t forget Sunday School teachers, Awana leaders, and other regular extracurricular programs leaders. My children have had amazing leaders at church this year and I really feel like so often these are the people who get overlooked. Especially if your child isn’t in school yet! I made up a “Cozy Christmas” gift- fleecy blanket, CD, fun novel and yes, I included a Christmas mug. But for these teachers, they aren’t being barraged with gifts from 25+ students. As a matter of fact, I was the only parent who gave a gift to either of my children’s Sunday School teachers last year! I blogged about my gift here:

  10. I give my kids teachers supplies for their classroom: white board markers, tissues, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, copy paper, etc. Many school budgets have been cut and these types of items are the first to go. Many teachers I know are buying these things themselves and that can be hard on a budget.

  11. This year our gifts for teachers has been a bottle of Mrs. Meyers or Seventh Generation dish soap in yummy scents wrapped up with a flour sack towel that I used a snowflake stitch to embellish. I’m all about practical and who gets through Christmas without washing dishes?!

  12. I hope more folks post ideas! I just enrolled my 6 mth old in daycare so this will be the first time I need a teacher’s gift and I am clueless. I haven’t known her teacher long enough to know what she likes.

  13. Our school sells Scrip so we take a collection among the parents and get a “gift certificate” for the Scrip of their choice along with a card from the kids and a nice orchid. That way they can get what they really want.

  14. As a teacher, I approve of your list. There’s nothing better than a nice note from a student/parent. I could also never turn down homemade salsa, tamales or eggrolls…but that’s just me. 🙂

  15. As a teacher myself I wanted to comment on how practical gift cards are so we can have a cup of coffee or how great they are to school supply places. Some things we egt a lot of are mugs and candles..

  16. As a former public school teacher, then homeschooling mom and now back to being a substitute teacher I have lots of ideas on this. Some of the things that I really enjoyed as a teacher were fun sticky note pads, notes from the parents and students and yes, homemade goodies. As a teacher and young mother I did not have time to do a lot of baking and those goodies were such a nice treat! I also enjoyed some beautiful ornaments that were given to me and a special Christmas pin that one of my students bought me at the Dollar Store. I wore that pin proudly and let me tell you, that little boy just glowed when he saw it! 😀

  17. When my kids were in elementary school, I’d take them to the local teacher supply store and have them pick out stickers (for student reward cards), note pads, dry erase markers and cleaner, sticky tack, anything they noticed that the teacher was running short on and used a lot. We only spent $10-12 per teacher, but the kids had a blast picking out the supplies (and seeing the gifts in use after the holiday). Not only did their teachers love their gifts, but it also taught my kids how to pay attention and look for things someone NEEDED, not what they (the child) wanted to give (no dear, your teacher doesn’t need a Rescue Hero figure – lol).

  18. I like your idea of the $5.00 gift card, that is a nice token of appreciation. Homemade gifts are sweet too….jar gifts etc. Homemade hot pads? : ) A bag of coffee or box of tea? A candle? A pretty dish towel?

    Our dd25 has the gift of teaching and teaches a large of group of young ladies in our home once a month for the Lord; a Bible Study and homemaking skill, she also teaches a group of darling Chinese girls at a mission in a medical center whose parents are many times Communists here to do research.

    From watching her care, unwavering devotion, immense time and prayers that go out for these young people, I cannot tell you how much it means for someone to bring her a little something especially with a heartfelt thank you note, or just a heartfelt note alone is huge. It’s huge for our entire family.

    I still have a little sleigh a mother brought me for opening our home, it made me cry that day, I really needed it that, I had even poured my heart out unto the Lord about needing encouragement that morning.

    The folks who take the time to bring a handmade picture or note, little gift etc. stand out as loving Lights for the Lord, you never know what the teacher or leader may be going through.

    Blessings! Great suggestions and thoughts. : )

  19. This year is our first year purchasing teacher gifts, and since it’s preschool, there are two teachers in the class. I figured they get a lot of the same old stuff (candles, lotion, mugs) so I asked if there was something they needed for the classroom. She told me glitter, googly eyes, and other craft supplies. I added in some fuzzy pom poms, and some pipe cleaners as well as some medium size beads. This, along with a note of thanks for each teacher will be our gift this year. My daughter rides the bus to and from school also, so we’ll be giving each of the drivers and helpers (there are 6 total!) a $5 gift card for Half Price Books (they sell new and used books, movies, and music) and a note of thanks.

  20. Wonderful Ideas!!! I just want to remind people to think about the classrooms that have teacher’s aides. I totally forgot one year and felt horrible the rest of the year. I could have done something after Christmas break but was too embarrassed 🙁 So, please remember the second-in-command! Blessings to all!

  21. We got my son’s teachers a basket of homemade soaps and bath products! Made from all natural ingredients.