Whether it be a holiday, Teacher appreciation week, or the end of the year – there are plenty of opportunities to search for the best teacher gift ideas.
There are lots of directions you can go with educator gifts: homemade vs. store-bought, practical vs. sentimental, classroom supplies vs. relaxation treats. The sky’s the limit! But is one better than the other?
If you’re looking for a Christmas gift specifically, we more festive holiday teacher gift ideas here.
We’re here to find out what makes the best teacher gifts.
Let’s start unwrapping.
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In This Guide:
What Is the Best Gift to Give a Teacher?
We asked teachers a simple question – what is the absolute best gift to give a teacher?
And the number 1 answer was…
A Thoughtful Note
Teachers chose their profession for the students (believe me, it’s not for the paycheck!).
They have extremely tough and often thankless jobs. A note of appreciation from a student or parent goes a long way.
Write a note that thanks your educator and shows them how much you appreciate everything they do. Personalize it by adding something specific your child has enjoyed in their classroom.
A Gift Card
Everyone appreciates gift cards, teachers are no exception! The more versatile, the better.
Some great teacher gift ideas include Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Staples.
More Great Teacher Gift Ideas
For a great teacher gift, the best ideas are practical, consumable, or things you KNOW they want.
Here are some of the top teacher gift ideas:
Most teachers end up spending their own money on supplies for their classroom, so they often appreciate any help in this area they can get.
Items like nice pens, dry erase markers, post it notes, and Sharpies are winners.
You could also get them personalized pencils as students tend to keep the ones they “borrow” so making them say the teacher’s name or something like “Ms. A is the BEST!” is a cute idea. One benefit of going this route is that you can go all cutesy gift basket, if you choose, but no pressure!
Their Favorite Drink
Coffee is a common choice among teachers, but they could have a different favorite.
A 6-pack of their drink of choice is a sweet way to show you notice and care!
Book Of The Month
The Book Of The Month Club is a subscription service for books which is an awesome gift for any book lover!
So if your teacher is a reader, you can gift them 3, 6 or 12 months of books. Picking books for someone else can be challenging, but with this service they get to pick which book they want from a selection of choices each month.
A Spa Day
Give your teacher some rest and relaxation with a spa day.
Get a gift card to a local spa for a massage or facial. Another great option is to give a manicure or pedicure which can be easier to find as many salons offer them and are often more budget-friendly options.
If your children’s teacher is a jewelry fan, looking for a unique piece from a store like ten thousand villages would be a fun and practical gift idea.
Ask any teacher, you can never have enough Clorox disinfecting wipes in the classroom.
While it may not seem like the most glamorous gift, trust us that it will be one of the most appreciated.
To make it feel more personal, you can include a cute note that says something like, “I’m coming clean, you’re the best teacher!” or “thank you for infecting the kids with the desire to learn!”.
Give a night out at the movies!
Yes, this is technically also a gift card (perhaps you’ve noticed a common theme in many of these gift ideas), but it is a great gift especially for a movie lover!
Having a small, multi-purpose toolkit in the classroom is one of the most practical and appreciated teacher gift ideas.
Find Out What They Want
Plenty of teachers need things for their classroom and end up buying it themselves. Asking what is needed doesn’t have the appeal of a cutesy gift, but you know for sure that it helps the teacher.
Check Their Amazon Classroom Wish List
Some teachers create classroom Wish Lists on Amazon with things they need. This makes it super easy for parents who want to help out to donate to the class.
It is also a perfect place to find a teacher gift that you know is needed and will definitely be put to good use!
What Gifts Can Teachers Accept? (And What They Can’t!)
Keep in mind that there are certain gifts that teachers are not permitted to accept (or items that are not allowed to be brought to school in general).
It’s important to always check your school’s gift policy before giving.
Here are a few items you should NOT give to your child’s teacher:
While gifting them a bottle of wine or tequila might seem like a kind (and much needed!) gesture, alcohol is not permitted on school grounds.
This is especially true if you’re having your child transport the gift to school since minors should not be in possession of alcohol.
Large monetary gifts over a certain amount (specified by the school, often over $100) have to be reported to the school administration.
Reporting to the school means lots of paperwork which is something teachers do NOT need. While the money is appreciated, there are better ideas.
Items from your teacher’s amazon wish list or a donation to the school dedicated to the teacher.
Before gifting, always check your school’s policy on cash gifts.
While it may seem like a great idea to give your child’s teacher that puppy she’s been asking for, animals are generally not allowed gifted.
While a cigar may seem like a cute idea to celebrate the end of the school year for an aficionado, think again.
Nicotine products like cigarettes, cigars, vaping items, and lighters are not permitted.
Okay okay, this one may seem obvious. However, it happens more than you would think.
Swiss army knives, a kitchen cutlery set, and craft kits containing razor blades and/or box cutters are all items that teachers have reported being gifted that have resulted in kids getting in major trouble.
A gift card to Amazon or Bed Bath and Beyond with a note suggesting what you intend it to be used for.
What Gifts Do Teachers Not Want?
And finally, there are the items that teachers are allowed to receive… but simply would rather not.
Here are a few teacher gift ideas to skip.
That “World’s Best Teacher” mug may seem like the perfect gift for your child’s favorite teacher, but trust us when we tell you to leave it on the shelf.
Teachers receive SO MANY mugs over their career. Most of them end up donating out of sheer abundance.
Think you found a clever one they haven’t seen before? Think again – they’ve seen all the teacher mugs ever made.
While homemade Christmas cookies may seem like a thoughtful gift, it’s best opt for something store-bought and sealed.
Every teacher has their own taste preferences and allergies, so it’s helpful to see the flavor and list of ingredients.
Plus, it’s impossible for a teacher to know when homemade items were prepared, how long they are good for, if they were handled properly, etc.
Even for teachers with a big sweet tooth, it’s best to skip candy as they already receive a TON as gifts throughout the year.
A nice substitute for candy when searching for teacher gifts ideas is a variety pack of gum.
Educators have received every variation of teacher-related Christmas ornaments, desk decorations, and cute wall hangings. Their classrooms and homes are full of trinkets!
Instead of a generic teacher-related item, search for personal teacher gift ideas they really want.
What Do Teachers Actually Want for Gifts?
Most teachers appreciate any gift from a student, but what do they actually want?
Well consider that teachers might get gifts from several students, so it makes sense that even awesome gifts would quickly become overwhelming if given by multiple students every year. So what sort of gifts would you want to get 10 or more of each year?
As we mentioned – hands down, the most common thing teachers say they want is gift cards. In particular, gift cards to Amazon, Target, and restaurants are teacher favorites and any amount large or small is appreciated.
For tight budgets, a heartfelt note from a student or parent is the next most common answer teachers give when asked about teacher gifts ideas.
What other teacher gift ideas have you discovered that were well-loved and appreciated?