Teacher Gifts Teachers Actually Want

So it’s early November and if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking ahead and planning your Christmas list already.  I’ve seen so many ideas for teacher gifts but I’ve never seen or heard any real feedback on how they’re received.

So, I asked for feedback.  I talked to almost 30 friends who teach kids from pre-school to high school.  I had an idea about what the #1 gift would be but I was wrong.  Their answers surprised me and I’m so happy I asked.

Here’s what the teachers are saying…

If you can, check with the teacher and the administrators.  Some schools encourage teachers to fill out a small questionnaire that includes the teacher’s favorite things.  Think favorite candy, scent, flavor of coffee, department store, or flower.  I’ve never even thought to ask until a friend told me that one of the schools she worked at did this.  Guess who’s checking with the teacher before buying a Christmas gift now!  Yep, it’s me.

If your school doesn’t have a questionnaire, try one of these gifts.

1. Handmade gifts

One of my teacher friends suggested that her favorite homemade gifts are those that she can display in her classroom for everyone to see.  She enjoys that she’s able to see them every day when she’s at work as well as displaying them for others to see.  Handmade gifts take a lot of thought, time, and effort and it’s important to showcase that.  She also said that she loves to think of the kid who gave it to her when she looks at it.  (As a parent, I love this.  I really hope that my daughter’s teachers are able to look back and think of her fondly.)

Related:  The Best Gifts for a One Year Old

2. Something that the child picked out

With all of those beautiful teacher gifts that you pinned calling your name, it’s easy to forget that your child might want to show Mrs. Smith how much he appreciates her.  Your child spends a lot of time with his teacher and probably knows a few details about her.  For example, he might know that Mrs. Smith has two dogs that she absolutely adores or that she really enjoys baking cookies.  Unless you know Mrs. Smith personally, you probably wouldn’t know that about her.

Give him a budget and let him pick something that he knows Mrs. Smith will like, even if it’s a bone for her two dogs or a cookie cutter.  Your child will be so excited to give his teacher the gift and that excitement is one of the only reasons she goes to work every day.

3. Something that the child can see the teacher use

This is definitely not one that crossed my mind but my daughter’s pre-school teacher brought up a good point.  Kids, no matter how old, want to see that their teacher likes their gift.  She said that she specifically loves getting bags, travel mugs and tumblers, or even books to be shared in the classroom.  My mom, who is a pre-school teacher, piggy backed on this and said that she loves getting jewelry (either handmade or store bought) because she can wear it throughout the school day for all of her kids to see.  The giver of the gift is always so happy when they get to announce, “Mrs. O!  That’s what I got you for Christmas!”.

4. Gift cards

Gift cards are practical.  They can be used immediately or tucked away for a rainy day.  This is definitely a gift that a questionnaire would help guide you as the gift giver, though.  I have a friend who got a handful of Starbucks gift cards but doesn’t drink coffee.  That same year, she got a Target gift card and you better believe she used it right away.  Knowing what establishments Mrs. Smith frequents makes this gift more sensible.  If you have no idea where Mrs. Smith shops, gift cards to Staples, the Dollar Tree, or the local grocery store are always great!

Secondly, gift cards are practical for the gift giver.  Some parents are able and more than willing to give a $50 gift card whereas others may only be able to spare $5 of their holiday budget.  Either way, it’s a kind gesture and it means that your child can proudly present her teacher with a gift.

Related: The Best Board Books for Children

5. Group gifts

I have a friend who absolutely thrives when she is managing and organizing.  She told me that one year, her child’s teacher made it known that she would be taking her family on a Disney Vacation through the year.  My friend spoke with all of the other parents of the class and arranged to give the teacher a $150 Disney gift card to be used on her vacation.  This is such a great idea!  While 15 or so small gifts would have been equally appreciated, she was able to treat herself and her family with the class’s generosity towards one large gift. 

6. Letters

I’m pretty positive that no teacher chooses this career for the money.  Someone I went to high school with told me that the most amazing Christmas gifts he receives are letters.  He keeps the letters that his kids give him as gifts for days when he’s feeling stressed.  Reading those letters reminds him that he means something to those kids and that his work, regardless of how stressful, is making a difference.  After hearing this, I made a personal commitment to always write a letter to my girls’ teachers.  Kids don’t always recognize the value of what they are being taught but I see Lis changing every day and her teachers have had a huge part in making her who she is today.

“The ultimate teacher’s gift is the gratification of knowing that you made a difference.” – Jake B. – Middle School P.E. Teacher


Are you a teacher?  Is there something you would like to add to this list?  Please do so in the comments!  These men and women work very hard to educate our children and I want to make sure that they are shown the thanks they deserve!