The Best Gifts for Teachers – What They Really Want!

Whether it’s teacher appreciation week, the end of school, or “just because”, here are the best gift ideas for teachers – these are items that they will LOVE (based on a teacher survey I conducted!)

gifts for teachers

Teacher Gifts

Whether it’s teacher appreciation week, Christmas, or the end of the school year, it’s a nice gesture if you decide to do so.At some point or another, most parents and children wnat to give their teachers a present.

But if you are like me, you might find yourself wondering what does a teacher actually want or need?

I personally am not a fan of giving junk or gifts that will just clutter up the place either. I like to give gifts that people are excited to open and use!

So I thought I would compile together a list of gifts that teachers really appreciate – as well as a few things you may want to avoid. Of course, I’m sure teachers are grateful for any act of kindness they are given…but sometimes it’s nice to know what they’ve really enjoyed.

I touched on this briefly in my post about what your child’s teacher wishes you knew, but hopefully this post will give you some more specific ideas. Most of these ideas came from the teacher survey I did. I have included a few direct quotes, too!

If you are a teacher, please chime in below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Gift Cards

Gift cards of any kind are almost always going to be a safe bet – whether it be to a place where the teacher can be classroom supplies, her favorite snack or meal, or even to a movie theater – a gift card is a great gift that teachers love.

Here are a few great places to get gift cards to:

If your school participate in Scrip, you could even get the gift card through there, and it will doubly benefit the school.

“Gift cards to practical places- wegmans, target, coffee as well as thoughtful gifts. I’m also practical so something useful is helpful too!!”

Classroom Supplies

Teachers are always needing items in the classroom. Don’t be afraid to ask them if there’s anything that might be useful. You could even encourage them to write a “classroom wish list” – it might be useful for other parents as well. They might need anything from pencils and papers to games and paint!

  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Paper
  • Coloring Books
  • Paint and paint brushes (or water colors)
  • Age appropriate games (The Best Games for Preschoolers – this are great for younger grades as well)
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Rulers
  • Erasers
  • Dry erase markers
  • Items for a prize box

“Honestly I loves receiving classroom materials even more: expo markers, pencils, Kleenex, Clorox wipes, and my favorite books! Any materials the class may be short on were so helpful since I had such a low budget at one school and no budget at another! It helps when I don’t have to buy things out of my own pocket.”

Hand Written Notes

Whenever we’ve given Jack’s teacher a gift, we’ve made sure to have him write a hand written note to his teachers. I think that anything that the child made or wrote themselves means a lot. Writing a little card or note yourself is nice to – everyone likes to hear thank you every now and then!

“I have had some parents write really sweet notes/emails to me telling me what a good teacher I am and that meant so much to me! It was better than any gift they could have given!”

“Notes of appreciation from both students and parents are also treasured! I love hearing my students memories of me and our time together in the classroom.”

Themed Gift Basket or Gift

I might be careful with this, just because you can easily spend a lot OR put a lot of items in a basket that the teacher doesn’t need. But it can be a fun way to give a larger gift – such as if the entire class chips in. Here are a few fun ideas:

  • Classroom supply basket
  • Favorite things basket
  • A book of letters from the entire class (maybe include some from parents as well). You can even compile it somewhere like Blurb so you can get it hardbound. You can also take it to Kinkos or Staples and have them bind it.
  • Cookies/Baked Goods (such as from Cookies by Design or some place similar)

DonorChoose is a great website where teachers can crowd fund for items they need in their classroom. You can ask your child’s teacher if they have anything setup on so you can donate money to it.


The gift of time is always wanted and needed – just volunteer in the classroom! Most classrooms will have a formal volunteer program, but if they don’t, don’t hesitate to ask what you can do. You can also contact your teacher and let them know that you are happy to volunteer in any way – in the classroom, cutting out papers at home, helping sort through papers, organize…anything!

Bring them Lunch

Who doesn’t love having a special lunch? At some point, as your child’s teacher what their favorite fast food/fast casual restaurant is and surprise them with lunch one day. You can always drop off a gift card as well, as mentioned above.

Subscription box

There are A LOT of really fun subscription boxes out there – this might be one that the whole class could enjoy, depending on what box you get.

Books for the Classroom

What classroom doesn’t need more books? Donating a new book or two can be a nice way to help the teacher and the students.

I would check to see what books are already in the classroom and go from there. When Jack had a book fair at school earlier this year, they had an option where you could buy a book there to donate directly to a teacher’s classroom. I thought that was neat.

A personalized book might be a fun idea as well – here is a big list of personalized book for kids.

Here is a list of books you may want to consider (the books you get will obviously depend on the grade the teacher teaches):

Subscription to Scribd

I wrote last week about how much I enjoy Scribd in my Scribd Review, an audiobook and eBook streaming service. I think this would be a fun and unique gift for a teacher, because it has SO many great books!


In my survey, some people LOVED homemade or store bought treats and others said they would prefer not to get them. It really seemed that people felt passionate one way or the other! So I would just ask the teacher if they like getting treats for gifts – you never know what side of the fence they might fall on. And if they do, awesome! Here are a few treats they may enjoy:

“I love getting healthy snacks! One time a girl brought in a smoothie that she picked up from jamba juice on her way to school and it made my day! Also a girl gave me some homemade peach jam that her mom made and I loved that too!”

“You can’t go wrong with chocolate! I’m a dessert snob, so I always appreciated the quality chocolate.”

What To Avoid:

I hesitate to write these out, just because I do believe teachers are grateful for anyone to think of them. However, here are a few things people mentioned over and over again my survey as things they appreciate the thought from but don’t necessarily want/need 🙂

Jewelry or Clothing

A teacher may have a very distinct style for jewelry, and if there is something that falls under that category that you find – then great! But in general, avoid buying anything like jewelry or clothing. If your child makes something, though, that would be an exception 🙂

Home Decor

Unless you know them and their home really well (which, most of us won’t be on that level with our child’s teacher), I would avoid buying any kind of home decor.

Lotions, Soaps, Candles etc.

These can be tricky – while I’m sure teachers use lotions and soap, people can be really picky about these things. I know I am!

Mugs or Thermoses

I think people often equate teachers with mugs and thermoses – I mean, teachers are notorious for drinking coffee! However, they probably have more than enough mugs and thermoses, so I would avoid this one. I mean, I’m not a teacher – and I don’t even drink coffee – and our cupboard is FULL of mugs that we’ve collected over the years. Which reminds me, I need to get rid of those!

Stuffed Animals

I had two teachers in elementary school who LOVED penguins – and they specifically asked for penguin stuffed animals. In that case – stuffed animals are a great idea! However, for most teachers, they probably don’t have a lot of need for stuffed animals.


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