Back in 2009 I published a teacher gift guide and over the years and since you’ve come back year after year to get gift advice from my The Best Gifts for Teachers (by a teacher!) post, I’ve decided it’s time for an update! Your child’s teacher spends hour upon hour with your child, instilling important knowledge in them as they grow into more confident individuals. They know your child so well so take some time this holiday season to think about what they really want to show how much you appreciate their hard work.
Don’t know your child’s teacher as well as you’d like? Do some reconnaissance work to be a gift ninja! It doesn’t take a lot of time to piece together bits of information to figure out what they like to give them something they will truly love.
Important Questions to Ask to Be a Teacher Gift Ninja
You don’t have to be the room parent or the one who always volunteers to get good information about your child’s teacher. Other parents, your child, and fellow colleagues can be excellent sources of information and now is the perfect time to start asking questions to gather intel as you begin thinking about a gift.
Who do you know that had a child in that teacher’s class last year or the year before?
What was given for holiday and end of the year gifts? Were they group or individual gifts? A second gift of something that was loved is always a good idea and taking up a class collection for a group gift can be a great way to purchase something that might be a splurge for your beloved teacher.
What does your child notice about their teacher?
Using your child’s power of observation, you can pick up good clues about the things your teacher likes.
- Is there always a paper Starbucks cup on their desk in the morning or do they drink water throughout the day? Give a Starbucks gift card or an insulated tumbler that they can sip water from to stay hydrated during their long days.
- Are their hands always nicely manicured or are they always applying lotion? A manicure gift certificate or bottle of favorite lotion might be appreciated.
- What items do they tend to keep on their desks for snacks? They won’t mind a refill of their favorites.
- Do they talk about favorite places to go out to dinner? A restaurant gift certificate treats them to a night off from cooking after a long day at school.
- Are they traveling for the holidays or staying close to home? A class gift of an airline gift certificate could help a teacher plan a trip to see family over spring break or the summer. Those looking forward to a relaxing holiday at home might like to see one of the latest movies during winter break.
- What things do they love doing outside school? Gift certificates for items that fuel their hobbies are appreciated. Your child spends hours upon hours with their teacher so chances are they’re noticing a lot or picking up little bits of trivia about their teacher’s personality that can translate into gift giving. A little observation goes a long way!
- What’s their favorite color? It’s always nice to be able to select items in a color they love rather than having to guess.
Getting to know your child’s teacher through observation and others helps you avoid my list of dreaded gifts and generic items that are simply ok in favor of ones that will be truly memorable.
4 Things to Avoid Giving Classroom Teachers
- World’s Best Teacher tchotchkes— Your child will have a lot of teachers in their years of schooling. Is this year’s teacher THE BEST? While it may be a compliment, no teacher really believes this so save your money because this item will never get displayed in their home. Instead it will get tucked away with the many other items just like it that have been received over the years.
- Apple paraphernalia— According to Smithsonian Magazine, apples were originally given to teachers on the frontier to show appreciation for those in charge of more than 50 students. Let old traditions die and leave the apple themed things on the store shelf.
- Baked goods and sweets— Just like you’re trying to be more health conscious too, so is your child’s teacher. Unless you know that your gift will be something that they really want or love, it might be best to refrain from extra boxes of chocolate and homemade baked goods.
- Mugs— Generally the rule is no more mugs! Avoid the traditional ceramic ones in favor of insulated mugs that will keep hot beverages warm for hours of sipping or a large bottle for water in their favorite color BUT if your teacher adores things with monograms, a special ceramic mug with their initial in their favorite color might be appreciated!
27 Gifts Teachers Love
For this year’s Teacher Gift Guide, I’ve asked the teachers at our elementary school, my former colleagues, and used my own years of expertise as a classroom teacher to come up with this list of favorite gifts!
1. Gift cards or gift certificates
The ability to choose something they truly want is what they want the most. Gift cards and gift certificates let your teacher capitalize on post-holiday sales and buy something that catches their eye. If you worried this seems too impersonal, use your reconnaissance to pair it with something you know they’ll like for a more thoughtful gesture with a truly personal touch. For ideas, visit my The Best Gifts for Teachers (by a teacher!) post for great ideas of items to pair with gift cards.
2. Handwritten notes
Besides gift cards, the #2 most coveted gift from students are handwritten notes. Teachers who love to receive notes would appreciate the gift of beautiful personalized stationary even in the age of electronic communication. I always love browsing the Tiny Prints site for personalized note cards and stationary because they offer gorgeous designs at discounted prices at this time of year. Check out their Stationary Gift Sets for collections that feature notepads, flat notecards, lined notebooks, and notepads in coordinating styles that you can purchase individually or together depending on your budget. While you’re on the Tiny Prints site, another great gift for teachers are their name labels to ensure that their classroom stuff doesn’t wander off to another room in the school! Their site allows you to customize text and fonts and orders tend to arrive in just 3-4 days. For years I’ve ordered our family’s holiday cards, my business cards, and personalized stationary for myself and both kids from Tiny Prints and have never been disappointed.
3. Funds towards their DonorsChoose.org project
While not a gift for them personally, if you know your teacher has a project on DonorsChoose.org that needs funding, contributing funds is most appreciated. It’s a gift that they will appreciate and one you can feel good about giving because it’s something your child (and others after them) can enjoy using in the classroom for the rest of the year. To find out if your teacher has a project, visit the DonorsChoose.org site and use the search boxes to type in your teacher’s and name of your school along with your zip code.
4. Gifts that let them relax
Ok, this idea is my own and not from our school staff because I know from my time in the classroom that these are much appreciated. After long days on their feet and talking almost nonstop, vacations are an opportunity to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Avid readers would appreciate an Amazon gift card to reload their Kindles with books from their must-read list while a gift certificate to Massage Envy allows teachers to spend some time pampering themselves with a massage or facial at a location nearest to their house (or to enjoy while traveling since locations are nationwide) so they can come back to school a bit more rejuvenated in the New Year.
5. A day where they don’t have to bring their lunch
For most teachers, lunch time is never glamorous. While an hour for lunch may seem luxurious, it’s always spent in line at the copy machine, trying to grade work, returning a phone call, or with students finishing work that wasn’t done earlier in the day. Treat your teacher by finding out their favorite nearby restaurant that delivers to school and purchase a gift certificate. This can be used for lunch or one of the days where they have to be at school until late at night. A restaurant gift certificate is great for days where there are parent teacher conferences and other events that require teachers to be at school for long hours before heading home.
6. Something they might not buy themselves
If you’re collecting funds for a class gift, treat your teacher to something that would be a decadent surprise. An Edible Arrangement delivered to school not only is a healthy treat but becomes the talk of the staff lounge or if you want to give a gift that they can enjoy a bit longer, why not give have fruit from Harry and David delivered to school each month for three months? Teachers who have recently become new moms would adore a necklace from Helen Ficalora featuring the initial of their little one on a chain. Not only would this help keep their little one nearby all day long but Helen Ficalora was the pioneer of the alphabet-charm craze and her designs are classics!
One gift a teacher might appreciate is the Honeywell Heat Bud Ceramic Personal Heater ($24.99). This is a great affordable gift option that keeps teachers who work well after the bell rings warm even on the chilliest afternoons. This desktop size heater may be compact but delivers a good amount of heat. It’s perfect for warming cold hands while grading papers after school or putting under the desk to heat up cold feet quickly and evenly thanks to the ceramic technology. It’s built in safety features makes it great for classroom use. It uses only 250 watts of energy, features tip over protection thanks to the wide base, Cool Touch housing and over heat protection. Plus it comes in 4 stylish colors (black, green, red, and white) to match any classroom décor.
7. Anything homemade
The teachers at our school also said they loved getting handmade gifts from students so get your craft on! Here’s a list of 20 homemade gifts our elementary teachers said they have gotten from students and loved to give you an idea of what your teacher might like too!
Win a Sterling Silver Cupcake Charm on a 18″ Chain from Helen Ficalora!
In honor of our beloved teachers, Helen Ficalora is offering a gorgeous sterling silver cupcake charm on a 18″ chain ($55 value). This special piece of jewelry will always be a sweet reminder of the gift giver.
Samples were received for review purposes. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. All images courtesy of the companies.