As a former teacher, one of my favorite parent volunteer roles was serving as class room parent for my kids’ teachers because I LOVED shopping for teacher gifts. I knew first hand how hard my kids’ teachers worked each day, spending hour upon hour instilling important knowledge, skills, and confidence. I loved finding the best teacher gifts I knew our teachers would love and each year I got compliments about the thoughtful gifts we chose to give as a family and also as a class.
If you’re wondering how I did it, I’m here to share my secrets for giving the best teacher gifts your child’s teacher will treasure. Spoiler- Get to know your child’s teacher and what they love!
I also have a list of the 27 best gifts a parent could give a teacher. From indulgent class gifts, homemade items that teachers really treasure, practical items that will be appreciated each and every school day, to the kinds of gifts to avoid (trust me on this one!), my list of best teacher gifts is designed to make shopping for your child’s teacher easy.
So if you love this post, please share it! Forward it to a friend, post it on a PTA/PTSA Facebook page, and share it on social media. Teachers everywhere thank you! Happy shopping and thanks for being thoughtful!
3 Ways to Get to Know What Your Child’s Teacher Loves
Teachers know your child well but how well do you know your child’s teacher? If you don’t know your child’s teacher as well as you’d like, do some reconnaissance work to be a 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 that shows how much you appreciate their hard work.
1. Ask a Colleague
Fellow staff members can be a great source of information. They’re always happy to provide a few suggestions about favorite foods, restaurants, places to shop, and summer and winter vacation plans if they know your child’s teacher well. Instead of trying to catch them in the hallways at school, be covert and send a quick email. The response will contain a treasure trove of information!
2. Survey Fellow Parents
Ask those you know who 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. 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.
3. Have Your Child Gather Intelligence
Your child spends about 6 hours a day in their classroom and during that time, a lot is learned about their teacher. Comments, behaviors, and observations by your child can provide good clues about the things your teacher likes and can be helpful in figuring out the best teacher gift to give. For example:
- 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. If you’re pooling your money for a gift for a caffeine loving teacher, a Keurig would make a phenomenal gift! Coffee-drinking teachers would LOVE the ability to brew a fresh cup in their own classroom and parents can always gift pods during holidays such as Valentine’s Day, the teacher’s birthday, or just because.
- Are their hands always nicely manicured or are they always applying lotion? A gift certificate for a manicure or lotion in a favorite scent might be appreciated.
- What items do they tend to keep on their desks for snacks? What item has your child seen them eat in class? Are there certain cravings your teacher gets throughout the day? Refill their favorites so they’re never without a classroom pick me up when their energy level starts to dip. After all, it requires a great deal of energy and stamina to teach!s!
- Do they talk about favorite places to go out to dinner? Are there certain restaurants they enjoy visiting with their family? We know how nice it is to enjoy dinner out after a long day at work and teachers feel the same way! 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 be planning to go to the movie theater during winter break or binge on movies and shows on Netflix. A card containing a gift card to your local movie theater or Netflix gift card attached to a couple boxes of movie theater candy (available in the candy aisle at Target) makes a fun movie-themed gift.
- 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.
4 Things to Avoid Giving Classroom Teachers
Getting to know your child’s teacher through observation helps you avoid my list of dreaded gifts and generic items. If you are thinking of giving one of these things, make sure you know your teacher well enough to know that they’ll love these items otherwise avoid them.
- 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! Brands teacher love include Tervis Tumblers, Swell water bottles, and HydroFlask.
27 Best Teacher Gifts
Giving the best teacher gift isn’t impossible if you know your child’s teacher but if you’re feeling stuck, here’s a list of favorite gifts from the teachers at my kids’ elementary school, my former colleagues, and from my experience in the classroom.
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 and fun pencils
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. Pair a handwritten note with custom engraved laser pencils for an even more thoughtful gift. I love the ones from Pew Pew Lasercraft featuring Hamilton and Harry Potter sayings that will be treasured by any teacher! Get free shipping from Pew Pew Lasercraft with code: TECHSAVVYMAMA
3. Custom name labels
Custom name labels help ensure that their classroom stuff doesn’t wander off to another room in the school and if it does, it’s returned to them! Mabel’s Labels 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.
4. 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.
5. Gifts that let them relax
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.
6. 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 or a gift card to Uber Eats, Postmates, GrubHub, Domino’s, etc. Gift cards can be a great pick me up on a hard day or a long day with staff meetings or conferences that keep them at school until late at night.
If you’re giving gift cards as a class gift, tuck them in a classy wallet that they’ll use outside the school day. I love the Mule Clutch Wallet from all-ett. This slim, classy leather wallet comes in tan or black, tucks easily into a school bag or can be carried by itself, and features RFID to keep credit card and passport information safe when traveling during school vacations. Handcrafted in San Diego, the Mule Clutch is currently on sale for $66.50 (regular price is $95).
7. 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?
A couple things you might not think of include a personal heater for super chilly classroom. The Honeywell Heat Bud Ceramic Personal Heater ($24.99) is an affordable gift option that keeps teachers who work well after the bell rings warm even on the coldest days when the heat goes off in the building. 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!
8. 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!
2019 Holiday Gift Guides
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 9-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES :
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
- Outdoor Adventures
- Dog Lovers (and the dogs they love!)
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own.