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One of the questions that I am asked quite a bit is about teacher gifts: What do teachers want for a gift?  Should it be personal or for the classroom?  Do teachers like gift cards or personalized gifts?   There are so many more, but I thought that I would sum it all up in today’s post.

Wrapping paper and present on a table.As a former teacher myself, I can tell you that the gift that I remember the most was given to me about 15 years ago, from one of my first-grade students named Stephanie.   Her family struggled financially and she had a difficult home life, so buying gifts for others was not something that was done in their family.

Right before the students left for the holiday break, Stephanie put a present on my desk, with a picture that she drew that said: “I love you, Mrs. Mansfield.”

Her gift was an old ornament: a flat,  unpainted,  clay snowman with a few chips and cracks in it.   She took that snowman and colored it with bright colors.  She wrote her name on it in big letters.  She even glued a picture of herself to the snowman and added a piece of thread to add a loop, to allow me to hang it on my Christmas tree.

That ornament is still hanging on our Christmas tree & every year I tell my own children about her.   It has always been my favorite gift from a student, because of the love that went into it.

A gift does not have to be expensive to be special… the most special gift cost nothing at all.

This year, I asked a group of teachers what their favorite past gifts from students have been.   They gave many suggestions, some of which I’ve included today.   If you are thinking about what to give your child’s teacher for the holidays, we have you covered. 🙂

Gifts for Teachers for the Holidays

Text about gifts for teachers.

1. A Letter of Appreciation

When we think about all of the things that teachers do for our kids day in and day out, a letter of appreciation sounds like such a small thing. For many teachers though, a letter of appreciation can mean the world:

“The best gift I could receive would be a letter of appreciation written by the parents or students,” explained Nan, a retired teacher of 40 years.

Nicole, a second-year teacher agreed. “I’m a second-year teacher, but the notes and cards I have received are my most cherished presents,” she said.

2. Tickets for an Outing for The Teacher’s Family

Although kids may not think they do, teachers have lives outside of school.  🙂   If you have a friend in the class, go in on a gift together.   Tickets (or credit) to the zoo, a museum, the movies, or an amusement park for their entire family is a great idea!

Lady holding a present.

3. Personalized Items

Many teachers commented on their love of personalized items.  From personalized pencils to lunch totes, these gifts are meaningful and unique.   One teacher said that last year she received a gift of a personalized candy dish filled with enough candy and gum to last her a semester.  She said that it was one of her favorite gifts.

4. Gift Cards for Manicures or Pedicures

Teachers are on their feet all day long, so a relaxing manicure or pedicure is a fabulous way to pamper them. Check with reputable shops close to the school to see if they offer gift cards so that the teacher can stop to be pampered after a long week at school.

5. Classroom Supplies 

It’s no secret that school teachers spend hundreds of their own dollars to buy supplies for their classrooms. In fact, when I started teaching, I was told that the average teacher spends 20-25% of their paycheck on classroom materials and supplies. Many teachers have an online wishlist that you can choose from.

6. Plants

One of the suggestions that surprised us the most was plants! One teacher said that the best gift she ever got from the parents of her students was a small tree, gardening tools, gardening boots, a book, and tea. Another said that plants were always welcome because she could enjoy them at home during the summer and hang them up in the classroom for some fresh air during the year. If you’re not sure what type of plants to get, perhaps get a gift card for a local garden center.

7. Gift Cards

Many teachers put gift cards at the top of their lists. Many of the teachers suggested that gift cards for coffee shops and restaurants, that were close to the school, made great gifts.  Since many teachers grab a bite after school with their co-workers or go out to lunch on Teacher Work Days, those local gift cards come in handy!

.No matter what you give them, the overwhelming sentiment from all of our teachers was that it’s truly the thought that counts. Knowing that you appreciate them and that you value their role in your child’s life makes for the best gift of all.


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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. This program is a great idea. There are dozens of teachers seeking funding in my area alone. IA couple are seeking funds to put a bookcase in their classroom so the children can share books from home with their fellow classmates. That is a good way to get the kids involved.

  2. Such a fan of SONIC’s Limeades for Learning program! My teacher friends have been able to do a lot for their students, thanks to Sonic.