As you scramble to finish up your shopping lists this time of year, don’t forget the ones who helped ensure you knew how to write that list to begin with—the teachers in your life! I’ve always been one to give teacher gifts at the holidays, but even more so after being a teacher for the past couple of years. Do you know what teachers go through the last week before winter break? Trust me, they deserve all of your gifts, thanks, and praise.
Truly, any gift (big or small) is so appreciated by teachers any time of year. However, depending on how well you know your child’s teacher, you may find teacher gift giving a bit challenging. But it doesn’t have to be with my one-stop teacher gift ideas.
Use Teacher Favorites Lists
First, if your teacher has a list of favorite things—use it. If not, get this one or this one now, and send it to him or her to fill out. Then, distribute it to your class roster for use all year long. You will be a hero. Other parents will thank you, and your teacher will fall at your feet in gratitude.
If your teacher does have a favorites list and there’s a part that says “I have too many _________” or “I don’t need any more ___________”, respect it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say 99% of those blanks are filled with “cups” or “mugs”. I know mine is. So, just say NO to the mugs. For a profession that has so few opportunities for bathroom breaks, parents really like to keep teachers hydrated!
Top 5 Teacher Gifts to Give
1. Gift Cards
They may seem cheesy or cliché, but gift cards are one of the things that teachers actually really want. We use them.
Several teacher friends have told me they love receiving gift cards for services, such as spa or manicures/pedicures. Others love restaurant gift cards. One teacher told me that she loves restaurant gift cards because it encourages her to get out and try new places.
And there are always the good ole standards: Target or Amazon. No teacher will ever complain about receiving a gift card from either of these. Also, don’t forget about a Visa gift card. I received a few last year and loved that I could spend them anywhere.
2. Breakfast or Lunch
If you want to absolutely thrill your teacher, send them a text or email telling them you’re dropping off breakfast or lunch for them tomorrow. You can also have it delivered (clear this with the front office first). Just make sure to take note of any dietary needs.
A meal is always a great gift, but it will be especially appreciated in those final days leading up to winter break when everyone is in survival mode.
3. Personalized Notepads or Cards
Notepads or cards personalized with your teacher’s name or initials on them are timeless and will always get used. Whether they use them for personal business or sending notes home to parents, teachers always need cute paper products.
4. Good Pens
What goes better with notepads than pens? A good pen is hard to beat. And teachers love a good pen! Sharpies and Flair pens are usually big hits with teachers. A personal favorite of mine are the Talking Out of Turn Jotter Pens. And they don’t get cuter than this Schoolin set.
Now this one might seem a little controversial, but use your best judgment. Some of my favorite teacher gifts that I’ve received have been bracelets and earrings. I love that parents and students took the time to notice my style and pick out something with me in mind.
This might not apply to every teacher you have, but if you have a jewelry-wearing teacher, treat her to something you think she might like.
Fun ID lanyards are another great gift option for teachers. Teachers have to carry their ID and keys on them at all times, so they might as well look great doing it!
A Teacher Gift That’s Always in Style
No matter what teacher gift you decide on, have your child include a hand-drawn picture or note of appreciation to their teacher. This simple gesture will mean more to a teacher than anything else you could give them. I have one friend who said receiving those notes is the highlight of her whole year, and she keeps each one in a special book.
Sometimes the simplest gestures mean the most.
Think Beyond the Classroom Teachers
Finally, if you have a little extra time this season, try to remember the staff at your schools who aren’t necessarily in the classroom with your child every day—custodians, cafeteria workers, administrators, specials teachers, librarians, etc. While they aren’t the lead classroom teachers, these individuals are instrumental in the day-to-day life of our schools, and they are often overlooked when gift-giving time comes around.