You’re reading this. And where did you learn to do that? Most likely, in school. So let’s have a moment of teacher appreciation! Gifts for teachers aren’t the only way to let them know much we appreciate their skill and dedication. They teach because they love it, so a heartfelt letter means a great deal. But they deserve to receive thoughtful teacher gifts, too, especially at the end of the year.
Teacher gift ideas aren’t so easy to dream up, though. So we formed a panel of experts (aka, teachers around the country that our coworkers and friends put us in touch with) to hear their thoughts on this question: What are the best teacher gifts?
“I think the best gift was a cactus. The kid was really sweet, and for whatever reason I didn’t expect a plant. That was 16 years ago and I still have that cactus.” – Mark, Queens, NY
“The most memorable are from people I felt a connection to: pistachios from [an] Iranian student; [a] strange cat statue & clay baking pots & [a] cashmere wrap from [a] Russian student. Some were memorable for the strangeness: a plastic flower ‘bouquet’ that lit up.” – Lianne, New York, NY
“An orchid that is still alive and blooming in spite of me.” – Karen, Miami, FL
Best gift? Most touching?
“[Gifts that are] fresh out of the oven.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN
“I think [a coffee cup]. [T]he cup just said ‘Inspiration’ on it and the student included a nice card saying that he was inspired by my class and the things he had learned in it. He was of my best all time students. I teach at a media arts college part-time. I’m the Program Chair for Audio Engineering and Production. This kid is now out there doing it for real so I guess the cup don’t lie.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN
“Last Christmas one student put together a kit to help me make the perfect pot of tea. I have also gotten homemade cookies, and once I received an excellent spa basket with soaps, moisturizers, towels, and bath bombs….Sometimes I get gifts for my birthday, or when my daughters were born. One year a student baked me a cake in the shape of Grumpy Cat, which was great. ” – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA
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“It is fun when a student notices something that I like and uses that to create a gift. Or, draws upon a common experience we’ve shared (like when I took my team to Disneyland and they bought me things there—cool pins and mugs.) – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA
“About five years ago, a student whose family was going through very rough times financially made a Christmas ornament for me. It is a heart cut out of notebook paper and a red ribbon. I hang it on my tree every year.” – Stephanie, Prosper, TX
“One of my [7th grade] students a few years back gave me a frame with a picture of us and a note saying that come graduation, I am so invited. I still have her note and picture on my desk.” – Marisa, Katy, TX
“A mom sent me an eye mask, chocolate, and tea—seriously she spoke my love language. She included a note wishing me a great break with plenty of relaxing time in.” – Marisa, Katy, TX
“A money envelope that could be personalized in some way and then PUT MONEY in it. Teachers need money. Like a money clip with Real Money in it. The amount of money we end up spending on classes is ridiculous. It would be great to get something back in return.” – Lianne, New York, NY
The other most appreciated, practical gift = food. Nuts. Wine. Dates. And sweets, of course. – Lianne, New York, NY
“A scarf. Navy blue with white polka dots. Silk faced on one side, blue wool on the other. Fringed. Had it for years and wear it every spring and fall. Wore it today.” – Mark, Queens, NY
“Functional things for the classroom.” – Karen, Miami, FL
Other valuable advice?
“Flowers I love, but very often I receive them early in the day and then I don’t get home until late and by then they’re half dead.” – Lianne, New York, NY
“I know gifts aren’t the ultimate way to feel appreciated, but they sure do help. It doesn’t have to be anything big, and it definitely doesn’t have to be anything costly, but a gift acknowledges that we matter and we were thought of. For the students that are younger and middle school students, we know it’s the parents that are initiating the process. It teaches the students that it’s okay to take that extra step to show someone you appreciate them.” – Marisa, Katy, TX