Teacher Appreciation Gifts They’ll Actually Want

Teachers are some of the most hard-working individuals out there. As a former middle school English teacher, I can attest to the countless hours I poured into my students, lesson plans, committees, curriculum nights, and more—well past the normal work day.

With so many teacher shortages across the state, many teachers are feeling overworked and stretched thin, even more than they usually are.

As teacher appreciation week approaches (May 8-12), here are some ways to show some gratitude for your child’s teacher with meaningful and useful gift ideas that they’ll actually want.

  1. Gift cards – I don’t know any teacher who doesn’t love a gift card, especially if it’s to Target, Amazon, or their favorite coffee shop. Some other great gift card ideas include to a movie theater, local restaurant, Teachers Pay Teachers, or a hobby store such as Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Lowes, JoAnns or Michaels.
  2. Handwritten notes – There’s nothing better than a heartfelt note from a student or parent. I can’t tell you how many of these I saved because they truly meant the most to me. I would reread them on an extra challenging day or over the summer when I was contemplating whether I wanted to return to the profession. Encourage your child to write down what they like about their teacher, a lesson or activity that stands out to them, or how they felt encouraged/supported by their teacher this year. Those notes are still some of my most cherished items.
  3. Classroom supplies – Most teachers stock their classrooms with their own money. Put together a cute little basket of classroom supplies and it can go a long way! Some of the most appreciated supplies include: copy paper, white board markers, tissues, disinfecting wipes, pencils, erasers, markers, tape, glue sticks, construction paper, page protectors, and sticky notes.
  4. Self-care items – After a busy and stressful school year, teachers look forward to taking it easy and relaxing over the summer. Help them unwind by giving them some self-care gifts such as an aromatherapy body wash, some hydrating face masks, bath bombs, or even going in with some other students’ families to get them a spa package such as a massage, facial, or pedicure.
  5. Snacks – The end of the school year can feel like a drag. Put together a basket of the teacher’s favorite snacks to help get them through those last few weeks of chaos. This might include chips, crackers, popcorn, granola bars, fruit snacks, and chocolate—something for a quick pick-me-up on those hectic days where they might have skipped a meal.

Gifts to Avoid:

  • Mugs—they probably already have too many!
  • Homemade baked goods—unless the teacher really knows your family well, it’s likely they won’t eat the homemade treat.
  • Clothing—it can be awkward to try and guess a teacher’s size and/or style, so better to skip giving clothing items as a gift.

Tips if You Have Multiple Kids or Kids Who Have Multiple Teachers:

If you have more than one child, it can get expensive giving gifts to all their teachers. The same can go for if your child rotates classes throughout the day and has several teachers.

Here are some ways to cut costs:

  • If your child has more than one teacher, have them select their favorite teacher to give a gift to and write notes to the others
  • If you have multiple kids all at the same school, consider volunteering to help organize any teacher appreciation events or bring in a collective gift such donuts, bagels, or a box of Crumbl cookies to the teacher’s lounge.

However you plan to honor a teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week, one thing’s for sure, a simple gift or and token of appreciation will mean more to them than you know!