7 Teacher Gift Ideas They Actually Want (Plus One They Really Really Don’t)

Dear Teacher: You gave our child the greatest gift for the past ten months. How could we ever repay you and say thanks, all while honoring the vast amount of knowledge you’ve imparted? We went straight to the source to find the best teacher gift ideas (i.e., we asked actual educators what they truly need and want). Here’s what to give all the teachers of your life when the school year wraps up.

12 Things a Kindergarten Teacher Wants Parents to Stop Doing

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1. An Amazon Gift Card

Whether they spend it on the classroom or on themselves, this is the number one most useful gift. One teacher notes, “We always work overtime, so a gift card like this is so appreciated. It’s nice to have something we can spend at our discretion depending on our family’s needs.” As for how much to give? A $25 card goes a long way, or you can join forces with other parents from your kid’s class to give a larger amount.


2. A Gift Certificate For A Mani/pedi

Two words: self-care. Teachers arguably need it more than anyone. Think about it: They’re pretty much on their feet all day as they wrangle kids in the classroom, on the playground and in the lunchroom. A mani/pedi at a local spa—or even an at-home massage—will give them the chance to pamper themselves.

$25 At Amazon

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3. Homemade Art

All the teachers we polled said a piece of artwork made by the student is actually their top gift choice. “Even when it’s cheesy, it has so much heart and beautifies the classroom both aesthetically and emotionally,” says one. Another adds: “My favorite gifts have been pictures to hang in the classroom.” If you want to make the gift even more special, get the artwork framed and wrap it with a bow.

Mr. Boddington

4. A Thoughtful Note

One grateful teacher notes, “I love to receive a handwritten letter instead of an actual gift. It’s a memento of our time together that I can look back on fondly. It also serves as a reminder of the reasons I became a teacher to begin with.” And for the last-minute parent, an email totally counts—but consider taking your thank-you just one step further. “I had a really nice family send me a very kind email outlining what I had done for their child…with a CC to my principal.” It’s hard to beat high praise that’s made visible to your fave teacher’s boss.

BUY IT ($18 for a Set of 6)

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Riverhead Books

5. A Present That Relates To The Subject Being Taught

Give your kid’s English teacher a new and of-the-moment book that’s likely to be on her reading list. (Hello, All Adults Here by Emma Straub, which hits shelves in May.) Give the French teacher a gift basket from your local cheese shop—like this “Best of French Cheese” sampler from Murray’s Cheese.

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6. A Fun Notebook And Pen Set That Can Be Used To Plan The New Year

Kids aren’t the only ones who get excited about brand-new school supplies. The teachers we talked to said “anything that helps them feel organized for the coming school year is a great gift.” Think a colorful pen set (we love this one from or a luxe notebook or two. The best part? They’ll think of you every time they sit down to write, strategize and plan.

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7. A Fancy Water Bottle

If you noticed at the parent-teacher conference that their water bottle looked a little worse for wear, give them the gift of a fancy upgrade. Teachers love this sleek, vacuum-insulated bottle that includes a removable infuser perfect for flavoring their H20 with sliced lemons. “Anything that’s stainless steel or insulated is welcome and appreciated,” says a teacher we talked with.

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Sophie and Lili

8. …but Please, No Mugs

Take it from the educators we chatted with: This is a teacher gifting no-no. The only exception: If it’s an inside joke (like they love Stranger Things). The end.