The One Gift All Teachers Will Appreciate

This simple and easy teacher gift idea is the perfect gift for ALL teachers. As a former teacher with a ton of teacher friends, I promise I know what I’m talking about. Get your favorite teacher what they really want this year! 

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher GiftsWith it being Teacher Appreciation Week, and the end of school quickly approaching, my Pinterest feed has been taken over by gift ideas for teachers. There are so many cute and elaborate gifts people have created and I’m mind blown by it all.

Honestly though, the one gift all teachers will appreciate is simple and easy and doesn’t require 5 hours of crafting and baking…

Believe me, I know how difficult gift giving can be. Sometimes I have an epiphany (like this EPIC Father’s Day gift idea) and know exactly what to buy someone, but more times than not, I’m completely clueless and find myself stumbling through Pinterest, or Googling “gift ideas” frantically trying to find something unique and different to get someone. It’s important to me because I want the person receiving the gift to know how much I appreciate them. I’m pretty sure most people feel this way 🙂

As a former teacher (who was a recipient of many thoughtful and lovely gifts), I have something to share. So I’m hoping you’ll let me be honest here. I mean very honest to the point that you might roll your eyes a tiny bit and have a few choice words to say about me. We’re all friends here, right? And hopefully, we will still be after you read this. Fingers crossed!

With my previous experience as a teacher and someone who still has a ton of teacher friends, I can promise you I know a thing or two about what gifts teachers like. And not that I want to sound ungrateful in any way, shape, or form, but there are just some gifts that aren’t necessarily at the top of a teacher’s want list.

Speaking for myself, there were definitely some gifts that I was always so excited to receive from students and parents and then others that I greatly appreciated but didn’t necessarily need any more of. And that got me thinking, “If someone wasn’t a teacher, would they even know that teachers didn’t necessarily need x, y, and z?” Probably not! And that’s exactly how the idea for this post evolved.

So this morning, I sent out a text to some of my “teacher friends” and asked them the following: “Can you give me your favorite gifts you’ve ever received as a teacher? What don’t you need as a teacher? I’m putting together a list for parents.”

I was curious the gifts they loved receiving and which ones they weren’t so crazy about. Their responses were all basically the same. I knew that I needed to share this information to help parents out there so no one was left in the dark. Or worse, spending money on wasted items!

The good news is the one gift all teachers will appreciate is a cinch to get and can still be considered “cute” with a click of a print button on your computer. I’ve even created it for you and it can be found in my free resource library. All you need is the password, which you can access instantly by filling out the form at the bottom of the page.

5 Things Teachers Really Don’t Need 

Mugs – I wish I could give you an exact number of coffee mugs I have received throughout my years of teaching. I’m going to go with 20 but I honestly think I’m on the low end with my estimate on this one. Again, I was happy to receive these from my students and just loved to be acknowledged for my hard work, but who has enough room to house all those mugs in their kitchen?!?! Over the years, I’ve had to purge quite a few of them mainly because I just didn’t have the space to keep them any longer.

Candles – This is a hard one for me because I really do love candles! Like the mugs though, there are only so many candles that I have space for. Did you know we aren’t allowed to even burn candles at school because it’s a safety hazard? That means we have to bring all those candles home and find a place for them. Just something to think about next time you find yourself in the candle aisle shopping for a teacher.

Lotions, soaps and creams – Another lovely gift, but as teachers, we get this kind of stuff all the time. Sometimes we even have so much it goes bad before we can use it. Or worse, we regift it to someone else…Ahhhh, I told you I was going to be honest today! Full disclosure happening here…

World’s Best Teacher items – As much as teachers love knowing you think they are the best in the world, there’s only so many of these items we have room for. It’s not that we don’t love them by any means, but there’s just not enough counter space to display every frame, cup, flower pot, pen, or notebook we receive from our students.

Homemade treats – This one might be a little shocking to you. Heck, 50% of the Pinterest teacher gifts focus on homemade treats to give to a teacher. Here’s the truth though, unless we know you and your child really well, we probably won’t even eat your treats. They will end up in the trash. Gosh, that sounds so horrible to say out loud but it’s true. Almost every teacher was given “the talk” during their internship that includes the words, “Never eat ANYTHING your students give you!” It’s really for the same reasons you don’t want your kids eating homemade treats in school. You just don’t know where the food is coming from.

So what the heck do these ungrateful teachers want then!!!! I know that’s what you’re thinking right about now. Am I right?

The answer was unanimous. All 8 teachers, plus me to make 9, said that gift cards are the way to go! Gift cards! How plain and simple is that? Instead of making a $10 craft or buying a $5 dollar mug, purchase a gift card to Target or Walmart or Amazon for that amount instead. If you want to go the extra step, ask your child to find out what their teacher’s favorite store or restaurant is and get a gift card from there. To make this a little simpler to figure out, I created a teacher questionnaire. Have your child’s teacher fill it out to learn about all their favorite things!

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher GiftsGift cards can be given individually by a student or an entire class can pitch in for one large amount if you have a room mom.

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher GiftsTo still give it that “Pinterest feel”, print out this adorable gift card holder from my free resource library and simply attach your gift card to it. Add a heartfelt note from you and your child on the back and you’re all set.

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher GiftsThank you for making it to the end with me. I hope we are still friends and you don’t think teachers are horrible people. We love your children like our own and want nothing more than to see them succeed and blossom into amazing human beings. Truth be told, seeing students grow throughout the school year is the one gift all teachers will appreciate always and forever. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and thank you, parents, for supporting teachers!

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher GiftsWondering how to organize your own students for success? I have a series of amazing tips to get you started!



Want to remember this? Post this One Gift All Teachers Will Appreciate to your favorite Pinterest board!

This simple and easy teacher gift idea is the perfect gift for any teacher. Get your favorite teacher what they really want this year! #teachergifts #teachergiftideas #lakelifestateofmind

Teacher Gift Ideas | Simple Teacher Gifts


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  1. This is awesome! And you are so right! I know my husband appreciates gift cards as well! They are easy to use, easy to store and so fun! LOVE your printable card!

    1. Thanks, Ramona! All my teacher friends said gift cards are their favorites too. I had to agree myself!

  2. Thank you for validating my approach to teacher gift-giving! I like to give generous Target gift cards, because I know a lot of teachers are spending their own money for classroom supplies and I really don’t want them to–at all! If they’re using it for supplies–great. If they’re using it for something for themselves–even better! Teachers’ jobs are so hard. I’ve always felt a little guilty that I’m being lazy about it, but I’m glad to know that teachers like this.

    1. Allison, we love gift cards! You’re so sweet and your kind words about teachers just made my heart smile. You’re definitely not being lazy with a gift card and I am so happy I was able to validate that your Target gift card is greatly appreciated…and really what a teacher wants! Thank you 💜

  3. Omg. Of course. In fact I give teachers visa gift cards so they can use it for whatever they want. I completely agree. Every once in a while we buy a teacher a funny shirt or classroom decor item but only if we know them really well. Great post!

    1. Thank you, Amy! I’m sure you’ve made some teachers really happy. We appreciate you too 💕

      1. My favorite gifts, as a teacher, were personal notes, cards, letters…words of appreciation…something personal that I could remember the child by. I’m a preschool teacher in a public school system. I have personalized Christmas ornaments from 20 years ago I still hang on my tree. I remember that child every year, and often send them a little Facebook message ❤️

        1. Thank you for sharing! I agree about the ornaments. I have a handful I put on my tree every year as well from students and the memories always bring a smile to my face ❤️

  4. What about school supplies? My children and I were taught not to give gift cards, so we usually give teacher supplies such as folders, dry erase markers, highlighters, erasers, etc. because I personally don’t like to give mugs, teacher themed product or flowers because I see too many other children bringing them. Please advise if this is not appreciated or an alternative to gift cards.

    Thank you

    1. Hi! I completely understand your hesitation on gift cards. It wasn’t until recently that I actually started giving them to people because I struggled with the fact that I didn’t think they were personal enough. So believe me, I get it! Teachers will honestly enjoy anything they receive and I promise I’m not just saying that. It feels great to be appreciated, period!

      At the schools I’ve worked at, we send how a “wish List” at the beginning of the year and throughout the course of the school year to ask for classroom supplies we are missing. If the teacher is paying for these supplies from his/her own money, it would definitely be a nice gesture to send these in for teacher appreciation week. If the school provides these items, or the teacher receives donations throughout the year, the supplies might not be a gift specifically to appreciate them. Does that make sense?

      Again, the fact that you are putting this much thought into a gift for your child’s teacher goes to show how supportive of a parent you are! And I can guarantee your child’s teacher already knows this and will be happy with whatever you decide whether that’s a gift card or not.

      Hope this helps,

    2. Gift cards are nice but as a veteran teacher(27years) my most treasured gifts have been the letters written to be by not only the child but by the parents too. The fact that they took the time to sit down and write me words of thanks and include examples from the year, really makes my day. Even better is when they send a copy of their letter to my principal and superintendent that gets put in my permanent file. Everyone is quick to complain when things aren’t going right so getting the praise that you did something right- and in writing- is priceless. I keep these letters in a box in my desk for those days when I didn’t feel like I was at my best or didn’t get the lesson across like I had hoped. I know many teachers will not agree with me but face it- none of us picked the profession for the money or gifts! If they did- they picked wrong!

      1. I couldn’t agree more! Where you have a box, I have a binder labeled, “Teacher Love Notes”, and I keep all the pictures, letters and cards I have received throughout the years in it. And sending it to the principal or the Superintendent, well that would be AMAZING! Thanks for sharing your insight and thank you for being an incredible teacher. Enjoy your summer!

        1. Love it! Mine are in a binder. I place them in sheet protectors before adding them in there. <3

  5. I agree with the handy gift card, but I had received all the things that you mentioned above and I love them too. Even a thank you word or a single flower can make me feel good about the thought of that parent.

    1. I totally agree!! I have a binder filled with nothing but “love notes” from students and parents and cherish everyone of them. Those small notes make teaching one of the most rewarding careers in my opinion. Thanks for reaching out, Liz 💗

    1. I’m still probably going to make cookies and put them in a main jar with a note. I like the supplies idea for mid- year when they might be running low of stuff. I hate gift cards, I get so many and I never use them. I hate how they take up space in your wallet and having to remember to use them. They at best get regifted if they aren’t lost first. I also don’t shop at a lot of mainstream retailers that tend to sell giftcards. I’m hoping because it’s a small private school, she’ll feel safe to eat them. I’ll include an ingredient list so she will know exactly what is in it. Ib know she has a dog, if I have time I’ll make dog treats too, or buy some. I like clean ingredients in and on our body and I think it’s worth sharing. I have gifted homemade lotion (avidly body butter as it doesn’t contain water). A lot did on shelves or get wasted and sometimes I hear how amazing it is and how it helped their skin. I wish there were other suggestions- I did really appreciate the comment thread.

      1. I love your suggestions! That’s the great part about the comment section because you get to hear other people’s input and get some great ideas and differing opinions. I’m not sure if you noticed but I added a Teacher Questionnaire printable in my free library for students to give to their teachers at the beginning of the year to learn more about their likes and favorite things. I wonder if you could add some more specific questions for example about being a pet lover or if they use clean ingredients to help guide your gift giving too. Thanks again for your comment and have a safe and successful new school year!

  6. I have a little girl who is only just turned 5. She absolutely loves her teacher and is very affectionate and loves picking out perfect gifts. I suggested a gift card and she was horrified. She writes notes and letters all the time and I have a collection of all the ones she wrote to her teacher( at least the ones I have managed to stop her from giving her). Would it be weird to send them all in a little binder and slide a gift card in it? I am not sure my girl writes notes to people so much I don’t always let her give them to them. I mean she writes notes to the dollar store check out people, to the neighbors, to all the kids in school, to the bus drivers and the lunch ladies. I am sure she has given her teacher a ton already but I kept some really cute ones ? What do you think?

    1. I absolutely love this, Sara, and I know your daughter’s teacher will love it too! What a sweet girl you’re raising. It melts my heart to hear that she enjoys taking the time and writing notes to random people “just because”. Good job you’re doing there, mom!

  7. Thank you so much for the info. I gave her personalized mug to my kid’s teacher this past Christmas and she was so happy and thankful. Now I wonder if she was acting and just being polite or whether she truly appreciated it. Haha.

    Would you advise against a gift certificate for a massage?

    1. Hi Anne! I am absolutely sure your child’s teacher loved the mug 💗💗💗 Teachers are honestly content with a kind note showing appreciation. A massage gift card would be phenomenal! I wish I was your child’s teacher!

  8. I do something different every year, but along the same lines…. This year I was thinking penholders with their names on them to double as a name plaque for their desks filled with office supplies, a gift card for a massage and a handmade Christmas ornament for the tree…. I do ornaments every year. One for our tree and one for each of the teachers. (I don’t do ornaments for the teachers who’s religion doesn’t celebrate Christmas though)
    Last year I had my daughter’s draw a picture for each of their teachers, then wrote a thankyou note on the back and had them set in Resin coasters. I figured all those coffee mugs they might want a coaster instead lol 🤣

    1. Wow!!! You really do it up for the teachers. You’re amazing. Love it! Send a massage gift card my way if you have any extras. Lol!

  9. Thank you all so much for this information. I had the idea of having a tumbler personalized with the teacher’s name & some put holders with some cute sayings on them… so, skip all the work and just do gift cards instead? Thank you so much to all teachers!

    1. The tumblers sounds adorable but if you’re strapped for time gift cards are amazing options and very much appreciated. That way the teacher can get whatever they want. You’re so sweet to put so much thought into it!!

  10. Former teacher here! I realize I’m very late to the conversation but maybe someone will stumble upon this post as I just did and find this useful. One of the very BEST gifts I received as a teacher was a basket full of classroom supplies! Sticky notes, pencils (classrooms go through thousands of them. every day.), markers, highlighters, hand sanitizer, file folders, notebook paper, holy cow I can’t even remember it all. Oh! room deodorizer lol!! Each item had a cute note attached and the basket itself was perfect for extra storage in my classroom. I know this sounds expensive but I’m guessing the parent shopped at the dollar store so maybe the cost was pretty reasonable? Anyway, that was my best gift ever! And MUGS??? I ended up with 32 when I quit teaching hahahaha!

  11. 26 years of teaching music meant at least 5 mugs a year – over 100 mugs! Basic gift giving etiquette applies to teachers. My daughter mentions her teacher comes in every day with Starbucks- a starbucks gift card is appreciated. My teacher doesn’t wear jewelry or makeup means don’t buy her jewelry or makeup. If you’re anti gift card give something useful. I once got a great pair of scissors. Basically don’t give a teacher anything that you wouldn’t want 20 of yourself.

    1. A nice pair of scissors actually sounds awesome!! A teacher would definitely appreciate that.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind comment, Lane. I really appreciate it and happy you enjoyed it.

  12. I’m so glad I read this before buying my daughter’s preschool teacher a gift! 🤣 I was totally going to give her lotion or a candle. A gift card will be great!!

  13. I already gave them tumblers with their names on it 😳 😅 but it’s my first year with a child in school so I’m still learning. But now thanks to this post I’m definitely going to change what I had in mind for the holiday gifts. Gift cards and self care products it is 🎉

    1. You’re amazing and I can guarantee the tumblers were a success! I hope my humor came across in this post to you and you got the message that even a heartfelt love note from a student is greatly appreciated by us teachers. Thank you for loving on teachers!!

  14. Hello there,

    When I clicked on the link for the downloads of the “Thanks for being my teacher” on your website, it asks for a password. Do we need to request one or is it possible attached to the wrong link? Thank you for all your great suggestions. You were a hoot to read!

  15. Hi!! So I’m super late to this, but awesome post, every much appreciated! Gift cards for the teachers to wrap the end of a school year! But what about when we do a family vacation and we want to bring a little something back to the teachers? We brought them mugs :/ this past winter break from Disney, won’t do that again! But any suggestions for that? A gift may not be needed, but we appreciate the teachers and wanted to bring them back a small gift, especially since it was during the holidays. Do we just not get them something from the destination and do a gift card as well? Thank you again!

    1. The thought and effort will definitely be so appreciated! It’s very sweet as a teacher to know you were being thought of while on vacation. You did amazing!!

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