It’s an age-old parent dilemma: You need a teacher gift - whether it's Christmas or the end of the year - but are fresh out of ideas.
Or both (if you’re like me).
The holidays and end of the school year are particularly busy times, and coming up with a teacher appreciation gifts often gets put on the wayyyy back burner.
With this in mind, I recently conducted a not-so-scientific experiment, asking some of my educator buddies what items top their wish lists – and what things you should definitely avoid (some of these may surprise you).
I took the info and used it to round up some awesome teacher gift ideas, many of which you can order right now using Amazon Prime and have them in two days.
Many of the teachers I spoke with agreed a good rule of thumb is to keep the value of any gift below $20, which is ideal because parents often have more than one teacher they’d like to buy a gift for (think art, music and gym).
With that in mind, let’s get started!
✔YES: Practical Gifts for the Classroom
It’s no secret virtually all teachers pay for some classroom materials out of their own pockets. When you give the gift of supplies, it helps the teacher and benefits every child in the classroom, including your own. If giving classroom supplies as a teacher gift sounds too boring, use them to create a gift basket and include some tasty, pre-packaged treats (not homemade – more on this later).Here's a list of school supply bundles on Amazon that would make great gifts
Kindergarten Classroom Supply PackFirst and Second Grade Classroom Supply PackThird through Fifth Grade Classroom Supply PackSixth through Eighth Grade Classroom Supply PackBack to School Supply Kit: 31 CountCombo School Supplies Bundle Pack!
✔YES: Custom Stationary Items
Personalized stationary products are always a hit with teachers (or anyone, really) because they’re both useful and thoughtful.
Personalized note cards, thank you notes, notebooks, stickers and day planners all make unique teacher gifts that are practical, gracious and won’t put a huge dent in your pocketbook.
Check out Minted where you can search for distinctive, teacher-themed designs curated from a community of independent artists. The products are printed on luxe paper and come with a complimentary gift box. Super cute!
Big Apple Customizable Notebook PlannerPretty Custom Floral Name LabelsCustom Stationery Cards
If you’ve googled “gift for male teacher” or “gift for female teacher,” you can stop searching because personalized stationary is a great choice for either. After all, what teacher wouldn’t appreciate the thoughtfulness of a one-of-a-kind gift made especially for them?
Zazzle also has some cute, inexpensive teacher note cards, greeting cards, note pads, post it notes, name plates, dry erase boards and other fun products, many of which are easily customized (you can filter to see just those). Sales are frequent so head on over and check out more fun ideas!
From The Desk of Teacher Red Apple Personalized NotepadFun Trendy Dry Erase Board with Flower | TemplatePeriodic Table Elements Spelling Teacher Post-it Notes
Poke around for other cool teacher gift ideas while you’re there such as posters, wall canvas prints, tote bags and apparel.
✔YES: Fun Teacher T-shirts
Apparel can work really well as a teacher gift if you're strategic about it. When choosing teacher t-shirts, consider designs that marry two things your teacher loves. For example, are they into running, knitting or baking?
Or perhaps they're super fans of the college where they earned their education degree? If so, we've partnered with FanPrint to offer some teacher t-shirt designs that are fun, fresh and officially licensed. More than 50 colleges are represented, plus the Dallas Cowboys!
NFL Fan Teacher T-shirtsNCAA College Teacher Shirts
If your teacher has a sense of humor, consider these funny teacher t-shirt ideas available at Amazon and Zazzle for less than $25. There are some hilarious ones for men here and here, and for women here and here.
✔YES: Gift Cards
It is hard to go wrong with a proper gift card. My go-to is Amazon because, well… you can find pretty much anything there and I’m an Amazon Prime member so I can get them delivered in two days along with a handy little gift box.
Amazon.com $25 Gift Card in a Black Gift Box (Classic Black CardAmazon.com Gift Card for Any Amount in a Mini Envelope (Black)
If you’re really crunched for time, Amazon offers options for print-at-home and eGift where the gift code is delivered straight to the inbox of your child’s teacher. Wouldn’t that be a lovely surprise just before the holidays?!
Because I live in a rural area where the nearest Target is an hour away (I know, right?!), I’m regularly adding stuff to my Amazon cart, and tacking on a few gift cards is super convenient. Write a nice thank you note, tuck the gift card inside and – bam – Mission: “Awesome Teacher Gift” accomplished.
Of course, you also can purchase gift cards to other stores or restaurants based on the likes and hobbies of your child’s teacher. Not sure what those are? Ask your kid. More than likely there’s something (chocolate, coffee, movies, art, music, sports, video games) the teacher regularly mentions.
✔YES: Other Fun Ideas
If you’re close with your child’s teacher and know he or she is wine or beer lover, there are tons of cute teacher-themed glasses available online for less than $20. Here are a few of my favorites:
Teacher's Wine Glass: Keep Your Apple I'd Rather Have WineStemless Wine Glass - After School Snack12oz Beer Mug - I Teach Therefore I Drink
Related: 21 Funny Teacher Wine Glasses Guaranteed to Make You Smile
I found customizable, teacher-themed USB flash drives here for right around $15.
iTeach USB Flash DrivePersonalized, Butterfly USB Flash Drive 4 TeacherWorlds Greatest Teacher Flash Drive
Though a little pricier (starting around $25) custom sleeves for laptops or tablets would make a unique and practical teacher appreciation gift.
Black and White Circle Monogram Computer SleeveCustomizable Floral Laptop SleeveSimulated Wood Carving Monogram A-Z ID446 Laptop Sleeve
Also slightly above the $20 mark but a fun gift for male teachers, principals and other educators are neck ties. Find math, chemistry, history, music and other creative designs at this site starting around $30. This one is hilarious:
The No-No List
The teachers I spoke with made it clear (in a kind, teacher-y way) about a few gift ideas they can definitely live without:
Bonus Teacher Gift Ideas & Tips
- Don’t be shy about asking teachers if they have a wish list. Perhaps there are classroom supplies that are running in short supply and need replenishing. You can also check with the school to see if they keep teacher wish lists.
- Whatever gift you choose, include a thank you note from you and/or your child. Whether it’s at the holidays or end of the school year, teachers never get tired of hearing their hard work is appreciated!
- Do you have a special skill? Volunteer to do a class demonstration. Don’t have a particularly special talent? Volunteer to help on class party days, field trips or other special events where an extra set of hands is really appreciated.
Expressing gratitude to all the special educators in your child’s life doesn’t have to be stressful. Use these ideas for awesome, last-minute teacher gifts for Christmas or end of year that won’t put a huge dent in your pocketbook!
Related: 21 Funny Teacher Wine Glasses Guaranteed to Make You Smile