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25 of the Best Teacher Gifts That They Actually Want (Tips from a Veteran Teacher)

Teacher appreciation gifts that can be delivered virtually, given to staff and used during holidays and special events like Teacher Appreciation week.
Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Teacher appreciation week 2020 is fast approaching and this year, and it will challenge you to find virtual teacher appreciation ideas to show the special teacher in your life that you value them. In many cases, teacher appreciation week will coincide with end of the year gifts as well, due to school closures. If you are a principal or administrator looking for gifts for your staff, I have some ideas for you as well.

What are some Teacher Appreciation Ideas for 2020?

Do you have a special teacher or teachers that your child or children love, who did an excellent job pre quarantine and who has continued to support and show love to your child using distance learning during these strange times? Unsure of how to show your appreciation? Here are some ideas :

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Online Gift Cards

For teacher appreciation week 2020, online gift cards that can be sent via email will be one of the best solutions to show that special teacher in your life that you appreciate them. You can send an online gift card from many popular retailers. Some of the most popular include

Surprise Meal

Another great idea for a teacher appreciation gift week 2020 is to surprise your special teacher by paying for a meal for them. This gift works well if you live in a small town with small restaurants that may be offering curbside service. If you are aware of what food your child's teacher likes, then you can call and pay for a meal for that teacher and then have them "cash it in" when ready. I'm sure they'd be so appreciative to have a meal they didn't have to prepare and feel special at your thoughtfulness.

Virtual Recordings

Teachers are missing their students and are saddened that they can't see and interact normally with them. A thoughtful teacher appreciation gift for 2020 would be to record your child or children telling their teacher their favorite memory of them, why they love them, why they miss them or performing some type of talent or skill. Their teacher will love the personal touch and the opportunity to see their students. After recording, email it to them or if you are linked with them on social media, tag them there.

What if I Have Already Purchased/Prepared My Teacher Appreciation Gift for 2020?

If you are one of those parents who prepared in advance and already have your teacher appreciation gift for 2020 and now feel stuck, you may want to reach out to your child or children's teacher to obtain their address (if the item can be mailed) or to arrange some other method of safe delivery. If it is non-perishable, you may just decide to wait until school is back in session.

Traditional & Holiday Teacher Appreciation Gifts

There isn't a shortage of holidays where you can present teachers with gifts they really want and they seem to sneak up on you quickly. Knowing what to get for that special teacher in your life can be difficult since you may not “know” as much as you’d like about their likes and hobbies outside of school. Here are my ultimate suggestions for teacher gifts that teachers actually want.

What are the best teacher gifts?

As a veteran teacher for over fourteen years, I have been fortunate enough to receive gifts for a variety of reasons and occasions such as for Thanksgiving, at Christmas, for Teacher Appreciation Day from students and parents, at the beginning of the year, for my classroom, when I was pregnant and when I completed my PhD. I have been in awe at the thoughtful, amazing homemade and personalized gifts that have been given to me. They have truly warmed my heart and made this sometimes exhausted teacher feel re-energized.

Being honest, it had nothing to do with the monetary value of the gift. I have received gifts I know were made from materials that were already in the home, gifts that were under $10 and some that shocked me because they were worth up to $50. I loved them all equally because it showed that my children and their family thought highly enough of me, and what I do, to think of me at special times in the year.

Before you get frustrated trying to find gifts teachers really want, I want to provide you with some ideas and suggestions to show that special or those special teachers your appreciation. These gifts will make that eager child/children of yours happy, without ruining your budget.

If you're planning a teacher gift for Christmas, you might want to print off my Holiday Poem for Teachers as an additional gift.

I’ve assembled this gift for teachers list based off of the best gifts my coworkers and I have received. This list can also be used if you are a new or veteran teacher who wants to give your colleagues and coworkers a small token of your appreciation for helping you get through the school year so far.

These gifts will also be perfect for teacher appreciation day or week or a gift for the end of the school year. No matter your gifting reason, if there is a special teacher in your life that you’d like to show your appreciation to, this collection of gifts for teachers will help take the guesswork out of your gifting.

Are you an expert at DIY projects or want a more personal or personalized touch? I’ve got some suggestions for gifts of that nature too.

Cheap/DIY/Homemade or Handmade Teachers Gifts That They Actually Want

Festive/Themed Socks with Lotion

This was a truly cozy gift teacher's gift that I received for Christmas. I got some fuzzy, comfy reindeer socks with some lotion. It was great to have the reminder to take a break and have some items to help get it done.

Oven Mitt, Festive Rolling Pin, Cookie Mix and Cut outs

Another sweet teacher gift I received at Christmas time and that I actually used for my own son’s teachers the following year was this cookie collection. It was a large red mitten that was stuffed with a festive rolling pin, cookie mix and cookie cutters. Most of the items needed to make this gift came in a pack, so this is a good choice if your child has multiple teachers.


Another amazing teacher gift for Christmas that I received were gloves, hats and/or scarves. All the ones I’ve received have become beloved additions to my wardrobe. I love watching the face of my students when they recognize I’m wearing something they gifted me, which they helped to pick out.


I don’t know a teacher who doesn’t need help relaxing. This teacher gift idea is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or at the beginning or end of the year. Candles, especially with soothing scents, are always a good choice for the exhausted great teacher in your life.


A nice picture frame, especially one that includes something touching is another great gift option. I had a student teacher who got my students' fingerprints and used it to make artwork. It features a large tree, with each child's fingerprint as leaves on the tree. She then framed it and presented it to me as a teacher appreciation gift. I still display it in my room, on my desk, and it is one of my most treasured items.

Gift cards

Who doesn’t love gift cards? It’s a low hassle gift to purchase and you’re almost guaranteed that the recipient, in this case teacher, actually wants it. Some of the most common and well received gift cards my colleagues and I have been gifted have been to Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Starbucks. Gift cards to local grocery stores, boutiques and restaurants are definite favorites as well.

Gel Pens, Sharpies and Expo Markers

Almost every teacher that I know loves gel pens, sharpies and Expo markers. This is a perfect teacher gift idea for the beginning of the school year or around Thanksgiving or Christmas, when supplies have started to run low. We do a lot of writing and create a large amount of charts to model and reinforce the skills we've covered, so we run through each of these often. You’re sure to be a hero if you gift a teacher any of these writing tools.

EOS/ChapStick Products

Teachers love practical gifts that help us to practice self care because we spend so much time taking care of others. The first time I received this combo I was so touched that I didn’t know what to do. It was a pamper yourself gift complete with lip balm, cuticle cream and lotion. Every time I used them, I thought of that student and felt very loved.

Baked Treats

Are you a good baker? Do you make a special syrup or jam? Use your talent to show the special teacher in your life your appreciation. I’m truly blessed to have some students and parents who are great at all of the above. I honestly look forward to gift giving occasions where I’ll get banana breads, cookies, quite possibly the best strawberry jam I’ve ever tasted and a host of other delectable goodies.

Pound Cake with caramel icing and strawberry and fig jam
Baked Goodies received as presents for Christmas

Funny story: One year, I received three delicious cookies from one of my students. They were so good, I decided to ask the parent for the recipe. She was thoroughly amused and told me she didn’t think Chic Fil-a would share their recipe with us, so even if you’re not great at baking, you can always find a local baker or entity that has great baked goods to serve as inexpensive gifts for that teacher you love.

Classroom Decor

Does your child’s teacher love a specific combination of colors or have a set theme in their classroom? Consider buying them a gift that would fit in with their classroom theme. I have received anchors, pillows, paintings, posters and several other decorative classroom gifts that fit my nautical theme. The children love that they were able to be a part of their classroom decor and usually these items can be found for under $10 at any local decor store.

Wooden and metallic ornament or teacher decoration teachers really want that spell out the word teach from Scrabble pieces.
Handmade Gift Teachers Really Want

Is your child crafty? Are you? Consider making a piece to add to that special teacher's classroom. It is sure to be well received and is a favorite among the gifts teachers really want.


By and large, most teachers have a soft spot for candy. Either because we eat it ourselves or because it helps us to keep our classroom treat boxes stocked. Chances are your child has noticed if your teacher has a weakness for Snickers (my personal weakness) or if he/she usually passes out lollipops or airheads as classroom rewards. Again, practical gifts or gifts that make your beloved teacher feel cared for will always be a good choice.

Colored/Decorated Printing Paper

There are so many reasons why teachers need colored or decorated paper and typically it is not a cost that is covered in their school’s budget. Helping them purchase these items, without dipping into their own pockets, will be very appreciated.


This is another gift where your child or your own observation skills can come in handy. Do you have a trendy/fashionable teacher who changes her jewelry to match her outfits or just seems to enjoy it? Gift them some jewelry.

One word of caution. Try to purchase items that are stainless steel. I am a teacher who loves jewelry, but has an allergy to regular costume jewelry. I will still try to wear it, so my student understands that I appreciate the gift, but will normally end up with an awful rash at the site where the jewelry was worn.

Thank you/Multi-Purpose Cards

There are many occasions where teachers need to write cards. The most common include thank you cards and birthday cards. If you can provide those cards as a gift that special teacher in your life will be so thankful. It’s an inexpensive, but thoughtful way to show that you notice their hard work.

Personalized Teacher Gifts That Teachers Actually Want

Is the teacher or are the teachers in your life very special? Do you want recommendations of personalized items that they actually want? Continue reading to see the best personalized gifts for teachers list.

Personalized teacher bag that teachers really want that reads Dr. Harris : Teach, love, inspire.
Personalized Teacher bag

Personalized Journals/Notepads/Stationery

Personalized stationery is one of my favorite things to receive. I believe in notepads and make several daily lists of things I need to do, observations of students or plans for upcoming lessons.

This past Christmas, I received a new type of stationery gift that was a very uncommon teacher gift, and was also personalized. It was a self inking stamp that read, "Dr. Harris is proud of you." I would never in a million years have thought of this gift, but I absolutely love it and my student was so excited to deliver her gift to me. Add this to your list of gifts teachers really want to show the teacher in your life that you appreciate them.

Self inking stamp gift teachers really want with personalized message.
Personalized Stamp Teacher Gift

I love any kind of stationery, but really love and appreciate it when they match my classroom theme or are personalized with my initials or name. It’s a feeling that is shared by my peers because we are always writing notes in our line of work.

Lanyard/Key chains

This lanyard is absolutely one of my favorite gifts that I have received. It had a neutral set of beads that were attached to a plastic section (that featured my initials) and then had a clasp where my i.d. can be attached. I have worn it every day since I’ve received it. It makes remembering my badge so easy and I know they’re versions that can hold a key, which is helpful for teachers to keep up with the key to their classroom door.


Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like ornaments, especially ones that are personalized with your family name or initials. For some teachers, who put up a tree in their classroom, you could get ornaments to help decorate that tree.

Teacher T-shirts/Monogrammed T-shirts

By and large, we are very proud of our work as teachers and show it off when we can on Fridays, in our off time or on weekends. Does your school normally do t-shirt fundraisers? Consider purchasing one for your child’s teacher or your teaching colleagues and surprising them with it. I received one this past summer that is one of my current favorites. It reads, “Teaching is my Jam.”

Monogrammed t-shirts are also among some of our favorite gifts. You can personalize the t-shirt with the teacher’s name, grade level or subject taught. Whatever you choose for the personalization, it is sure to make a positive impact in making that teacher feel noticed and loved.

Personalized household products

Who doesn’t like cute items for their home? Over the years, I have been generously gifted personalized bathroom and kitchen towels, personalized serving trays, coasters and even candles.

Uncommon Gifts For Teachers That They Really Want

Lotto Gift Bag

This gift would actually also be one you could gift cheaply, but I have to tell you it left a huge impression on me. I received it during teacher appreciation week. It was a goodie bag with a note that said, "We hit the lotto getting a teacher like you." It included gold coin chocolate candies, 1,000 grand and Payday chocolate bars and some scratch off tickets. I had never bought a scratch off before, but it was really exciting scratching off the tickets and seeing if I had won anything. I didn’t “win” on the scratch off, but it was a definite win in the joy it brought me.

Soup/Chili Package

This was a Christmas gift and another first for me. The student/parent had filled a large decorated mason jar with the supplies to make a famous family bean soup (you could do the same with chili). It had the beans, seasoning packet, preserved meat package and attached to the outside of the package was the instructions to make the meal. My coworkers and I were very touched and quite impressed. I will also add it was delicious. Do you have a famous chili or soup you make? Consider gifting it to your favorite teacher.

Hot Chocolate Mix

I have received this gift before as a Christmas gift, but one family took it to the next level by placing their own special hot chocolate mix in a beautifully decorated mason jar. It had marshmallows, these edible chocolate straws (Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes) and peppermint candy canes. I like that it was a special combination that was unique to their family. It made me feel honored that they had chosen to share it with me.

Movie Pack

This was another really unique gift from the same family that gifted me the Soup/Chili Package. I was a red/yellow popcorn container that was filled with all the trappings for a movie night. There was candy (Mike and Ikes and Chocolate). There was also popcorn and a free voucher for one movie from the Red Box. I’m sure you could use whatever movie streaming service you are familiar with, but I again felt very special at the care and thought that clearly went into this gift.

Written Work

Do you or your child love to write? Another great idea for gifts that teachers really want are poems or other types of written work. I wrote a poem for my son's daycare teachers and am sharing it here from the perspective of a son or daughter for your used.


As a fellow former teacher, this is a great list! It's practical things that teachers will actually use, instead of silly knick knacks.


I love these gift ideas! :) I really like the oven mitts and movie pack.

I was also an elementary school teacher, and my favorite gifts were a bowl that all the students signed and a tote bag that all the students signed.

So I love your personalized cutting board idea. Practical gifts like markers are great, too. Especially, if you live in a school district where you have to pay for your own supplies.

I will share this! :)

Thank you,

Christina/ The Blog for Teachers, Readers, and Life!


I have a serious Tim Hortons addiction, so my favourite gift from my students is generally Timmies gift cards haha - Although, over the last few years I've had some really sweet gifts like ornaments for my Christmas tree


I remember when I was a teacher I used to receive a lot of these and it still makes me feel so special, I love the personalized journals so much Great list to show the kids for some ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Nilakshi from merakimusings


So many great ideas on the list! I will have to show my girls and see what we can come up with. Thanks for simplifying Teacher gift shopping!

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