Teacher Gift Giving Guide


Teacher GiftIt’s that time of year! You are making your list and checking it twice.  Making sure you get everyone everything they’ve ever dreamed of! You do well with those closest to you, but a ways down the list you hit the teachers. One teacher, two, three depending on how many children you have in school.  WHAT do they want?! You know they’re not making millions, but you want them to know you appreciate what they do. How do you find a good, meaningful gift? Lucky for you, I happen to know a few teachers. I’ve done some research to make your shopping trip a bit easier for the teachers who do so much to help your children grow and learn!  

After surveying about 20 of my teacher friends, I have compiled a Top 5 teacher want list and a Top 5 teacher do not want list.  

Let’s start with the do not want list.  

5.)  Trinkets.  I know you guys mean well and you know we love a certain animal, but we only have so much room on our desks. After about our 57th elephant trinket, the poor desk cannot house a 58th that a teacher feels like they have to keep on their desk AND that mountain of papers that still needs to be graded from last month.  

4.) Calendars.  Yeah. . . . We do LOVE to be organized and plan ahead, but we also have a system of our own. Every calendar we have (personal, desk, etc.) is one we’ve spent weeks, possibly months debating on if it would work for our OCD organizational skills. Also, we can only have so many puppy dog calendars.

3.)  Cups/Mugs.  We appreciate those ones that declare you’re the world’s best teacher, but much like the trinkets, there is only so much room in the cabinets and so much coffee to drink in the day.

2.)  Candles/Lotions.  This one is tricky. It will sort of tie in with the next all-time do not want gift. Teachers would love to get certain candles and lotions. The trick is finding their favorite or what they’re not allergic to (personally, I love lilacs). In our current world, there are many allergies or irritations to soaps, lotions, scents, and foods. It is difficult to know exactly what those may be unless you know the person really well.  

1.) Baked Goods/Candy.  This is by far the one gift that most teachers truly don’t want. Referring back to #2, there are so many allergies to certain foods and you never know exactly what is in a baked good unless you ask. They are also difficult because of dietary needs. What if your teacher has a gluten allergy? Your student may not even know that about his/her teacher unless they have shared that information with them. And the last thought that comes with this one. . .  (especially if you teach Kindergarten). . .  first thought from teacher is:  “Did you wash your hands before you made this banana bread?! Because I have to send you back to the bathroom 10 times a day after you’ve gone to the bathroom at school because you ‘forgot.’” Sorry, that one is honest, but true.  

Now.  Onto the good stuff!  Here is what you’ve been anxiously awaiting!  

The top 5 list of teacher want gifts.  

5.)  Favorite pens/fun sticky notes.  This one is pretty good, it’s just a tricky one. You have to be observant. You have to pay attention to the type of pens your teacher uses on those 5,000 papers s/he has graded for you so far this year and other little things that they covet. This is easiest for middle and high school students.

4.)  Restaurant gift cards.  These gift cards are awesome because who wouldn’t love a night off cooking after a long day teaching?! I would advise you to stick to a restaurant that has a lot of options as far as types of food, though. One example I heard frequently was Olive Garden (free breadsticks and endless salads!). This way you know that they can find something that they will definitely like.  

3.)  Coffee gift card.  Seriously.  99.9% of teachers are fueled by coffee. Guaranteed. Enough said.  

2.)  Gift Cards.  This one I’m going to lump together with a few different types of gift cards. Mainly, the best one is Target and Amazon. You can honestly get anything you ever desire at Amazon or Target (including alcohol, which is not allowed in schools). I’d like to mention here that movie theatre or bookstore gift cards are also pretty awesome. Catching a movie over Christmas break is a mindless break from reality that is much needed. Also, you know that every teacher is a complete nerd of some kind. . .  bets are that there is some form of book out there that they’ve been wanting for their own use or for classroom reference.

1.)  The number 1 most desired gift that a student can give a teacher. . . .  A meaningful, handwritten card or note.  Honestly.  That was, above all else, the number one gift that teachers said meant the most. In our busy lives, we often forget just to say “thank you” for something wonderful that they have done for you or your child. A sincere thank you means more to a teacher than most because that’s truly something they do not hear every day. If your child/ren can tie in a special lesson or example from the teacher that touched them or helped them learn, that’s even better.  


So there you have it!  The top 5 wanted and not wanted gifts for teachers.  I realize that some of you may have already purchased your gifts, but don’t worry. If the gift is not on the list, it is alright. In all honesty, teachers are incredibly thankful for any gift received because we know it comes from the heart.


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Sunni is a wife, a mother, a step-mother, and a teacher. Her husband has 3 older kids (Michael 18, Allison, and Molly 17) from a previous marriage and together they have 2 kids (Jonah 12 and Brooklyn 5). They live right in the heart of Omaha, and Sunni teaches at a private school in West Omaha. She teaches English and Reading at the middle school level. Her husband David is a physical therapist and has his own clinic in affiliation with Children's Hospital in west Omaha. They both love helping others, writing, traveling, being outside, and forever learning and growing in what we do!