Teachers are up at the crack of dawn to greet their students with a smile. They work long hours inspiring young minds, rarely have time to take a lunch (or bathroom!) break, usually have hours of homework of their own and often spend their summers “off” preparing for the new school year. They deal with students, parents and administration on a daily basis — despite how challenging that can be — and continue to remain deeply committed to their career path out of the goodness of their hearts and their true passion for education.
Few would argue that being a teacher is one of the most difficult jobs out there. That’s why we often feel so compelled to thank them for their time and efforts. While we may know that we absolutely, certainly want to give the teachers in our lives a collection of gifts that they’ll enjoy, it’s not always easy figuring out where to start.
Read on to discover some of the best reasons to thank the educators in your life, plus eight really good gifts for teachers.
When to Give a Gift to a Teacher
Teachers work extremely hard to mold young minds into intelligent and productive members of society. While you and your loved ones may experience the impact that teachers have had on your life each and every day, they’ll never know unless you acknowledge it.
Teachers can be thanked all throughout the year, but certain times are more common to give gifts.
- At the Start of the School Year: Can’t you just picture a young student bringing in an apple for their teacher on the first day of school? The start of the school year is a great time to give a gift to your teacher, as you’ll be offering up some encouragement for them to take on another busy year with the poise and enthusiasm that makes them fantastic educators.
- During the Holidays: The holiday season is stressful for anyone, but teachers before break have to deal with deadlines, exams and distracted students. Giving a gift during the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to remind teachers how valued they are and how much you’d like for them to enjoy their much-needed holiday break!
- On the Last Day of School: Managing a class is no easy feat, and teachers who’ve helped a room full of students learn, grow and succeed all year long are deserving of a gift, and their summer break. Whether you group up with other classroom parents or give a gift on your own, the last day of school is the perfect time to show a teacher just how much you care.
- Simply to Say Thanks: Teachers often go above and beyond for their students, and since everyone is different, there’s no predicting when a student will need a little extra boost. If the teacher in your life helped you or your child through a particularly difficult time — whether with study tips, extra help hours or sage advice — it’s absolutely appropriate to give a gift as a way to express your gratitude. Educators do tend to get a lot of gifts from students at the popular times mentioned above, so why not mix it up and give a treat at an unexpected time?
Really Good Gift Ideas for Teachers
While a teacher will accept a gift with grace and appreciation, and would never tell you that it was completely useless to them, let’s face it: Some teacher gifts will be unquestionably more appreciated than others. One of our sock fairies had two teacher parents, and she reports they would often come home with an abundance of apples, dollar store holiday ornaments and mugs ... just so many mugs. Here are some ideas to help you give a thoughtful gift that the teacher in your life will actually enjoy.
1. They’ll happily count the days until vacation with a printed desk calendar.
A desk calendar in a fun print or theme is a thoughtful yet practical gift for any teacher. If you’ve learned they have a favorite flower, or movie, or television show, pick a thematic calendar that reflects their interests.
2. A cozy gift basket is a thoughtful way to help a teacher wind down.
Teachers are so used to caring for others that they often forget to spend time taking care of themselves. Prepare a cozy gift basket that has everything you’d ever want for a relaxing night at home!
Here are some cozy gift basket components to get you started:
- a delightful pair of men’s novelty socks or women’s cozy socks
- an essential oil candle in a calming scent like lavender or eucalyptus
- a fluffy pair of slippers
- a moisturizing lotion in a spa-like scent
- a cooling eye mask
- a knit blanket
- a box of herbal tea leaves in a relaxing blend like chamomile or peppermint
You can customize the basket based on the teacher’s preferences. Include a favorite book or movie to offer a personalized touch.
3. They’ll appreciate a gift that they’ll actually use throughout the year: school supplies.
Teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on school supplies for their classrooms, which really shows how much they care for the success of their students. While the gift of school supplies might not seem extravagant, the teachers in your life will surely think of you when it’s mid-September and (for once) they’re not completely out of erasers.
Some school supplies to consider stocking up on include:
- colored pencils or markers for crafts
- pencils with erasers for test-taking
- dry-erase markers for presentations
- craft paper for classroom projects
- glue, glitter and faux feathers for getting creative
If you are a parent and aren’t sure where to begin, view your child’s back-to-school supply list as a place to get started, as teachers often purchase extras to make up for students who might not be able to afford being prepared. You might also consider a gift card to a nearby office supply store so that they can get exactly what it is they need throughout the school year. Even if they still have to go to the store, at least the supplies they’re shopping for will be gifted!
4. Help them keep themselves (and their classroom!) healthy with a stock of cleaning supplies and cold-soothing essentials.
Teachers are in contact with a whole lot of germs on a daily basis. Students come in to school sick sometimes and don’t always have the best hygiene habits, which can make illnesses spread like wildfire throughout the classroom. To help the teachers in your life stay healthy, or get better quickly once they’ve caught a bug, gift them with an assortment of cleaning and cold-fighting supplies.
- Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer sprays can be used in the classroom to help wipe out germs before they spread.
- A stock of tissues will offer some soothing comfort to both teachers and students, as well as help keep sneezes and drippy noses contained.
- Vitamin C packets, cold medicine, health supplements or tins of loose tea can help a teacher nurse a cold if they’ve already caught one.
With the confusion of securing coverage and completing lesson plans, it’s not always easy for teachers to take days off so a gift basket filled with resources to help them stay healthy will certainly be appreciated.
5. A bottle of their favorite wine or mocktail mix to help them kick back and relax after a long day at work.
Everyone has a way that they enjoy winding down after a long day, and for some teachers, a bottle of red or white is how they do it. If that feels appropriate for your area and the teacher you’re shopping for, go for it. A bottle of wine is also a very regiftable item that the teacher in your life could bring to any future occasion they’re invited to.
If you know that the teacher in your life doesn’t drink alcohol, there are many mocktail mixes and sparkling cider options that would make thoughtful gifts as well.
6. Themed gifts will inspire them to continue pursuing their favorite hobbies or novelties.
Do you know a teacher who’s absolutely kooky for koalas? A pair of amazing animal socks featuring their favorite furry friend will surely become their new favorite accessory. Is there a teacher you know who’s an extremely passionate home cook? Consider giving them a cookbook to inspire their latest creation. Can the math teacher in your life recite hundreds (or thousands) of digits of pi? They’ll surely wear a themed graphic T-shirt with pride.
Gifting items that reflect unique interests and hobbies not only encourages their recipients to enjoy their time pursuing them, but also demonstrates to them just how much you listen and care. Teachers lead extremely busy lives, and this simple acknowledgement of their hobbies could really mean the world to them.
Throughout the year, make an effort to keep track of what it is that makes the teachers in your life tick. If you’re a parent, pay attention to the little tidbits of information your child comes home with (“Mrs. P said that llamas make her laugh!” “Mr. Wallace showed us pictures from his long hike in the woods today.”), and take a little mental note of them for when it’s time to give.
7. Fuel their morning caffeine habit or fund their weekend dinner date with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant.
Many people have a favorite coffee shop or local restaurant, and teachers are no exception. If you can find out which spots they frequent without being too nosy, a gift card to their favorite place gives the teachers in your life a great excuse to go out and treat themselves for a job well done. While a thoughtfully-chosen gift card is anything but uninspired, if you’re looking to add an additional punch of personality to the gift, consider adding a few little extras that fit the theme of the location you’ve picked.
- If you’re giving a gift card to a coffee house, purchase a refillable cup and perhaps a pair of crazy socks with coffee beans or latte cups and package the gift card along with it.
- If your gift card is to their favorite restaurant, include a little message about the dish or drink they absolutely love from there.
- If it’s the holiday season and you’re giving gifting a teacher a gift card to their favorite lunch spot, consider adding a fun insulated lunchbox they can use over and over.
- If they’re into meal prepping, consider a gift card to the grocery store along with a storage container set to store their meals.
An added bonus of a gift card is that a teacher can always choose to share it with their close friends and family. They might choose to have one lunch to themselves and then offer it to their partner to enjoy during their own workday! This flexibility is always appreciated.
8. Gift them something special with a personalized touch, such as their name or initials, or go the DIY route.
Customized gifts don’t have to break the bank and are a sweet and special way to show how much you care. Whether it’s a subtle monogram or full-on DIY project, the teachers in your life will surely be grateful for the extra effort you put in to make their gift unique.
- A monogrammed tote bag will help them transport their paperwork back and forth from the classroom.
- A DIY sock bouquet is a gift that’s both thoughtful and practical. Plus the kids can help you prepare it, too!
- Getting their name engraved into custom office supplies means they’ll never lose their stapler to a confused co-worker again!
- A thoughtful, hand-written card can actually go further than you might expect. Messages from the heart about what a teacher has meant to you and your family are priceless, and they are memories many teachers will treasure for years.
Custom gifts don’t need to be extravagant or complicated. In fact, a small touch can still make a big impact.
Teachers work hard all year long, and their days are rarely over right when the bell rings! They often go above and beyond and, for most, it’s simply out of the goodness of their hearts.
There are so many opportunities to thank the educators in your life, and countless categories of gifts to give to them. While some gifts might be more useful than others, what matters more than anything else to a teacher is that they feel as though they’ve made an impact on the people they care for in their careers. Any gift that shows how truly grateful you are for their contributions will no doubt be received with a smile.