Teacher Appreciation-Don’t Give Them Crap

Teacher Appreciation Gifts - 20 Aweosme gifts that aren't lame copy

I hope this doesn't come off harsh, but really I am looking out for your (and your teacher's) best interests.


We love our teachers...like to pieces. We all want to show them our gratitude and appreciation for all the wonderful gifts they share with our kids. However, we need to do it in a thoughtful AND thrifty way.


( I used to be one and will teach again)

We love your kids and share in the joy of watching them grow, mature, and become responsible smart little people. We teach because we want to make a difference (obviously it isn't for the pay and accolades) and make this world a better place. We don't expect a giant bonus or I-Pad as an appreciation gift, but something personal and thoughtful would be awesome!


1.Even though we love your kids, we really don't want photos of them...I mean where in the world would a teacher keep photos if all of her kids gave her personal photos every year...that's a lot of kids!

2. "Gifts" of school supplies and the like sure are helpful, but really if you wanted to show your doctor appreciation, would you give him a pack of tongue depressors? Or would you give your hairstylist a can of hairspray? Would you give your newspaper boy a subscription to USA Today? Probably not.

PRETTY PLEASE: don't give this to your teacher as an "appreciation" gift. While it is cute, it is really a gift for the kids not the teacher.

3. I have 27 Teachery Christmas ornaments and 18 teacher themed mugs from 7 years of teaching...seriously....I am not exaggerating. I GUARANTEE you that your teacher DOES NOT NEED a mug or ornament (or anything with rulers, the word "teacher", apples, or teddy bears for that matter). Unless the mugs are filled with chocolate cake and champagne and the ornament is encrusted with diamonds.


1. Get to know your teacher a little. If you don't already know which is her favorite coffee or that she is gluten-free, ask, she or he won't be offended, but will love that you cared enough to put some thought into a gift.

 Get something for her or him not something for the classroom.

Here are 20 really thoughtful, nice, and thrifty ways to show your teacher how freaking awesome they are.


A Summer Relaxation Kit from Skip to My Lou.


How about a DIY Bracelet? There are tons of tutorials for different types out there, but I really love this one from Design Form.

Living Locurto created some free printables for a plant.

Cute Coffee Gift Card from eighteen 25.

Quenching My Thirst for Knowledge from A Bushel and a Peck.

Comfort Sacks from Skip to My Lou.


Manicure Kit from CheerLedKatie via Babble

Countdown to Summer from eighteen 25.

DIY Recipe Book from The 36th Avenue.


Here are 4 Easy DIY Spice Blends from Me! For a teacher who likes to cook, these are all natural:)

Sugar Scrub from Folk.

 Survival Kit from Funky Polka Dot Giraffe. She did this as a back to school, but it would be great at end of year too!

Crafty Flower Pot filled with seeds and gardening tools from Ucreate.

Favorites Basket from Lemonade Makin Mama.

Who couldn't use soap? I like these Personalized Soap Dispensers from Ask Design Mom.

How about collecting money from the whole class for a little Summer Cash Stash? Such a fun idea from The Crafting Chicks AND a free printable!

How about a pretty Scrap Fabric Pin/Clip? Check out how to make this one here.

My son's preschool teacher loves to bake with her kids and this Cupcake Kit would be PERFECT for her. You can buy one from Bake it Pretty or whip up your own customized kit!

This T-Shirt Scarf from Cumbersome via Whole Living  is so cute, thrifty and easy!

A sweet DIY Lemonade Gift Basket from Pen N' Paperflowers.

Well, there you have it-

20 teacher gifts that don't suck

In case you were wondering:

My BEST EVER gift was a Christmas gift my 6th year of teaching. It was reusable basket filled  with a warm throw blanket in my favorite color and a bottle of wine-both to keep me warm and happy on a cold winter day. While the wine is long gone, I still have the blanket and think of that family every time I use it:)

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  1. Last year I did a “teacher gift” post that got me a zillion hits and it even showed up in a New Jersey parenting thingy, which was odd because I teach in NC. I plan on doing another one next week…I will reference yours, if I may.

  2. HI Kim,
    Great read…I guess it is almost that time of the year and I need to start thinking of our awesome teachers.

  3. Got a pingback from this awesome entry (from the FOLK sugar scrub) and had to let you know I’m pinning it and sharing it all over the place. Great post. Love all these ideas!

  4. I am so glad you wrote this!!! I didn’t realize supplies were not a good gift. I thought teachers put out their own money on supplies so I thought it would be a help.
    My son’s kindergarten & first grade class would collect $5 from each kid to pool together a gift certificate for the teacher. I thought that was so much better than 25 little knick knacks!

    • Oh definitely. Even if everyone contributes just a couple of dollars, one gift certificate your teacher will actually use is way better that 20 coffee mugs.

      You have a point! Teachers do spend a ton of their own money on supplies, I just think as a thank you gift at the end of the year supplies aren’t the best choice. As a welcome back to school gift-yes!

      • i agree! maybe as a back to school, but the last thing I want at the end of the year is supplies I have to pack away in my room! especially all that money that they spend on those supplies in that “cake” they could really buying something nice. It is not that it is not thoughtful, but you could send supplies in to help a teacher anytime, but to APPRECIATE the teacher, do something nice for THEM – pedicure, coffee etc.

    • A lot of teachers actually do love getting supplies. I would have loved it. I taught high school, and I rarely received any gifts at all. This whole post struck me as kind of entitled or something. I don’t know. I definitely love to bless my kids’ teachers with something they like, but if you have made the “mistake” of getting your child’s teacher an ornament or a picture of your child or whatever, I think your child’s teacher probably appreciated it.

      • I totally didn’t mean to come off entitled at all. I was a teacher for 7 years and for 6 of those years I was in schools where I didn’t usually receive any gifts at all, and I never expected them or felt like the families should have been giving me things. However, now I am friends with teachers in schools where many of the families do have the ability and desire to give gifts. My kids go to schools where the families typically do give gifts to their teachers. I have also had tons of people asking me, “what do teachers really want?” My point was if you are going to get a gift, even if you only spend $5 it is more meaningful to get something personal to your teacher instead of just a generic gift. If your teacher truly wears apple t-shirts, then by all means, get her one! Again, I am sorry this post came off that way to you.

  5. Mary Francis says:

    I’m a retired high school teacher and administrator. My son is an elementary principal. My daughter-in-law is a kindergarten teacher. Since high school teachers rarely get gifts, I really didn’t have a good perspective on this, except through my teacher kids. I have seen the myriad of gifts they have received through the years–some wonderful and some in the “not another coffee mug” category–not so say that they were not all appreciated for the thoughtfulness of the giver. Thank you for posting this. My daughter is very thoughtful and just getting started with preschool teachers. She will love these helpful hints. I’m pinning some of the ideas as well.

  6. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! :) I have three drawers, yes, three drawers of gifts I’ve been given over the years. Thank you for all those super ideas! I wish I had seen this when my own kids were in school.

    • Hee hee, you’re welcome. i really don’t want to come off ungrateful, BUT…it is so wasteful for people to waste time and money on things their teacher will never use

  7. Your “buts” made me laugh. I’m a teacher and it’s funny how accurate I think some of your statements are. With that said, I love getting school supplies. I would love to receive most of the gifts you’ve received. I’m at an alternate school now so I rarely get gifts so I guess it’s good that I got lots of mugs and ornaments in my first few years.

  8. Barbara Preston says:

    I feel like the lone wolf. I have kept every mug, apple knick-knick, and ornament. I write the year and child’s name on it somewhere. When I use or see it, I turn it over and remember that little one who gave it to me. I know many of those things may have costs only a $1-$2, but they all mean to me that someone cared enough or thought of me enough to give me something. I still have all the handwritten notes too, I also love getting new books for the classroom,

  9. The cupcake kit is from Bake it Pretty.


  10. Olivia says:

    Hi, thought I would take a look at this since I am not very creative and sometimes have a hard time coming up with teacher gifts. Although these are cute ideas I am at a loss for something for a 4th grade MALE teacher. Any suggestions ?

    • OOH, male teachers are always more of a challenge! Less options, but I think they are easy to please. Does he drink coffee, Starbucks card? Or a gift card to the local movie theater, who doesn’t like going to the movies!? A restaurant gift card is always good too, $10 is enough to grab a nice lunch at Panera or Chili’s!

    • Do you know anything about the male teacher? BBQ tools, apron, steak sauce, etc. could be fun for a male teacher. Or golf balls (or a gift card to a local golf course), fishing lures, ITunes gift card, a baseball cap for his favorite team… I bet your kid could dig up some info. from the teacher to find out different things that he’s into. :)

  11. Jeanette says:

    A certificate for a movie is always a nice gift for either a male or female teacher. Also a lunch is on me certificate is great too.

  12. GREAT blog! best one I’ve found. I know it will b helpful to many so I shared on fb, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter…. THANK YOU. :)

  13. Desiree says:

    Hey girl! Thank you so much for the shout out! I am pinning!

  14. As for the male teachers, I am married to one, and his wife is gonna get the gift anyway! hehe Just kidding (not really) But seriously, he loves getting gift cards above anything else.

    I just did a blog post last week on teacher appreciation. I didn’t think to include what NOT to give teachers. Great post!

  15. One of my favorite “gifts” is a handwritten card from a student and/or parent. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that and it is meaningful and special. I truly appreciate the kind words and it’s a great reminder on those tough teaching days.

  16. Brandie says:

    I’m shocked you didn’t say NO APPLES! My poor daughter’s teacher has gotten a million apples this week already. We live in a small town and I see her teacher at Zumba regularly so I’m now very happy about the gift certificate for 5 free classes I got her instead of the school supplies I debated getting her!
    Loved this info, thank you!

  17. Well, since my daughter’s teacher doesn’t like to shake hands, I think sanitizer or soap will suffice.


  18. I am having a hard time picking up a great gift for my daughter’s kindergarten teachers, and I see this post, thank you for all the ideas, I think Wine, Star bucks card, a certificate of movie, pedicure certificate are good ideas.

    • You are welcome! I am sure your teacher is going to appreciate you putting time into choosing a thank you that she will truly enjoy!

  19. Here’s a idea for all the coffee mugs you receive….plant a pretty green plant in them, tie a ribbon around the handle and give as “re-gifts”…white elephant, someone home sick, congrats gift, etc.

  20. This whole thing seems really greedy. I work in a profession where the salesmen I support occasionally send some Christmas cheer. One year, I got a very large tin of assorted nuts that he and his wife make with different seasonings and coatings. He didn’t know I was allergic to nuts and you know what? I didn’t tell him. Do you know why? Because it’s the thought behind a gift that truly matters. Instead, I shared them with my office mates and let him know how much I appreciated the gift. The world doesn’t owe us anything, and no one is obligated to give a gift. My grandmother taught me that you should always accept a gift graciously.

    • And I always have and all teachers always do. I would just like to know that my hard earned money is truly getting something someone appreciates. Even if it’s $2 I would rather take the time to get to know these important people in our lives and get something they will use and enjoy. I just don’t believe in mindlessly spending money to show appreciateion. It is supposed to be the thought that counts and I try to be very thoughtful.

  21. Thank so much for this post…although my son is in the 8th grade he loves taking gifts to his teachers. So every year requires more thought especially since he has 7 teachers, a counselor, previous teachers, and the administration staff. This was great and gave a few more ideas…Thank you and keep sharing in the new year!

  22. Penny B says:

    This article is just one opinion. As a teacher and a parent, I don’t agree with everything in this article. Yes, get to know your teacher. I like most teachers do not need gifts, I would rather have something for the kiddos. Most teachers do like supplies as a gift because many DO care about their students and put their own money into their classroom. Many like books for their classroom because it makes their job easier and they are actually there for their students. Yes, their favorite drink or gift card to their favorite restaurant is nice. But even last year I gave my children’s teachers the idea where you gift money from each child in the classroom attached to memories they wrote … each teacher said they were using it for books for their classroom (which I told them that I hope not). But if you give a teacher cash (they are really into teaching for the kiddos) … then they will use the money for the classroom. If you have a teacher that wants gifts and needs attention then give them some of the gifts ideas here. The author points out that you wouldn’t give tongue depressors to doctors for gifts, but I feel that this is a ludicrous comparison because doctors and people in other jobs don’t need gifts from the public to feel appreciated. Teachers who are in it to teach don’t need to be personally appreciated! (But as a parent, I still love to show my appreciation for the investment in my children). So I guess the best take away point from this article is GET TO KNOW YOUR TEACHER.

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