Though our kids may steadfastly refuse to believe it, teachers are just people too, which means that they also could use a bit of relaxation from time to time. Teaching can be a high-stress job!
A day at the spa is definitely not in the budget given the typical teacher’s salary. And as much as it would be appreciated, buying a gift certificate for a massage or other spa treatment is probably too generous a gift (yes, it’s possible to have too generous a gift, especially given regulations that cover teachers as federal employees. See our advice page for more…) unless a teacher has really gone above and beyond the call of duty in their support of your child and you’re looking for a special way to say thank you.
However, a day at the spa is within the reasonable gift range if your child’s class has decided to pool money to purchase a single class gift (which is often organized by the PTA).
Or, consider a few simple products that will help the teacher make a “spa day” right at home. For example:
Looking for a great Christmas gift for teachers? Choosing the right gift for a teacher can be difficult — first, there is the question of how much to spend. Second, you might not know the teacher very well, which generally makes personal items like clothing or knick-knacks a poor choice. Last but not least, you may have to contend with school regulations and guidelines on gift giving which further limit your options.
Despite the seeming difficulty of choosing a Christmas gift for a teacher, the rewards can be worth it: some of the teachers I surveyed said that receiving gifts and thank you notes from their students (and their parents) was one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching. Some retired teachers I know have kept all of the thank you notes and gifts they’ve ever received over the years, proudly displaying them as evidence of the many lives they’ve touched. Teachers do one of the most important jobs out there, yet they generally don’t receive a lot of prestige (or pay). Giving a thoughtful gift is an opportunity for you to show how much you appreciate the work that they do. A great gift for teachers doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — the most important thing is the thoughtfulness and care you put in to the gift, which shows the teacher that you truly respect them and appreciate what they do — and that is a gift that they will truly always cherish!
“I am a preschool teacher and [...] I deeply treasure every gift I have received from every student and even write their names and the date on each one so when I get them out to display them every year I am reminded of them! These children are so proud of the gifts that they have lovingly picked out, I wouldn’t trade them for anything!” ~Teacher from Indiana
The following list of teacher Christmas gifts is just a starting point. Please make sure to also read my advice on how to choose a Christmas gift for a teacher, and my list of recommended gift ideas for teachers. You can also browse according to gift occasion, recipient, or type, by using the navigation menu on the right hand side of the page.
Growing up with both parents teachers at an urban public high school in California, I saw first-hand the impact that education budget cuts can have on teachers. My dad taught graphic arts, and frequently dug into his own pocket to keep his classroom supplied with printing equipment, inks, paper, and later, even desktop computers. Funding for vocational classes like his all but disappeared as higher-ups decided every student should be on a college track. To get the funds to keep his class relevant, my dad worked weekends and evenings printing brochures, newsletters, flyers, and T-Shirts for local businesses, plowing the proceeds back into classroom supplies.
My first “job” was screenprinting thousands of T-shirts for a local housing developer; I earned minimum wage but the classroom gained two new computers. Even many years later my dad still runs into students who thank him for what they learned in his class. Some are former gang members, or recent immigrants who barely spoke English — not typical college track — but they’ve been able to find good jobs in printing or graphic design thanks to having learned real world skills on up-to-date equipment.
The “Great Recession” Erased Many Teachers’ Budgets for Classroom Supplies
So it comes as no surprise to me to hear that many teachers are responding to draconian budget cuts by using their own money to purchase classroom supplies. As school districts across the country (CA, PA, OH, FL, NY, GA, ID, VA, HI, KS, and more…) contend with reduced funding, few classrooms are fully equipped with essentials like books, office supplies, craft materials, games, paints, puzzles, science projects and more.
At the same time, despite the clear preferences of teachers to the contrary, many well-intentioned (and equally cash-strapped) parents spend money buying the kinds of trinkets and knick-knacks that are frequently marketed as the “perfect holiday gifts for teachers“. Teachers don’t expect to receive Christmas gifts from their students, but in many schools it’s a fun tradition and a way for students (and parents) to show their appreciation.
Give the Gift Teachers Appreciate Most
I’ve yet to meet a teacher who would prefer an apple trinket or yet another coffee mug to school supplies, books, project materials, or other gifts that would benefit their entire classroom. Giving classroom supplies as a gift is better than traditional “teacher gifts” in several ways:
This year, if you’re in the fortunate position to be able to afford to have your kids take a Christmas gift to school for their teachers, consider ignoring the cute gift shop marketing, and instead gifting something much more practical, like classroom supplies.
If classroom supplies don’t seem like the most exciting gift idea to you, try these tips to turn even the most “boring” holiday present like a gift card or a box of paper and pencils into something unique and personalized that is fun both to give and to receive:
Finally, if you support the idea of “Chalk, Not Tchotchkes”, please consider spreading the word by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook or wherever your virtual friends hang out.
Most requested supplies:
See more of the most requested teaching supplies organized by grade level and subject area.
INFOGRAPHIC DATA SOURCES:
Special Thanks to St Louis graphic designer Blue Canary Design for the awesome art!
Looking for the perfect gift idea for a teacher who has gone above and beyond the call of duty? Perhaps a thank you gift to express your appreciation, or a gift for a new teacher to make their transition into that difficult new job just a little bit easier.
First, let me say thank you for having the consideration and thoughtfulness to care enough about choosing a great gift for a teacher that you’re even spending time researching it online. As a former teacher myself, I can tell you that teachers love thoughtful gifts, and in general we are a profession that truly desires feeling appreciated and respected. So, THANK YOU!!
Before I get into listing some of my favorite gift ideas (and the teacher gifts that have most thrilled my colleagues in the past), just a few brief recommendations on how to choose that ideal present:
Buying a gift for a male teacher? No problem! The general advice on choosing the right gift for teachers remains the same, but of course you should take into account that men often have different preferences than women.
For example, that trip to the spa may not make such a good gift anymore. “Old favorites” like ornaments, pins, decorations, candles, lotion, etc. are similarly less suited for a male teacher than a female teacher (in general).
Perhaps the biggest challenge is that male teachers are (again, speaking in generalities here) often less likely to be very sentimental about handmade gifts and purely symbolic gifts (“#1 Teacher”, etc.) — in general, men prefer something useful.
Fortunately, there are a number of great gifts for male teachers that you can get which are quite useful and will still allow you to express your creativity and personality.
In an ideal world, we would probably all make most of the gifts we give each holiday season. Applying our considerable craft talents, we would carve a beautiful wooden hiking staff, knit a delightfully soft wool scarf, and fill a handcrafted basket with freshly-baked cookies. Personalized gifts like these are guaranteed to be unique, and demonstrate caring and thoughtfulness in a way that no amount of money could ever match.
But in the real world, most of us are far too busy to make craft gifts for even a small number of the people on our gift list. Enter personalized gifts from sites like PersonalizationMall.com, GiftsForYouNow.com, and even Amazon: they allow the busy person to give a gift with that extra personal touch that is bound to make it memorable, but without having to spend two weeks crafting it yourself. Consider these gift ideas a shortcut to making something yourself — and chances are, the end result will be much more practical too!
My Favorite Teacher Picture Frame
Any teacher is guaranteed to love this picture frame which can be personalized with the teacher’s name, school, and grade. Include a photo of the whole class as a memorable teacher gift from the entire classroom, or frame a photo of your student with one of the projects they made during the year. You can also have your child make a special thank you drawing and frame that.
Photo Cookie Jar
This delighftul cookie jar can be filled with treats for an extra special thank you (just make sure you know your District’s rules regarding baked goods; some schools don’t allow them!). Once those are gone the teacher can use it to hold crafts or school supplies. But the best part is the option to personalize it with your own photo – what a great way for the teacher to remember her class for years to come!
Engraved Desktop Kaleidoscope
This cool wooden kaleidoscope would make a fun gift for an art teacher or science teacher, or really anyone who appreciates the classic fun and beauty of a well-made kaleidoscope. It can be engraved with an inspiring message, or simply a note of appreciation.
Wooden Puzzle with Free Engraving
Both kids and adults will love this wooden puzzle, which can stand up to the abuse of younger students while still challenging older grades. Engraving adds a classy touch that lets you tell your favorite teacher how much you appreciate them!
Engraved Ballpoint Pen
Everyone can use more pens, and really any sort of pen can be a simple can’t miss gift. But for an extra special thank you– say, as a gift for a favorite professor, or the teacher who put in so many hours of personal tutoring, few gifts are classier than an elegant engraved pen like this one from Executive Essentials.
Personalized “Mix Tape” CD
One of the coolest personalized gifts I received was a collection of MP3s from a student musician. It was clear that he had picked out each of the songs because they were deeply meaningful to him, and I was touched to be able to share in his discoveries. Apparently iTunes lets you gift a collection of MP3s, sending a link via email so that the recipient can download each of the selected songs straight to their iTunes free of charge. Very practical and enjoyable yet still personal gift.
Personalized Teacher Thank You Card
I’ve written this elsewhere, but many parents still don’t believe me One of the nicest things you can do for a teacher is also one of the easiest: a heartfelt and genuine thank you card written by you and your child. Not only is it something that the teacher will appreciate tremendously, it’s also an excellent lesson for your children, teaching them to show gratitude and appreciation for others who are working on their behalf. You can even make a thank you card into something personal and extra special using one of these 40 ideas for easy handmade thank you cards. If you still don’t feel it’s enough just to give a card, consider enclosing a gift card to a store that the teacher can use to purchase classroom supplies, such as Amazon, Walmart, or one of the many stores at GiftCards.com
Last Minute Gift Ideas for Teacher
Suppose you’ve waited until absolutely the last second, but still want to do a thoughtful and caring gift for a teacher? When it’s too late to go to the store, and too late even for overnight shipping, you can still give a last minute gift using electronic delivery of a personalized thank you card. I like the ones from American Greetings, which you can get for free with this 7-day trial.