Each year, National Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on the Tuesday of the first full week in May. Why should you mark that date on your calendar? In many ways, teachers are the closest we will come to real-life superheroes.
However, finding the right gift to express appreciation for them can be challenging. Fortunately, we found 18 teacher-approved presents that fit the needs of teachers of all grade levels.
And what’s the best part? No matter how tight your budget is, it won’t break the bank to show your favorite teacher your appreciation.
1. Thank-you note.
Is there anything teachers really want as a gift? Almost every teacher we know would appreciate a handwritten note from both current and former teachers.
Even though a handwritten note would be nice, they would be just as happy to receive an e-mail. It’s also important for kids to pop by between classes and tell them what a great job we’re doing. They could also share how they taught them to appreciate the pleasure of escaping into a good novel. Or how their classes have inspired them to fight injustice.
Since a thank-you note pretty much only costs your time, you may also want to toss in a gift card. According to WeAreTeachers, teachers love gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, Visa, and T.J. Maxx. You could also give them a gift card to a local restaurant, coffee shop, or boutique.
2. School supplies.
More than 90 percent of teachers purchase school supplies for their students on their own dime. The average teacher spent around $500 on classroom supplies over the course of the year before the pandemic. While a modest tax deduction helps offset the costs, educators get tired of buying supplies on their own, which worsens their economic situation.
As a result, school supplies are the best way to reach a teacher’s heart. According to over 250 teachers who were surveyed, here are the most essential classroom supplies for teachers.
- Electric Pencil Sharpener
- Dry Erase Markers
- Colored Writing Utensils
- Post-it Notes
- Chart Paper
- Individual Dry Erase Boards
- Personal Laminator
- Organizational Supplies like file folders, velcro, or Ziplock bags
3. Erin Condren 12-Month Platinum Spiral-Bound Teacher Lesson Planner
Many teachers told The Strategist that they use paper planners to organize lesson plans and daily schedules. Erin Condren teacher planners are especially popular with them.
Heather D. Nelson, a longtime homeschooler and mother of three, and Jessica Garza, a kindergarten teacher in Katy, Texas, recommend Condren’s planners. According to Garza, the planner “can showcase an entire week of plans on a one-page layout and separates the page into several subjects.” The planners are available in softcover or spiral bound formats, and there are a variety of designs to choose from.
4. Tote/messenger bag.
Traveling to the classroom is not an easy task for teachers. Notebooks, folders, lesson plans, and laptops or tablets are all brought to class every day by teachers. It is for this reason that a sturdy tote is always a welcome gift.
With that in mind, Baggu’s Duck Bag will come in handy. A roomy zip pocket on the interior of the bag keeps valuables safe, while an exterior pocket holds files and art supplies. With so many colors and styles to choose from, you’ll be able to find the perfect gift for your teacher. Plus, it’s only $38.
For male teachers, you may want to consider Tomtoc 13.5 Inch Laptop Shoulder Bag. Designed especially for teachers on the go, these bags are a perfect size. It features three internal pockets for storing a laptop. Also, the external pockets are large enough to organize and neatly store teacher essentials. And, it costs just $37.99
5. YETI Rambler 14-oz. Insulated Mug
Generally, teachers have plenty of mugs, but this vacuum-insulated, spill-proof tumbler will make their lives easier.
Coffee is rarely consumed in peace by teachers. It is for this reason that insulated mugs are a must-have teacher gift. The YETI mug will keep your drink hot until finished. There is even enough coffee inside to last a teacher until the bell rings or at least until lunchtime
6. Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker
As an alternative, they can brew a fresh cup right in the classroom without worrying about heated or insulated mugs. There are few teacher gift ideas they’ll be more grateful for than the Keurig K-Mini. Especially with an $80 price tag.
7. A massager with heat.
Your teacher will be able to relax and rejuvenate with this Shiatsu Neck Massager featuring a heat feature. There are eight deep tissue kneading nodes in the massager, which will help your teacher relax and relieve the stress associated with day-to-day classroom activities. Its adjustable shape allows it to massage just about any part of the body with ease.
8. Leapgear lap desk.
There is no escaping the fact that teachers will work at home. While lesson planning or grading on weekends, they can at least work comfortably from their bed or couch. Also, it is available in seven different patterns.
Moreover, it’s another budget-friendly gift they’ll use at under $30.
9. Food subscription box.
Consider giving a HelloFresh subscription to a teacher in need. The affordable prices and hefty portions make HelloFresh one of the most popular meal delivery services. Now that they have back that grocery shopping time, teachers will have plenty of time to work on their curriculum — or just kick and relax.
Other suggestions include Freshly, Green Chef, Blue Apron, or Hungryroot.
10. A wireless speaker.
In the modern classroom, wireless speakers allow teachers to play music, podcasts, audio stories, or the music their students love. During some well-deserved breaks, they can listen to whatever else they want and unwind.
The Tribit XSound Go is a budget-friendly pick for around $40. Besides being clear and loud, it is also waterproof, just in case of spills.
11. Trodat Printy 4913 Custom Self-Inking Teacher Stamp
Using this customizable stamp, your teacher can identify which books belong in their classroom library — and ensure they make their way back. There are also many other stamp options available, such as “Proud of You,” or “Please Sign and Return.”
With these stamps, you can customize the ink color and the name of your teacher. The ink pad doesn’t need to be bought separately, since it’s self-inking as well. And, it’s only $16 at Amazon.
12. Indoor plants.
Students and educators can benefit from growing plants in the classroom, according to Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. There is evidence that indoor plants improve concentration and memory, as well as reducing stress. There is also research that suggests indoor plants can increase productivity in the classroom and reduce mental fatigue.
Indoor plants are cared for by students who water, clean, repot, and propagate them. The low light conditions in some classrooms, the dry air in the central HVAC system, and the extended holidays during the school year can make growing plants challenging, but they have an aesthetic value.
The best plants for classrooms are those that require low to medium light, such as spider plants, golden pothos, peace lilies, Chinese evergreens, snake plants, heartleaf philodendrons, and friendship plants.
13. Cleaning supplies.
Although classrooms are cleaned daily, they are not always thoroughly cleaned. Maintaining a clean classroom can be made easier with a few specific cleaning supplies, such as:
- Disinfectant wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand wipes
- Magic eraser
- Microfiber cloths
14. Jerry & Maggie Desktop Organizer Free Rotation Display Shelf
These Jerry & Maggie storage racks can help teachers reduce the clutter on their desks, which are often overrun with papers, stationery, and supplies. As per the brand, they are stackable, adjustable, and rotateable, so they can be adapted to fit the needs of your workspace.
In addition to being made of natural wood, the two included racks both have flat surfaces that can be used to store anything from pencil holders and Post-it Notes to books and mail.
You also can’t beat the prices. It’s just $25.
15. A wireless printer.
The use of print has been shown to improve students’ comprehension as well as retention of information. In a variety of classroom settings, print remains relevant despite the transition to digital. Affordable, convenient, and high-performance classroom printers are essential for making the printed page more accessible to students.
Using the Canon Pixma MG3620 Wireless All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer, teachers can easily print from their iPhone, iPad, Android, or tablet. Also, it’s just $69.
16. Felt letter board.
Teachers can use a felt letter board to:
- Display inspirational quotes of the day, week, or month.
- Develop students’ vocabulary with a word of the day/word of the week display.
- Keep teachers and students informed about upcoming field trips, book returns, homework, or tests.
- Keep a letter board near the door with a word problem or math problem. As students line up, have them read the problem or solve it.
For around $21, Amazon offers a 10x10in Changeable Letter Board with 300 letters.
17. Reward punch set.
This is the perfect gift for someone who wants to set long-term goals and has a positive reward system in place. A specific benefit is that it is a simple way to check progress, as well as:
- Kids can be motivated to do chores by using them as incentives
- These can be used to teach kindness, manners, and responsibility.
At Amazon, you can pick up a pack of 200 ONEDONE Reward Punch Cards for just over ten dollars.
18. Things My Students Said Journal
Make sure your teacher doesn’t forget all of the cute, adorable, funny, crazy, and witty things their students say. With this 5×8″ journal, they can keep track of who said what when using the labels/prompts for Name, Age, and Date.
A keepsake like this will be cherished by teachers for years to come. Plus, this memorable gift will only set you back $8.99
What is the best teacher appreciation gift?
A note of appreciation describing specific ways the educator excelled that year is appreciated by almost every teacher. You don’t even need fancy paper if you’re handwriting the letter. It’s just as good, if not better, to use plain paper than a glittery card that costs eight dollars. And it’s cheaper, too.
For even greater simplicity, email is ideal because it is free (except for time) and can be printed out by the teacher.
What should you include in the note? Specific details are key. Your child may have said something positive about the teacher, or the teacher may have refined a significant skill or plan with your child, or the class may have a quirky and delightful quality that your family enjoys.
Can you honor the teacher and help the school at the same time?
Donating to a teacher’s school can be a thoughtful way to thank the teacher for all they do for the school. Some examples include:
- Honor the teacher with a book donation to the school library.
- Donate to the PTA, a school foundation, or a children’s charity in the teacher’s name.
- For one ELA class, parents pool donations to purchase a printer.
- Parents combine donations to build raised planters on school grounds.
- Create a wish list for the parents based on the teacher’s suggestions for the classroom.
What is the appropriate price range for teacher gifts?
“You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and sometimes, a handwritten note from the heart is the best gesture of appreciation,” says Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert. If your child has the same teacher throughout the day, Schweitzer suggests $50 (and she prefers a pooled gift). “If your child has the teacher for just one period of the day, $10 to $20 is appropriate.”
A kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles, Melissa Verity Baral, tells SheKnows that most parents give gift cards in the range of $25 to $50. When choosing the amount, parents should consider the gift card’s source, says elementary and preschool teacher Atari Sno. The teacher shouldn’t have to spend money to use the gift card at an expensive store. “I had some gift certificates for years because I didn’t have the money to come out of my pocket to use them, and I didn’t feel right regifting them,” Sno tells SheKnows.
According to Kimmi Anaya-Rodas, a middle school teacher in Riverside County, California, received an average of $10 per gift. Students in middle and high school have more subjects, so teachers receive smaller gifts (if any). The average amount parents spend on gifts is between $10 and $20, according to after-school teacher Erica Willis.
What gifts should you avoid?
- Lotion. Individuals have varying preferences when it comes to scents. You should steer clear of this kind of gift unless you know your teacher’s preferences ahead of time.
- Candy. The amount of chocolate and other candy teachers receive throughout the year is just too much.
- Homemade treats. Although it’s a nice gesture, it’s risky. It is common for homemade goodies to wind up in the trash because of allergies, germophobia and unknown ingredients..
- Trinkets. Although they are appreciated, sadly they end up in the donation pile as they pile up and take up space.
- Clothing, jewelry or other items featuring apples or school themes. In your child’s classroom, there may be a lot of owls. But don’t assume that a teacher likes to decorate their home or body with owls if the classroom has an owl theme. It is not a personal preference, but an educational theme teachers want their students to remember.
- Pets. The responsibility that comes with owning a pet is evident. As such, it is never a good idea to buy a pet for someone without getting their permission.