Give Teachers What They REALLY Want for Teacher Appreciation Week (Starts May 8th!)

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These start or end of year gifts for teachers are great for showing your appreciation. Plus, they are the best teacher gifts according to actual teachers! 

child holding teacher appreciation day gift card holder cards

We sure love our teachers! ❤️

Need end of year gifts for teachers? These gift ideas were submitted from actual teachers, so trust us when we say these ideas are all they really want this year! And with all the hard work they put in, teachers are certainly worthy of receiving a little something special. Use this helpful list to find the best teacher gifts to show your appreciation. These gift ideas for teachers are sure to brighten the day of the special educators in your life!

Teacher Appreciation Week is Monday, May 8th to Friday, May 12th, 2023!

These are the best teacher gifts according to actual teachers:

1. Gifts cards so they can treat themselves to something they really want.

filling out teacher appreciation free printable gift card holder

Teachers deserve to treat themselves to something special after the hard work they do in the classroom. After hearing from hundreds of teachers, it was clear gift cards were the top most requested gift idea they’ll never tire of receiving. Even just $5 to cover a coffee is such a special treat! When it comes to helpful end-of-year gifts for teachers, this is one gift idea that will actually be useful!

Want to go all out for your kiddo’s teacher?

holding 3 gift cards

Consider asking the entire class to participate in organizing one large gift card for their teacher as this Hip reader did:

“We’ve been doing one large gift card to Amazon. It’s so much easier for the teachers to load one card rather than 25 little ones onto their account and it feels like a bigger gift too.” Chelsea, Hip reader

Need more gift ideas for teachers? Here are the top requested gift cards to consider:

Hip Tip: Teachers…did you receive a gift card you’ll never use? Here’s how to turn gift cards into cash fast!

2. A hand-written card they can look back on is one of the best gift ideas for teachers. 

thank you cards on counter

We heard from hundreds of teachers across the country and of all the things they’ve kept over the years, the handwritten cards of appreciation are the ones they have always held onto above everything else.

As some teachers mentioned… “There are only so many trinkets you can hold onto”.

On rough days, it’ll be the perfect sentiment for them to look back on when they’re needing some words of encouragement. We know now more than ever teachers could use them. ❤️ If you’re looking for quick and meaningful end-of-year gift ideas for teachers, these cards are just what you need!

Here’s what some of our Hip Teachers said:

selection of free printable thank you cards

“Special Education teacher here. I love to get a homemade card! Even a little flower they picked from the garden. We are often forgotten. A hug and a smile are always welcomed too!” – Roxanne, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“A thank you card! I love getting notes of affirmation from students and parents that are heartfelt. I don’t need things, just really hope for respect for what I do for others’ children!” – Ann, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Gift cards are always nice, but a handmade card from your student will always take the cake! I have every card/note/picture my students have given me in a box in my classroom…they’re nice reminders on tough school days.” – Bailee, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“For those with tiny or no budgets for teacher gifts, I can honestly tell you, a sincere note of appreciation, especially if you can be specific about something the teacher did, is way more meaningful than any gift.” – Anne, Hip2Save reader and teacher

Hip Tip: Here’s how to snag a FREE Hallmark Card!

3. A hot meal since they never get to eat lunch out. 

person walking with red bag on a sidewalk

Teachers take their lunch to school nearly every single day of the year with zero days to treat themselves to lunch at their favorite spot. One of the most requested teacher gifts (by teachers themselves) was simply a fresh hot meal!

chick fil a cups on table with takeout foods

Whether it’s a gift card to a meal delivery service or you’re having it delivered right to their classroom, this is one teacher appreciation gift idea that will surely be appreciated by anyone. Just be sure to find out what their favorite food is and whether they have any dietary restrictions so your generous gift won’t go to waste!

4. A gift basket filled with goodies.

gift ideas for teachers - hotpop teacher appreciation gifts idea filled with soda and popcorn

Help your favorite teacher unwind during their time outside the classroom. While popcorn wasn’t a specific item that teachers requested, many of them commented about how much they loved thoughtful appreciation gift baskets with treats and foods they’ll actually enjoy.

Even better, to create our popcorn gift basket idea, all you need is our favorite collapsible silicone popcorn maker, some kernels, a drink, and a little note to tie your vision together! 🤩 These baskets make excellent end of year gifts for teachers. Plus, it’s the gift that will keep on giving for years to come! 🙌🏻

Other gift basket ideas include this s’mores gift basket idea from our Hip reader:

unique campfire smores four ways

“Include stuff for s’mores, telescoping roasting forks, fire flame colors, s’mores themed towel, etc. with an end of school year card that reads ‘Wish I had s’more time with you, but I’m off to ____ grade’ or ‘…but it’s time to enjoy summer!’ They’re the perfect teacher gifts for summer!” – Sarah, Hip2Save reader

Hip Tip: Is your teacher following a keto lifestyle? Head to our sister site, Hip2Keto, to read about our favorite keto chocolate!

And this creative beach basket idea from a teacher:

blue beach bag in sand at beach

“Another fun gift basket idea is a magazine, a beach towel and maybe a gift card for a place where you can grab a cool drink and put it into a cute beach bag! I did that for teachers one year (I am also a teacher) and they loved it!!” – Ashlei, Hip2save reader and teacher

5. Fun gift ideas for teachers include beautiful plants they can keep in their classroom or take home.

pink planter with pothos plant and teacher gifts note in soil

Costa Farms Potted Plants on Amazon$13.01+ (regularly $21.99)

Our amazing teachers help our children grow every day and showing your appreciation of their growth in the literal form will be a constant reminder of you and your kiddo’s gratitude.

With potted plants on Amazon starting under $20 shipped and our free printable below, these make some of the best teacher gifts. Plus, they are affordable and easy! 😍

“One year I got my kiddo’s teachers tomato plants. They loved them and it wasn’t a momento they had to hang onto. They thought it was the perfect teacher’s gift because summer was here so they could grow and produce tomatoes.” – Tiff, Hip2Save reader

Want to make your own planter?

hand holding edge of ruler planter holding succulents

As another idea, Lina created this cute and easy ruler planter. It’s one of our favorite gift ideas for teachers! It’s minimal enough to go with any teacher’s classroom theme and will look perfect on their desk in the new school year. 🤩

6. A jar of mixed and matched pens was the most memorable gift a Special Education teacher ever received. 

woman holding clear jar of pens and pencils as a teacher appreciation gift - gifts teachers really want

Well, if this idea doesn’t bring you to tears, I’m not sure what will. 😭 Some special education teachers mentioned they tend to be overlooked so let us not forget to remind them just how special they are too!

If you want to stock up your jar with the highest-rated crayons and pencils, I tested them all so you know just what to buy! Even better, this present could potentially be free if you already have a bunch of new pens and pencils lying around. That’s makes it one of the best end of year teacher gifts in our book!

“I was a Special Ed teacher and the best teacher appreciation gift I ever received was a box of mismatched pens and pencils.” – Lynette, Hip2Save reader and teacher

7. A citronella candle they can enjoy until the warm weather ends. 

citronella candle - gift ideas for teachers

Winbattle Citronella Candle In Coarse Pottery Container – $15.97+ (regularly $16.99+)

The weather is still warm in August and September and teachers want to enjoy it after school hours. A citronella candle will be a welcome addition to their patio. It’s one of our favorite end of the year gifts for teachers because if there’s one thing teachers plan on doing once summer break hits, it’s soaking up the outdoors and kicking back to relax. It’s no wonder a citronella candle is at the top of the list of best teacher gifts!

“Each year I always give a nice outdoor citronella candle with wishes for a wonderful summer. It’s inexpensive but I feel it’s useful and timely and sends a nice message about relaxing and enjoying summer break.” – Lori, Hip2Save reader

8. Air freshener to keep their classroom smelling fresh.

hand holding bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Room Freshener Basil 8 oz with other mrs. meyers

Mrs. Meyer’s Room Freshener – $4.99+ (regularly $6.09+) 

*Note that select scents are also part of a buy one, get one 50% off sale right now!

There’s no denying when kiddos get to a certain age maintaining a fresh classroom can be a job in itself. 😬 While some may find air freshener to be an unusual gift idea, it’s a pretty practical one. Plus, it’s something teachers are sure to appreciate! 😉

While there’s an endless amount of options to choose from and so many possibilities for gifting, sticking to a safe and chemical-free product is what I’d recommend gifting to appeal to all teachers. An air freshener is perfect as a beginning-of-the-school-year gift and we even made you an adorable printable card to attach, too!

Hip Tip: Love Mrs. Meyer’s products? Find out how you can score over $50 in freebies from Grove Collaborative when you place your first order!

9. Classroom donations, like books or school supplies, always come in handy.

kids books on shelves make great end of year gifts for teachers and their classrooms

One of the best gift ideas for teachers is a classroom donation. A lot of teachers reported shelling out big bucks to stock their own classrooms with supplies. Help your favorite teacher save money by buying books or other useful classroom items. These gifts will come in handy year after year. Plus, since the gift will stay in the classroom, the teacher won’t need to worry about lugging home and storing too many newly acquired items!

“If someone wants to get me a gift I suggest a book for our classroom library. It saves me money and is a gift that lasts from year to year…I spend thousands of dollars of my salary buying classroom supplies each year. Something that helps me with that means more than anything.” – Lisa, Hip2Save reader and teacher 

“I have taught various levels from high school to adult education for 15 years and just a card or a classroom donation means the world.” – Meg, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Best gift would be a Dollar Tree gift card. I can use it for school decor, treasure box toys, supplies, etc.” – Mamamia, Hip2Save reader and teacher

10. End the year off on the right foot by sending the teacher a box of sunshine.

hand holding box of sunshine card

Take some time to remind your favorite teacher that they make a positive impact on your child’s life. A box of sunshine is the perfect way to do just that! Fill a box full of yellow goodies and attach our printable card. Some ideas include filling the box with yellow candies, cookies, pencils, Burt’s Bees lip balm, or a journal. Whatever you put inside, this thoughtful gift box is sure to get a smile from the teacher!

11. Flair pens, and Flair pens only.

woman making the best end of year gifts for teachers and she is holding a light purple flair pen over pile of flair pens and her stack of flair-well cards

Papermate Flair Pens 12-Count – $9.11 (regularly $17.99)

If you’re unsure what a teacher’s love language is, it’s Flair pens (and Flair pens only). 😂 According to numerous teachers across the country, gift a pack of Papermate Flair pens and they’ll be thrilled with this top-requested school supply. If you know, you know. 😉

end of year gifts for teachers - hand holding it's time to say flair well teachers card

Since we’re pretty Hip around here, I took it one step further to make this affordable gift even better with a cute farewell card to go with them! This is one of the easiest end of year gifts for teachers. If you have a Cricut Joy, you can easily print my card to complete this easy teacher gift idea.

Don’t have a Cricut? No problem, my friend! I also created a free downloadable gift tag you can print right at home. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

12. Just showing your teacher appreciation is enough.

VIPKid Teachers

While I know I said I listed these teacher gifts in order of most requested, this one actually trumps them all. After reading through hundreds of sweet teacher sentiments, it was very clear what teachers really want is to feel valued and appreciated. 🥺

So this is a reminder to think of the teachers and teacher aids that your kiddo may only see once a week. If you can’t afford a gift at all…just say a special thanks at the beginning and the end of the school year. A sincere expression of gratitude is one of the best teacher gifts and one that will leave them with words that will resonate forever. ❤️

hand holding a yellow and orange flower with we love our teachers post it note as a teacher appreciation gift

“Please remember the ‘specials’ teachers. A little thank you would be great – we may only see your child once a week but it’s nice to be remembered.” – Erin, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Any sign of appreciation is loved and gives us joy. Yard flowers in a pickle jar! A middle School Math Teacher. ❤️ – Julia, Hip2Save reader and teacher

Wondering what NOT to buy your kiddo’s teachers?

Teachers get hundreds of gifts over the course of their careers. Though they might want to, it can be hard to hold onto every gift received. Here’s a list of the top requested items teachers could live without:

Teachers have class apple

  • Cups
  • Mugs
  • Tumblers
  • Body lotion
  • ANYTHING that says “Best teacher” or “#1 Teacher”
  • No more apples…unless it’s made by Apple 😆

Thanks for all you do, teachers! And we hope you enjoy the contents of this teacher appreciation gift list as well. 😉

Browse all of our FREE Teacher Appreciation printables!

About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 8+ years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.

Join The Discussion

Comments 97

  1. Lisa l

    I’m in my 23rd year of teaching. I’m a K teacher now but have also taught Pre-K and 2nd grade. Here’s my two cents. I set a rule at the beginning of every year. If someone wants to get me a gift I suggest a book for our classroom library. It saves me money and is a gift that lasts from year to year. I’ve gotten every gift you can think of. With 20-25 students a year that’s a lot of gifts!

    Never send scented items (candles, soap, fancy hand sanitizers, room spray etc) you never know what smells a teacher likes or doesn’t like. Some people are very sensitive to smells or have allergies.

    Be careful with gift cards. Very specific cards for food or drink can go to waste or be regifted (example: I don’t like Coffee so Starbucks gift cards aren’t my thing)

    Flair pens are awesome, but I don’t know any teachers that don’t have drawers full. I have literally over 4,000 Flair Pens.

    In my opinion and I know this goes for some of my fellow teacher, a book for the classroom, or a small gift card to Barnes and Noble or Amazon goes over well so we can save on class supplies.

    I also love handmade cards! I have binders full from all of my years teaching.

    I spend thousands of dollars of my salary buying classroom supplies each year. Something that helps me with that means more than anything.

    • Pam

      They sell a variety of snacks, beverages, and other non food or coffee items at Starbucks.

    • isabel

      I am a teacher and I am grateful to anything that my students give me. I always tell them they do not have to give me anything. I am grateful if I get a gift card, a candle, room spray, a mug, anything that they want to give me and comes from their heart. I teach in a very low income area. You think I am going to be telling them not to give me candles, room sprays, soap? Please! Come one!

  2. Amy

    I agree with most of these, but candles should for sure be on the banned list of gifts. Ideally stick with the top two on this list. A note is truly the most appreciated and a gift card is second place.

    • vicki

      Now, see I love getting candles!

      • isabel

        me too! 🙂

  3. Lo

    As a teacher I totally agree with your top 4. Also totally agree with your no list!

  4. Ashlei

    Another fun gift basket idea is a magazine, a beach towel and maybe a gift card for a place where you can grab a cool drink and put into a cute beach bag! I did that for teachers one year (I am also a teacher) and they loved it!!

  5. ReneeAnn

    At the beginning of the school year our PTO president makes a post on the PTO Facebook page where teachers can comment with a link to their Amazon wish list for their classroom. It’s perfect for parents who would rather pick out specific items instead of a gift card and know it’s something the teacher needs or wants. Same thing could be done at the end of the year too. Another random PTO idea – once a month parents Venmo the president a little money to have lunch catered in the break room for all teachers and staff. They love it!

  6. Deb

    My late MIL taught grades 1-6 during her long career. She had cabinets full of coffee mugs with teacher-related sayings on them, none of which she needed, but couldn’t toss out or donate for sentimental reasons.

  7. Marinova

    I’m not a teacher, but there is this little notion I try to keep in mind when gifting: “It’s the thought that counts.” If a teacher doesn’t like the candle or soap or sanitizer scent or candy I sent…OH WELL! I tried. 🤣

    • Jen

      I agree. Many school service personnel such as school counselors, speech therapists, etc. support students daily and do not regularly receive gifts/thank you’s from students/parents. Appreciate being thought of, the gesture and the intention behind it.

    • bdubs

      Yup. I’m a para (special ed aide). We are usually forgotten. Parents send in a gift for the lead teacher only. We’re the ones helping with homework, changing briefs (some kiddos never outgrow them), wiping noses, holding hands on walks, etc. We do have our own week but it’s usually ignored (by the school & parents) so please think of us too if your student is in SPED. I don’t want this to sound like a pity party, just a reminder that there are a lot of people at school who work hard for all the students.

      • energy_train

        Our son has several paras and I make sure they get the same gifts as the teachers. I gave almost 30 gifts at Christmas for everyone that works with him on a daily basis and I appreciate every single one of these people the same. I KNOW that paras do a lot of the hard work with SPED kids! It makes me sad that some parents don’t see that.

      • Pharmchick104

        My kiddo is also in a sc class and while I do give the lead teacher a slightly larger amount gc, all of the other paras in the class, there are 3, get a decent value gc as well. I know for a fact the class doesnt run as smoothly without them and they are so good to my kiddo and deserve it.

      • Brea Essex

        I’m so sorry to hear that! My younger son is in special ed, and I always include his paras (along with his speech therapist and now PE teacher). You guys have a hard job, and the teachers and kids need you!

      • Kath

        I always give to the paras. I have 10 with main teacher in the classroom and though they do not all work one on one with my kid he passes them in the class and the school and they deserve being thought off. I have a gift a day for the week. With cute tag. This year chapstick tag says thanks for making me smile. Pirouline wafers thanks for making this year a blast. Soap with fresh scent that states thanks for making my freshman year amazing. Chocolate heart on stick. Saying thanks for giving me a piece of your heart. Box of drink mix Pomegranate cherry flavor the tags says if school was a Sundae you would be the cherry on top.

      • katie-27

        I am a special Ed teacher and one year a parent baked pies for the gen Ed teachers with a long note and gift cards… and she gave me a burnt pie slice (probably from the mess up pie) with no note or gift card! The slice was on a paper plate with cling wrap. I was so happy to be remembered though. It was the only gift I got that year. Her son was with me 90% of the day. 🙂 Please remember your special Ed teachers!

        • Drue

          Amen!!! I wouldn’t do anything else but we are so often forgotten!!

    • Connie

      feel sorry for your kids teacher very rude statement on your part!

  8. riss

    Not a teacher, but scent is a personal thing. Plus with all the allergies and sensitivities nowadays, this may not be a good idea. When my kids were in school, I would always give either a Target or Starbucks gift card.

  9. jenlightyear14

    It’s a gift to say thank you, we appreciate you, but sorry if we don’t know you 100%. We try though🤷‍♀️ I think I’ll just stick to donating items that they ask for throughout the year. And with book orders the teacher has had a wish list for the classroom, so that would be a nice gift as well. At least this way it’s things they asked for! 😅

  10. Tricia

    So I guess I should return the apple shaped cup filled with body lotion that says #1 teacher 🤔🤣

    • mrswagley


    • isabel

      Tricia, I don’t know why some complain about the gifts. This is why some parents get discouraged and prefer not to give anything to teachers. I am a teacher and anything my students or parents give me I take it, thank them and use it.

  11. Stacy C.

    Last year I gave a hand & foot mask to all the teachers & support staff with a note that read “thanks for lending a hand to help my son take a few steps forward to grow in his learning adventures”.

  12. bella

    Every year at the Halloween party I would corner the teacher and tell them they are getting something for Christmas from my kid. Where do they like to eat out or shop? One year I did GC to the local store that has plants, flowers, outdoor accessories for the teachers (one was into shop local).

  13. Kim

    My grandma was an elementary school teacher for years, about 20 years. 20-25 kids, about a dozen mugs/tumblers per year for 20+ years. That’s 200+ mugs. Trust me. The teacher does not need another mug. She was afraid that someone might know she donated them, so she’d drive them all the way to Vermont when she went to visit family just to donate them to a thrift store out of town.

    • LessStuff

      I just laughed at the image of a lady sticking boxes of mugs in her trunk, under cover of darkness, and driving them hundreds of miles away to dispose of them where nobody knew her!!

      Seriously, though, any teachers reading this: I don’t care if you donate, give away, or toss your teacher gift from us. The intent was to let you know you’re appreciated, not to saddle you with something you don’t want/need. Please don’t feel the need to go to these lengths to rid yourself of unwanted/unneeded items!!

      Personally, I hate gifts that aren’t “consumable” in one form or another–something I can use up and throw away the packaging (like candles or chocolates) or use toward something I really want/need (like restaurant or store gift cards) –so that’s what I try to gift others. Like most people, I’ve got too much stuff and I’m trying to pare down already. One of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten was a big bag full of household cleaning items–I tried to express how thrilled I was with it, but I don’t think they believed me because it’s never been repeated. Every year, though, I still hope someone will gift me a big bottle of Tide instead of another set of wine glasses! LOL

  14. Meg

    I agree so much many of these thoughts. I have taught various levels from high school to adult education for 15 years and just a card or a classroom donation means the world.

  15. Christine

    A lot of these comments must be elementary teachers because gifts fall off drastically in middle and high school. I’ve never heard a secondary teacher complain once about what they recieved. It will always be the thought that counts. Give what you can and what you want. Likewise, be grateful for all that you get. I’ve never received something that I didn’t appreciate even if it wasn’t my preference.

    • bmiles

      Thank you, Christine. I’m a teacher and feel the same way. The thought of complaining about a gift that is freely given to you just boggles my mind!

  16. heather_03

    This year my son received an “all about your teacher” sheet. It has her name, things about her, her fav food/drink & teacher needs ideas. It’s been the best resource I have ever received from a teacher, & has been super helpful with holidays/teacher appreciation!

    • Becky

      My sons teacher did the same! Made holidays and appreciation gifts so much easier.

  17. Susan

    Pre-k mom here, when should I be getting teachers gifts? Also I want to include all the others (bus driver, aids, special teachers) but how do you know who and how many to get for? I would hate to get too few and leave someone out.

    • Brea Essex

      I believe teacher appreciation is next week. As to how many, I’d say any teachers/aides that work with your child on a regular basis. The bus driver is also a great idea! If you’re unsure, maybe ask at the office?

    • Amy

      On the bus driver…we always get our bus driver a gift card for the local grocery store with a handwritten note.

    • Darla

      It is never expected but is much appreciated at Christmas and during Teacher Appreciation week. A small treat for Valentine’s is also nice. It doesn’t have to be much; it’s just the thought. It’s very nice to include the librarian, PE teacher, counselor, music and art if your child has those services. I know that sounds like a lot but a note or a pack of mints/gum really warms the heart.

    • Christine Madrigal

      Don’t forget about the school nurse!!

  18. San

    At the start of every school year i give my childrens teachers, asst teachers, SSO, etc. a survey sheet for listing their favorite things. That helps me to buy them gifts throughout the year.

  19. Mamamia

    As a teacher, I can make my own mismatched pen/pencil bouquet by collecting everything on the floor at the end of the day.
    Best gift would be a dollar tree gift card. I can use it for school decor, treasure box toys, supplies, etc.

  20. bmiles

    I’m a teacher and am ALWAYS grateful for any gift I receive. If you don’t like something you receive, regift it or donate it. Some of these teachers sound really entitled…

    • Shannon

      Same!!! I’m a teacher as well and I am so touched when someone takes the thought and time to gift me anything. It is so generous! I can’t imagine ever complaining about a gift.

    • Me

      I agree. It is disheartening to hear from teachers that sound like everyone should know what they want, and that they don’t appreciate the gifts. I was taught that first of all, you are being thought of, and second, usually someone spent some of their hard earned money to buy you something…..and often times parents have multiple people and teachers per child and more than one child, so it really adds up.
      When your child is in middle school and high school, often times the ONLY hint I have gotten on what a teacher might like is during Back to School Night if they mention something or I see things in their classroom that might give me an idea. Other than that, there is usually no volunteering in the individual classrooms, not many, if any field trips and no Parent/Teacher conferences by that age (unless you have a serious problem), so I don’t know how teachers are supposed to expect us to know what they might like. (sigh)

  21. Lisa

    My elementary teacher husband would add canvas bags/totes to “no thanks” list. An alternative would be a packable reusable shopping bag in a fun print/pattern or solid color (the kind that has a pouch attached to the bag). It’s small and portable, making it have in a vehicle console or classroom drawer for carrying things back and forth. When specifically asked by his students he tells them he likes coffee and books (hoping that will turn into delicious coffee beans, coffee shop gift cards, gifts for bookstores/retailers or even scholastic for his always expanding classroom library) 😉.

  22. Sara

    How about people just do their jobs and not expect gifts/tips? I know that’s the case in my profession and many others. I don’t like that my PTO dues are all spent on food for the teachers/staff. Then we’re expected to shell out money for a zillion gifts throughout the year and then go overboard for the teacher appreciation week. We should focus on education and not the frivolous entitlements. Just my 2 cents.

    • bmiles

      I’m a teacher and agree with your comment 100%!

    • Karen

      I agree with the logic behind your first statement; however: 1 in any situation when I receive above the norm service (hotel, customer service, receptionist, whatever) I go out of my to write an email or letter or something of the sort to let the person (and possibly supervisor) know; 2 teachers frequently spend their own money on things for the classroom (that’s a systemic issue that should be fixed, I know); 3 I personally have never felt that gifting the teachers et al has been expected of me; 4 I like to teach my kids to think of others and to show their appreciation

    • Jen

      My school district has funds, teachers don’t spend their own money so I don’t feel guilty for not giving a gift. They are just doing their job like in any other profession and they are getting paid well with our taxpayer dollars. Yes, our elementary teachers make somewhere between 70-100 k, principal makes 150k+.

      • Connie

        you are very mistaken and totally unaware of whats going on! every teacher in elem. esp. spends tons of their own money! You havent a clue what goes on!!

      • Marissa

        I have a friend who is a public school teacher. We are in California,
        so she makes good money. Over the years, we would ask if she still spends her own money to buy stuff for the classroom, and the answer has always been yes.

    • mamarenie

      I agree! I use to help my pto until it all started to be used for teacher lunches. Nope! I’m done. I don’t selling anything now or donate. It should be for the classrooms and students to use daily.

    • Princess'Mom

      I’ve got a bunch of friends who are teachers and NONE of them “expect” a gift. Not all of their students (parents) give them gifts and they’re totally fine with that! Also, when they do get gifts, they appreciate everything–even the candles with scents they don’t like, gift cards to places they don’t go, and mugs that they’ve already gotten 12 identical ones this year.
      My job is something completely unrelated and in a field where we aren’t really in a position to receive tips or gifts but every once in a while, a customer will be so happy with our work that they send or drop off “a little something” to thank us. We aren’t expecting it, but no matter what it is we appreciate it. We LOVE getting a box of chocolates, a fruit basket, etc–things we can all share–but we appreciate just as much when someone brings over a plate of cookies they made (that, honestly, I’m going to toss once they’re gone because I don’t trust things from people’s kitchens if I don’t know them).

    • Keri

      You seriously begrudge the PTO for a measly salad and pizza a couple of times per year? Do you know that teachers pay for an incredible amount of things for their classrooms? Teachers need to stop paying a dime for anything. There is a MASSIVE teacher shortage and it will only get worse because of comments like yours and the hysteria over books and indoctrination. No teacher expects A gift, let alone a ZILLION gifts. As a teacher, I’m happy if a kid shows up to school with a respectful attitude. I’ve been teaching 18 years and the last few have put me over the edge with the nastiness from parents.

    • Corinne

      another nasty parent! just my 2 cents!

  23. Sheketa

    Unable to download file for Cricut joy. Please make it visible.

    • Sara (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Sheketa! Do you want to try clicking the link again? It should be working for you now as long as you’re logged in to your Cricut account. Keep me posted! 🙂

  24. Theresa Peloquin

    As a teacher for over twenty years who has survived teaching special education students during the pandemic, I am just so grateful for any gift. My favorites are the thoughtful ones from students. Once, I told a small group of students that I love Cool Ranch Doritos, but specifically the ones that curl over in the bag and have that extra zest. Four students all came in and delicately placed sandwich bags full of just the curled over Cool Ranch Doritos. They made a card that said “Nacho average teacher!” It was heartwarming. It was pre pandemic and they said they decided to all buy Doritos for a week and save the curled over ones just for me.
    However, heartfelt thank you cards and handmade gifts always spark smiles.
    Teachers are the lifeblood for all other careers and professions.

  25. Sunflower

    Thanks for sharing this post. I read where someone mentioned counselors and other individuals. There are Nurse’s Week (May 6-12), Counselor’s Week (The first full week in February), Extra Support Personnel (ESP) Week, Administrative Assistant Week (April 27), School Psychologist Week, etc. Some are not written in stone…..This may be helpful to some who may want to consider others at the school. This way any gesture does not feel so overwhelming all at once.

    • Darla

      Librarians! I never see librarians listed! Please don’t leave out your child’s librarian.

  26. ConfusedMama

    All people everywhere receive gifts that they don’t really want all the time. It’s the way it is, even among people who know each other well. It really is the thought that counts. All a gift can ever really do is say, “I’m thinking of you.” Our school sent out a list this year of all the staff’s (everyone from top administrators to custodians) preferred gift cards. It felt terribly tacky to me, and many of the teachers I know were really embarrassed by it. My daughter made cards, but I don’t think I should send them if I can’t come up with the “correct” gift cards in time. I absolutely appreciate what teachers do and have several in my family. But this feels weird. Will I get put on some list if I don’t send something to the principal? Will I get put on a list if I do? Thanks for this post, hip…I’m actually really interested in how people are thinking about this!

    • K

      This. Getting to point where it doesn’t feel like “its the thought that counts” anymore. Times are getting tough and not everyone can afford the most requested gift…giftcards for not just the main teacher but now several staff and bus drivers

    • C

      A lot of times, it’s the PTA (or like) that makes up that list. I’d say it’s on par with a wedding or a baby shower registry. Some are going to see it as tacky and do their own thing. Some are going to see it as helpful and appreciate it. I do not hold it against the teachers, though. And I doubt any of them have any sort of expectation, nor should they.

      • Lora

        I find it tacky when someone doesn’t follow a wedding or baby registry and just brings a bunch of cheap gifts that take up space. I don’t find a problem with the PTA taking a collection, say $1 or 2 from each parent to buy the teacher something they want.

        • mamarenie

          I find it tacky for a PTO or PTA to ask me to donate funds for something like this. NOPE! Not everyone has it to donate or wants to donate in that way!

    • tia in boise

      Teacher for 30 years here. PLEASE send in those handmade cards! I have a large manila envelope full of all of the heartfelt cards I’ve received over the years–they are dear to my heart. I wouldn’t think for one second, “Where’s the gift card that should go with this?” Truly, most teachers would just love to be recognized, appreciated, thanked for their hard work.

      I think when these lists are put out, it’s because parents are asking and the school office or PTO…are wanting to be helpful.

  27. B

    I’m a para and parents don’t usually do anything for staff appreciation week and that is fine. Some of them stay up all nights with their child and work all day. The teachers and admin always let the parents know who we are . I think that’s the best form of appreciation. And smiles and hugs from the students.

  28. Michelle

    No more mugs! They go in the trash. Same with lotion, candles, gift baskets, the thought is appreciated but they all go in the trash. Save your money, honestly.

    I loved drawings and cards made by the kids. And pictures! A lot of places have rules against taking pictures of the students so I loved getting the family holiday card with the kids names on it. Thousands of students and decades later it gets hard to remember them individually.

    • Kim

      Hopefully you regifted the unwanted gifts rather than throwing them in the trash. 🙂

      • Michelle

        Nope, they get thrown in the trash. I can’t carry 10 mugs, 7 tumblers, 4 candles and everything else the two mile walk of my commute. All the teachers get the same exact stuff, too, so we can’t pass it on, and other employees don’t want to haul all the stuff, either. Even when it’s donated it gets thrown away by the donation centers because they can’t resell it. It’s a waste of parent’s money, and it’s filling up the landfills. And it’s better to be honest about it.

        A card of appreciation, a kid’s drawing, small things of that nature are treasured and able to be stored appropriately as mementos.

        • Aim R

          Wow!! That is not ok to just trash things that someone bought with their hard-earned money because they thought about you!! If you don’t like it, donate it. That is soo awful to think someone would do that. You also sound very ungrateful!

        • ARev

          Wow!! You know you are contributing to the landfill by trashing those items?! Donate them. You have no idea if anyone would want them, don’t assume! There are many people out there that would be grateful for those items. Many families are on a budget (including mine) and they spent their hard-earned money on whatever it is. Please do not trash it!! So wasteful and very hurtful! Perfectly good items do not go in the trash, they should be regifted or donated. Or maybe just return it to the student and tell them you don’t want it because you will end up throwing it away! Better yet, tell everyone at the beginning of the school year NOT to buy you any of the named items or it will end up in the trash. That way nothing gets wasted!

    • Lunafalls

      I think your local domestic violence shelter would be thrilled to receive your unwanted gift lotions and toiletries.

  29. Me

    Um. Wow. I think the parents and kids especially would be shocked/hurt/saddened if they knew. Maybe if at the beginning of the year you could let that be known. I know there are some teachers we have had that have sent out an “About Me (saying what they love)” page or the Room Mom was given that information and let it be known to the parents. Some of the best Room Parents got and conveyed that information to the parents and the parents instead got $ together for a gift card to the teacher’s favorite restaurant or store instead of wasting their money on items that you just said you throw away.

  30. mamarenie

    Wow! I am shocked how unappreciative many teacher have become. It’s a gift. Use it or regift it. I don’t need a list telling me what to buy you. That’s ridiculous!
    I have nine children and I use to buy gifts for all. I stopped. I only buy for the ones who don’t expect it or send a list. I really can’t stand the entitlement from some teachers. Here a thought.. Maybe parents only have a certain income or that child picked out your gift. In my experience the teachers giving gift list are the worst teachers.

    • isabel

      You will be surprised how unappreciative and snobs many teachers have become when a student gift them something they do not like. Not every teacher is that way. I know I am not. I am very grateful for parents to think of me when getting me a gift.

  31. Amy

    I think the “Teacher Favorites” lists are the golden ticket. Knowing a teacher’s favorite place to shop, their favorite drink/snack etc helps them feel known and appreciated all throughout the year. Definitely a quality over quantity situation. I very much appreciated a surprise latte on a random Monday:)

  32. everest716

    The children in the US suffered dramatically during covid -mostly at the decisions of Education Departments and schools – The kids were put last . My two cents is worry about your kids education loss and what is actually being taught these days, not sucking up to the teachers. I’ve always been 100% supportive of the teachers my kids had, sent them to school with everything on school list, send gifts to everyone from the office staff to the bus drivers. The last two years were my kids last years in high school; they learned nothing, missed out on everything and they were on their own basically for everything learning and college related. Every excuse was “because covid” including not transferring their PAID college credits. The phone calls alone for that and the run around was disgusting, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only parent that is reading this post thinking ummm yeah not after last 2 years.

  33. Cj

    Five years from now most teachers and staff won’t remember if you gave them any gifts throughout the year, but they will remember if you were kind and appreciative. As a former teacher and para, express your gratitude rather than spend money.

  34. Jenny

    I would love some affordable ideas for when you have multiple kids and they all have multiple teachers. We have OVER 30 teachers/staff that we want to to give appreciation to and it really adds up! I wish we could afford more, but $5/each is already really pushing it. I normally just get $5 Starbucks or Jamba juice gift cards…but would love some new ideas.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Jenny! So thoughtful of you to want to show your appreciation to the staff that has an impact on your kiddos! ❤️ There are a few ideas left by other readers here in the comments, if you wanted to browse through those. One idea that came to mind when buying for multiple teachers was a favorite drink or snack item (from a gas station, or a fun Sonic drink they enjoy since they’re 1/2 priced in the app each day), and you could attach a personalized note or card (free printable in the post!) to it – or just opt for the card/note only! Hoping these might be helpful for you! 🤗💕

    • 5pink1blue

      You could get $ 1 scratch off lottery tickets and put into a card saying how lucky I am to have you as my teacher. Or you could make a bunch of muffins and package nicely with a little note. Or buy a bag of individual potato chips and give them out with a note you are all that and a bag of chips. Things purchased in bulk will keep the cost down.

  35. Anonymous

    We give Target gift cards $25 to specials and $50 to main teacher all accompanied by handwritten note from grade school child. What I find interesting is the number of responses ( thank you cards/ texts/emails/ verbal to child) have decreased. Generally teachers over 40 definitely do, under not so much.

  36. Cher

    Every year a parent in the classroom asks for monetary donations to go towards a teacher gift fund. I love this idea! It’s so much easier for me to contribute once to the fund and know the teacher will receive a group gift for the holidays and end of the year.

  37. Suzmorea

    I wish I knew all the years that I let my kids pick out their teachers gifts…that they were just going to end up in the trash or donated. I could’ve used that money in a more productive way for the teacher OR for my kids. Sometimes when a family is on a budget it’s all they can afford is the little things. My two cents would be to let parents know at the beginning of the school year to pick out a book for the classroom or a special pen, etc….something that will be actually used. I totally understand gift cards and the benefits of receiving them however kids do like to give actual gifts when they are young that they pick out. Maybe something neat to do would be to take those #1 teacher mugs and grow flowers or plants out of them and put them in the classroom as a reminder for parents that teachers have way too many. 😃

    • ARev

      Yes that is horrible that any teacher would just trash the brand new gift that a student thoughtfully gave them!!! If they don’t want it, they could give it back to the student or donate it instead of trashing a perfectly good item!! Just wow!!

  38. Teresa

    A few different years I found berries on sale this time of year. I got each teacher their own package of strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. The teachers loved them. Because of the low price I was able to get some for the art, music, special ed and office staff as well.

  39. yessi

    National teacher week is May 8, 2023 – May 12, 2023, with National Teacher’s Day occurring on May 2, 2023

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for pointing that out, Yessi! Those dates have been updated. 🤗

  40. Kristen

    Our school does a Google doc with all of the schools teacher info (elem-high school). Things such as favorite drinks, pop, candy, food, ect. That way if you want to ever get them anything, even small. You don’t have to guess. In their individual classes the teachers will usually tell us what they’re shot on and parents can sign up & donate items during the year. I tend to do those things, instead of something they might not want later. For bus drivers I just give him chocolate or candy with a note saying thank you for driving us safely.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Such a great idea to have a list of that information, Kristen! 💕 Our local school did something similar when my kids were little. I’m loving that bus driver gift too! Thanks for sharing! 🤗

  41. Connie

    so after teaching elem. for 30 years I will tell you the absolute truth. If a teacher is brand new, they would appreciate cutesy teacher frames, a mug etc. However many have been teaching for some time and there is no need for “teacher, apple gifts, and other memorabilia”. Dollar tree is great-but give a gift card instead. I would have loved even a $2 card so I could add them up and I usually bought things for the kids there anyway. A starbucks $5 card was a very appreciated gift. Dont assume the teacher doesnt like it! At times a great parent would ask for a dollar or two and a class would give a $25 gift card-it wasnt typical but it was always very appreciated. Please consider that a teacher isnt being ungrateful(as one post states-she doesnt care if the teacher doesnt like the scent she picks out!!! There is a class of students and alot of “unwanted scents, trinkets, and other uneeded dusk collectors are often trashed due to this. Just a totally honest opinion on what most teachers are really hoping you do not do!!

  42. Anne

    What’s a good amount for gift cards? I have 4 teachers to give to. Don’t wanna be “cheap”😂

    • Corinne

      if you can afford $5 or $10 that would be wonderful!

  43. Sue

    National Teacher Appreciation Day was Tuesday, May 2, 2023. Google it. That’s when our school district celebrated it.

    • Trish (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for letting us know when your school district celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Day, Sue! It seems that some areas also celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week which takes place the first full week in May. 🤗 ❤️

  44. moriabinford

    I would honestly love to be able to use air fresheners in the classroom, but my district doesn’t allow them to be used. Trust me, there have been many times I wish it was allowed! But, if I did receive air freshener as a gift, I would happily take it home and use it there.

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