The Most Thoughtful and Useful Teacher Gift Ideas, According to Actual Teachers

Yes, coffee made the list (surprising no one).

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Baggu Duck Bag, Contigo Autoseal Transit Stainless Steel Travel Mug, and Papier Wildflower Notebook on a two-toned blue background

Real Simple / Sabrina Jiang

Whether it's for the holidays, Teacher Appreciation Day, or the last day of school, gifts for educators who've gone above and beyond are a meaningful way to show your gratitude. There are the ever-popular gifts for teachers: anything with an apple motif, sweets, and caffeine. But this year, why not think outside the box?

It's fun to get creative with gift giving by presenting teachers with something more personalized to their tastes—that way, they'll know how much you appreciate their incredibly hard work and commitment.

If you're choosing a gift for your kid's teacher, let your child get involved. They'll have some good ideas about what their teacher likes—and they can add a sentimental touch to the teacher's gift by creating a personalized thank-you note or drawing.

Here, a few teachers share the best gifts they've received to give you ideas for something equally meaningful for the educators in your life.

ByAmberAndRose Recycled Newspaper Photo Frame

ByAmberAndRose Recycled Newspaper Photo Frame

Etsy

"For my favorite sentimental gift, all of my students got together and made me a beautiful thank-you card when I was transferring to a new school," says Allison, a first grade teacher. "I framed it and have it hanging in my bedroom."

To replicate this idea, have your child hand write and sign a sweet note, or create some artwork, for the teacher and place it in a nice frame along with a small thank-you card. The teacher can keep it on their desk or hang it in the classroom.

To Buy: $14, etsy.com.

Teachers don't travel lightly to the classroom, especially when they have notebooks, folders, lesson plans, and a laptop or tablet to bring to class. A sturdy tote will always be a welcome present. "One of my students got me a monogrammed tote bag with an apple on it that I use each day," says first grade teacher Allison. "I always think of him when carrying it."

A cute tote bag (like this Duck Bag from Baggu) will definitely be put to good use. This roomy recycled-cotton bag fits their laptop, files, art supplies—or whatever else they need to carry—with an interior zip pocket to keep valuables in place. It comes in an array of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect gift to suit your teacher's personality.

To Buy: $39, amazon.com.

La Marais Bakery Cookie Mixes

La Marais Bakery Cookie Mixes

Williams Sonoma

"Cookie mixes are perfect," says Cheryl, a former high-school history teacher. "That way you can make the cookies at a later date, rather than having to eat them during the deluge of treats at the holidays!"

Gift the French teacher (or the teacher who loves to bake) these mixes from the legendary La Marais bakery, which feature high-quality ingredients (think Valrohna chocolate and Cook's vanilla) in mixes for snickerdoodles, marshmallow brownies, and rainbow sprinkle cookies. Bonus: if you're buying gifts for multiple teachers, you can break up this set of three and give each one a little treat to bake.

To Buy: $50, williams-sonoma.com.

Zola Bakes Rainbow Cookie Brownies 6 Pack

Zola Bakes Rainbow Cookie Brownies 6 Pack

Goldbelly

Sweet treats are crowd-pleasing teacher gifts year round—for the educators and their families. "Baked goods are great because my whole family can enjoy them," says Linda, a fourth-grade teacher.

You can always bake your own—or order a batch of decadent brownies for them to enjoy, like these colorful mashups of rainbow cookies and brownies from Zola Bakes.

To Buy: $35, goldbelly.com.

3CEtching Teacher Ruler Engraved Ornament

3CEtching Teacher Ruler Engraved Ornament

Etsy

"My favorite holiday gift to get as a teacher is an ornament," says Suzanne, a middle-school English teacher. "I love thinking of my students each year as I decorate my tree."

Thank the teachers for all of their hard work this virtual year with a charming, personalized wooden ornament.

To Buy: $11, etsy.com.

Papier Wildflower Notebook

Papier Wildflower Notebook

Papier

Chances are your child's teacher goes through a lot of paper goods throughout the year, so even more stationery is always a welcome addition. "I love personalized sticky notes, notebooks, and stationery," says Sara, a first grade teacher. "I'm always in need of those, and it's cute when it's personalized."

Gift them a notebook with their name or initials on it, so they'll always know which one is theirs. This one from Papier can be customized with the design of your choice, along with the option of blank, lined, or graph paper.

To Buy: $30, papier.com.

Contigo Autoseal Transit Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Contigo Autoseal Transit Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Amazon

"A mug and water bottle are great gift options because I'm always drinking coffee or water to stay hydrated and caffeinated while teaching," says special education teacher Erin. "When I don't have one on me, I have to go several hours before I can take a break to get something to drink."

Even better? Gift the teacher something that does double duty: In the morning they can fill this insulated travel mug with their favorite coffee brew. When they're done, they wash it and use it for water throughout the day. They'll get their caffeine fix and stay hydrated, without having to carry both a mug and water bottle around.

To Buy: $30, amazon.com.

Quartet Dry Erase Markers 12 Pack

Quartet Dry Erase Markers 12 Pack

Amazon

Though you might think teachers want gifts that don't remind them of their school day, they actually do appreciate getting classroom supplies. When school districts cut classroom budgets, many teachers find themselves making up the difference out of their own pocket. Help out by picking up the quality items that are just a tad more expensive.

"I love getting new sets of markers," says Kate McNally, a high school foreign language teacher. These long-lasting dry erase markers come in nine bold colors that will jazz up even the most dry grammar lesson. What's more? They come with a roll-resistant cap, so they'll sit on—not under—her desk.

To Buy: $19, amazon.com.

Days of Wonder Ticket To Ride

4.5
ticket-to-ride

Courtesy of Amazon

Sometimes what seems like the least personal gift is actually the most welcome (and, bonus, you won't have to think too hard about what the teacher's interests are).

"I love when parents make donations to the classroom such as books for the class library or board games for rainy-day recess," says Tara Marie, a second-grade teacher who would gladly forgo bath gel and winter gloves for more practical gifts.

To Buy: $45, amazon.com.

Heartspace Cards Handmade Flower Design Wooden Greeting Card

Heartspace Cards Handmade Flower Design Wooden Greeting Card

Amazon

"I would always take a sincerely written card over a gift card," says Lauren, a guidance counselor. "It shows the student had to think about what you mean to them."

And while a handwritten note from a student would be special even if it were scrawled on a scrap piece of paper, why not upgrade this heartfelt gift to a frame-worthy, handmade greeting card encased in real bamboo?

To Buy: $14, amazon.com.

Perch Biggy Magnetic Container

Perch Biggy Magnetic Organizers

The Container Store

"Getting organized is the single most important thing I can do to make the school day successful," says Sophia, a fifth grade teacher. Her secret tool? Urbio Collection's Perch Magnetic Containers. These plastic containers are magnetized, meaning they can stick to the outside of a metal desk. And for those without magnetized surfaces, special magnetic plates can be attached to any surface using Command Strips. Not sure they'll hold up to a big class size? They can contain up to 10 pounds of materials. "I use one for each day, so I have all student materials at my fingertips—even 30 large packets of student handouts fit easily. Every teacher who sees them wants some of their own."

To Buy: $18, containerstore.com.

50 States Traveled Journal

Fifty States Traveled Journal

Uncommon Goods

Teachers may be in the classroom from Monday through Friday, but you can still encourage wanderlust with an interactive travel journal filled with tips, maps, and blank pages for jotting down memories or long-range plans. "One of my favorite teacher gifts was a book on traveling around the USA," says Megan, an elementary school principal. "My student remembered that I wanted to see all 50 [states] and told his mom." That's the kind of attention to detail that'll really stand out.

To Buy: $30, uncommongoods.com.

Brian, Dave, Neil and Colin MLB Park Map Glasses, Set of 2

Brian, Dave, Neil and Colin MLB Park Map Glasses, Set of 2

Uncommon Goods

"I love gifts that show a connection to the student," says Crystal, a middle-school math teacher. "I once had a student who was trying to convert me to a Mets fan all year so he bought me a Mets teddy bear for my classroom. I still look at it and smile!"

Here's a tip for all you sports fans: Take a cue from Crystal's student and get your teacher something small and fun that they can leave in the classroom. If their home is, say, die-hard Patriots territory, anything with the competing team logo might not make it past the front door.

To Buy: $35, uncommongoods.com.

Fun Express Bulk Personalized Neon Color Pencils, Pack of 72

Fun Express Bulk Personalized Neon Color Pencils, Pack of 72

Oriental Trading

Here's something you might not know: Teachers often have to spend their hard-earned money on supplies and decor for their classrooms. "Come December, I'd be thrilled with a big box of pencils and glue sticks," says second-grade teacher Tara Marie. "Silly as it sounds, these items get used up so quickly, so even something as simple as that is very much-appreciated." Upgrade an ultra-practical gift, like neon-colored pencils emblazoned with custom messages, like the name of your school. The pencils can be personalized with one line of up to 30 characters.

To Buy: $32, amazon.com.

Spinning Hat Retro Vinyl Coasters

Spinning Hat Retro Vinyl Coasters

Amazon

It may feel like taking the easy way out to get an artsy gift for the art teacher, or something sporty for the physical education coach. But take music teacher Allie's word for it when gifting this year: Playing to an educator's passion is a can't-miss strategy. "I always love music-related things I can decorate with, especially coasters or unscented candles," says Allie, who works with elementary-aged kids. These stylish retro-inspired vinyl coasters, which measure four inches in diameter, should make ending the day with a hard-earned glass of their favorite beverage that much more enjoyable.

To Buy: $10, amazon.com.

Etsy Teacher Sticky Note Holder, Personalized Gift

A personalized wooden sticky note holder with a pencil on it that reads, "Ms Thompson."

etsy.com

No matter the occasion, this sticky note holder is a gift any teacher will love. Made from birch wood, it can hold 3-inch sticky notes and can be personalized with any name. Give your child’s teacher a gift that’s thoughtful, cute, and functional this year.

To Buy: $29, etsy.com.

Etsy Personalized whiteboard eraser chalkboard eraser with expo marker gift

A personalized gift including a two Expo markers and a whiteboard eraser personalized to read, "Mrs. Riddle."

etsy.com

No classroom is complete without a white board, markers, and an eraser. This is a gift they're sure to use all year long.

To Buy: $18, etsy.com.

Etsy Funny Teacher Gift Teacher's Last Nerve 9oz Soy Candle

A candle that reads, "Mrs. Baker's last nerve. Oh look... it's on fire."

etsy.com

Teacher with a sense of humor? This candle is perfect. This nine-ounce candle is available in a variety of scents and the name on the label is customizable. It’s perfect for a teacher who loves to laugh.

To Buy: $17, etsy.com.

Etsy Teachers Gift Thanks For Helping Me Grow Flower Pot/Pencil holder 4"

A flower pot painted with flowers that reads, "Thanks for helping me grow."

etsy.com

Teachers spend every day with our children to help them learn and grow. Repay the favor by gifting them a decorated flower pot. Purchase one on Etsy, or have your child paint their own for a more personal touch. Complete the gift with a plant or some seed packets.

To Buy: $28, etsy.com.

F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers

F in Exams book by Richard Benson.

uncommongoods.com

This gift is great for a teacher with a sense of humor. The book features 250 real (and very incorrect) test answers ranging from elementary to high school that are guaranteed to make a teacher smile.

To Buy: $9, uncommongoods.com.

Knock Knock Why You're the Best Teacher Ever Fill in the Love Book

Knock Knock Why You're the Best Teacher Ever Fill in the Love Book

Knock Knock

Nothing shows how much a teacher means to you and your child like this fill-in-the-blank journal. This personalized gift is something your teacher is sure to treasure.

To Buy: $10, amazon.com.

Things My Students Said: Classroom Stories

Things My Students Said book cover.

amazon.com

Kids say the darndest things. Gift your teacher a way to record the funny, wise, and unforgettable quotes that happen in the classroom.

To Buy: $5, amazon.com.

Republic of Tea Republic of Tea Teas for the Holidays Assortment

Republic of Tea's Teas for the Holidays assortment.

republicoftea.com

Teacher who loves tea? Give them an assorted pack of tea flavors. This holiday mix comes with 24 individual tea bags in six different flavors they can use throughout the year.

To Buy: $12, republicoftea.com.

Etsy Teacher Enamel Mug Personalized Gift

A customizable enamel mug for teachers with a floral design.

etsy.com

This adorable enamel mug is perfect for a teacher who is always sipping tea or coffee. With a personalized name, no one else will accidentally mistake this mug as their own in the teacher's room. Gift them some tea, coffee, or fill the mug with something sweet like chocolates to go above and beyond.

To Buy: $18, etsy.com.

Happy Box Gift Box

Happy Box

Want to give your child’s teacher a gift but unsure of where to start? Send them a care package. Select from a variety of sweet treats, coffee, self-care items, candles, and more. Give it a holiday theme, or just pack it full of their favorite snacks.

To Buy: happyboxstore.com.

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