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Year-End Gifts Your Children’s Teachers Really Want

By Chris Jordan

The school year is thankfully coming to a close here in Texas next week. It’s funny because the anticipation I have for school to be over is the same as the anticipation I have in August for school to start again. Truth be told, I am just tired of making lunches. Only seven more school lunch days to go!

And so, I have begun shopping for teacher gifts. What sort of gifts do you give the people with whom you have entrusted your children for the entire school year? I find it difficult to buy them gifts that truly shows how much I appreciate all that they have done for my children.

Before I share my ideas for gifts, I want to share a list of things your child’s teacher does not want.  Keep in mind that unless your child’s teacher is a brand new teacher she has taught many children over many years.  Most of your ideas have probably already been done, more than once.


1. Anything “teacher” themed. To include anything with a design that incorporates rulers, apples, schoolhouses, and chalk boards. Where exactly will the teachers keep all of this? Their classrooms are small and I don’t know any teachers who have teacher-themed decor in their own homes.

2. Anything that says “#1 Teacher.”

3. Coffee mug, especially if it is decorated with anything mentioned in #1 and #2 above

4. A photo of your child. No matter how much your child’s teacher loves your child, they do not want a photo of him/her.

5. Fancy, smelly soaps. Does anyone use these really? A vat of hand sanitizer would probably be more practical.

6. Your teacher doesn’t want a gardening kit or a pot decorated with your child’s hand prints and some quip about “how my child bloomed this year” or thanking them for “planting the seeds of knowledge.”

7. Your teacher doesn’t want anything made from actual pencils. Or crayons. Or anything that involves the melting of crayons. They probably know the alphabet and don’t really want an alphabet poster.

8. Unless your teacher really likes a specific candy, don’t buy them candy.

9. Homemade food, to include in those adorable mason jars filled with mixes. If this is something that you enjoy making and can’t possibly live without doing, do it during the school year when the teacher won’t be inundated with snacks.

10. If you saw it on Pinterest, so did everyone else. And odds are several people will make the exact same craft. And odds are it will end up being discarded.

Usually I buy the teachers smaller gifts for the Christmas/Holiday season. My budget is more limited at that time of year, so I spend a bit more at the end of the year. I also tend to spend the most money on the elementary school teachers who really take on a larger role than just educator since they are with the children eight hours a day, five days a week. By the time my kids are in middle and high school I let my kids pick and choose which teachers to whom they want to give end-of-the-year presents. The presents tend to get less personal as they years go on simply because their relationships are less personal.


My suggestion is to use your creativity on the card or presentation of the gift.

1. I like consumable gifts. Who wants more clutter in their house? With the kids that are younger they have a more intimate relationships with their teachers it is easier to find out what the teachers like and gift accordingly. For example, one of my kids has a teacher who loves a certain local craft store. She has mentioned it to me several times that she spends so much money there. I got her a gift card specifically to this store. Another one of my kids has a young teacher who is moving out of her parents house into a home she just bought, a gift card to a home improvement store is perfect for her.

2. Gift certificate to a movie theater. Everyone likes to go to the movies, I think. Or they can regift it to a friend or family member who does. Attach the gift card to some microwave popcorn or a box of candy if giving a gift card doesn’t feel like a real present to you.

3. Gift card to a chain restaurant or store. Target, Subway, Sonic, or Starbucks are good choices. Or, if your teacher has children maybe an ice-cream shop where they can take their own kids when school ends.

4. Gift certificate to a local salon. There’s a great nail salon near the school and it is convenient for the teachers to use.

5. If you had an incredible teacher write them a note to let them know how much you appreciated them. Send a copy of this note to the principal and superintendent. They get so many complaints every year, a note of praise is a welcome change. If sadly it comes at a time when teachers’ jobs are in jeopardy this could make a difference in their careers.

6. Pool your money with some other families from your child’s class to get a larger gift card or present.

7. One friend of mine brings a catered lunch to the school for the teachers every year on the day after school. The teachers are always around for a few days/weeks more after school lets out for the kids. They’re cleaning up and organizing their things. What better way of letting the teachers know how much you have appreciated them all year.

8. Personalized note cards.  You can get them relatively inexpensively online with the teacher’s name printed on them.  Teachers are always writing notes home.  Just don’t make them teacher themed. (Here are two nice places: Tiny Prints and Minted)

9. Starting early on in the school year connect with other parents to capture photos during classroom activities throughout the year. Then, collect and print these photos into a small photo album/book for the teacher to keep in her room. This is a great idea for the whole class to give as one “Class Gift” to the teacher. (We’ve made great photos books through Blurb and Shutterfly).

What ideas do you have for Year End Teacher’s Gifts? Or, are you a teacher who has received gifts you really enjoyed? Spill it, we want to know what you think.

Find more Teacher Appreciation gift ideas here.

About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.


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