Not Your Typical Teacher Gift Guide 2020

by Jessica Pigza

This year is anything but typical for both students, teachers, and parents alike. They have all risen to the great challenges set forth this year by our current situation. Whether your child is in school five days a week, working a hybrid schedule, or even a full-time remote schedule, the adjustments teachers have had to make is nothing short of extraordinary. They continue to do amazing things with the sometimes very limited resources and time available to them.

I have always appreciated those who have answered the call to educate children but recent events have given me even more appreciation for them. Trying to teach my children has proven to be an even bigger struggle than I could have imagined. Let’s face it, kids always listen to their teachers way better than they do their parents. With that said, to any teacher currently reading this, first and foremost, I want to say THANK YOU! I appreciate what you all are doing so much! Second, I want to offer some wonderful ideas on how you can show your child’s teacher some extra love and appreciation this holiday season. The below list was compiled with the help of some teachers along with some do’s and don’ts that are sure to help make picking the perfect teacher’s gift a little easier.

1. Steer Clear of Scented Gifts

Scents are such a personal thing and many people may have allergies or aversions to scented products. Unless you know for sure that your teacher loves vanilla-scented candles and they can’t get enough of them, it’s better to stay away from giving scented gifts. But, if you do know your teacher adores candles, then try a cool twist on the classic candle. Woodwick Candles crackle as they burn. They really do sound like the gentle crackling of a wood-burning fireplace, which is nice to hear, especially if you do not have a fireplace. I love the sound and smell of these candles!

Café Sweets Trilogy – Vanilla Bean, Caramel, Biscotti

2. Gifts for the Classroom and Virtual Classroom

Every year teachers spend hundreds of their own dollars on their classrooms and their students. They buy things to brighten up and organize their rooms, to engage and reward their students, and to provide for those who may not be able to provide for themselves. No matter the reason, your child’s classroom looks the way it does because of all the additional money the teachers spend to make it that way. That is why teachers are always appreciative of receiving school supplies for the holidays. Anything from stickers and pencils to Sharpies and storage containers. Teachers love anything that is practical and useful, especially in their classroom. Why not give a storage container full of school supplies?

Tip: At the beginning of the year some teachers will put together and post a classroom wish list. Why not check back with them to see if there are items that weren’t purchased or that they’ve already run out of.

Reward Stickers

Elementary teachers especially go through thousands of stickers a year. This is always a good gift idea.

12 Count Fine Point Sharpie

With all the writing, labeling, and marking, teachers are always running out of markers.

X-ACTO Bulldog Vacuum Mount Manual Pencil Sharpener

Kids are rough on pencil sharpeners. With so many pencils to sharpen a day, teachers may go through 4-6 sharpeners a year. Plus it’s more efficient to have more than one sharpener available for students to use.

Please Mute Yourself Graphic Tee from Etsy

If you’ve ever sat in on a video conference call with a teacher and her students, especially if it’s an elementary class then you know how crazy it can be. It’s important to try and make the best out of a crazy situation and this graphic tee can help put a little more fun in your favorite teacher’s day! Plus it’s a great reminder to her students to make sure they are muted.

Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

So this was something new I’d never heard of. Teachers Pay Teachers is an open marketplace where educators share, sell, and buy original teaching resources for grades PreK-12. With a Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card, they can purchase already made resources such as printouts or virtual presentations. It can help save massive amounts of time especially for those who are navigating the new world of online education.

3. Food Treats Can Be Tricky

When asked whether or not teachers like food items as gifts it was a toss-up. Same with the scented gifts, some people have food allergies or aversions. Unless you know for certain they can eat it, I wouldn’t give it. However, if you know your teacher eats gluten-free, you could put together a little basket of gluten-free goodies. If dark chocolate is their thing, splurge on a bar of good dark chocolate.

Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate

Enjoy Life Gluten Free Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies

4. Gift Cards are Very Much Appreciated

Originally, I thought giving a teacher a gift card was taking the easy way out and would come across as impersonal. I’m not sure why I thought that way because personally, I love getting gift cards! That being said, Teachers LOVE gift cards too! If you know where they like to eat or shop go ahead and get that specific place. However, if you’re not sure, get one for somewhere that has a little bit of everything like Target, Walmart, or Amazon, which seemed to be the survey favorite. That way your favorite teacher can buy the cozy slippers she’s been eyeing or that cowl neck sweatshirt that is both really comfortable and perfect for video meetings with her students. Plus you can easily send them virtually and write a personalized note to go with it.

Amazon Gift Card with Snowflake Tin

Amazon has so many cute gift cards and some came with cute little gift bags or tins like this one.

Sephora Gift Card

One teacher surveyed was super excited to receive a Sephora Gift Card giving her an opportunity to pamper herself with some new makeup!

5. Handmade Student Gifts

After reading all the answers to my survey questions, one thing that surprised me the most was just how much teachers value the simple gifts made by the students with an emphasis on notes of appreciation. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be from the heart. Personalized ornaments, a picture frame with a picture of the student with the teacher, or something they can hang in the classroom. It’s something they can look at year after year and remind them of just how many little lives they have touched and why they do what they do.

Unfinished Wood Frame By ArtMinds 4″ x 6″

Pick up an unfinished wood frame and have your child decorate it using, paint, feathers, glitter, or whatever you have on hand.

Wooden Christmas Tree Ornaments – 30 pieces

Cover up the table, give the kids some paint or even markers and let them go to town decorating some wooden ornaments. They are great for teacher gifts or even family members.

Some snowflake ornaments the kids painted a few years ago to give to teachers, family, and friends.

Bonus: It’s Okay to Ask

Still not sure what to get? I learned that it’s okay to ask, but asking the right questions will make the whole scenario less awkward. Just asking a teacher what they would like for a gift puts them in a weird position that they’re not really sure how to answer. Instead, be more specific with your questions. Are you a coffee drinker? What is your favorite restaurant? One mom even suggested that if she loves something they are wearing she always asks where they got it. That way it gives her an idea of where they shop. Plus she knows where she can snag one for herself. By asking more specific questions, it takes the pressure off the teacher, but still gives you some insight as to what they like.

Tip: If you are really on the ball, some teachers said they have received Teacher Favorites questionnaires from their students at the beginning of the year. This quick little questionnaire can make gift-giving a whole lot easier throughout the year. You can make your own or find one already done online.

Bottom line is that it truly is the thought that counts. Teachers love to and deserve to feel appreciated, especially this time of year, especially with all the changes and adjustments they have had to make this year. Not only do they have to try to keep kids engaged but they have to do so from a distance whether it’s through a computer screen or just behind a mask. It has been hard on them not seeing their students’ precious faces and their sweet smiles on a daily basis. They’ve had to learn new skills and instantly attempt to become technology savvy and they’ve had to constantly adjust on the fly to make sure students are still learning and for all this and more, again, I say Thank you!

It’s Your Turn: Share your favorite teacher gift ideas with us in the comments!