Home By Guest Authors Top Ten Teacher Christmas Gifts (written by a TEACHER!)

This is AWESOME! What teachers REALLY want for Christmas (and other times of the year!)…perfect!

Teacher Christmas Gifts–> One of the biggest stressors of the Christmas season can be buying gifts for family and friends. Some are easy to buy for… and then there are some where you break out in hives just thinking about what to get them… you know…the brother-in-law, a teenage niece or nephew, and… your kids’ teachers.

Many a time I have asked myself, “What should I get for Teacher Christmas Gifts?!” Which seems a little silly since… I am a teacher! Nevertheless… at times I still struggle!

So… I asked myself… As a teacher, what would I want (or not want) for Christmas?

(*Note: teachers do not “expect” gifts, and a hand written note is wonderful, too!)


Let me start with: What NOT to get teachers

Please, do not give into the temptation to buy us:

1) another coffee mug (our cupboards are full) or
2) more Christmas knick knacks or ornaments (We have plenty… and the longer we’ve been teaching… the more we have.)
(Exception: If you happen to know your child’s teacher and find something you KNOW they would love… by all means… go for it. It is one more thing you can check off your Christmas to do list.)

I know, I know… right now you’re thinking, “How does this help?! Now I’m even more stressed out?”

Okay here it is… This is what every teacher wants for Christmas:

What TO get–The Top 10 Teacher Christmas Gifts (plus a few more!):

A vacation to Hawaii, extra snow days that don’t need to be made up at the end of the school year, the entire class to turn in their homework… on time!

Oh wait… you wanted practical ideas…

And that is the secret…. practical or consumable!

1) Any kind of gift card for a fun coffee, treats, or lunch:
Starbucks, Caribou, or your local coffee shop, Cold Stone Creamery, Dairy Queen, Subway, McDonalds

(We teachers are like a pack of wolves when it comes to food. Any thing that is somewhat edible and ends up in the teacher lunchroom is sucked up quicker than a Lego in a vacuum cleaner.)

2) Fun, new school supplies:
3) Fancy markers/Sharpies
4) Post It Notes & Blank Notecards
5) Double-Sided Sticky Tape, stickers

(Remember, we’re school geeks that get excited when school supplies come out in the summer.)

6) Other Ideas:
7) fun smelling hand soap or hand sanitizer
8) fuzzy or fun socks
9) if your child’s teacher/school has iPads: iTunes gift card
10) Amazon or other bookstore gift card
11) Candy or some other type of treat (if you don’t know… go with chocolate! Often it is chocolate or caffeine that get us through the day!)

12) Get the teacher his/her favorite beverage (that won’t get your kid sent to the principal’s office) or favorite candy

If your child is old enough, have them do a little re-con work: get them to find out his/her teacher’s favorites… (good chance they’ll already know…)

(One of my favorite gifts last year was when a student brought me a fountain pop from Holiday gas station and gift card for more… He had been paying attention and noticed that many-a-day there was one of those bad boys on my desk.)


Teacher Christmas Gifts for the Male Teacher

Let’s take a moment to discuss the hardest teacher to buy for… the MALE teacher! Keep reminding yourself… practical & consumable…

1) Movie certificate taped to a box of popcorn
2) Something you can find at the checkout counter of your local hardware store: flashlight, inexpensive screwdriver or hammer, batteries
3) Duct tape
4) Car Wash Coupons
5) Gas Gift Card
6) Jar of Peanuts or Mixed Nuts
7) Favorite candy/pop

(Note—A lot of these ideas would work for the female teacher as well!)


Teacher Christmas Gifts for the Middle School Teacher

What about the Middle School teacher? Does my child need to bring in a present for one or all of them?

Your Middle Schooler (be careful not to call them a child… it offends them… but then so does the color of shirt you’re wearing today…) now has 4-6 (or more) teachers… that’s a lot of teachers to buy for! There is no hard and fast rule… some kids don’t bring in anything, some kids bring something in for their Homeroom or Advisory Teacher, and some bring in something small (like a candy bar) for each teacher. You get some wiggle room when your child… kid… gets to Middle School.


But should I get them something more personal?

I know… some of you are thinking…a gift card or candy doesn’t seem very personal… Shouldn’t I try to make it special and find something to make from Pinterest?

If Pinterest is therapy for you and you’ve been pinning Christmas gift ideas since July, by all means… get your creative mojo on and make us something. We’ll be very appreciative! (I have gotten some stinkin’ cute gifts that were Pinterest inspired!)

However, if you’re like me and you know this path will end up with you up at 2AM working with pipe cleaners, cardstock and Elmer’s glue…just save yourself the headache and get something from the list above. Remember we love chocolate and caffeine just as much!

Hopefully, some of these ideas will help alleviate the stress of Christmas shopping. And remember…that whatever gift your child brings, we will love it… because we love your kids! It’s why we teach! But hey… if you can swing a vacation to Hawaii or an extra snow day… I promise… your child will be his/her teacher’s favorite student…forever!

What do you think of these teacher Christmas gifts? What’s the best teacher Christmas gift you have given? Have any ideas to add? Please share below!

(Oh! And if you found this helpful, would you do us a favor and pin it or share it on Facebook so that other moms and dads can see it, too? THANK YOU! :) 


Best teacher christmas gifts

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114 replies to this post
  1. Between the number of teachers they have as they get older, and their activity teachers or coaches, plus church youth directors, choir directors, etc, I was stumped and almost gave up. But as a side note to something I do with my ballet students, I found the perfect thing!
    Through World Vision, you can buy various livestock and such. Ducks are a popular gift (think chickens for flood-prone areas), and you can buy 6 for about $30. I buy those and little rubber ducks from Oriental trading. We attach a little note around the duck’s neck that explains. Our teachers have loved them and commented on them often. One person who has been associated with my kids for about 7 or 8 years now has all of the duckies lined up on a shelf in her office year round. (We get different ones every year, and each set comes with 3 different ducks.)

  2. The last three years I have given my kids teachers freezer meals, and the sides to go with it. I make a basic pasta casserole. They get a 9×13 pan of it, a jar of canned fruit, a loaf of French bread, a dozen cookie dough balls (frozen to bake fresh) and my kids pick out a vegetable to add to the meal.
    I have been thanked over and over from their teachers, some save them for busy sports nights with their kids and others use them over Christmas break when their family is visiting.

  3. Hmmm, the only way my kids teachers are getting Coach purses, is if they take them home on weekends! That said, I do give them fuzzy pink socks for breast cancer awareness month, a hand painted Halloween bucket with candy, homemade Kahlua at Christmas, a chalkboard flowerpot with a plant for the room at valentines day, hot cross buns for Easter, and then the end of the year a quilt made out of the schools t-shirts.

    So and I cheapening out? Other than the fuzzy socks, everything is homemade, and i will modify based on personality and sex of individual. Last year my daughter male teacher got homemade beer that my neighbor brews.

  4. I see that I am not the only one to have a second serious look at the gifts teachers are receiving and the related student burden. The Arlington schools board in Virginia, US, is preparing to take a vote on whether to cap each student’s total annual spending on individual teachers to $100 (still much too high). Other “meaner” or “rude” (?) U.S. counties have already put a $25 limit on presents for the whole year.

    If you must give a gift, I think Joe’s suggestion above is a good one.

    Yes Sarah, teacher gift giving does get out of control (sorry if that’s a bitter pill to swallow). A recent survey in England showed that, after thank you notes, teachers preferred to receive luxurious gifts: vouchers, theatre tokens, spa days or alcohol.
    I do recognize that teaching children is work and important work, but that point does not justify yours. Additionally, I remember teachers that were not interested in teaching at all in school or that had the wrong temperament for teaching. Who would want to feel compelled to give them a gift?

    Lastly, if items are needed for the classroom for the students to pass the curriculum, then that sounds like an important problem quite different from the Christmas one. and certainly should not be indirectly shouldered by students combining money to purchase Coach purses or finance an Imelda Marcos shoe collection for teachers over the years.

  5. BTW Dave- Teacher’s will often buy their class things (out of their pocket) throughout the year just so they can meet curriculum requirements.

  6. Dave- I personally give my children a present every year…I hand paint personalized mugs for each child-every one of them had a message just for them (32 kids) and this year I bought them 18 pencils with their name on them. All in all I spent $6 on each child.

  7. Buy a book for the classroom (Caldecott winner or Newbury winner) or donate a book in the teacher’s name to the school library. Have your child write a note saying how the teacher is making a difference – I guarantee that will be the best gift of all.

  8. I have given my kids’ teacher’s and school secretaries holiday candies that I put together, almost every year. My oldest is a Senior this year and it will be his last Christmas teacher gifts, Awww. (tear, tear) I love to give to these people who take the time for my kids and for me as well. I enjoy giving them something since they give me of their time as well.

  9. I was looking for something more inspirational to give our teacher. Teachers do receive a lot of gifts throughout the yr. (birthday, teacher appreciation week, end of yr) so I wanted to give to a local shelter or food pantry in her honor. It would be nice if the school could get together and make this a traditional thing. After all isn’t Christmas about helping others. thank you.

  10. Sara’s and Sue’s comments both illustrate well why the idea of giving gifts to teachers is one that was probably started by teachers. Sara are you really accepting Coach designer gifts from your 5th grade students? This is commercialism out of control and a teacher who is encouraging it. Are you giving the students back anything of similar value or would that cut into your salary? Sue, why not have the students simply put down a down payment on a pair of diamond her earrings she is interested in at the local Lord & Taylors? I’m sure that with time, she will own them and can wear them to class where future students will be inspired to give even more.

    • Dave- I personally give my children a present every year…I hand paint personalized mugs for each child-every one of them had a message just for them (32 kids) and this year I bought them 18 pencils with their name on them. All in all I spent $6 on each child.

      BTW Dave- Teacher’s will often buy their class things (out of their pocket) throughout the year just so they can meet curriculum requirements.

      I think your comments are just rude and you do not actually know the work that is involved in teaching children.

      • As a teacher, Sara, I would hope you would know that you should not have used the possessive ‘teacher’s’, below, but the plural ‘teachers’.
        I understand that teachers have had to buy additional supplies for the classrooms for a number of years. That is not right, but we appreciate that you do it.

  11. Our entire class combined the money we would have spent on small gifts and bought a gift card for over $300 at a local shopping centre. The teacher could choose any store in the centre for her gift and chose a beautiful gold bracelet for herself.

  12. My fifth grade students are very observant. They notice what I wear, do, drink and carry with me. The kids know what their teacher likes! My students have given me coach accessories, scarves, hats, gloves, cookies, gift cards. They rock!

  13. Last year I bought the covered plastic cups with the straw and included a bunch of drink packets. They loved them! Now that they have new teachers at the school, guess what……

  14. I had my son research his teachers’ favorite sports teams and had wine glasses and beer mugs made with their favorite teams logos. I also gave bottles of wine and beer. (Which I dropped off after school of course)

  15. A great gift is something for the classroom. One year the parents got together and bought a class set of motors that we needed. Saved me a fortune and students didn’t have to share, which for 3rd graders is a big deal. The most enjoyable gifts though are the handmade cards from the kids. I know they spent time making them and their messages are adorable!

  16. I love it when families get me gift cards to places I actually go or a gift based on my interests – but I know that is easier said than done for most. A gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers would be awesome – I have several items on my “Wish List”. I personally don’t like chocolate, so I prefer the caffeine route (if choosing one or the other). Other ideas: gift card / tickets (movie, sporting event, restaurant, teacher supply store, craft store, etc.). Often the most meaningful things are a heartfelt card/letter from the parent and/or child. Best advice: don’t stress. Teachers appreciate the smallest gestures.

  17. I have been teaching for 20 years and agree that the practical and consumable gifts are the best. I have worked with children from JK age to grade 2. When I open the cards that come with the gifts and see that a child has written his/her name in chubby letters, drawn a picture or written a message such as ‘I hope you have fun.” or “I love you.”, these are the greatest gifts I could ever receive. I keep these treasures in a box. As for gift ideas, consider a bottle of nice maple syrup, olive oil in lovely bottles or nice jams/honey. I don’t have to worry about storing these items and they will keep for a while.

  18. I just bought my aunt (who is a teacher) lesson credits from UClass.org (an edu resource marketplace) and she was ecstatic! I used this link: uclass.org/holidaygift

    She said it’s great because they have great lessons that will save her hours of planning over the break.

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