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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

Best Teacher Gifts - What Teachers Really Want

The clock is ticking, and holiday break is only 4 days away for most of us. Next week is the last week of school, and If you’re a procrastinator like me, you’re just now working on buying gifts for your kids’ teachers. Every year I would agonize over what to get these incredible humans that do so much for our children.

I’m married to a teacher and have access to hundreds of teachers. I created a survey and asked teachers from all grade levels, “What gifts do you like to get for the holidays?” I requested that they be completely honest, and here's what I learned:

#1 Heartfelt Cards, Notes, and Letters

This, by far, was the number one gift idea listed by teachers (92%). Teachers work hard all year round to deliver lessons to our kids, and for the most part, they don’t get any thanks or recognition for all they do. Just think, when was the last time your kid told you, “Mom, I’m so grateful for everything you do for me.” Kids, for the most part, feel this way but are not usually verbally expressive when it comes to words of appreciation. Teachers love to hear how they are helping your child grow and become a better human, so let them know! The key to this one is to have your child write a card, note, or letter to their teacher and then you write one to them as well. Teachers reported becoming very emotional when reading these notes. Words of appreciation made them feel seen, appreciated, and valued. Take the time to sit down and pen a beautiful note, letter, or card. Keep it simple and from the heart.

#2 Handmade Gifts and homemade Treats

This one surprised me, but I get it. Teachers loved receiving personalized gifts and homemade treats. Personalized gifts mentioned included decorations for their classroom with teacher’s name on it, personalized coffee mug, and personalized stationary.

Teachers also mentioned they loved getting homemade treats such as holiday fudge, holiday cookies, baked goods, etc. One teacher mentioned she had a student whose family had a special doughnut recipe. She was touched that they included her in this family tradition and she said the doughnuts were delicious. The key with this one is homemade with love.

#3 Gift Cards

All teachers responded that they enjoyed getting gift cards. Gift cards are by the far the easiest item to gift and can be purchased virtually anywhere. Teachers particularly loved restaurant gift cards. The most common gift cards given to teachers by far are Starbucks gift cards. I asked, “Yay or nay on Starbucks?” 75% of teachers DID NOT like receiving Starbucks cards because they usually end up with only Starbucks gift cards. Gift a Starbucks card only if you know the teacher is a Starbucks fan. Most preferred store gift card was for Target because they can use these to purchase items for either their homes or their classrooms.

#4 Retail Gift

Buying teachers retail gifts can be tricky. As parents, we are the ones that do the purchasing, but it’s important to let your child take the lead on this one. They are the ones that know their teachers well and can point you in the right direction. I remember asking my youngest what to get his English teacher and he immediately said, “She loves coffee and chocolate.” Boom. Another one of his teacher’s collects everything turtle, and we were able to find an adorable turtle plushie that we are confident she will like. In case you have a kid that’s not very in tune with their teachers' interests, here are the top 5 retail gifts mentioned:

Scented candle – Most popular fragrances include lavender, vanilla, lemon, and apple.

Coffee – the majority of teachers surveyed drink coffee and there’s nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning. Combine your favorite morning, ground coffee with a cute coffee mug or travel coffee cup.

Stationary Sets – Teachers typically send notes to administrators, other teachers, and parents on a regular basis. A nice stationary set is always useful and will definitely get used throughout the year.

Plants – many teachers love to have live plants in their classroom and will appreciate a plant in a cute planter. Ask your kid, “Does your teacher have plants in the classroom” and they will let you know if this gift makes sense.

Chocolate – Stay away from Sees and go for something more exotic like Dark Chocolate or Sea Salt and Caramel Chews.

A word of caution: Stay away from clothing. This is super personal, and you don’t want to guess at sizing and offend anyone!!

Regardless of what you get, teachers will appreciate your effort. The intention is what is important when it comes to holiday gift giving. Hope this helps as you finish your holiday shopping! Happy Holidays!!!

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