Most teachers will tell you that above all else, those hand-writen notes, homemade ornaments, drawings, and handmade loop bracelets are some of their most cherished gifts each year. In addition to the time, effort, and personal attention that your children put into these gifts, there is an additional sense of pride and ownership they feel when giving them to their teachers. Even if you want to buy your teacher a gift card (and they wouldn't turn them away!), including a hand-made card with a thank-you note is a wonderful touch.
"During the pandemic my students knew that I wasn't able to see my family for the holidays. My home mailbox was flooded with cards and hand-written notes throughout the winter break. It brought me so much joy when I was feeling down! I have them in a box and will treasure them always."
- Middle School Music Teacher, Manhattan
In the same realm as a kid-made gift, teachers also reported loving gifts they knew the students had picked out themselves. When children pick out gifts for their teachers it is evident that they do so with great love, thought, and creativity!
"Last year, I had a student so proud of picking out my Christmas present: a whoopie cushion and a fart machine. During the pandemic, everything was so heavy that I would regularly tell jokes with the kids to bring some levity to the classroom. When I received this gift, it was clear that this student recognized and appreciated my love for humor. We had a great time with those gifts for the rest of the year!"
- 5th grade teacher, Tennessee
While we might be inclined to pass on gift cards because we feel they are impersonal, teachers welcome them. Gift cards were the number one "store bought" answer to our survey. Ask around to see what restaurants or coffee shops your child's teacher regularly frequents. Pick a small business in your town you think they would love for a win-win gift! Many teachers also reported loving more generic Amazon or Visa gift cards.
"I've been able to put together gift cards in the past to purchase something I couldn't afford myself, or to use towards a summer trip."
- 2nd grade teacher, California
Interest Related Gifts
Teachers are extremely dedicated to their profession and proud of it. However, much to your child's surprise, they don't actually live at school!! Ask your child what hobbies and interests their teacher has mentioned. It may be tempting to grab that "We Love Teachers" coffee mug, but a golfing ornament, dog calendar, gift card to their favorite rock climbing gym, or a book about their favorite hobby can be a fun way to acknowledge that your child loves and listens to the stories about their lives outside of school.
Savory or sweet, teachers love a treat! This was a frequently mentioned answer to our poll! Not only can baking offer a fun activity for you and your family, it can be a low-cost, high yield (see below) way to gift those you love in your school building!
"I love getting treats from the students! I bring all of the goodies home to share with my family members and they are always very thankful as well!"
-Elementary school secretary, New Jersey
Special Area Teachers & Staff
Although homeroom and general education teachers spend the most amount of time with our children, the school cannot run without their special area teachers (art, music, PE, etc.) learning specialists, and other school staff members (counselors, secretaries, bus drivers, etc.). Feeling overwhelmed by all the adults in your child's life? Homemade cards, ornaments and treats are perfect options.
No matter how you choose to gift your child's teacher this year, they will love and cherish it. As we talked with teachers about holiday gifting, one thing was very clear: love and gratitude from a student goes a long way.