Teacher Appreciation Week: Gift Ideas

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Teacher Appreciation Week: Gift Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Week is fast approaching! We celebrate our wonderful teachers the week of May 6-10, 2024.

Teachers have a tough job. Not only do they teach our children math, science, and social studies; but they also teach our children social skills, emotional skills, and problem-solving skills. Teachers spend so much time with our children throughout the school year wearing many hats to guide and support our children; for example, they act as cheerleaders, counselors, drill sergeants, comedians, referees, nurses, detectives, mentors, and more.

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But how do we show appreciation to someone who is so impactful in our child’s everyday life?

First off, a typical teacher appreciation gift doesn’t have to break the bank. We may want to give our teachers a million dollars and believe me, teachers would love to have it; however, extravagant teacher gifts can actually feel awkward for the teacher and waiver on the line of inappropriate or unethical for a teacher to accept. So keep it simple! A typical teacher appreciation gift costs $0-$30. 

Here are 10 Teacher Appreciation Week gift ideas to give:

A handmade card

Teachers love to receive letters from parents telling them stories about how they have impacted their children. Having your child write their teacher a letter or draw them a picture is also a wonderful gift for them to learn firsthand from their student how they have impacted them. Many teachers keep these cherished cards for years to help them through those difficult days. 

Personalized gifts

Do you know something your teacher actually enjoys? For example, does your teacher regularly tell stories about horseback riding or the University of Iowa Hawkeye sports teams in class? Discovering hobbies and interests about your teacher and finding or creating a gift surrounding these hobbies and interests can be excellent gifts.

Self-care items

Self-care gifts are items they can utilize to help them decompress and care for themselves. Examples of these types of gifts are soft socks, lotions, a spa kit, bath salts, etc.


Not coffee mugs, not tumblers, or cups. But just the coffee. Teachers tend to have enough mugs to fill hundreds of shelves; however, what they always need is something to fill these mugs and tumblers with. Find unique coffees for them to try, discover their favorite kind of coffee and purchase a container for them, or give them a gift card from a favorite coffee store.

Things to snack on during the day

Teachers talk A LOT. Their throat often gets dry. Hard candy like mints or jolly ranchers can be very useful to teachers throughout the day. Teachers also have very short breaks….when they get them. Having some snacks hidden in their desk can be very handy for them to have when they have some time to themselves during the day. You can discover what your teacher might like to snack on specifically or some snacks that are pretty popular that you typically can’t go wrong with our chocolate, chips, or granola bars. But remember, with snack foods stay away from nuts and nut butter due to most schools having restrictions due to nut allergies. 

Volunteer in your child’s classroom

If you can’t afford a gift, but you can afford to give your time; scheduling a time for you to volunteer can be a great way to appreciate your child’s teacher. Teachers often need volunteers for days when they have events like field trips, classroom parties, school carnivals, or book fairs.

Gift cards

Gift cards are a simple way to show appreciation by allowing the teacher the option of what they will purchase. Favorite gift cards for teachers are Visa gift cards. Other popular gift cards are for restaurants, movie theaters, bookshops, craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, Amazon, Target, or a spa. 

Toys and Games

If your child is in elementary school often times the last thing on a teacher’s list to purchase are toys and games for inside recess. These types of things are extras for the classroom that they just can’t afford and it feels like a special treat when they are able to get new items for their game closets. Teachers also use toys and games as learning tools. If you ask your teacher if there are any toys or games they wish they had for their classroom I’m sure they could think of one off the top of their head they have been wanting to utilize in a lesson plan. Aside from toys and games for the classroom, purchasing a game for your teacher to bring home and use with their friends and family is also a great gift that they probably won’t receive from another parent. 

Items for their calm-down space

Many classrooms these days are implementing a location for their students to go to when they feel big emotions and are finding it hard to concentrate on their school work. Similar to the toys and games, items to utilize for these areas are typically not on the top of their purchasing list for classroom supplies as they tend to cost more money. So when it comes to having the choice of purchasing pencils and notebook paper that they can get in bulk for the same cost of one calm down item, they more than likely will purchase the pencils and notebook paper where they will get the most bang for their buck. 

A gift basket based on your teacher’s favorite color

If it is hard for your child to figure out their teacher’s hobbies or favorite snack, maybe you can give them an assignment of asking their teacher what their favorite color is and letting you know after school. This kind of gift basket is a fun way of providing your teacher with a multitude of fun items. Examples of items for a gift basket for the color blue can be pens, sanitizer wipes with blue packaging, socks, candies that come in blue packaging, gum, lip balm, sticky notes, lotions, etc. Anything that is blue or in blue packaging could be fun for a teacher to receive. 

Final thoughts

When thinking of a gift for your teacher, simply think about what kinds of gifts you would like to receive. Supplies for the classroom are always needed, though teacher appreciation is about the teacher as a person, so try to stick to something they will use for themselves or something special for the classroom that isn’t what one would consider normal school supplies. However, donating to our child’s classroom throughout the year is also always appreciated and needed. Schools run off of a low budget and oftentimes teachers are purchasing supplies, decorations, and teaching tools for their classrooms out of their own pockets.

Here are some items that are great to donate to the classroom outside of teacher appreciation week:

  • Expo dry erase markers
  • Dry erase board erasers
  • Batteries
  • Number two pencils
  • Paper
  • Soap
  • Folders
  • Sticky notes
  • Packaged and sealed snacks for classroom snack time
  • Kleenex
  • Digitized timers
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Staples
  • Pencil erasers
  • Paper plates
  • Paper towels
  • Ziplock baggies
  • Eating plastic utensils

Many teachers also have an Amazon wish list for their classrooms. You can ask your teacher for their Amazon wish list link where there are specific items they need for their classroom that typically include the items on the above list along with books and various teaching tools.

Leah DeMarest

Leah DeMarest

Leah DeMarest is a licensed mental health therapist and has a private therapy practice in Urbandale called Flourishing Engagements where she sees patients of all ages. Leah is also the founder and CEO of a nonprofit called Ed Ease Iowa where the mission is to promote the advancement of education in Iowa by supporting Iowa schools and educators through donations of classroom supplies, teaching tools, and any other needs they my request. You can find out more about Ed Ease Iowa by following them on social media or reviewing their website www.edeaseia.com. Outside of her career, she is married with one son, two dogs, and 16 chickens. She is a licensed foster and adoptive parent. And when she does get the free time she enjoys spending time with extended family, going on walks and bike rides, reading, and traveling.

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