Best and Worst Teacher Appreciation Gifts

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Best and Worst Teacher Appreciation GiftsThere is no bad time to recognize teachers. They go above and beyond EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not just one week out of the year. Let’s face it, there is no gift that can adequately express enough gratitude for all that teachers do. But with Teacher Appreciation Week starting May 2 and the end of the school year right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking of a gift as a way to thank your child’s teacher for all that they’ve done.

But what kind of gift should you get? And what should you avoid? Your friends at 240 Tutoring have the answers to these questions! Whether you’re looking for an end-of-the-year gift, a teacher appreciation gift, or even just a random surprise for your child’s teacher, we’ve got you covered with ideas to fit every budget.

Best Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Teachers certainly don’t expect to receive gifts, so anything is sure to be appreciated. However, we know you’re here because you want to find the absolute best gift for your child’s teacher. That’s why we talked specifically with teachers to create a list of perfect items for teacher appreciation week.

Best Free Gifts for Teachers

Personal Thank You Letter

Not only is this gift free, but it’s also universally loved by all teachers. Teaching takes a ton of passion and dedication, but it can often feel like a thankless job. A heartfelt letter will bring a smile to the face of any teacher and is sure to make their entire week.

Make your letter sincere and personal by sharing specific things your child’s teacher has done for them. Have they given your child a new interest in a specific topic or subject? Have you been amazed at how well your child is reading or noticed your child is more confident? Have they gone above and beyond in communicating with you throughout the year? These are all great anecdotes to share in your letter.

Letter to the Principal

Along with a thank you letter, you can also send a note or email to the school’s principal explaining why you appreciate your child’s teacher. This doesn’t need to be a long letter, just a few lines highlighting the reasons you love your child’s teacher. Teachers usually aren’t the type to brag on themselves, so this extra step is sure to impress both the teacher and the principal.

Volunteer Time

The end of the school year (and all year, really) is always a busy and chaotic time for teachers. If you’re able to volunteer at your child’s school, ask their teacher if there is anything you can help with. Offer specific tasks you would feel comfortable doing such as making copies, laminating, putting supplies together for centers, organizing the classroom library, etc.

Best Teacher Gifts on a Budget

Gift Cards

Gift cards can get a bad reputation as being too impersonal, but honestly, teachers love them. They are hands down one of our favorite gifts to receive. Not only is a gift card guaranteed to be loved and used, but it’s also an easy last-minute idea if teacher appreciation week snuck up on you! Don’t stress about how much money to spend – gift cards of any amount will be appreciated. A few of our favorite gift card options are: Target, Starbucks, Amazon, DoorDash or Uber Eats, craft stores, or local restaurants.

Quality School Supplies

It may seem odd to buy school supplies as a gift, but there are several high-quality items that teachers often hesitate to spend their own money on. If you’re looking for a practical gift that will actually get used, the following ideas are sure to be a hit:

Potted Plants

You can always count on plants or flowers to brighten someone’s day. A potted plant will last longer than cut flowers and can even be replanted at their home. If your child’s teacher enjoys cooking, consider buying potted herbs like mint, basil, or rosemary. To add a bit of personalization to this gift, have your child decorate the pot that the plant comes in.

Desserts or Snacks

Food is usually a safe go-to gift that teachers will love, especially if you know some of their favorites. This one does come with a few caveats, though.

Most teachers tend to shy away from homemade food. We trust you, and we know your kitchen is clean, but sticking with store-bought food just feels a bit safer.

Something else to consider is the amount of food you give. We honestly won’t ever make our way through a dozen donuts or an entire box of cupcakes. (But this can be a great option if you want to deliver a teacher appreciation gift for a whole grade level or campus!) If you’re just planning on a gift for one teacher, it’s better to stick with things like single-serve cupcakes, small boxes of candy, or individual bags of snacks.

Best High-Priced Teacher Gifts

Gift Cards

We mentioned gift cards in the previous section, but this is still a good option even if you’re planning to spend a bit more money. (Plus, we can’t say it enough – teachers love gift cards.)

If you have a high budget planned for a teacher appreciation gift, consider a gift card to a spa, nail salon, nice restaurant, Amazon, or even an assortment of various gift cards.

Themed Gift Baskets

This one takes some effort and creativity, but it is sure to be appreciated. A themed gift basket can be a fun route if you know the teacher’s interests and hobbies. Some of our favorite themes and items include:

  • “Relax” – Include a soft blanket, a candle, a book or gift card to a bookstore, tea or coffee, and chocolate or snacks.
  • “Summer Fun” – Fill a large beach bag with a beach towel, flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a tumbler or water bottle.
  • “Game Night” – This is a great option for a teacher with young children in her family. Include a favorite board game, a deck of cards, dice, a notepad for keeping score, popcorn, and other snacks.

Worst Teacher Appreciation Gifts

We hate to even designate particular gifts as “worst,” because it really is true that teachers love any gift they receive. However, if you’re looking for some gifts to avoid, these are our suggestions.


Everyone loves a good mug, but most teachers have accumulated way too many over the years. Chances are, a mug will just get pushed to the back of the cabinet or put into a box. Save your child’s teacher some cabinet space and opt for another gift instead.

What to get instead: A Starbucks gift card, a water bottle or tumbler (these will be used more often), or a surprise cup of coffee if you know their order.

Personalized Classroom Signs 

This follows the same ideas as the mugs – we love personalized signs and other classroom decorations, but we just have too many!

There may be an exception to this though. If your child’s teacher is fairly new to teaching, they may love a personalized sign for their desk or classroom. Use your judgment and consider how much decor they already have in their room. Remember, even if they don’t need it, they’ll still appreciate the gesture.

What to get instead: Other personalized items such as notepads, clipboards, or journals. These will take up less space and will definitely be used!

Items That Are “Too Personal” 

Everyone wants to give a gift that feels personal, and that’s usually great! But there’s a line that can be crossed that goes from “heartfelt and personal” to “awkward and uncomfortable.” Unless you have a close relationship with your child’s teacher or you feel certain that they would appreciate it, it’s best to stay away from gifts like alcohol, wine glasses, gifts with sarcastic humor, or religious-themed items.

What to get instead: A gift card to a nice restaurant in place of alcohol, or an item with a general inspirational quote in place of a religious-themed gift.

How Can I Find Out What My Child’s Teacher Likes?

As with any gift, you want to make sure it’s something that the recipient will actually like. Luckily, there are a few different ways to find out what your child’s teacher might enjoy:

  • Check with the front office or the school’s parent-teacher organization: Many schools or parent-teacher organizations have teachers fill out a short questionnaire for this very purpose. This will usually include things like a teacher’s hobbies, favorite snacks, candle scents, restaurants, etc.
  • Ask your child: You may be surprised how much children (even younger ones) know about their teacher. Get some insider information by asking your child if they ever see their teacher with a particular snack, if their teacher always comes in with a cup of coffee, or if they often talk about a specific hobby such as gardening, doing puzzles, or traveling.
  • Ask the teacher: While this does eliminate an element of surprise, it’s also the best way to find out exactly what your child’s teacher does and doesn’t like. Send a quick email asking about any particular interests, favorite foods, favorite restaurants, etc. You can also ask if there’s anything they don’t need or want.

Should I Buy Gifts for My Child’s Music, Art, and P.E. Teachers?

This is, of course, completely up to you. We know that buying multiple gifts can add up quickly, but we will say that specials teachers (Art, Music, P.E., Computers, etc.) often get overlooked during teacher appreciation week. If you decide to get gifts for your child’s other teachers, don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of extra money. A simple thank you card will go a long way. Other gift ideas for specials teachers include gift cards, a bag of snacks and candy, or plants.

Use our tips and suggestions to start planning your teacher appreciation week gift now.  However, don’t stress about it or overthink things! Remember, even the “worst” gift is still a gift, and it will undoubtedly be loved and appreciated by your child’s teacher.