6 Gifts Teachers Actually Want – PLUS Teachers Spill the Beans About Their Most Memorable Gifts

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Teachers Deserve So Much More Than We Can Give Them

Have you ever gone into your child’s classroom to volunteer with centers, reading or parties? If you have, then you’ve witnessed firsthand how challenging it is for a teacher to manage over 20 students. (And if you haven’t , imagine handling 20 versions of your child at once.)

With the school year rapidly coming to a close, you may be wondering how to thank your child’s teacher for all the amazing work they have done this year.

When I was a former elementary school teacher, I got a lot of ornaments, coffee mugs, candles and body lotions. I appreciated the sentiment, but I confess that a lot of the extra mugs and body lotions ended up at Goodwill.

What teachers really love and can always use are items that are thoughtful, meaningful or helpful.

We have put together a list of six fantastic gift ideas for your child’s teacher, guaranteed never to see Goodwill.

Six Great Teacher Gift Ideas

Teachers are shining stars, aren’t they? These gift ideas are a nice way to say “thanks,” to your favorite educators.

1 – Gift Cards or Cash

Gift cards are always a hit. You can’t go wrong with Target. Teachers can buy something for themselves or for the classroom. You can also opt for cash. Cash always says, “You’re Wonderful!” and it can be spent anywhere.

2 – Mini Poster of Appreciation

Create a mini poster of what kids love about their teacher. Have each student write down their favorite thing about the teacher to make this list. (Download our pre-made poster below!)

3 – Notes and Drawings From Your Child

If you don’t have time to gather the whole classroom’s thoughts, you can still have your child write a meaningful note for the teacher. I still have the “love” notes students gave me ten years ago.

4 – Give the Gift of Your Time!

Ask the teacher what he or she needs the most help with right now. I recently repaired books from my son’s classroom library and his teacher was so grateful. If you’re available to go to school, you can offer to help with centers, listen to kids read, sharpen pencils, change bulletin boards… the list is really endless.

5 – School Supplies

You can’t go wrong with a pack of Expo markers or Post-It Notes. For early childhood teachers, send glue sticks or crayons.

6 – Go Local!

Check out beautiful gifts at Art of the Table, Reinspired Treasures, Rebel Reclaimed and Roeda Studios.

Teacher Appreciation Deals Grand Rapids

Teachers Shared Their Most Memorable Gifts With Us

Need more inspiration? We asked teachers around Michigan what their most memorable gifts have been. Check out what they had to say and get some more ideas about what will make your kids’ teachers smile.

  • “A painted canvas. He used my favorite colors and his mom said he worked on it for days. It’s still hanging in my classroom years later.” – Brittni-Kae DeWitt
  • A bar of Ivory soap from a little boy who had just arrived from a Cambodian refuge camp. 36 years ago and I still choke up thinking about it.” – Jenny Klueter, Battle Creek
  • “My most memorable weren’t the most expensive or even the most useful, but the ones chosen by the student. A dollar store Christmas ornament chosen because it was my favorite color (red) and one time I got a lemon! He knew I ate fruit everyday. They had lemons at home and he wanted me to have one.” – Liz DeVries, Hudsonville
  •  “I love my Christmas tree ornaments. Every year as I hang them up, it brings back memories.” – Mandi Nielson, Wayland (Good thing Mandi has a 12 ft tree!)
  • “The first student I had with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) found a couple of leaves that looked like Michigan. He put them together to make an art project and gave it to me. It was his first exposure to the classroom and my first student with ASD. It is still up in my room.” – Kim Converse, Zeeland
  • “My most memorable gift was from a student who never had his homework done, missed class a lot, had a hard time simply being in school. For Christmas, he put a single red bulb ornament in a old check box and gave it to me. When I opened it, it was clear that he had taken that ornament off of someone’s tree and sourced a box from who knows where so he could give me a gift. A boy who had nothing was so thoughtful and so loving that he figured out a way to give me, his math teacher, something for Christmas. My heart warms now just thinking about it, 16 years later.” – Michelle Mixa, Holland
  • “I have cherished everything given by a student or parent. My favorites are the letters, drawings, cards, and photos. I keep them together and, if I need a pick-me-up, I look at them and remember the fun I had with those kids.” – Meredith Jackson, Lansing
  • “I had a student knit me a handmade scarf. The fact that she spent time outside of class and thought to make it for me was so special.” – Sabrina Lynch, Royal Oak
  • “For my birthday (that I hadn’t broadcasted), one of my 3rd graders made me one of those huge posters with the candy bar sayings. She spent a lot of time creating it!! Best gift ever…especially because it wasn’t for Christmas or an end of the year gift when it might be more expected.” – Melissa Nimtz, Battle Creek
  • “Best gift ever for me was a tin of homemade cookies a student and her grandma baked for me. I don’t even remember if the cookies were good…I really remember her grandma and I shared similar political views and grandma and student felt a connection with me because of this! It was so very heartfelt.” – Heather Lewis, Grand Rapids
  • “I have received some very memorable gifts. From a tea pot from a 2nd grader when I was a long term sub, to dragonfly earrings, and several paintings from a very special student.” – Lorie Nierman, Battle Creek
  • “A book my students made.” – Jessica Smith, Kalamazoo
  • “A letter from one of my student’s father, thanking me for everything I had done for his son throughout the year. It was one of the few I got throughout my entire career.” – Susan Krolik, Lansing
  • “In general, I appreciate the gifts from “the outside” – a Coke from a kid coming back from a mid-day appointment. A few warm homemade cookies at the end of the day. Really just the random, thoughtful things.” – Kim Converse, Zeeland
  • “A delicious luncheon arranged by caring parents just before a long afternoon and evening of conferences. The dishes were homemade and parents were there to serve and thank us personally for teaching their children.” – Paula McPhee, Battle Creek
  • “One of my students wrote a very kind essay about me for his freshman writing class at MSU. That one stands out against many other amazing gifts because he was murdered not long after he gave it to me—it was my last contact with him.” – Will Jurkiewicz, Lansing
  • I have received several very cool gifts over the years, but two kind of stand out. One was a wooden cut out apple sign with every student’s name from that year painted on it. I still have it hanging in my room and that student went on to become a teacher! The other was from a special young man, who periodically would bring me a single rose for no special holiday or reason. His mom worked at a store that had fresh flower arrangements. I joked with him that he had given me more roses than even my husband. The rose was always accompanied with a “God Bless you, Mrs. Ivens”. Sadly, he was killed in an automobile accident his jr year in high school.” – Karen Ivens, Battle Creek
  • “One of my kindergarteners made me a Christmas card at home. She wanted to attach some peppermint candies, but didn’t have any tape or glue at home. She unwrapped the candies, licked them, and then stuck them to the card. I still have it!” – Patty Burnham, Battle Creek
  • Seeing them succeed and being contacted to say I impacted their life and decision to teach. It doesn’t get better than being remembered! Even being recognized in the grocery store being called out, hugged and thanked rates right up there (after they get over the shock that I’m still alive!). ” – Marta Onofrio, Battle Creek

1 thought on “6 Gifts Teachers Actually Want – PLUS Teachers Spill the Beans About Their Most Memorable Gifts”

  1. THANK YOU for taking the time to recognize all the amazing TEACHERS!! LOVED reading the teachersBoth my parents are teachers, my mom (recently retired) from first grade where she would get all the things from all the kids, but my dad is a high school teacher where parents/kids don’t always think to remember their teachers on special days.

    I encourage any parents out there with older kids to have them write a thank you card to a teacher that’s made a difference in their life….maybe just a side hug or a high five, maybe a silly joke to make them smile, maybe an ear to listen, OR maybe a safe classroom to visit and receive encouragement.

    Fist pumps and high-fives to all those wonderful teachers out there, pouring into our kiddos lives all the good stuff!

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