19 Teacher Appreciation Gifts for The Hardest Year Ever

Our educators are found inspiring ways to be there for kids; here are some ways to show our appreciation.
Our educators are found inspiring ways to be there for kids; here are some ways to show our appreciation.

Teachers have once again proven how amazing they are during this unprecedented school year. Somehow, they have balanced in-person and remote teaching, hybrid schedules, and school closures—all with a daily smile for our kids. Now is the time to show teachers how much we care, what a massive impact they have on our kid's lives, and how truly deserving they are of our appreciation.

We surveyed a whole bunch of teachers and found out the secret to what teachers really want: a heartfelt thank you, the realization that students have listened to them, and coffee. Coffee helps a lot! Read on for our top teacher appreciation gift ideas. You can also find more inspiration for homemade gifts in our roundup of 100 Crafts for Kids.

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: Handmade cards
You can never go wrong with a card made by a kid!

1. Craft a Handmade Card

Take a little inspiration from our Mother's Day cards post and let your little Picasso put together a creative card for their teacher. Once they've done their part, take some time to write a good, old-fashioned note of gratitude. (Be sure to use your best penmanship!) A heartfelt note of thanks was a winner with all of the teachers we surveyed. Many said they read these keepsakes over and over.

2. Let Your Child Lead

I'll be the first to admit that I stress over teacher appreciation gifts, especially at the end of a typical year, when every day seems to be filled with a party or banquet or end-of-year obligation. So it was a relief to hear from teachers that any gifts from children are always treasured, both those that are handmade and those that children pick out and even pay for themselves. Sometimes a gift your child selects seems crazy to you, but if your child insists on a particular gift, go with it. They likely know their teacher better than you, and even if it misses the mark slightly, the thought behind it is extra special in a teacher's eye.

3. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I can't face one first-grader without a cuppa joe in my system, so it wasn't surprising to hear from many teachers that coffee is always a favorite. Send in a gift card with a heartfelt note, or get creative with the presentation as you say "Thanks a Latte"!

RELATED: DIY Mother's Day Cards Kids Can Make

Teacher Appreciation Gifts:Wine!

Check your school's policy before bringing this gift to the last day of school.

4. Go with an Adult Beverage Instead

Toast your favorite teacher with a bottle of wine (or several!) and one of these personalized bottle labels. Note: some schools do not allow alcohol on campus so plan to deliver this gift outside of school if that's the case.

5. Put on Your Listening Ears

More than anything, teachers' favorite gifts are the ones that show that kids are paying attention to more than their ABCs. One teacher shared that her class made her a window after she lamented that she didn't have one near her desk. Children crafted a window and added whimsical butterflies and birds she could peep at through the panes. A high school history teacher said he keeps a jar of sand that a student retrieved on a visit to Utah Beach under a flag belonging to his grandfather, a World War II glider pilot. Neither of these gifts cost much, but their thoughtfulness meant the world to the recipients.

RELATED: 15 Backyard Science Experiments for Summer Learning Fun

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: Handmade art and gifts

Make some framed art with supplies you already have handy.

6. A Heartfelt Handmade

If your crafting skills aren't Pinterest-worthy, turn to Etsy, where creative makers have come up with all kinds of ways to pay homage to the difference makers in the classroom. We love these personalized hand-stamped bookmarks and these cool teacher name signs. No matter your teachers' interest, it's likely there's an Etsy maker who can craft the perfect gift.

7. Don’t Forget Elective/Specials Teachers

My kids absolutely love their “special” classes each week (PE, music, STEM, art, etc.), so I always like to include a little something for these amazing teachers as well! These personalized clipboards make a fun gift with a handmade card and/or a gift card clipped onto it.  

8. Make Their Job Easier

We've all heard the statistics about how much money teachers pour into classroom supplies annually. Pay it forward by sharing some supplies or a gift card to restock before fall.

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: Beach-y fun gifts

Time for teachers to hit the beach for a little rest and relaxation.

9. Fun in the Sun

With summer approaching, many teachers are already daydreaming of days at the beach. Put together a beach-themed gift—this could include a nice beach tote, a fun beach towel, a new tumbler, sunscreen, a gift card … there are lots of options!

10. A Coupon Book

Your kid might be matriculating to the next grade, but that doesn't mean you have to. Show your gratitude by crafting a coupon book for your favorite teacher, offering your services for classroom help with chores like bulletin board making, classroom cleaning, or copying homework packets in the fall. After spending a year with your child's current teacher, you likely have an idea of the to-dos you can take off their plate to make the transition back to school a little bit easier. Who wouldn't appreciate that?

11. Organize a Class Gift

One friend spent her kids' elementary years collecting photos and personalized letters from every family annually and organizing them into custom photo books for each teacher. There were lots of tears—from her as she stressed about tracking down every kid's work and making shipping deadlines—and from dewy-eyed teachers when they opened the heartfelt collection. Other group-think gift options include treating teachers to a fancy meal at a restaurant, buying a big gift card, or handing over a large stack of cold hard cash, so they have a little summer spending money.

RELATED: Free and Cheap Websites That Teach Kids Coding

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: Something sweet

Everyone loves a little something sweet.

12. Sweets and Snacks

Get creative crafting an emergency stash of goodies for teachers to keep in their desks. We love the personal touch of this apple-inspired candy dish, which hides the contents brilliantly, and this sweet Hershey's Kiss-filled jar. For teachers that prefer salty over sweet, this nacho-themed gift basket is sure to bring a smile to their face.

13. Treat Teachers To a Spa Treatment

This one can take on multiple forms. You could go all out with a gift certificate for anything from a mani/pedi to a massage at a local spa, or go the DIY route and craft some homemade bath bombs.

14. Make it Personal

Teachers sang the praises of personalized gifts like notepads and stationery emblazoned with their names, or other personalized supplies they can carry into the next school year. And they're likely to think of your child every time they use those supplies.

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: Garden gifts

Teacher, teacher, how does your garden grow?

15. Plant a Thoughtful Garden

While not every teacher has a green thumb, those that do will appreciate a new plant for their collection. Bonus points for personalizing it with one of these cute and creative "Thanks for Helping Me Grow" printables, or set them up for a culinary summer with this fun herb garden collection.

16. A Feature for a Star Teacher

Put together a movie-themed gift with a DVD, theater gift card, or gift subscription to a streaming service (if you happen to know of one that they don't already subscribe to!) along with popcorn and movie snacks.

17. Send a Bouquet

Everyone loves flowers! Send your favorite teacher a bountiful bunch of her favorite flowers along with a kind note. For a fun twist, consider an alternative such as a gift card bouquet or this bouquet of candles.

18. Bring Teachers a Meal

Arrange to drop off breakfast or lunch for teachers and support staff. Perhaps a variety of bagels from Panera, a chicken nugget tray from Chick-fil-A, or a few pizzas. Even something as simple as picking up their favorite Starbucks coffee one morning is sure to brighten their day!

Teacher Appreciation Gifts: An apple for the teacher

An apple, and a little something else, for teacher!

19. Send a Gift Card

We've mentioned a few options for this already, but we're giving gift cards an entry all their own, mostly because it's the number 1 gift teachers told us they love. It's completely customizable for what a teacher likes—there's a gift card for every taste. Package your gift card with a thoughtful, thankful note, and you're sure to earn some extra credit.

Tip: Ask your child’s teacher to fill out a "favorite things" questionnaire. This makes it so much easier to pick out gifts you know they will love. My kids' elementary school has a binder with lists like this for each teacher, so be sure to check with your child’s school to see if they have something similar. I always check the binder at the beginning of each school year so that I have it to reference for teacher’s birthdays and holiday gifts as well. 

As a final note that bears repeating: Multiple teachers we talked to emphasized that it wasn't the size of the gift that mattered, it was the thought behind it, so don't make this stressful for your family. Know that any thoughtful, heartfelt gift is always appreciated.

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