Whether you’re a parent, a student or happen to have an educator in your life who you care about, you know how life-changing great teachers can be. They're truly worth their weight in gold.
These wonderful humans help students become their best selves — and they deserve big thanks this time of year. So we've rounded up some fabulous gift ideas so that you can let them know just how much they mean to you and your kids. To come up with our top 30+ list, we spoke with dozens of actual teachers and asked them what they wanted. Without exception, they said they’re grateful for any gift — because again, wonderful humans — but when we nudged a bit, they shared what's on their wish list as well as some of their all-time fave gifts. (Spoiler alert: Almost all of these teachers named an Amazon gift card first.)
Here’s what else we learned. Take good notes!
"I adore really cool plants and pots!" said Shannon, a preschool teacher at a Reggio-inspired school. The Sill, a woman-owned company, was founded on the premise that "plants make people happy," and we think their impressive array of beautiful greenery and stylish planters will do just that. This delightful little Hoya Heart is easy to care for — bright light and some water every couple weeks, and it's good to go. Plus it's pet-friendly!
"A cool lunch bag would be an excellent gift!! Something large enough for your Tupperware" says Meredith, a preschool teacher. Easy to clean, insulated, leak-proof and water-proof, this sophisticated carrier looks great, keeps food fresh, and is large enough for lunch and then some A long strap makes it easy to carry cross-body on those multitasking mornings.
Caitlyn, a seventh-grade teacher, says, “I’m really starting to get into aromatherapy, and I love great-smelling body wash.” This clever, stress-relieving duo is a gift any hardworking teacher would love.
Fifth-grade teacher Kyisha says, “I really want a fuzzy robe. As soon as I get home, clothes come off and robe goes on.” Well, have we got a gift for her — and anyone one else who works super-hard and goes straight for the comfy clothes upon entering the home zone. Plush and cozy with an oversized hood, this beauty is like a gentle embrace from a huge teddy bear. In 18 colors and patterns, including animal prints. The men's version is also on sale!
“Since I’m constantly lugging things back and forth, I always need a new tote,” says Chris, a high school science teacher.
Anais, a high school Spanish teacher, shared: "One student gave me a Day of the Dead tote bag which was nice!" There are 29 styles to choose from here to suit a slew of interests. Perhaps tropical plants for your biology teacher, or the "Follow Your Dreams" sloth for the guidance counselor. For extra brownie points, add your own special words or images to this customizable number..
Yasmine, a kindergarten teacher, says, “I have snack time with the kids. A nice water bottle would be a good gift.” Well, Yasmine, this one might blow their minds. This speaker/water bottle lets you set the mood with say gentle classical or lively Spanish guitar music — or maybe even turn the break into a full-on dance party with some infectious African polyrhythms.
Katie, an art professor, half-joked that she's hoping for "a gua sha tool — because they see how droopy my face is at the end of the semester. And I teach sculpture, so it's very apt." But seriously, a gift like this will encourage your teacher to take some much-needed "me time" and roll the tension away. This is a good one.
Alex, a high school English teacher, says "This sounds totally lame, but ties are a good gift for me because I would never want to have to spend my own money on them." A solid color is a solid choice, he says.
Tracy, a middle-school art teacher, is wowed by "good, quality dark chocolate, fancy covered pretzels or dried fruits — small delicacies I wouldn’t buy for myself on a daily basis." Explore more Williams Sonoma chocolate and candy offerings here.
A special cookie
Speaking of edibles... Sarah loved receiving "a personalized sugar cookie" from one of her middle school students. "It came with a handwritten note. He made a different cookie for each teacher." You and your child can make some for teachers for years to come with this cookie set!
"I had a really lovely gift of a candle that donated to animal shelters when it was purchased," remembered first-grade teacher Shayla. "I liked this one a lot because even if I didn't love the scent or didn't use candles (which, luckily, wasn't the case!), it gave to a good cause!" This popular Etsy candle company, Rescue Me, gives 20% of all proceeds to animal rescues. Plus, there are lots of lovely scents!
Linnea, a third-grade teacher, says: "One of the best gifts I have received were candles from Anthropologie (a personal favorite) — I love getting these because 1) They are expensive, 2) I feel like the students listened to me when something personal would come up in conversation and 3) It just shows that they care!" Well, at least they'll think it's expensive: at this sale price of $28, this dear candle is a steal.
Fourth-grade teacher Leigh also says she’s obsessed with candles: “I can never have too many."
Plant-based and powerful, this cream is formulated to keep hands soft even after washing (and rewashing). It has an impressive 4.8-star overall rating by Sephora shoppers!
“My hands get really dry from touching papers all day,” says Barbara, a sixth-grade teacher. “I always love a nice-smelling lotion for my desk drawer.” Hydrating, clean and small enough to tuck away, this soothing hand cream delivers a spa moment anytime it’s called for.
Sarah, a middle-school teacher, was thrilled to receive "a personalized notepad." This simple, customizable notepad lets you decide whether to add initials, full name or both; lined or unlined. You choose the ink color!
Middle-school math teacher Sara says, “We’re always writing notes. I know that my teacher friends and I love to receive paper goods and personalized stationery.” The modern floral print peeking up from the bottom is subtle and sophisticated, and elevates any message. Customize the font color or go with classic black.
Some teachers embrace cool kitsch. For them, Betsey Johnson always comes through. Preschool teacher Meredith told us, "I think teacher-themed gifts would be cool — if your teacher wears jewelry, there are cool things out there..." BaubleBar is a great spot to browse.
High school Spanish teacher David says, “ I love to get bottles of wine or something caffeine-related.” Not sure wine is approved at your school as a teacher gift? These coffee beans, aged in oak wine barrels for just a suggestion of the grape, are a unique (and alcohol-free) option.
Teacher Thomas says, "I could use some single-pack herbal tea...as winter approaches." We've got you, Teach, and then some. This set comes with everything they'll need to warm up and cool down.
Or, if you'd like to give them many weeks of sipping pleasure, try this gorgeous selection of 45 Pukka herbal teas, going for just $22.
“I think it’s important to have hobbies outside of work, so I can turn off and turn back on at a hundred percent,” says Coca, who’s a Montessori teacher. “My favorite thing to do is cook, so I like gourmet gifts.” Even if you don’t know anything about your teacher-recipient's culinary bent, a gourmet hot sauce is a can't-miss choice — it works on takeout just as well as homemade! This one is infused with truffle and coriander. And the packaging is so elegant, there’s no need for gift wrap.
"Acupressure sandals!" says Todd, a college professor. "Teachers are on their feet all day, it's nice to get some relief." You may have to do a little detective work to get the size right, but it'll be worth it.
Speaking of feet... Brea, a pre-K teacher, says, "Because our preschool spends a lot of time outside, warm socks are ALWAYS great!" Extra points from your art teacher for these babies.
Julie, a video art professor, is always happy to have a great read. An inspiring novel like Richard Powers' The Overstory, she says, offers "romance, drama and trees — a perfect combo." Katie added that something like Junichiro Tanizaki's essay on aesthetics, In Praise of Shadows, would be great for visual thinkers.
Or you could help them kick back and listen to all the books they like with an Audible gift membership.
Where there are teachers, there are books — and a need for bookends. Choose two of their favorite quotable women to be featured on these unique pieces.
Grab a set of 100% pure essential oils to go with it, like these from Pure Aroma.
I recently gifted this refreshing activity book to all my daughter's teachers, and even her principal. Not to mention friend teachers and neighbor teachers. (Thanks to the low price, I was able to gift widely.) Each of the 133 fun pages feels like a mini therapy sesh with your funniest friend. There's a Teacher Appreciation Week mad-lib, an all-too-relatable "Things you never thought you'd say out loud" roundup and exercises such as "Draw the haircut of your off-duty dreams." The playful yet earnest “Mental Health Check-in" checklist weaves in coping strategies so deftly that the reader won't even notice they are getting help.
Fran, a retired preschool teacher-researcher, has seen it all, but there's one gift, she said, that always helped. "I'm retired now, but the best gifts I've received were gift cards. Most parents don't know our personal lives, and it's hard for them to guess what we are interested in. So Amazon, Kroger, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble gift cards were great."
Davilee, an elementary school teacher, agrees: "I always think gift cards are just awesome! Gift cards allow the person to choose what she/he wants."
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.