“No More Mugs”…what teachers REALLY want & don’t!

Our Teachers. Totally under valued! And never more do we realized it, than about two weeks into summer vacation. But as the end of the school year is coming to a close, we are all grateful and utterly exhausted at the same time. Our days and nights are littered with oh so glorious dance recitals, awards ceremonies, spirit days/weeks…and on top of that we have to drum up the energy to think about amazing teacher gifts. Now, there are those parents…you know…the “Pinterest moms”. They bring a tray of perfectly decorated, themed gifts for each teacher (and each student too) and we all smile, but want to slap them. Who has time for that! They probably spent $600 on Etsy and didn’t even make it themselves. jk. 

Our teachers are caring, nurturing, accepting, and kind… so whatever gift you give will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Some students bring trinkets from their home because they just wanted to or it was all they could afford and those are treasured.  BUT- some gifts are better than others. You see LOTS of blog posts about gift ideas for teachers, but I think a question that gift-givers so often ask themselves is, “What do they really want?”  I thought I’d give you a run-down of what to teachers really want — and what they really don’t want, too. Over the years, I have been listening, giving and here are my top 4 YES and NO’s. 

#1 Gift Cards

Let’s face it: gift cards are a one-size fits all, can’t go wrong gift option that works for everyone, teachers included. And we all know teachers are not millionaires so every little bit helps. And I’m being serious when I say it, just a gift card inside a card is AWESOME. Some may feel this is too impersonal, if so, see #2, but I promise, most teachers would jump for joy when they receive a gift card to a place they frequent often.

What kinds of gift cards are best? You could always go the easy route and get a gift card to Target (because everyone loves Target), a book shop, gas card, or parent/teacher store. Or you could go the personal route and get a gift card that you know would be fitting for your child’s teacher. If you don’t know your child’s teacher very well, ask your child. They will most likely know something about the teacher’s personal life that could give you a clue about what he/she would absolutely love. Does she always drink coffee? Starbucks/local coffee shop. Does he have a dog and talk about them constantly? Petsmart. Does she knit/sew/paint/craft? JoAnn’s/Michael’s/Hobby Lobby. If you know what your your child’s teacher’s favorite restaurant is, get a gift card for there. We all love nights we don’t have to cook. And for real…most teachers like wine. So, if you know them well enough, get them a gift card to the local high end Wine Shop. #notkidding #theywillLoveyou

working macbook computer keyboard

#2 Small Themed Gift or Gift Basket with Gift Card  that Aligns with Teacher’s Interests!

Now. Gift baskets and themed gifts are super popular on blogs for teachers and neighbors. These really are great when they are geared toward the teacher’s interests! Teachers are people, too. Anything that you purchase/create that you have put thought into based on that teacher’s interests will be a great gift.

However, I caution you, if you spend money on a few cutesy items that look adorable in a basket or bag and all match your theme, but they are just cute, not useful or what the teacher would really want, don’t do it. My advice? Spend the bulk of whatever budget you have on a gift card and do just a little more to make it cute. I LOVE cute, but If it’s cute AND practical, you have the best gift ever.


#3 Anything Kid-Made or  a Gift that Comes Directly  from the Child

Teachers love their kids and it means a lot to them when the kids take part in showing their appreciation. One teacher told me just recently she has a box of notes that she keeps and it is her MOST precious gifts ever. “Some gifts that come to mind are a little hand-painted cardboard box with a jewel on top that sits on my desk, a beaded bracelet that reads “Best Teacher”, and an ornament of a puppy in a stocking that is ridiculous,  but always goes on my tree. These are so special to me because the child took thought and time to create/shop for these things for me.” Another teacher told me years ago.  A  hand-made card/piece of art/ any handmade item the child is proud of is something a teacher will always cherish. If you as the parent, feel like a note from your child isn’t enough, throw in a gift card!


#4 Supplies or Books for the Classroom

Going back to the idea that teachers don’t have loads of cash, they always can use more supplies for the classroom. Teachers are never sad about receiving extra glue, crayons, pencils, erasers, Clorox wipes, tissues etc. because that means they don’t have to spend my money on said items when they (inevitably) run out!


What Teachers really DON’T Want

#1 No More Coffee Mugs 

How many coffee mugs do YOU need? 6, 8, maybe a dozen total per family. Think about every year, teachers getting a multitude of coffee mugs, which is sweet, yes, but when you think about it…. 20 a year, per class-WOW.  Realistically, they need about 6-8 basic coffee mugs- not 54.


#2 No Candles, Lotions, Beauty Products

Teachers all love candles, but everyone is pretty picky about the kind of candles and scents.  Same way about lotions and beauty products. Think about how picky YOU are when you are picking out candles, scents and beauty products for yourself…rule of thumb, just don’t do it. #giftcardinstead

#3 Stay away from Apple-Themed Decor or Hand-Made Decorations  

Anything that is used for decoration can be a tricky gift unless you really know your child’s teacher’s personality and personal tastes well. Most teachers have never ever loved the apple theme and don’t think It will be coming around any time soon, so for many other teachers as well, assume this theme is probably a little played out. If  you really want to get or make your child’s teacher a wreath, piece of art, or some sort of classroom or home decoration, be sure you really know what his/her tastes are.

#4 Jewelry or Accessories-just say no

If your child’s teacher is female, scarves, lip gloss, nail polish, jewelry, etc. may seem like a great options, especially if your child is a girl and adores shopping for these things as well. While this isn’t always a bad idea, it’s just not a very safe choice most of the time. You have to really know the teacher’s taste and style to be able to make this a great gift idea. Most of these types of gifts end up in the donation box.


Teachers deserve ALL THE THINGS. They put up with a LOT.

Just think of it this way. Lock yourself in a room with 20 kids; your child and 19 of their friends for 8 hours.

Repeat for 5 days. Do this for 8 months over and over and over.

Now pick a gift that represents your gratitude.

For real any gift that your child gives their teacher will be appreciated. Enjoy and happy shopping! #MaytheOddsbeinYourFavor

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