What a Teacher {Actually} Wants

Quick…name three teachers you had that made an impact on your life. Nearly all of us can name three – or more – meaningful teachers that we had growing up. And now – a new generation of teachers are training our kids, and we are so thankful for their impact in our kids’ lives. When you think about it, teachers spend more waking hours with our children during the week than we do. Teacher Appreciation Week is just around the corner and the perfect opportunity to spoil the teachers in our lives!

As much as you want to create the most memorable pinterest-worthy gift, I also know that you are a busy mama with limited time. So, I’ve done the hard work for you. In preparation for this blog post, I surveyed a large pool of teachers in both the public and private sector and across all grade levels to see what really makes them feel appreciated. What are some of the best gifts they’ve ever received? What have they gotten too much of? And what gifts should we avoid giving to them?

Teacher Gift Ideas

An Absolute Favorite

The number one response I got when asking teachers about their favorite presents — gift cards! And lucky for us, creative people on Pinterest and our friends over at Crowning Details have already done the hard work for us and put together some precious printables for you to attach to your gift card. This really could not be any easier. It took me more effort to walk to the printer and load the paper than it did for me to put this adorable gift together. I chose to do a Barnes & Noble gift card for Connor’s teacher this year. If you choose to do a gift card, have your child also include a handwritten thank you note to their teacher…because long after the gift card has been spent, they will still hang on to sweet words of gratitude!

Barnes and Noble

Teacher’s Night Off

One of the teachers I interviewed shared that her most memorable gift didn’t come during Teacher Appreciation Week, it was just a random act of kindness in the middle of the school year. Her student brought her dinner for her family, so that she could have the night off from cooking. How easy is this? Just run to Whole Foods, Central Market, the Junior League Kitchen, or Hungry’s and pick up a ready to bake meal, tie a ribbon on the bag, and voila – you have made a teacher’s day {and night!}.

Teachers Night Off

Let’s Get Personal {with gifts!}

By the end of the school year, hopefully you’ve gotten to know your child’s teacher well enough to pick them out a personalized gift {or at the very least, you know their monogram}. Stationery is a favorite gift that teachers can always use. I personally love May Designs, which is a Texas based stationery website with customized notebooks, planners, and cards. Have you ever seen a teacher carrying all of their stuff in to work each day? They need a cute bag to put it in, and our sweet friends and HMB contributors from The Little Crane have so many to choose from. Or how about a makeup bag to tuck into their purse for a midday touchup? These chevron monogrammed makeup bags from a Houston based etsy store owner are only $15!

Makeup Bags

Good Eats

When I was in elementary school, I always gave my teachers a can of homemade Texas Trash {recipe here}. And that’s why I was Student of the Year! Trail mix is an acceptable gift because the ingredients can be easily identified. Be careful when giving foods that are too exotic or unknown {seaweed bark…I’m looking at you}. Also, remember that some teachers have food allergies. One of the teachers I interviewed is gluten intolerant and said the sweetest gift she ever got was a basket full of gluten free foods that she could enjoy. Keep in mind that food is usually the most common gift that teachers receive during appreciation week, so by the end of the week the abundance of snacks have ended up in the workroom or in the stomachs of your children.

texas trash

Gifts to Avoid

If you don’t read any other part of this post, read this list below. While teachers are grateful for any and all appreciation that you show them, these are the gifts that they reported are either overdone or that they won’t be able to use to the fullest for one reason or another.

  • picture frames
  • anything that says “teacher” or has an apple on it {especially avoid for high school teachers}
  • candles
  • perfume
  • coffee mugs
  • anything “used” {yes, this actually happens}
  • figurines
  • seasonal decorations

Wrapping it Up

In a nutshell, remember that you don’t have to do anything elaborate — even a hand-written thank you note or picking up the teacher’s favorite Starbucks or Sonic drink is a great way to show how much you appreciate them. All of the teachers I interviewed loved gift cards to get a manicure, fresh flowers for their desk, or even a cupcake at the 3:00 carpool line.  The bottom line is, let them know that you care about them and are thankful for all of the hard work and time that they put into your children.  So much of teaching is a thankless job, and Teacher Appreciation Week is a great way to shower them with praise for all that they do year-round!

So, what are you giving to your students’ teachers this year?

Previous articleGiveaway :: Indoor Skydiving at iFLY Houston!
Next articleThe Privilege of Being American :: 40 Years and Counting
Brittney F
Originally from Louisiana, Brittney has called Houston home for nearly all her life. Brittney graduated from Houston Baptist University where she was a member of Phi Mu and a four-year cheerleader. It didn’t take long after graduation for her to meet her husband Jeremy on the sand volleyball courts at Memorial Park. She jokes that when marrying Jeremy, she also married LSU because she tied the knot with the most passionate Tiger football fan. Many weekends in the fall, they can be found in the shadows of Tiger Stadium at their big family tailgating party. Brittney has a Master's Degree from LSU and works in secondary education as an administrator and a cheerleading coach. Brittney and Jeremy have three boys, Connor {Nov 2012}, Parker {Nov 2014}, and Ryan {May 2018}. Brittney is a big baby-making, food allergy fighting, NICU surviving mom. Though she grew up surrounded by hairbows, pom poms, and lots of pink, Brittney now embraces being a boy mom. She loves raising her three boys and learning all about superheroes, baseball, and the pain of stepping on a lego when barefoot. In her kid-free time she enjoys working on craft projects, getting lost in a good book, and watching Grey's Anatomy.


  1. Hi!! I’m a 2nd grade teacher, and his post is SPOT ON! 100%. The sweetest thing I got one time was a visa gift card with a handwritten letter from the student with his creative suggestions for how to spend it. It was so sweet! Also to add to the no-no list: jewelry!!! 🙂

    • Jewelry is such a personal gift – I completely agree Laura! Love what your student gave you – I’m sure the suggestions were hilarious!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here