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Looking for a Few Good Teacher Appreciation Gifts?

It's the most wonderful time of the year . . . decorating, tree-trimming, baking, addressing cards . . . and holiday shopping is near the top of so many of our to-do lists! When I taught 6th grade in an elementary school, gifts from students were the norm. As a Middle School teacher, I've never received more than 2 or 3 gifts a year from students. But I know many parents feel anxious about giving their children's teachers an affordable yet meaningful gift, so I thought I'd share my teacher's perspective on holiday gifts from students . . .

Teacher gifts are always lovely tokens of appreciation and I'm truly grateful for every one, but the truth is, some gifts are just more practical than others . . . meaning some gifts get recycled or donated very quickly. (Sorry, folks, but my cupboards only house so many coffee mugs! I'm immensely grateful you thought of me, but the mug is going in a donation box!)

Gifts that I tend to donate because I just have too many of them include mugs, soaps, lotions, candles, teacher-y knick-knacks, anything that says #1 Teacher, and boxed chocolates.

Gift cards to Barnes and Noble are super-useful and especially appreciated because I can buy books for the classroom, which I absolutely love! It’s fun to write the name of the student who gifted the book inside the front cover and remember her each year when students reads that book!


Other gifts from students I have especially enjoyed over the years include instrumental holiday music CDs that I can play in the classroom, a beautiful set of Egyptian cotton hand towels from a student who had travelled to Egypt (an unusual gift, but I still use them more than a decade later and they are as soft and beautiful as ever!), and anything personalized (hello, Etsy!)

I do have a small collection of beautiful (non-teacher-y) tree ornaments that I treasure each season as they go on my family tree. Reminiscing each year about the student who gifted the ornament – Isabella gave me a beautiful hand-painted glass ornament from her family trip to Turkey and Robert hand-picked that snowman ornament because he noticed I especially like snowmen – is always a lovely part of the treasured tradition of decorating the Christmas tree and I love thinking of these students decades later and wishing them well as they decorate their own trees with their own families!

Of course, the gifts I have kept the longest and treasured the most are the hand-written notes of appreciation received from both students and parents that remind me why I chose to become a teacher! The 10-year-old holiday card from Brandon that says, “Thank you for introducing me to mysteries. Reading is my new favorite hobby!” still makes me all smiles and the card from Amanda’s mom that reads, “Thank you for caring enough about Amanda to help her improve her reading skills. For the first time in a long time, her confidence is growing and she is talking about becoming a teacher herself. The best thing is, she believes she can teach! Thank you for giving her that gift!” just melts my heart every year when I re-read it!
Click here to read "What Gifts Do Teachers Like to Receive? Teachers Tell All the Best and Worst Presents from Students..." over at my friends' blog, Created for Learning, where Jonathan and Lisa share the good, the bad, and the ugly from 19 fabulous Teacher-Authors!

I'd love to hear about a favorite gift you gave one of your children's teachers -- or an especially meaningful gift you received as a teacher!
Happy Gift-Giving!


  1. Let's open a mug shop, Sherri!


    1. We probably have enough inventory for the first five years! ;)


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