10 Great Teacher Gift Ideas from Real Teachers (+ the Worst Gift Ever)

World Teacher’s Day is October 5. The goal of this important day (celebrated by over 100 countries!) is to highlight contributions of the teaching profession and mobilize support for teachers all around the world to make sure that future generations’ needs will continue to be met by teachers.


Having my kids show their appreciation for their teachers on this day is a tradition in our household, but you know that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie is trying to get an A+ (plus! plus! plus!) on his Red Ryder BB Gun theme paper, so he gives his teacher that huge fruit basket?

The look on the teacher’s face says it all.

Though I’m not a teacher, I imagine receiving piles of inexpensive gifts every year could be overwhelming in both a good way and a bad way. So I interviewed several teachers (and a couple mums who gave winning gifts) and asked them what their favourite teacher gifts have been over the years.

Here are 10 great teacher gift ideas from real teachers:

I personally liked consumable/handmade items. I didn’t have hurt feelings for not wearing or displaying all items given to me. There are my two cents worth of thoughts…good luck! —Michelle, Utah

I . . . love when a student gives me books for the classroom. I always put a little sticker in them that says who donated it and what year. The student loves it and I love that I didn’t have to go buy a book for the classroom library! —Tiffany, Utah

A drawing of a ballerina and a thank you note. (I’m a ballet teacher) —Monique, Connecticut

A personalized cup and water bottle to keep on my desk! —Jessica, Utah

Anything useful. This may sound callous and ungrateful, but sentimental stuff like “you are wonderful” plaques, or anything kitschy just ends up collecting dust. Stuff I can use in my classroom like books, supplies, etc. is great. Gift certificates and food are also fun to treat myself a bit. —Andrea, Massachusetts

A gift certificate to the car cleaned. Or a restaurant gift certificate. —Erin, North Carolina

I had a student give me his old beat up box of trivia pursuit cards with the explanation that he loves to learn thanks to me and every night when he would go to sleep he’d read the cards to learn more trivia and then look up stuff he didn’t know about later. I was honoured and a little surprised. I used to buy old trivia pursuit games at garage sales just for the boxes of cards and did exactly the same thing as a teen. —Szejn, Alberta

I like the things the kids made for me themselves, with thought to who I am. One gave me a hat that had “Look it up” embroidered on it (I told the kids the first day of school that would be the most repeated phase in my classroom). One gave me a candle he made himself, and he was so proud telling me the process. One made a scarf because I was moving to Colorado and she didn’t want me to be cold (I wore it yesterday). One made a personalized light switch cover. When it comes to teacher gifts, I believe the old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” —Connie, Colorado

I am not a teacher, but I’ve given my kids’ teachers iTunes gift cards and gift cards to bookstores along with a note from my child. They seemed happy about it. —Rynell, Utah

For the last few years we have given our teachers gift certificates for family photo sessions done by me. So far they have said it has been the best gift they have gotten but they may just be being nice.  —Carrie, Colorado

…And the WORST gift that seemed to come up over and over again? Anything in an apple motif. Apple candles, carved wood apples, apple scented potpourri…the list goes on. All the teachers I talked to seemed to have received their fill of apple related gifts over the years, and while they always, always appreciate the sentiment, it’s just something to keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for a gift.

Check out more teacher gift ideas here.

Have any original or unique teacher gift ideas? Leave it below in the comments!

Featured image: Getty/Hero Images