What Teachers Really Want for Teacher Appreciation Week


A laptop open that reads, "teacher appreciation week." Surrounding it are a cup of pens, notebooks, a tea cup and saucer, and small plant on top of the desk.I have a confession to make. I don’t remember ever giving any of my teachers a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week . . .

Although established in 1953, when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to declare Teacher Appreciation Day as May 7th of that year, it wasn’t recognized as Teacher Appreciation Week until 1985. I was well into elementary school in 1985, maybe it wasn’t a big thing back then? Maybe we did something as a class for our brave and tireless educators, and I just don’t remember?

Either way, I am a mom now and wracking my brain for gift ideas for my kid’s preschool teachers. They manage to corral, and teach, 10-13 toddlers depending on the day. I can barely manage one. They are angels on this Earth. If I could send them all to the Caribbean for a week, I would.

Who is better to ask about teacher appreciation gifts than teachers? Thankfully I know several, one of whom is my sister. I asked each of them what their ideal gift is, and what it isn’t. You know, for research purposes. And not at all to get ideas for myself. Wink.

teacher appreciation week gifts: A teacher smiles, with a small group of students working on a project together in the background.Best Teacher Appreciation Gifts

1. Gift Cards/Cash

The number one gift idea everyone said was gift cards or cash. Amazon and Target were mentioned frequently, as well as local stores or restaurants that they can use for themselves or their families. It may seem impersonal to just give a gift card or cash, but it means a lot to a teacher who must come out of pocket for school supplies and other necessities throughout the year.

If you’d like to make it more personal, pair the gift card with a handwritten note or card, some school supplies like flair pens, or a sticky notepad, like this one or this one from our very own Charleston Mom’s contributor Allie! How cute are these?!

2. Personal Ideas

The next most requested gift ideas are personal notes and cards from the kids, gifts that have meaning and connection to the family, a gift basket filled with local items or items that the teacher loves, and personalized gifts like a monogrammed beach towel or bag.

3. Classroom Supplies

I think it’s safe to say no teacher would hate getting classroom supplies as gifts. Most teachers have an Amazon wish list that you can contribute to, or simply asking what they need goes a long way as well. Also, don’t skimp and buy the dollar store school supplies, get them the good stuff. They deserve it!

4. Handmade

I’m a crafty person, however, I really don’t have the time to dedicate to making a gift these days. If you’re like me, Etsy is a lifesaver! It’s the perfect way to give a gift that is made by hand, is meaningful, and quite often can be personalized! Etsy has tons of ideas for teacher appreciation gifts, check them out here!

Love the idea of staying local? Shops like Local Love CHS in James Island only focus on local artisans. It’s a one-stop shop if you’re looking for the perfect gift, and they’ll help you build a custom gift box as well!

Candlefish on King Street is another great shop to grab some cute gifts for your teachers (maybe skip buying them a candle though unless they ask for it or you know what scents they like) — or you could give them a gift certificate for a candle-making class. I did this with my mom and sister, and it was a blast!

What Teachers DON’T Want

As far as what teachers don’t want, the number one item everyone said was mugs, followed by water bottles and candles. They have far too many! I had to chuckle, I would totally be guilty of giving a teacher a coffee mug if I hadn’t talked to my teacher friends and family first!

Also, cool it with the Starbucks gift cards, unless you know they absolutely love it and will happily use it. One teacher friend has a stack of them and doesn’t really drink coffee.

teacher appreciation week gifts: A pile of small boxes wrapped in brown paper and colorful ribbon.Most schools have their teachers fill out a gift wish list at the start of the school year, which you can ask to see or will be distributed to you, giving you an idea of what they’d prefer to receive as gifts.

I’d also like to note that all of them said, resoundingly, that they love all gifts from their kiddos and families and are happy to be recognized for all their hard work!

If you have any local stores, artisans, or ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week gifts, drop us a note below!


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