How to Select a Gift for Your Child's Teacher

Child holding present
  Sofie Delauw / Getty Images

It's no secret how hard teachers work day in and day out to provide a nurturing and educational environment for children, so it makes sense that many parents want to give them a token of their appreciation throughout the years. If you're looking to pass along a gift to your child's teacher, there are a few things you may want to consider, from nailing the price point to ensuring you choose something they'll use and love.

Why You Should Buy Your Teacher a Gift

It's always important to look for those times when you can teach your children by setting an example for them. Most parents try to teach their children certain core values, including generosity.

One of the best ways to demonstrate this is to offer a gift to your child’s teacher. You may want to limit it to special occasions, or you might like to give random gifts just to let the teacher know you are thinking about him or her. Teaching is often a thankless profession and the occasional gift shows that you're grateful for all the hard work.

How Much to Spend

It’s always a good idea to put some extra thought into teacher gifts in order to make sure they are appropriate and something the recipient will enjoy. This may mean something the teacher can use in the classroom, take home to enjoy, or an item to put on display. Most teachers have fond memories of their experiences in the classroom, and memorabilia gifts hold a special place in their hearts.

When selecting a gift for a teacher, it's best to keep the budget modest—between $25 and $50, depending on your comfort level. Alternately, you could coordinate a gift from the whole classroom, with the family of each child participating, in order to increase the price point of the gift and ensure everyone feels included.

Gift Ideas for Special Occasions

Holidays and special occasions (like Teacher Appreciation Day) are common gifting occasions. As these moments occur throughout the year, talk to your child about what he or she thinks their teacher would like. Ask if the teacher has mentioned any special interests, hobbies, sports, or favorite pets. Here are some ideas for special occasions:

  • Christmas/Hanukkah (or other religious holidays)—Before offering a religious-themed gift, make sure the school allows it. If the teacher celebrates Christmas, a pretty ornament would be appropriate, while a Jewish-themed book or Hanukkah decoration will be appreciated by someone who celebrates Hanukkah. Most teachers of any faith would enjoy a gift card to a local restaurant. If you want to increase the value of the gift card, ask other parents to go in on it with you and list all the children’s names on the card. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive as long as it's thoughtful.
  • Thanksgiving—Although this isn’t a typical gift-giving occasion, you can show your gratitude and appreciation to the teacher by giving a Thanksgiving present before school lets out for the holiday. Some things you might want to give include a pretty handmade centerpiece, homemade treats (if that doesn’t break a school policy), or a picture of the class in a Thanksgiving-themed frame.
  • Valentine’s Day—Some children absolutely adore their teachers and want to give them something special for Valentine’s Day to show their love. This is fine as long as the gift is appropriate and not too personal. A small box of chocolates with a handmade card is a good choice—other gift ideas include hand lotion that the teacher can keep at his or her desk, a bookmark, or a coffee table book about the teacher’s interests.
  • Teacher Appreciation Day—Celebrated on May 3, Teacher Appreciation Day is a great occasion to recognize your child's teacher and all their hard work. Because this "holiday" is centered around teaching, consider gifts that could help them in the classroom in some way, like a cute desk organizer, travel coffee mug, or personalized notepad.
  • Last Day of School—As the school year comes to a close, most students and teachers have mixed emotions. On the one hand, they’re happy to be free from homework and grading papers. On the other hand, they’ll miss their classmates, teachers, and students. For an end-of-the-year gift, choose something that will remind the teacher of the fun times you had in his or her class, like a scrapbook with a memento from each student, a photo album, or a bound collection of letters from the children.
  • Birthday—Teachers deserve to feel special on their birthdays, too. If your child's teacher has a birthday that is common knowledge in the classroom, you can coordinate with other parents for a thoughtful delivery, like coffee for the teacher's lounge or cupcakes they can share with the class, in honor of their birthday

Consider a Gift Card

If choosing a teacher gift you know they'll like feels too tough for you, gift cards are always a great option. Not only are they easy on you as the parent (after all, what could be easier than picking up a card or printing out a gift certificate?), but they're also a great way to guarantee your recipient can shop for something they'll love and actually use.

Gift cards to a local coffee shop are sure to be appreciated by teachers, who are notoriously early risers. Likewise, you can also theme your gift card selection towards granting them a little rest and relaxation, like a manicure and pedicure or a gift card to a local spa. Lastly, a gift certificate to put towards school supplies—like a local bookstore or office supply shop—will go a long way in ensuring your child's teacher can continue doing what they love with the best resources available to them.