If you've been trying to figure out what to give your teacher, you've come to the right place. We surveyed over 200 teachers on Facebook using this Google Form, asking about 13 of the most commonly gifted items. We also wanted to know personal stories about the best and worst gifts each teacher had received.
If we mention a teacher's story in this article, we only use their name if they gave us permission.
We had a lot of nice responses from teachers saying that no gift is a bad gift because it's the thought that counts.
We were inclined to agree, until we saw responses like these:
Tell us about your worst teacher gift experience
Gift card w/o money on it
Half a bottle of bad perfume and partially eaten box of candy (Michelle J.)
Half used bottle of lotion (Lyndi)
Half eaten candy cane (Nikki)
Used lipstick - bright orange
"I have received many things that have been used. I once received a used scarf. It had stains on it." (Chara Y.)
"I opened a gift, and a live cockroach walked out of the bag." (Camille B.)
A cockroach!? YUCK!! Obviously, a student would never intend to give a gift with a roach in it, but this clearly broke our "there are no worst gifts" belief.
The data is clear - stay away from stuffed animals unless you know for sure your teacher is a fan of them.
Scented lotions are a no-go. Your teacher might be allergic or not like the scent you picked, and may even feel guilty about not using them!
"Scented lotions are the worst for me- I’m very allergic and feel bad not using them." - Joeal M.
"I have received scented items before or spa items and I felt bad because I never used them but they weren’t scents that I liked."
Most teachers said they receive too many mugs over the years. In one case, a teacher got one that wasn't microwave safe, and ended up with 3rd degree burns!!
From the question "Tell us about your worst teacher gift experience", we got these answers about mugs:
Although scented candles were more popular than scented lotions, they still were not a great gift about half the time:
Allergies are not as much a problem with candles, but dislike of scents is still an issue. Best to stay away from scented candles for gifts.
While many of us have a sweet tooth, indulging it is not always a good idea. And you can never tell from a distance whether your teacher has a condition that precludes candy - like diabetes or food addiction. We'd skip this one.
You know, this one surprised us. As avid coffee drinkers and Starbucks lovers, we thought this one would be more universal. As it turns out...
Who knew? (On the other hand, if you're certain your teacher LOVES coffee, check out this I Teach With Coffee T shirt.)
We figured most teachers enjoy reading, and the data seems to agree. We didn't split books from book gift cards, so if you gift one, make sure you know your teacher's tastes in subjects, or else stick with the gift card.
School supplies may seem like a mundane gift, but teachers really appreciate them.
Teachers spend on average about $450 on school supplies for their classrooms, every year. That's crazy! When you buy school supplies, you're putting some of that money back in their pocket. Good choice!
We all gotta eat, right?
Restaurant gift cards are a pretty safe bet.
I mean, who doesn't?
Here's the problem with general gift cards: Even though your teacher will probably like it, it's not very personal. It says in a general, lukewarm sort of way: you're in my (kid's) life and I need to gift you something.
Also, she could buy anything with that gift card.
I mean, what if you get her a Wal-Mart gift card and she ends up buying toilet paper with it? Do you really want to be associated with toilet paper?? 🧻 😅
Pro tip: Buy her a gift card to the Teacher Trove instead.
This will give her the gift of choice while allowing you to tell her in a really special way, "Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for teaching my kids."
And she will definitely not buy toilet paper with it. 😅
We also asked teachers to tell us about their best and worst teacher gift experiences. We detailed some of the worst at the top of the article. A lot of the best ones included thoughtfully homemade gifts, personalized gifts, or notes from students:
"I honestly love when kids make me stuff or give me stuff that is special to them. I got a rock once from a 1st grader that I still have." - Alyssa Miller
"My best teacher gift experience has happened twice - families handmade signs that said my name and something Cat in the Hat (theme of my room). Super thoughtful and still hanging up in/outside my room today!" - Rachel B.
"I teach in a low income community and many students don't have much. My first and favorite gift I ever got was a crocheted doll. She sits on my dresser." - Katie Belemonti
"My best teacher gift was when a child wanted to give me a Christmas gift, but their parent did not have money to buy me a gift. The child was so sad when she shared this with me. I told her that a personal letter from her would make me as happy as a gift. She asked me if that was really true. I assured her that it was true. She went home and wrote the most beautiful letter for me. She was so proud of her efforts. I wrote her a thank you note for her letter, just as I did for all the students who gave me a gift. She was so appreciative!" - Brenda
Here's a summary of what we found. We hope it helps you. Of course, use your personal knowledge of your teacher to override these findings (for instance, if you know for sure she loves coffee - ignore our coffee advice 😉☕️)
✅ Do get her school supplies.
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