12 Best Teacher Gifts According to Teachers (And What Not to Buy!)

These start or end of year gifts for teachers are great for showing your appreciation. Plus, they are the best teacher gifts according to actual teachers! 

filling out teacher appreciation free printable gift card holder

We sure love our teachers! ❤️

Need end of year gifts for teachers? These gift ideas were submitted from actual teachers, so trust us when we say these ideas are all they really want this year! And with all the hard work they put in, teachers are certainly worthy of receiving a little something special. Use this helpful list to find the best teacher gifts to show your appreciation. These gift ideas for teachers are sure to brighten the day of the special educators in your life!

Teacher Appreciation Week is Monday, May 1 to Friday, May 5, 2023!

These are the best teacher gifts according to actual teachers:

1. Gifts cards so they can treat themselves to something they really want.

child holding teacher appreciation day gift card holder cards

Teachers deserve to treat themselves to something special after the hard work they do in the classroom. After hearing from hundreds of teachers, it was clear gift cards were the top most requested gift idea they’ll never tire of receiving. Even just $5 to cover a coffee is such a special treat! When it comes to helpful end of year gifts for teachers, this is one gift idea will actually be useful!

Want to go all out for your kiddo’s teacher?

holding 3 gift cards

Consider asking the entire class to participate in organizing one large gift card for their teacher as this Hip reader did:

“We’ve been doing one large gift card to Amazon. It’s so much easier for the teachers to load one card rather than 25 little ones onto their account and it feels like a bigger gift too.” Chelsea, Hip reader

Need more gift ideas for teachers? Here are the top requested gift cards to consider:

Hip Tip: Teachers…did you receive a gift card you’ll never use? Here’s how to turn gift cards into cash fast!

2. A hand-written card they can look back on is one of the best gift ideas for teachers. 

thank you cards on counter

We heard from hundreds of teachers across the country and of all the things they’ve kept over the years, the handwritten cards of appreciation are the ones they have always held onto above everything else.

As some teachers mentioned… “There are only so many trinkets you can hold onto”.

On rough days, it’ll be the perfect sentiment for them to look back on when they’re needing some words of encouragement. We know now more than ever teachers could use them. ❤️ If you’re looking for quick and meaningful end of year gift ideas for teachers, these cards are just what you need!

Here’s what some of our Hip Teachers said:

selection of free printable thank you cards

“Special Education teacher here. I love to get a homemade card! Even a little flower they picked from the garden. We are often forgotten. A hug and a smile are always welcomed too!” – Roxanne, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“A thank you card! I love getting notes of affirmation from students and parents that are heartfelt. I don’t need things, just really hope for respect for what I do for others’ children!” – Ann, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Gift cards are always nice, but a handmade card from your student will always take the cake! I have every card/note/picture my students have given me in a box in my classroom…they’re nice reminders on tough school days.” – Bailee, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“For those with tiny or no budgets for teacher gifts, I can honestly tell you, a sincere note of appreciation, especially if you can be specific about something the teacher did, is way more meaningful than any gift.” – Anne, Hip2Save reader and teacher

Hip Tip: Here’s how to send a FREE Hallmark Card!

3. A hot meal since they never get to eat lunch out. 

person walking with red bag on a sidewalk

Teachers take their lunch to school nearly every single day of the year with zero days to treat themselves to lunch at their favorite spot. One of the most requested teacher gifts (by teachers themselves) was simply a fresh hot meal!

chick fil a cups on table with takeout foods

Whether it’s a gift card to a meal delivery service or you’re having it delivered right to their classroom, this is one teacher appreciation gift idea that will surely be appreciated by anyone. Just be sure to find out what their favorite food is and whether they have any dietary restrictions so your generous gift won’t go to waste!

4. A gift basket filled with goodies.

gift ideas for teachers - hotpop teacher appreciation gifts idea filled with soda and popcorn

Help your favorite teacher unwind during their time outside the classroom. While popcorn wasn’t a specific item that teachers requested, many of them commented about how much they loved thoughtful appreciation gift baskets with treats and foods they’ll actually enjoy.

Even better, to create our popcorn gift basket idea, all you need is our favorite collapsible silicone popcorn maker, some kernels, a drink, and a little note to tie your vision together! 🤩 These baskets make excellent end of year gifts for teachers. Plus, it’s the gift that will keep on giving for years to come! 🙌🏻

Other gift basket ideas include this s’mores gift basket idea from our Hip reader:

unique campfire smores four ways

“Include stuff for s’mores, telescoping roasting forks, fire flame colors, s’mores themed towel, etc. with an end of school year card that reads ‘Wish I had s’more time with you, but I’m off to ____ grade’ or ‘…but it’s time to enjoy summer!’ They’re the perfect teacher gifts for summer!” – Sarah, Hip2Save reader

Hip Tip: Is your teacher following a keto lifestyle? Head to our sister site, Hip2Keto, to read about our favorite keto chocolate!

And this creative beach basket idea from a teacher:

blue beach bag in sand at beach

“Another fun gift basket idea is a magazine, a beach towel and maybe a gift card for a place where you can grab a cool drink and put it into a cute beach bag! I did that for teachers one year (I am also a teacher) and they loved it!!” – Ashlei, Hip2save reader and teacher

5. Fun gift ideas for teachers include beautiful plants they can keep in their classroom or take home.

pink planter with pothos plant and teacher gifts note in soil

Our amazing teachers help our children grow every day and showing your appreciation of their growth in the literal form will be a constant reminder of you and your kiddo’s gratitude.

With potted plants on Amazon starting under $20 shipped and our free printable below, these make some of the best teacher gifts. Plus, they are affordable and easy! 😍

“One year I got my kiddo’s teachers tomato plants. They loved them and it wasn’t a momento they had to hang onto. They thought it was the perfect teacher’s gift because summer was here so they could grow and produce tomatoes.” – Tiff, Hip2Save reader

Want to make your own planter?

hand holding edge of ruler planter holding succulents

As another idea, Lina created this cute and easy ruler planter. It’s one of our favorite gift ideas for teachers! It’s minimal enough to go with any teacher’s classroom theme and will look perfect on their desk in the new school year. 🤩

6. A jar of mixed and matched pens was the most memorable gift a Special Education teacher ever received. 

woman holding clear jar of pens and pencils as a teacher appreciation gift - gifts teachers really want

Well, if this idea doesn’t bring you to tears, I’m not sure what will. 😭 Some special education teachers mentioned they tend to be overlooked so let us not forget to remind them just how special they are too!

If you want to stock up your jar with the highest-rated crayons and pencils, I tested them all so you know just what to buy! Even better, this present could potentially be free if you already have a bunch of new pens and pencils lying around. That’s makes it one of the best end of year teacher gifts in our book!

“I was a Special Ed teacher and the best teacher appreciation gift I ever received was a box of mismatched pens and pencils.” – Lynette, Hip2Save reader and teacher

7. A citronella candle they can enjoy until the warm weather ends. 

citronella candle - gift ideas for teachers

Winbattle Citronella Candle In Coarse Pottery Container – $15.97+ (regularly $16.99+)

The weather is still warm in August and September and teachers want to enjoy it after school hours. A citronella candle will be a welcome addition to their patio. It’s one of our favorite end of the year gifts for teachers because if there’s one thing teachers plan on doing once summer break hits, it’s soaking up the outdoors and kicking back to relax. It’s no wonder a citronella candle is at the top of the list of best teacher gifts!

“Each year I always give a nice outdoor citronella candle with wishes for a wonderful summer. It’s inexpensive but I feel it’s useful and timely and sends a nice message about relaxing and enjoying summer break.” – Lori, Hip2Save reader

8. Air freshener to keep their classroom smelling fresh.

hand holding bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Room Freshener Basil 8 oz with other mrs. meyers

Mrs. Meyer’s Room Freshener – $4.99+ (regularly $6.09+) 

There’s no denying when kiddos get to a certain age maintaining a fresh classroom can be a job in itself. 😬 While some may find air freshener to be an unusual gift idea, it’s a pretty practical one. Plus, it’s something teachers are sure to appreciate! 😉

While there’s an endless amount of options to choose from and so many possibilities for gifting, sticking to a safe and chemical-free product is what I’d recommend gifting to appeal to all teachers. An air freshener is perfect as a beginning of the school year gift and we even made you an adorable printable card to attach, too!

Hip Tip: Love Mrs. Meyer’s products? Find out how you can score over $50 in freebies from Grove Collaborative when you place your first order!

9. Classroom donations, like books or school supplies, always come in handy.

kids books on shelves make great end of year gifts for teachers and their classrooms

One of the best gift ideas for teachers is a classroom donation. A lot of teachers reported shelling out big bucks to stock their own classrooms with supplies. Help your favorite teacher save money by buying books or other useful classroom items. These gifts will come in handy year after year. Plus, since the gift will stay in the classroom, the teacher won’t need to worry about lugging home and storing too many newly acquired items!

“If someone wants to get me a gift I suggest a book for our classroom library. It saves me money and is a gift that lasts from year to year…I spend thousands of dollars of my salary buying classroom supplies each year. Something that helps me with that means more than anything.” – Lisa, Hip2Save reader and teacher 

“I have taught various levels from high school to adult education for 15 years and just a card or a classroom donation means the world.” – Meg, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Best gift would be a Dollar Tree gift card. I can use it for school decor, treasure box toys, supplies, etc.” – Mamamia, Hip2Save reader and teacher

10. End the year off on the right foot by sending the teacher a box of sunshine.

hand holding box of sunshine card

Take some time to remind your favorite teacher that they make a positive impact on your child’s life. A box of sunshine is the perfect way to do just that! Fill a box full of yellow goodies and attach our printable card. Some ideas include filling the box with yellow candies, cookies, pencils, Burt’s Bees lip balm, or a journal. Whatever you put inside, this thoughtful gift box is sure to get a smile from the teacher!

11. Flair pens, and Flair pens only.

woman making the best end of year gifts for teachers and she is holding a light purple flair pen over pile of flair pens and her stack of flair-well cards

Papermate Flair Pens – $25.55
Apply the Amazon coupon to save an extra $5
Final price just $20.55!

If you’re unsure what a teacher’s love language is, it’s Flair pens (and Flair pens only). 😂 According to numerous teachers across the country, gift a pack of Papermate Flair pens and they’ll be thrilled with this top-requested school supply. If you know, you know. 😉

end of year gifts for teachers - hand holding it's time to say flair well teachers card

Since we’re pretty Hip around here, I took it one step further to make this affordable gift even better with a cute farewell card to go with them! This is one of the easiest end of year gifts for teachers. If you have a Cricut Joy, you can easily print my card to complete this easy teacher gift idea.

Don’t have a Cricut? No problem, my friend! I also created a free downloadable gift tag you can print right at home. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

12. Just showing your teacher appreciation is enough.

VIPKid Teachers

While I know I said I listed these teacher gifts in order of most requested, this one actually trumps them all. After reading through hundreds of sweet teacher sentiments, it was very clear what teachers really want is to feel valued and appreciated. 🥺

So this is a reminder to think of the teachers and teacher aids that your kiddo may only see once a week. If you can’t afford a gift at all…just say a special thanks at the beginning and the end of the school year. A sincere expression of gratitude is one of the best teacher gifts and one that will leave them with words that will resonate forever. ❤️

hand holding a yellow and orange flower with we love our teachers post it note as a teacher appreciation gift

“Please remember the ‘specials’ teachers. A little thank you would be great – we may only see your child once a week but it’s nice to be remembered.” – Erin, Hip2Save reader and teacher

“Any sign of appreciation is loved and gives us joy. Yard flowers in a pickle jar! A middle School Math Teacher. ❤️ – Julia, Hip2Save reader and teacher

Wondering what NOT to buy your kiddo’s teachers?

Teachers get hundreds of gifts over the course of their career. Though they might want to, it can be hard to hold onto every gift received. Here’s a list of the top requested items teachers could live without:

Teachers have class apple

  • Cups
  • Mugs
  • Tumblers
  • Body lotion
  • ANYTHING that says “Best teacher” or “#1 Teacher”
  • No more apples…unless it’s made by Apple 😆

Thanks for all you do, teachers! And we hope you enjoy the contents of this teacher appreciation gift list as well. 😉

Browse all of our FREE Teacher Appreciation printables!


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