The Best Teacher Gifts, According to Some Very Honest Teachers

The Clever Fox Planner is one of our top teacher-approved picks

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When it comes to teacher appreciation week, the end of the school year, or any gift-giving holiday, shopping for a beloved educator presents a question over and over: How can you know what gifts teachers really want?

Reviewed & Approved

Show how much you appreciate and value a teacher with a Clever Fox Planner. With this thoughtful planner, teachers can better organize themselves. The teachers we spoke to also mentioned how grateful they are for gift cards, especially an Amazon Gift Card, which allows them to buy an array of products.

"I love gifts that can be useful—something that would help me in my job or my daily functions," says Martha Horta-Granados, who teaches kids aged 6 to 12 years about socio-emotional education and human rights in a community center. She's one of several teachers Verywell Family spoke to in order to help us determine the best gifts to buy our own children's educators.

While New York-based ESL teacher and tutor Vanessa Gordon emphasizes that practical gifts are always appreciated, she also underscores that personal, homemade offerings go a long way to show teachers you really care. "Sentimental and handmade treasures are some of the many gifts I continue to cherish over the years," she says.

With those factors in mind, here are the best teacher gifts, according to real educators.

Best Overall: Clever Fox Planner

4.8
Clever Fox Planner

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Undated planner provides flexibility and never expires

  • Accessible mid-range price point

  • Wide range of color options

Cons
  • Need to adjust for 31-day months

Who else recommends it? CNET also picked the Clever Fox Planner.

What do buyers say? 93% of 11,700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

We've chosen this flexible planner as our top overall pick because for any teacher, of any gender, and at any grade level, a planner makes an ideal gift that simultaneously feels both highly personal and practical. This is a tool they can use every single day. "As a teacher, it helps me stay so organized with short- and long-term projects," says Elizabeth Fraley, CEO of the kindergarten readiness program Kinder Ready, Inc.

"Writing down all my tasks helps me improve my productivity, and with a beautiful agenda, I feel like I can have a lot more motivation to fulfill my daily goals," Horta-Granados adds.

This top-selling planner comes in 23 color choices in gift box packaging at an accessible price point. It also includes 150 colorful planner stickers. Since it's undated, the teacher can start using it at any time of the year without wasting a page.

Best Gift Card: Amazon Gift Card

Amazon Gift Card

Source: Amazon

Pros
  • Can be used for just about any purpose

  • Available in any amount

  • Can be bought and emailed last-minute

Cons
  • Might feel impersonal

  • Easily lost or forgotten

Over and over again, teachers said gift cards make the perfect gifts. "The best teacher gifts are truly gift cards," according to McKenna Reitz, a 17-year teacher of AP psychology in Ohio. "As teachers, we spend so much of our own money in our classrooms, and having gift cards to various stores is extremely appreciated, knowing we are spending a little less of our own money. It is so nice to reach in your purse and use a gift card rather than your credit card!"

Elizabeth Manly, a teacher who has taught kindergarten, first grade, and second grade and runs the blog Discovery Play With Littles, agrees. "I've received all kinds of gifts throughout the years, but my favorite were gift cards," she says, recalling one year when she received an expensive bracelet but really needed a winter coat. "I received chocolate when I was trying to stay away from sweets, home decor that didn't match my style, or even jewelry when I don't wear much. I always appreciated the thoughtfulness and generosity behind the gifts, [though] no gift was ever expected. Gift cards were a way for me to spoil myself when I really wasn't able to do that on a tight budget."

What Our Experts Say

"With an Amazon gift card, you can use the credit on materials to decorate your classroom or a personal item that has been on your wish list for a while and you have been wanting to buy for a long time." — Martha Horta-Granados, Community Center Teacher

Best Budget: Theory5Designs Custom Sticky Notes

Theory5Designs Custom Sticky Notes

Source: Theory5Designs

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Customizable

Cons
  • Floral design may not appeal to all teachers

  • Plan to order more than two weeks ahead

Teachers use sticky notes for absolutely everything, and the gift of a personalized set is highly practical and also shows forethought and care. "I love to have everything organized—a lot of teachers do—and with colorful Post-it notes, you can write and decorate," Horta-Granados says.

This set starts at a seriously affordable price, and you can buy a higher quantity of notes at incrementally lower prices per piece as your budget permits.

Best for Preschool: Xyron Create-a-Sticker Mini Sticker Maker

Xyron Create-a-Sticker Mini Sticker Maker

Source: Xyron

Pros
  • Lightweight, portable, and compact

  • ​​No heat, batteries, or electricity required

Cons
  • Refill cartridges can get costly

Preschool teachers have just about endless applications for stickers, and they can make them on demand to their custom specs with a dedicated sticker-making machine.

All they have to do is take any printed image or die-cut paper, run it through the machine, and create custom stickers for schoolwork, craft projects, gifts, cards, planners, and more.

Best for Elementary School: GBC Swingline Thermal Laminator

GBC Swingline Thermal Laminator

Source: GBC

Pros
  • 12-inch laminating width

  • Warms up in just four minutes

  • Cold lamination setting

Cons
  • Costly

"Teachers—especially elementary and special education—create so many hands-on activities, learning centers, and individualized student materials," says Melissa Kahn, a special education teacher for students in third and fourth grades in New Jersey. "This can be a very time-consuming process, but being able to laminate everything allows for things to be reused by different students and across multiple years. To be able to have your own personal laminator in your classroom or at home is worth its weight in gold."

Best for Older Grades: KomalC Handmade Leather Journal

KomalC Handmade Leather Journal

Source: KomalC

Pros
  • Hand crafted

  • Available in four color options

Cons
  • Real leather won't appeal to all recipients

  • Inconsistent quality control reported

Longtime high school teacher and Teen Learner founder Robert Puharich says that a high-quality journal always makes an excellent gift. "Journals can be used for so many things, and it's completely appropriate to get from a student," he says. "Sometimes I take notes, sometimes I practice gratitude, or sometimes I just write. It's nice to have a memory of where the book came from."

Best Personalized: RileyPrint Personalized Face Stamp

RileyPrint Personalized Face Stamp

Source: RileyPrint

Pros
  • Choose wooden or self-inking varieties

  • Free shipping with minimum purchase

  • Handmade

Cons
  • Takes extra time for prep and shipping

Teachers have many uses for stamps, including grading, craft projects, and more. That's why the gift of a stamp has practical applications, and taking the extra step to get a personalized one made from your teacher's face shows you really care, too. (Plus, it's sure to make them and their students smile over and over again.)

Most Versatile: HYDRO CELL Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Straw & Wide Mouth Lids

Hydro Cell Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Straw
Pros
  • Versatile enough for every kind of teacher

  • Highly practical

  • Wide range of price points and sizes

Cons
  • Not customizable

  • Not dishwasher safe

"I appreciate anything that is healthy for refueling throughout the day," Gordon says. And just about every teacher in the game can make use of a refillable water bottle, which nods both to self-care as well as to environmental friendliness. This top-selling and highly reviewed stainless steel version comes in 19 colors and six different size options, so there's really something for everybody.

Most Practical: Up2ournecksinfabric Personalized Teacher Bag

Up2ournecksinfabric Personalized Teacher Bag

Source: Up2ournecksinfabric/ Etsy

Pros
  • Practical

  • Customizable

  • Has pockets

Cons
  • Customized orders cannot be returned

"As a teacher, there are so many things I need to carry with me to the classroom each day," Fraley says, noting tote bags make a practical gift that teachers really appreciate. She especially loves soft bags that are easy to machine wash.

This bag can be customized with your teacher's name for a gift that's as personal as it is practical.

Best Handmade: MicroWorksStudio Positive Energy Candle

MicroWorksStudio Positive Energy Candle

Source: MicroWorksStudio Positive Energy Candle

Pros
  • Handmade

  • Black-owned

  • Fast shipping

Cons
  • Orders can't be canceled

Horta-Granados says that scented candles make a lovely teacher gift. "Whether you use them in your classroom to relax your students or for personal use at home, a candle is always an option, and even more so if it's a scent that makes your students think of you," she says.

This Black-owned Etsy shop produces handmade versions using only pure uncut fragrance oils. And what teacher wouldn't appreciate an aroma meant to attract positive energy?

Best Funny: Jim and Pam's Gift Shop "Being a Teacher Is Easy" Mug

Jim and Pam's Gift Shop “Being a Teacher Is Easy” Mug

Source: Jim and Pam's Gift Shop

Pros
  • Choose from two sizes and multiple color options

  • Dishwasher and microwave safe

Cons
  • Shipping adds considerably to the price

  • Needs ample time for delivery

"Bringing a nice mug to school never hurts," Horta-Granados says. ​​"Besides the fact that you can use it anywhere else, personalized mugs according to the teacher's personal tastes make this a nice detail and make you as a teacher feel that they are looking to fulfill your specific tastes."

If your teacher is known for a sense of humor, this mug with a funny message will surely make them laugh.

Best Surprise: Darden Restaurants Gift Card

Darden Restaurants Gift Card

Source: Darden

Pros
  • Great for last-minute

  • Wide range of restaurants

Cons
  • Delayed gratification

  • Teacher may not be familiar with Darden name

Noting that gift cards are always appreciated, teacher and blogger Sarah Hurst says one of the favorite teacher gifts she ever received was a bit of a "wild card."

"One parent came into my class at the end of the last day of term with a huge McDonald's takeout feast for myself and my teaching assistants, and we still talk about it 10 years later!" Hurst says. "Best gift ever."

Combine both the practicality of a gift card and the surprise of a food gift by giving a Darden gift card. Teachers can redeem it at 1,800 restaurant locations, including Olive Garden, Seasons 52, Yard House, and the Capital Grille.

Final Verdict

Giving teachers the Clever Fox Planner shows that you appreciate how valuable their time is, and it's something the teachers we spoke to would be excited to receive. Teachers also said they appreciate both cash and gift cards, and an Amazon Gift Card is almost equivalent to cash, given the breadth of merchandise available.

How We Selected the Best Teacher Gifts

We chose the best teacher gifts after interviewing eight teachers who work with a range of grade levels in various locations across the country. Using their feedback, we selected products that are highly reviewed and in the appropriate price range teachers suggested. We considered design, features, practicality, versatility, and personalization options.

What to Look for in a Teacher Gift

Practicality

Teachers overwhelmingly agree that practical gifts are most appreciated. That means you should look for versatile items that they'll use every day, such as reusable water bottles or tote bags.

Personalized

As much as teachers like practicality, they also love to know that students and families care about them as individuals and put thought and effort into making them feel appreciated. To that end, customize your gift with a name or other details if possible. And be sure to include a handwritten card from the student along with any other hand-made touches.

Versatile

Don't forget that teachers span a range of ages, genders, and personality types, so if you don't know your recipient's particular taste, choose gifts that have universal applications.

Price Range

The amount people spend on their teacher gifts will vary greatly, and since no gift is required, you can choose something that best fits your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a good teacher appreciation gift?

    The best gifts are ones with real utility and practicality, teachers told Verywell Family. "Teachers really want things we can use,” says Melissa Kahn, a special education teacher for students in third and fourth grades in New Jersey. "Receiving any gift is lovely, but there are only so many mugs, hand creams, and stuffed animals you can keep. Cash and gift cards are really the best."

  • How much should you spend on a teacher gift?

    A range is appreciated, but gifts of about $25 are common. "Teachers don't typically expect gifts from students. In the past, I've received gifts from $5 up to $100. I think $20-$30 is a nice gift without being too excessive," Kahn says.

  • Is it OK to give teachers cash?

    Yes! "Cash is probably the best gift a teacher can get. We spend so much of our own money on our classrooms and students, it's nice to be recognized and get something we really can use," Kahn says.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Alesandra Dubin is a mom to elementary school-aged twins and has researched teacher gifts extensively for personal use as well as in her professional role as a lifestyle writer and product reviewer.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. 8 Great Back-to-School Gifts for Your Teacher. CNET. https://www.cnet.com/health/teacher-gifts/

By Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra has written for Verywell Family since 2022.Her work has appeared in TripSavvy, Insider, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Prevention, AFAR, Fast Company, TODAY.com, and countless other online and print outlets.Alesandra holds a master's degree in journalism with an emphasis on cultural reporting and criticism from NYU, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley.