25 Best End-of-the-Year Gift Ideas Teachers Will Love

special education teachers teacher experience Apr 29, 2024
Coffee Cup Stopper Teacher Gift Idea

As a 15 year veteran educator, I was blessed to receive gifts of thanks during the holidays (Christmas) and end of the school year.  I'm sharing the best gifts I have received and loved and would love to receive if I were still teaching in the classroom.  

 

While many lists for teacher appreciation gifts and end-of-year teacher gifts lean towards elementary and middle school educators (and female educators), this list is for those families and students who want to thank a high school or transition teacher, or even specialist or related service provider, as that is where my experience lies.  Also, having worked with several male teachers, I know they would appreciate each gift listed below.  

 

As a special education teacher at the high school and transition level, it was very typical for me to get to know families and for them to get to know me.  From email, phone, and in-person visits for meetings and school drop-off/pick-up, I had lots of contact time with my students and young adult families.  To be honest, as the last day of school was approaching, I never hoped to receive a gift from my students or families.  I think most educators are genuinely surprised and humbled to receive any gift from a student and family.  Being recognized with a small gift will always be appreciated by an educator because it truly is the thought that counts. 

  

Don't Forget About:

Most people think of thanking their child's teacher at the end of the year; but there may be additional school staff who have supported your student.  If your student works with multiple staff members, writing the names of each staff member on gift tags helps to personalize the gift and will make those staff who work closely with your child feel seen and appreciated!  

Consider:

  • Bus drivers and aides
  • Secretary
  • School nurse
  • Related service providers (social workers, counselors, therapists, consultants)
  • Support staff (1:1 and classroom aides) 
  • Student teacher
  • Janitor
  • School security, crossing guards, and front desk check-in clerks
  • Special Ed teacher (who many support in general education classrooms)
  • Volunteer staff

 

If you want to thank an educator or school staff for a great year, read my best end-of-school-year teacher gift list!  

  

10 Best Teacher Gifts:

  1. Handwritten Note: This simple, thoughtful gift consistently ranks at the top for most educators.  A handwritten note expressing your appreciation for all they have done will mean the world.  Adding a personal touch to the card, like a story to make them laugh or recognizing a time when an educator went above and beyond for your student, is bound to make them smile.  Thoughtful handwritten cards are easy to save for years and years.
  2. Gift Card:  I've never heard of a teacher throwing away a Target or Amazon gift card!  Shopping, especially during the summer break, with a gift card is just better, and you can guarantee that the virtual money will be put to good use.  
  3. Free Netflix:  You can give the gift of relaxation via a Netflix gift certificate.  This gift encourages school staff to stop and relax, something they will greatly appreciate after a long, busy school year.  Available for purchase via Amazon, the educator just redeems the code online as a credit towards their account, super easy!  
  4. Local Gift Certificate: Finding a highly rated local restaurant or beloved coffee shop, bakery, or ice cream shop and snagging a gift certificate is a great way to support a small business and say thanks.  A local small bookstore will also be loved! 
  5. Baked Goods:   Even little gifts like these go a long way!  Whether homemade or from the local bakery, yummy treats show appreciation through one's stomach :) 
  6. Flowers:  While giving your children's teachers flowers may be cliche, they are a nice gesture.  Flowers can also very budget-friendly.  A few stems clipped from the bush in the backyard, lovely!  A professionally arranged bouquet picked up from a local grocery store or florist is also lovely!   This is a great gift that can brighten a teacher's desk or office if given a week or so before the last day of school; that way, they don't have to transport the fragile flowers and vase full of water home if they take public transportation or have a long drive.  A creative take is to gift a seed bomb (choose your own state).  Seed bombs are lightweight, small, and very low cost, a great budget-friendly option if you have lots of school staff to thank.  Flower pot optional!
  7. High-Quality Reusable Water Bottle:  A Yeti or Stanley cup for the win!  While these brands are most popular, consider choosing a reusable drink cup that will fit nicely into a car cup holder, has a handle to make carrying from room to room easy, and has a straw or cover, which helps reduce spills.  Bonus points for NOT personalizing a water bottle with names, stickers, or the school logo. 
  8. Group Treats: A box of donuts and coffee for the break room-awesome!  A big bag of gourmet cookies or popcorn and cans of sparkling water for staff to share during their after-school meeting-perfect!  Pair this with a simple handwritten note, and you'll get a thumbs up across the board!
  9. Simple Meal:  Throw in paper plates/bowls, plastic ware, and a gift card to a local pizza joint or a soup mix and container of broth and the educator has their Friday night plans all set! 
  10. Exactly What They Want: Download this FREE Teacher Survey (no email required) and ask your children's teachers directly about their favorite things. This is a great idea to ensure your children's teachers get what they want and love the most! 

 

 

 

10 Unique Gift Ideas:

  1. Organizers: Bag Organizer Insert (Less than $10) and Headphone Cord Organizer (Less than $10) for educators who travel between classrooms or buildings.
  2. Family Pass to Local Attraction: Teachers with a family or children (or even grandchildren) may enjoy a family pass to a local attraction. Examples include museums, minor league baseball games, conservatories, and the like.  
  3. Rechargeable Portable Fan and Hand Warmer: Does the teacher work in a building without air conditioning?  Are they planning to teach summer school?  This unique portable fan they can wear around their neck can keep them cool during those hot days!   And for those who are always cold or work in cold environments (like bus drivers and bus aides), give them rechargeable hand warmers
  4. Single Printed Picture:  A printed selfie with a simple 'thanks' on the back is a perfect gift.  I was gifted a few of these over the years and it was so easy for me to tape them to the wall in front of my desk and on the side of my filing cabinet.  An easy, cheap, and thoughtful gift! 
  5. Personalized Supplies:  Most teachers will use a Post-It note at some point during their day, so a personalized item like sticky notes can make a great gift.  Again, there is no need to color coordinate with the school colors as the educator may want to use these school supplies for personal use.  And if you know the teacher loves flair pens, pair a personalized notepad or Post-It note with pens and a thoughtful note or a perfect, simple gift! 
  6. Buy from the Amazon Wishlist:  Feel free to ask if they have anything lingering on their Amazon Wishlist from earlier in the year.  Some educators will add to their list throughout the year, which will allow you to buy a gift they want and need for next year! 
  7. Technology:  For about $15, a charging cell phone and AirPod pad that can easily connect to a laptop is the technology most teachers would love to have handy on their desks.  A teacher will appreciate not having to carry around a cord that will get twisted, knotted, and frayed.  If you attended Parent/Teacher Conferences and saw they had a computer mouse tethered to their laptop, they might enjoy a wireless mouse. For less than $10 this wireless mouse (with a noiseless click- very cool!) may be a very useful gift for an educator!   Available in a variety of colors. 
  8. Gift to Work Smarter, Not Harder: Smart technology can be loved for so many reasons and is easily used when the teacher or school staff is at school or home.  This smart plug is less than $15 and can be used in various ways, making it perfect for an educator you may not know very well.  
  9. Reusable Notebook: For educators who like paper and pencil notes, a Rocket Notebook is reusable and can be uploaded to digital file systems like Google Drive and Dropbox! 
  10. Coffee Lover's Cup Stopper: For educators who love their to-go coffees like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, check out this coffee cup stopper and carrying case (Less than $10!)!  

 

 

5 Gifts to Not Buy: 

Don't buy the following gifts, as school staff have usually been given many of these in the past, and they will end up being filed circularly (a.k.a. in the trash).  

  1. Coffee Mug: While it may be practical, your favorite school staff members have probably been gifted multiple mugs throughout their years. There are other, more thoughtful, and cheaper options (see list above)!
  2. Dollar Store Trinkets/Bric-A-Brac: Cute, maybe.  Useful, probably not.
  3. Ornaments: While this is a cute idea, it will likely not end up on the teacher's tree during the holidays. 
  4. Figurines and Paper Weights: A figurine or paperweight as a gift usually represents a special sentiment or memory.  With limited desk space, traveling between classrooms, and breakability, forgo a figurine/paperweight and share those special thoughts via a handwritten note.  
  5. Nice Pens: If someone doesn't take it (accidentally or intentionally), someone will sneeze on it, and it will lose its luster pretty quickly.  

 

Gifting Tip:  Another way to go above and beyond when gifting is to consider how the teacher will get the gift home.  Consider wrapping in a gift bag to make it easy to carry to their car, on public transportation, or if they bike to work.  

 

 

At the end of the day, any gift is recognition of the hard work educators put into teaching and will be deeply appreciated!   

 

 

 

 

*There may be dollar limits to what educators can accept as gifts and/or donations, however the limit is likely very high ($$$+ range) and thoughtful gifts will likely be allowed.

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