What Do Teachers Really Want for Teacher Appreciation Week?


gift ideas for teachers

May 6–10 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Do you have anything planned to give or do for your child’s teacher? Are you just doing their homeroom teacher? What about specials teachers? Having taught elementary school, been an elementary principal and a PTA President, I have some definite “do’s and don’ts” for you to consider.


Let’s face it, teachers love food! They don’t always have time to pack their lunch and might head to the cafeteria to eat what the kids are having (if they have time to even eat). Here are some fun things you can do.

Coordinate a potluck for the entire school staff.  

Use www.signupgenius.com to plan a themed lunch (salad bar, taco bar, or picnic are some suggestions) or just a potluck. Be sure to ask for vegetarian and vegan options, desserts, drinks, and even paper supplies.

Give a restaurant gift card.  

Teachers can order something and pick it up on the way home or save it for a special occasion.

Order an Edible Arrangement.

One of my FAVORITE gifts I got as a teacher was an Edible Arrangement! I was the envy of the whole school, and it was such a treat.  

If you are feeling really ambitious and have other parents who can chip in, stock the teacher’s lounge with salad dressings, condiments, grab and go snacks, fresh fruit, protein bars, and the like.  Things that can keep giving for the rest of the school year.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are always a good bet. Even a $5 one can go far for a teacher who is used to being frugal! Coffee and sandwich shops are good choices but don’t forget gas, restaurants (as mentioned above), or specialty stores. Even though teachers love the Targets and Wal-Marts of the world, chances are they will use it to get things for the classroom, so think outside the “big box” store and get them a gift card from a place that does not sell office supplies or tissues.

Homemade Items

Of course, you do not have to purchase something from the store to have your child show appreciation for their teacher. Pictures, letters, and other crafty creations are wonderful to receive. You can always surf Pinterest for cute ideas that incorporate a sweet poem or saying and an easy craft. Think hand painted flower pots and “thanks for helping me bloom” or candy like “Lifesavers” or “100 Grand.”  The possibilities are endless, and there is sure to be something to match your craft level and supplies-on-hand.

Personalize It

There are many cute classroom decorations, coffee cups, water bottles, candy jars, reuseable shopping bags, etc. that you can have the teacher’s name put on.  Be sure to make a stop in the classroom to make sure the teacher doesn’t have it already or too many of one thing.

Play It Safe

Even if you know the teacher well, I would stay away from things like alcohol, candles, home décor, and clothing. You just never know about allergies, tastes, and sizes. Don’t put yourself in the awkward position of being asked for a receipt and don’t get your child’s hopes up that the teacher will come in the next day sporting the sweater you got them (that they didn’t care for).

If nothing else…

Be sure to send a thank you email, note, or tell them how much you appreciate them.  

Summer vacation is the time when parents realize that teachers are grossly underpaid.  ~Author unknown


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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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