The school year is almost over, and you want to get a gift for your child’s teacher to thank them for teaching (and handling) your child all year. But before you break out the apple scented candle-lotion-potpourri gift basket, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a gift a teacher would really want?”

Short answer: no.

In an article titled, “The Truth About Teacher Gifts,” the author asks her reader to consider the following:

  • They have lots of students.
  • They have lots of students every year.
  • They have a limited capacity to store trinkets and knick knacks from their students.

… Teachers do not want mugs, teacher-themed knick-knacks or anything with apples on them. Imagine getting a mug describing your job (#1 Accountant!). Then imagine getting 5 or more of the pretty much the same mug – every single year.

Here’s a list of gifts teachers don’t really want:

  • Anything apple or teacher related. It’s not personal.
  • Candles, lotions, and potpourri. Sure, teachers deserve to relax, but they prefer to pick out their own scents.
  • Craft projects, including Pinterest-y, pun-laden gifts. Yes, they are cute, but again, teachers don’t have a lot of space to keep crafts from former students. Eventually they will have to get rid of them.
  • Large framed pictures or art. Again, their classroom is only so big, and wall space is limited.

Don’t let this discourage you from getting a gift for your child’s teachers. They do deserve something to show your appreciation for everything they have done. So what gift can you get them? Here are a few ideas from actual teachers:

  • A handwritten note or letter from your child thanking them and explaining how that teacher affected their learning. This will speak volumes, and the teacher will love to hear about the impact they’ve made.
  • Something from their teacher supply list. Not all teachers have supply lists, but some do. Ask your child’s teacher, or a member of your school’s PTO if such a list exists. If not, take a look around in their classroom. Does the teacher use a lot of chalk or dry erase markers? Do their notes home always come with post-its stuck to them? Are the paints in the craft corner looking a little dry? Purchasing things you know your child’s teacher uses in his or her classroom is a well thought out gift.
  • Gift cards. This is the #1 request from teachers. Not sure where to get one from? Teacher stores are always a good option. Here in the Fox Valley Area, places like The Chalkboard and Lakeshore Learning are popular places for teachers. Office Supply stores are great too, as are places like Target or Walmart where they can buy school supplies for the upcoming year. Still stumped? A Visa gift card can allow the teacher to use it however they choose.

So to some up:

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Just don’t.

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Yes. Always yes.


Since 2002, the professional tutors at Learning Ascent in St Charles, IL have provided tutoring and ACT prep, helping thousands of students from Batavia, IL; Geneva, IL; South Elgin, IL; and other Fox Valley towns to improve their academic performance.

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