A lot of things this year have been difficult, to say the least, but one thing that’s emerged stronger than ever is gratitude. We are thankful for our loved ones and our health. We are thankful for the essential workers, our villages, and, of course, our teachers.

This year, we’ve seen the role of “teacher” pushed to new heights — we have classroom teachers and remote-learning teachers, tutors and nannies monitoring distance learning, private school teachers, and homeschool moms who never really go off the clock. “Teaching” doesn’t end when a child leaves the classroom or the Zoom meeting. Our school teachers put in long hours after school to plan lessons, think about children’s needs, and grade their work.

As a former homeschooled child (from second to fifth grade), I know firsthand that when you have a parent as a teacher, “class dismissed” doesn’t always happen. I give my mom credit for dealing with me from elementary to almost middle school. On top of that, my father was deployed on a submarine, so it was just the two of us, meaning there was no escape for either of us. I’m thankful for those years and for my mom, but looking at how we give teacher gifts to say “thank you” now, I realize there were no thank you gifts or teacher appreciation days for her!

No matter who the teachers are in your child’s life, this year it feels more important than ever to show gratitude! But it can be a challenge to find a gift that says “thank you!” for all you do when we might not know a lot about them. My first year buying gifts for teachers, I got bottles of bubbly and personalized tumblers only to learn last minute that one didn’t drink and the other wasn’t old enough to drink yet!

I found some Pinterest questionnaire examples that I’ll definitely use when my son changes classrooms again. If you don’t have one of these handy teacher FAQ sheets, here are some ideas for teacher gifts from some real teachers I polled. Whether you love or loathe shopping, you can easily get any of these online (if you’re not shopping in stores).

Gift cards

Gift cards are always appreciated, whether it’s for a specific store or simply a cash card. Being able to buy what they want (even if it’s for school supplies) is always a good option.

Caffeine is king

Coffee gift cards were the top response from teachers I polled!


Donate to local charities or food pantries in honor of your favorite teacher.


You can’t go wrong with a candle!

Personalized items

Who wouldn’t love a water bottle with their name or initials on it?


This was a little surprising, but there are so many nice gift packages available with treats and other goodies during the holidays.

Gifts to avoid?

While every teacher relationship is different, if you’re flying a little blind, steer clear from baked goods and personal items like perfume. And the number one gift to avoid? Mugs. Almost every teacher I polled said mugs are nice, but they tend to build up over time.

We’re just a week away from Christmas, but there’s still time to wrap up your last-minute gifts!

Courtney Medlin
Courtney was raised a Navy brat, growing up in Washington, South Carolina, and Virginia before her family put their roots down in Florida. She studied at Loyola University New Orleans earning her degree in communications PR with a minor in English, and she earned her master's in marketing from SNHU. She moved to the Boston area in 2008, where she met and married her partner-in-crime, John. Mother of Jackson, 5, and stepmom to two 16-year-olds (boy and girl) and dog mom to Riley. Courtney is raising her family with a love of the outdoors, scary movies, and lots of laughs. Courtney works corporate communications/marketing/pr and lives on the South Shore. She has a passion for cooking and traveling. She volunteers her time as a Gold Award advisor for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and serves on the planning gala committee for South Shore Health. She loves days that start with a latte and end with champagne.