Holiday Gifts for a Teacher

Ideas from our community, plus gift tags and other resources, on holiday gifts for a teacher (including what not to give them!).

by Rose Hamilton


We know that PTO leaders love giving teacher gifts during the holidays. But sometimes it can be challenging to figure out just the right gifts. So we asked our community to share their ideas on Facebook and we think you’ll find some great gifts for a teacher here. We’ve included links to some of our free resources, like gift tags and labels, that work well with these ideas. We’ve also added suggestions on what not to give, more simple, low-cost holiday teacher gifts, and virtual teacher appreciation gift ideas that can be adapted for the holidays.


Gift Ideas for Now

  • We’re bringing in a coffee truck that makes any and all coffee drinks plus hot cocoa, hot tea, and even smoothies! Volunteers aren’t allowed in the building to cover classrooms this school year so [teachers] will come during their lunch times. —Michelle J.

  • I always send Amazon gift cards to their emails! —Chrissy K.

  • We are supporting small business in our town by giving gift cards to a local restaurant for each teacher! —Sasha A.

  • We made 100 “thank you” bags with to hand to teachers. Each bag had a banana, an apple, trail mix bar, muffins, and a bottle of water. —You L.


Get a free “elf bucks” template to make your holiday shop inclusive

Classroom Supplies

  • I overheard a few teachers talking about Christmas gifts at our school’s book fair a few weeks ago. They mentioned that things for their classrooms (books, games, art supplies, and gift cards) were excellent ideas. —Megan N.

  • I usually go to a dollar store and find a nice container, fill it with a mix of candy, teacher supplies, and a nice candle or something cute for the centerpiece in the basket. —Patricia N.

  • Fun pens/sharpies/dry erase markers—teacher love and need these [and] they are pricey. —Michele K.

Teacher Appreciation Scissors Tag
Scissors gift tag


Teacher Appreciation Pen Tag
Pens/Pencils gift tag


Teacher Appreciation Highlighter Label
Highlighter Labels


Best Gift Cards for Teachers

  • We do Barnes & Noble gift cards. Teachers can use it for the classroom or for personal use. —Maria M.

  • Our teachers like to order lunch from a local restaurant occasionally, so I usually give them a gift card to that restaurant! —Laurie Ann B.

  • A gift card that can be used for items from fun (sweater) to necessary (groceries). One year I used a gift card I received from my classroom to purchase much-needed tires at Sears. —Silvia J.

  • We are using GiftCrowd as this is an easy way to collect gifts for all our staff members and lets each one of them choose the gift card they want. —Eshed D.

Teacher Appreciation Gift Card Holder
Gift Card Holder



  • My kids have so many teachers that it really adds up. So, I went on the website for Redbox movies and bought codes for the teachers to get a free movie. I attached it to a bag of popcorn and sent it in a card. —Angie A.

  • Last year we did a movie theater gift card and put it in a big popcorn bucket with a free refill coupon and boxes of candy. —Anna B.

Teacher Appreciation Popcorn Tag
Popcorn Gift Tag


Other Gifts for a Teacher

  • Last year I gave homemade loaves of crusty artisan bread. We live in a small community where homemade treats are still OK. I wrapped the loaves up in pretty parchment and string with a note. —Jill C.

  • If you know your teachers well enough and the administration doesn't have issues with it...alcohol. I gave our teachers their favorite bottle last year and it was the most well-received gift ever! —Melissa B.

Cheers Gift Tag
“Cheers” tag


Happy Holidays Tag
“Happy Holidays” tag

What Not To Give

Avoid gifts for a teacher that are too personal, such as:

  • Home décor. Wall prints or paintings, pillows, or other items for the home are high-risk. You don’t really know a teacher’s taste.

  • Scented items. There are many lovely smelling lotions, candles, and soaps, but it is safer to avoid these as gifts. The teacher may like them, but her family may not (or even have allergies). Opt for unscented or mildly scented items.

  • Homemade projects. Kids’ art projects are very special, but think about this from a volume perspective. If the teacher receives a dozen of these as holiday gifts, where is she going to put them all? If you want to share something from the kids, have them write a note to the teacher. It will be greatly appreciated and can be easily tucked away as a keepsake.

  • Coffee mugs. Veteran teachers could probably open their own stores to sell the collection of mugs they have acquired over the years. So, don’t do mugs. Unless of course you fill them with wonderful chocolates or gift cards!

More Ideas for Gifts for a Teacher

Cookie Recipe Cards
Cookie swap for teachers with cookie exchange recipe cards.


Relax Gift Tag
Unscented lotion or bath salts in a small gift bag; tag it with a “relax over the break” gift tag.


Love Jars Tag Sheet
Notes of appreciation from each student. Place the notes in a special box or jar and attach an “I Love...” tag.


Souper Teacher Gift Tag
“To go” soup bar. Ask volunteers to bring in pots of homemade soups and chilies; stock up on 32-oz tall plastic containers and let teachers fill with their choice of soups to bring home.


Teacher Appreciation Coffee Tag
Small bags of coffee; enclose a tag that reads “thanks a latte for all you do!”


Find even more teacher holiday gifts and fun gift tags on our Teacher Appreciation page and in the Teacher Appreciation File Exchange.

Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly. Terri Frank contributed to this article.

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