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Buying gifts for teachers can be deceptively tricky, especially in the time of distance learning. “I know they like kids and use lots of school supplies, but what do they really want?” You’ll be warmed to know that without exception, all the teachers I spoke with named handwritten notes and artwork from their students as their favorite gifts (and, as a teacher myself, I concur). Almost as common was the sentiment that while all presents are of course appreciated, our cabinets of mugs and drawers of apple-themed stuff proclaiming us to be the best teacher in the world are, well, full.
Here are some ideas for gifts to accompany the heartfelt notes (though of course the note is enough on its own!) and alternatives to “Best Teacher Ever” merch.
1. For the teacher who has everything: A gift card
Amazon and Target gift cards are universally popular among teachers. We all need things from these places, and a gift card grants permission to pick something up for ourselves. In a very unofficial survey, Amazon and Target gift cards were more popular than Starbucks cards, even if the amount is not “a latte.”
2. For the teacher who loves a gourmet meal: A DoorDash gift card
Teachers love anything that makes life a little easier (though you wouldn’t know it by our choice of profession), like delicious takeout! While it’s best to buy directly from local restaurants as so many are struggling, a gift certificate for DoorDash translates into a night we don’t have to cook or do dishes. Ah, the luxury!
3. For the teacher who is organized: A Rifle Paper wall calendar
Rifle paper company creates wall calendars that are snappy enough to frame. Because all days seem to be blending together, a tangible reminder of the actual passage of time is oddly reassuring. I love this Explore the World calendar, which keeps the dream of travel alive.
4. For the teacher who encourages her students to read: New books for the classroom
Chances are your teacher’s classroom library could use some refreshing. Call up your local independent bookstore or use Bookshop and ask the knowledgable bookseller about the hottest new titles for your teacher’s grade level. Make sure to include a gift receipt!
5. For the teacher who likes to stay hydrated: A S'well water bottle
There are water bottles, and then there are S’well water bottles. A slender, appealing, and grownup alternative to the huge flasks that are all the rage among teens, this company has nailed design, function and durability.
6. For the teacher who drinks a lot of coffee: A Trade coffee subscription
If your teacher is a coffee lover, the highly rated subscription service Trade delivers some of the best ethically-sourced, small batch roasts from all over the country. Teachers take a quiz to match them with their coffee. How fitting!
7. For the teacher who is constantly on the go: An insulated mug
In general, we teachers are up to the eyeballs in mugs, especially those with apple and ruler motifs. But a vacuum insulated, no-spill tumbler that keeps an earl gray warm for hours like this cult-favorite from Yeti? That’s a different story. Include your teacher’s favorite box of tea or bag of coffee to make it more personal.
8. For the teacher who tries to eat healthily: A fruit delivery
Food gifts are tricky, especially during the holidays. Sweet treats are everywhere and most of us are trying to still fit in our jeans. Harry & David pears deliver simple, wholesome sweetness without the guilt. The gold foil wrapping adds a festive and pretty touch.
9. For the teacher who loves to learn: A MasterClass subscription
While your teachers’ educational talents may be on full display over Zoom, their passion for cooking, filmmaking or playing the eclectic guitar may be ready for a boost. Why not give them access to lessons from the world’s best minds? A MasterClass will no doubt provide a jolt of inspiration.
10. For the teacher who needs some self-care: A Feeling Fab box
While regular pedicures and blowouts seem to belong to a bygone era, the urge for pampering is strong. If your local spa is open, then a gift certificate will surely please your tired teacher. If not, try this self-care subscription box, which delivers natural beauty products and stress reducing tools right to your doorstep. A three month prepaid subscription is about the cost of a spa mani-pedi with a few add-ons.
11. For the teacher who writes thoughtful notes: R. Nichols notecards
There is something lovely and timeless about a handwritten letter. Delightful note cards make dashing off an unexpected “hello, old friend” and requisite thank you notes a breeze. R. Nichols uses a simple cut paper technique to create bright and universally appealing designs made in the U.S. This gift is best when accompanied by a thoughtful note from a beloved student.
12. For the teacher who is an oenophile: A Firstleaf wine subscription
A bottle of wine, some beer or tequila will certainly be a welcome gift by teachers who drink. This is one of the gifts that requires some detective work! Is your teacher an IPA guy? Are they a wine lover? The wine subscription service Firstleaf is a creative way to discover new vintages.
13. For the teacher who likes to cook: Hello Fresh
While we wouldn't recommend showing up at your teacher's house to help with dinner (seriously, they've seen enough of you this week), you can lend a helping hand with a gifted subscription to Hello Fresh. With high-quality ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, Hello Fresh is perfect for the busy home cook who still wants to eat healthy. Teachers will appreciate having grocery shopping time back to work on their curriculum.
14. For the teacher who's running low on essentials: School supplies
Most teachers are undersupplied, so brand new basics like Expo Markers, colored pencils, or a fresh set of Sharpies are always welcome. I love the idea of arranging fine tip Sharpies around a flower filled vase for a whimsical presentation.
15. For the teacher who is tech-savvy: An iTunes gift card
There are so many apps that are helpful to teachers but which come with hefty subscription fees. Whether it’s premium Spotify, to full access to the Calm App (once free to teachers but not anymore!) to various fitness apps, the possibilities are truly endless.
16. For the teacher who loves baked goods: Homemade treats
There is a woman in west L.A. who makes a peanut brittle so tasty I crave the next bite before I’ve even finished the last, and another whose king cake dances in my mind weeks before Mardi Gras. Your signature treat dressed up with the labels and ribbons in this Bake & Give Decorating Kit from Michael’s makes a delightful gift.
17. For the teacher who is always cold: A Barefoot Dreams blanket
A bit of a splurge, this insanely soft and chic Barefoot Dreams blanket will improve any teacher's “hyggekrog” (cozy nook). Like a baby blanket for adults, it’s cozy, lightweight and comes in a range of neutral colors. It's hard to go wrong with this luxurious throw.
18. For the teacher who loves printables: A Teachers Pay Teachers gift card
Teachers Pay Teachers is a platform that allows teachers to buy and sell ideas, lesson plans, printables, and all kinds of resources. A visit to this online marketplace allows educators to tap into a vibrant buzzing hive mind. Even better, these gift cards never expire.
19. For the teacher who needs to relax: An essential oil diffuser
Scents are extremely personal. The vanilla aroma that relaxes one person might make another lightheaded. An essential oil diffuser allows for user choice while doubling as a mini-humidifier. The soothing steam eases anxiety and transforms a work area into an oasis. InnoGear’s wood grain exterior will match any decor, and 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon make it a safe bet.
20. For the teacher with a green thumb: The Sill plant delivery
Longer lasting than a flower arrangement, a plant breathes life into any space. The Sill sends beautiful plants—as well as helpful resources and trendy planters—right to their door. Choose an Insta-worthy, hard-to-kill plant that will add a spirit-lifting, splash of greenery to any home or classroom. Just add water—literally!
21. For the teacher who is a tea drinker: A Sips by tea subscription
If your teacher prefers tea, a Sips by tea subscription is a great gift. Award-winning, high-quality teas from around the world and at every possible level of caffeine, this box is full of classics and surprises. Any discerning tea drinker will give this an A+.
22. For the teacher who loves movies: Apeman mini projector
Here’s another splurge, but one that will provide endless evenings of fun for your favorite teacher. The Apeman CL350 mini projector can turn any large white surface into a private theater.
23. For the teacher who needs a spa day: Illume Sea Salt Mojave glass candle
It’s a bit of a cliché, but there is something so calming about a candle’s small, steady flame that I can’t leave it off the list. It’s best to steer away from fruity and perfumed scents and toward fresh, beachy ones like this Sea Salt Mojave Glass Candle by Illume. The glass jar can be a classy pencil holder long after the candle has burned away.
24. For the teacher who likes to craft: Cricut Explore Air 2
Whether you're looking for a more big-ticket item for a group gift from the entire class, or you're searching for a special gift for your loved one who happens to be a teacher, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the answer. Teachers can use the Cricut to decorate their bulletin boards, make stickers, and design paper projects for the class. Plus, with Bluetooth connectivity, wireless cutting is a breeze. Trust us, this gift will make them the envy of the teacher's lounge.
25. For the teacher who is a cocktail connoisseur: A set of copper mugs
2020 is all about elevating experiences at home, and upgrading bar ware is a simple and elegant way to achieve this. I love these copper tumblers because they are a pleasure to hold, lovely to look at, a conversation piece, and can make an ordinary glass of water, or (more likely) a Moscow mule, feel special.
26. For the teacher who likes to travel: A monogrammed weekender bag
While long trips are rare these days, a weekend jaunt is a distinct possibility and can be just the thing a teacher needs after a week on Zoom. A sturdy and attractive weekender bag like this one makes packing for last minute trips easy as ABC. Once you’ve selected a color, monogramming is irresistible!
27. For the teacher who's a book lover: A framed book cover
If your teacher is passionate about reading, and they probably are, a framed print of their favorite classic book cover would be an unusual and thoughtful gift.
28. For the teacher who needs a helper: Amazon Echo Dot
A more compact version of the popular Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot is a small smart speaker that can be mighty helpful for any classroom. Teachers can ask her to play music, tell jokes, set alarms, set multiple timers, tell stories, spell words, translate, and so much more. Educational, and a fun way to pass the time during indoor recess, the Echo Dot is appreciated by students and teachers alike.
29. For the teacher who cares about the environment: Hummingbird glass straws
A new set of reusable straws can show your biology teacher you care about her and the environment. Since the overly saturated reusable straw market can be difficult to navigate, we tested a number of top products and found that the Hummingbird glass straws were the best around. They're bent for easy sipping and won't give off any metallic taste as you're drinking. Plus, they're dishwasher-safe and recyclable, earning an A+ in sustainability.
30. For the teacher who is too busy to run errands: A Walmart+ subscription
Give the teachers in your life the gift of convenience this year, with a Walmart+ subscription. Whether they need groceries, diapers, toiletries or toys, they can have it delivered right to their doorstep with Walmart+.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: 30 best gifts teachers actually want in 2020