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Buying gifts for teachers can be tricky. If you're trying to find gifts for the special ones in your life, 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. (As a teacher myself, I concur!) While other presents are, of course, appreciated, teachers did note one other thing: Our cabinets of mugs and drawers of apple-themed stuff proclaiming us to be the best teacher in the world are, well, full.
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If you're looking for something unique and appreciated to accompany those heartfelt notes (though of course the note is enough on its own!) here are our Reviewed-approved alternatives to “Best Teacher Ever” merch.
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Get your orders in soon though, this year we anticipate massive shipping delays and items selling out the closer we get to Christmas.
1. For the teacher who has everything: An adorable tea infuser
This too-cute tea infuser won't just bring a smile to your favorite teacher's face every time they have a cuppa (although it will definitely do that)—it'll do an incredible job steeping their tea, too. The MANATEA infuser is our top pick for best tea infuser thanks to its easy-to-clean, no-drip design—the wonderfully silly looks are just the cherry on top.
2. For the teacher who loves a gourmet meal: The Always Pan
If your teacher is as much of a whiz in the kitchen as they are in the classroom, get them a multifunction piece that will help them take their culinary creations to the next level. We think the Always Pan from Our Place lived up to its (considerable!) social media hype: it was lightweight, nonstick, dishwasher-safe and capacious enough for deep-frying without crowding. Even better: It comes in a rainbow of gorgeous, Instagram-ready shades.
3. For the teacher who is organized: A Rifle Paper wall calendar
Rifle Paper Company creates wall calendars that are pretty enough to frame. These 12-month planners have plenty of room for him or her to keep their schedule on track, and the colorful floral accents on each page will make them smile, no matter the season, all year round.
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: Gift boxes from Angel's Cup
If your teacher is a coffee lover, then Angel's Cup is ready to help them discover their next favorite cup. You pick the roast, the grind and how often (from weekly to monthly) you want the boxes to ship, and Angel's Cup picks out coffees your recipient will love from hundreds of different roasters. When we tested this service, we were wowed by the depth of the tasting notes and the impressive presentation—perfect for someone who wants to really explore what sort of beans are out there.
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 Grey 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, so why not offer up something different and refreshing? Harry & David pears deliver simple, wholesome sweetness—and they're Reviewed-approved. (The gold foil wrapping adds a festive touch, too!)
9. For the teacher who loves to learn: A MasterClass subscription
Want to give your favorite teacher something for their out-of-school pastimes, but not sure what they need? Why not give them access to lessons from the world’s best minds! We loved MasterClass, and the celebrity expert-taught lessons are sure to inspire.
10. For the teacher who needs some self-care: A Feeling Fab box
To pamper a tired teacher, 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 likes a hot lunch: The Crock-Pot Lunch Warmer
Give the gift of warm, satisfying midday meals all school year long with the personally sized Crock-Pot Lunch Crock food warmer. Compact and carryable (it has a handle!), this dishwasher-safe mini-warmer can hold up to 20 ounces of your teacher's favorite soups, stews, casseroles or other favorite lunches, and once plugged in, will gently warm the contents up to the perfect temperature and hold it there for a hot meal till they're ready for it.
12. For the teacher who is an oenophile: A Firstleaf wine subscription
A luxe bottle of wine is a welcome gift for teachers who enjoy a drink. If they're a wine lover, the wine subscription service Firstleaf is a creative way to discover new vintages.
13. For the teacher who likes to cook: HelloFresh
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 HelloFresh. With high-quality ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, HelloFresh is perfect for the busy home cook who still wants to eat healthy. Teachers will appreciate having that grocery shopping time back to work on their curriculum—or just to relax.
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 tech-savvy teacher: Apple AirPods Pro
Apple's AirPods Pro are one of our favorite pairs of earbuds: They sound great, they're comfortable, they're water-resistant and they excel at noise cancelation. They're also unmatched for iPhone users, with seamless pairing and controls. If you're looking to splurge on an audio experience for a special teacher, this is the way to go.
16. For the teacher who loves baked goods: Cheryl's Cookies
The time is always right for cookies, especially when they're as tasty as the ones from Cheryl's Cookies. The 16 yummy cookies in the Thank You gift tin wowed us with their tastes-like-homemade flavor, and we were impressed with the variety. There are plenty of decorative tins to choose from, too!
17. For the teacher who embraces cozy: A Barefoot Dreams blanket
While it's 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. We loved a similar model from this cult-favorite brand—it's hard to go wrong with this luxurious throw.
18. For the teacher who loves to read themselves: A Kindle Paperwhite
Put the power of the world's largest library of eBooks at your favorite teacher's fingertips with a Kindle Paperwhite. We loved the Kindle Paperwhite's E Ink display and the front-lighting with 24 different levels of illumination that made for a comfortable reading experience. Plus it's waterproof, too, so it's beach-read ready. The 2021 edition of the Paperwhite drops this month if you want the lastest and greatest model—but we think the 2018 model has incredible features for an even better price.
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. This streamlined model from InnoGear is one of our favorite essential oil diffusers—or, for those who prefer a more natural look, there's InnoGear’s wood grain exterior model, too.
20. For the teacher with a green thumb: The Sill plant delivery
Longer lasting than a flower arrangement, a potted plant breathes life into any space. The Sill sends beautiful plants—as well as helpful resources and trendy planters—right to your gift recipient's 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 loves 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, the company offers a range of boxes full of classics and some 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 350 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
Help your teacher channel relaxing spa vibes with the fresh, beachy scent of this Sea Salt Mojave Glass Candle by Illume. The glass jar can even be a pretty 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 a 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
These copper tumblers 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
Time away is just the thing a teacher needs after a long week. 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 our pick for best-tasting straw. 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.
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: Gifts for teachers: Best gift ideas for your favorite teachers in 2021