Your Kids' Teachers Really, Really Just Want Gift Cards as Teacher Gifts

Your Kids' Teachers Really, Really Just Want Gift Cards as Teacher Gifts

We all know that teachers deserve the best, because they work hard all day helping to mold our kids into the people they will become. So, when it's time to show some end-of-the-year teacher appreciation, you want to make sure the teachers in your life feel treasured. The only question is: How?

We surveyed more than 40 teachers to find out what they actually want as a teacher gift. Our respondents were both current and former educators who live spread out across the country and teach at different grade levels. We promised we'd keep their anonymity so they could tell us how they really feel about those end-of-year trinkets. And you know what? They did, in no uncertain terms.

After combing through our pool of responses, these are the best teacher gifts to give in 2023, according to actual teachers. Though their schools, locations, subjects and experiences may be different, they agreed on one thing: Gift cards make the best teacher gifts. They really do want them, and the more versatile the cards are (Amazon, Target and Visa were the most requested), the better.

But we know parents don't always feel comfortable giving gift cards, or like to give small tokens of appreciation with a gift card, and our teacher panel came ready with suggestions. Something else almost all of them shared: They really do believe that it's the thought that counts, and notes, handwritten letters, handmade items or home-baked goodies were really valued.

Another response that came up over and over: It helps to get to know your teacher and their preferences personally. For every educator that said they loved candy, there was another who said if they didn't see another Godiva box, it would be too soon. (Food, coffee, mugs, candles and wine were the most divisive, showing up on both the "most wanted" and "least wanted" lists. so check their preferences first.) Teachers warned to steer clear of anything that really requires you to know their personal taste, like jewelry or fragrances, and they also agreed that they'd rather get something personalized with their names on it than something with an apple that just says "teacher."

With all that in mind, these are the gifts that our panel of teachers said are most likely to make educators very happy.

Looking for more great gifts?

Let the experts shop for you! Good Housekeeping has picks for everyone on your list, including Gifts for Doctors | Gifts for Artists | Gifts for Chefs | Gifts for Bosses | Gifts for College Students | Gifts for Law Students

(HEARST - Hearst Owned)
Monogrammed Waterproof Pouch

Mark & Graham


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After gift cards, personalized items came up the most often as a much-wanted gift. This pouch has a million uses from corralling school supplies to keeping cosmetics neat. It's even waterproof so they can take it to the beach or pool during vacation. You can add a monogram, and — best of all — with each purchase, 15% of the proceeds go to No Kid Hungry.

(Mark & Graham)
Personalied Journal



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From lesson plans to to-do lists to whatever musings enter their heads, teachers can always stand to have a notebook on-hand. And, with a laser-engraved design, they'll always know which notebook is theirs. There are also many different designs and styles to choose from.

Teacher Stamp



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These stamps are one-of-a-kind creations they'll know were created just for them! You can choose the illustration's hairstyle, and add accessories like glasses, ties or facial hair. You can even tweak the text, if you'd rather have it say something like, "From the Desk of Mr. Williams." There are also female-presenting designs.

Leatherette Initial Keychain

Lilly Pulitzer


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With colors so bright, they'll never lose track of their keys again. The keychain is especially good for teachers who use their initial as their name, as in "Ms. B."

(Lilly Pulitzer)
Why You're the Best Teacher Ever Book

Knock Knock


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This journal's simple prompts make it easy for any student to express what they love most about their favorite teacher — the constant support and inspiring lessons, to name a few. You can also make it a class gift and have every student fill out a page.

Zippered Tote Bag with Name

Simply Custom Life


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With a zippered pouch mesh pockets on the front for essentials, this tote has room for everything Teach needs to bring to and from class. It comes in several colors, and you can add in an optional interior organizer with even more pockets. To make it a great group gift from the whole class, fill it with sorely needed supplies like school glue, crayons and sanitizing wipes, which teachers often pay for out-of-pocket.

(Simply Custom Life)
Child's Artwork Personalized Magnet



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One teacher mentioned the most personalized gift they'd received originated as a piece of student art. It was turned into a magnet that earned a proud place on the fridge. Magnets from Zazzle can be round or square, and you can add text so the teacher will never forget who the artist is.

Kids' Artwork Tote Bag



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You can turn a larger art project into a teacher tote by uploading the design to Zazzle; they'll take care of the rest. You can even see if you can get the whole class to sign a collaborative work to make a great group gift.

Personalized Teacher Sticker

Paper Source


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These stickers come in handy the same way that return address labels do. Teachers can stick them on notes home, on items like travel mugs or Tupperware they want to mark as theirs or as something they can add to graded papers to make students smile. The set comes with 100 stickers, which should keep them going for a while.

(Paper Source)
Monogrammed Refillable Journal

Mark & Graham


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Not only do the colors on these journals pop, they're also refillable, so once your teacher runs out of lined paper, they can just get a new notebook insert and start fresh. You can add a monogram and even throw in a couple of refills for good measure.

(Mark & Graham)
Personalized Teacher Quarter-Zip Sweatshirt



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Some teachers requested school merch or school-store swag as a gift; if that's not available, this is the next best thing. It has a quarter-zip, customizable thread colors and comes in sizes up to XXXXL.

Personalized Reusable Coffee Cup



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Judging by the gift cards they asked for, a lot of teachers are definitely coffee drinkers. Make sure no one grabs their vessel from the teacher's lounge with a personalized, reusable hot coffee cup. It fits 16 oz and even comes with a lid.

Personalized Teacher Desk Plate

Hiding Place Boutique


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If you want to get something personalized for their desks, this name plate is cleverly made from old Scrabble tiles (plus a classroom-themed embellishment). It works for any teacher but especially for those who focus on English or reading.

Most requested gift cards for teachers
dog (Hearst Owned)
Amazon Gift Card



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An Amazon gift card was far-and-away the most requested gift on our teachers' lists. And it makes sense: You're giving them what they want most — something they can pick out themselves. This one even comes in its own gift box, and all you have to do is add a thoughtful note.

Visa Gift Card



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After Amazon, Visa cards were the second most-often requested. Teachers liked how versatile they were, and noted that they'll almost certainly be re-used (and not re-gifted).

Starbucks Gift Card



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Not all the teachers on our list drank coffee, but the ones that did said that they always appreciated a gift card for their favorite brews. You can always get them a pretty cup or tumbler to go with it.

Barnes & Noble Gift Card

Barnes & Noble



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From our survey, it seems a lot of teachers are going to be spending some time reading on their summer vacations, and they want some new books to peruse. Some mentioned having loyalty to their local indie booksellers, but if none are in your area than Bookshop or Barnes & Noble are best bets.

(Barnes & Noble)
Target Gift Card



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Like Amazon and Visa, teachers appreciated how much choice a Target gift card affords them. Ironically, a lot of them said they spent their Target cards on supplies that went right back into the classroom.

Uber Gift Card




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Depending on where you live, an Uber gift card is akin to contributing to a night off on the town. They won't have to worry about driving, so it's like a little slice of piece-of-mind.

GrubHub Gift Card



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If you know your teacher's favorite restaurant, you can give them a gift certificate to dine out. If you don't, then it's dining in! You can get a GrubHub e-gift in any amount, and they can use it at a variety of participating restaurants.

Dunkin' Donuts Gift Card

Dunkin' Donuts


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It seems America's teachers run on Dunkin' Donuts gift cards. Whether they use them for coffee, a quick breakfast in the morning or a sweet treat, it'll give them a pick-me-up whenever they need it most during the day.

(Dunkin' Donuts)
DonorsChoose Contribution



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At DonorsChoose, teachers can set up funds for classroom projects of their choosing. Some might want to get active seating in their classrooms, others might be looking to buy a set of ukuleles while others might want a set of cursive writing workbooks. You can give directly to the project in any amount you'd like, and sometimes you can just give to the school or teacher in general. Many times during the year, someone sponsors a matching donation, so your money goes even further.

Sunflower Bouquet

The Bouqs Co.


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It may come as a surprise, but teachers reported they still liked getting a good, old-fashioned flower bouquet. You can brighten up their desks with this sunflower arrangement, or go for a number of other colors and themes — or even a subscription — at The Bouqs Co.

(The Bouqs Co.)
Gel Pen Set

Rifle Paper Co.


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Teachers often asked for desk supplies and school supplies, especially for items that would help them when it comes to grading. These gel pens are easy to keep track of, with their unique floral patterns, and also write in pink, blue, orange and green, so they show up on tests and assignments.

(Rifle Paper Co.)
Adventure Quencher



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The same travel tumbler that was requested en masse by students last holiday season is also a hit with their teachers. And, with the ability to hold a whipping 40 oz of liquid, we get it. The insulation keeps beverages hot or cold, which is helpful for a teacher that has to stand up and talk in front of a class all day.

Shea Butter Hand Cream



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All the sanitizing and hand-washing teachers do to keep from getting sick is hard on the skin. This lotion is soothing and helps fight against the dryness.

Cotton Tote Bag

Vera Bradley


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One teacher mentioned Vera Bradley totes specifically as a welcomed gift, and we can see why: They're big enough to carry a helpful amount of stuff, they come in such fun prints and the quilted cotton keeps it from digging into a shoulder. Very Bradley's ID holders with lanyards also hold just the right amount of cards and keys.

(Vera Bradley)
Hoya Heart

The Sill


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Desk plants were another big request, and the class can show how much they love their teacher with this heart-shaped Hoya Kerrii succulent. It'll look striking on any teacher's desk, but it's extra thematic for a STEM teacher.

(The Sill)
Freezable Wine Bag



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One teacher made it plain: "Wine is an acceptable teacher gift — don’t believe the hype." If you don't want to go for the bottle alone, you can gift it in this reusable tote, which can be frozen so the wine so the wine stays cool during transport.

Undated Daily Planner

Kate Spade New York


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With teachers, once one thing is done, it's on to the next. This large planner is undated, so they can keep track of their future goals and action items as soon as they receive it. You can also get other supplies like a clipboard, a spiral notebook, a large journal or thank-you cards in the same blue "Joy Dot" pattern.

(Kate Spade)
Hand Sanitizer Soothing Gel



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After this past "tripledemic" winter, it's not a surprise that some teachers asked for hand sanitizer. These bottles have aloe and vitamin D – something a little extra for the hands.

Take Note Permanent Markers



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Markers were another school supply our teachers said they were in need of, and these aren't your old, washable kiddie makers. They're permanent, but with a fine point and in a rainbow of colors, which makes them useful for grading, labeling, writing notes and tackling other artsy projects.

Thank You Pop-Up Card



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Our teachers insist that a thoughtful note is really all they need. But you can give that note some pizzazz with this card, which has a dramatic, colorful "thank you" pop-up feature.

Champagne Gummy Bears Celebration Bottle



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Some of our teachers loved getting candy and sweets as a gift, others did not, so your teacher's mileage may vary. But if they have a sweet tooth, they can toast to a good year with these gummy bears, which have a celebratory Champagne flavor.

Chocolate Gold Gift Box



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For some of our teachers, not any candy would do — it had to be chocolate. For them, this box comes with 19 pieces of luscious Godiva chocolates in some of their most popular flavors.

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mr. Cory's Cookies


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A lot of our teachers said they really appreciated in when someone sent in a batch of handmade baked goods. If you're not a wiz in the kitchen, this is the next best thing. The box comes with two dozen cookies, and you warm them before you eat them so they feel like they came right out of the oven.

(Mr. Cory's Cookies)
Winging It Sticky Notes

Effie's Paper


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Yes, teachers did ask for sticky notes specifically — and these celebrate how, on some level, we're all just making it up as we go along. You can also get a pad with the similarly themed "you'll think of something" written on it.

(Effie's Paper)
Joy Luxury Candle

Harlem Candle Co.


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While some teachers on our list were very anti-candle, others were all for them. If yours falls into the latter category, they might love this soy wax–blend candle, which comes with a floral fragrance.

(Harlem Candle Co.)
Clear Zippered Bag



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If you really can't stand the thought of just giving them a gift card, you can put a gift card, note and/or letter in these clear pouches. The teacher will know right away there's something delightful inside, and then they can repurpose the pouch as a pencil case, toiletry bag for travel (the transparency makes it helpful for TSA screenings) or makeup case.

Frank Lloyd Wright Note Cards



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A teacher will never run out of reasons to use blank note cards. These come with cool interpretations of four different Frank Lloyd Wright geometric designs, and the set comes with 16 cards and envelopes.




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How can teachers be expected to keep track of all their stuff and a classroom full of kids? Give them a leg-up with an Apple AirTag, which they can use to electronically track down their most-often-lost items.

Glass Kitchen Jars



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Lots of teachers requested homemade goodies, and if you do go that route, you might want to give it to them in a container they can repurpose. The glass jars can be used at home for sweets or baking supplies, or they can keep it in the classroom and use it as a catch-all for change, paper clips and other loose items. The jars also have a chalkboard label so you can tell them exactly what's inside.

F in Exams

Chronicle Books


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Richard Benson has seen it all when it comes to test answers, but the witty lines in this book will show him he's not the only one with, um, thoughtful students. The off-the-wall answers here will have your teacher in stitches.

(Chronicle Books)
Honest Acronyms Sticky Note Set

Knock Knock


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This falls under the realm of "school supplies," just not in the way a teacher might expect. These offer the "real" definitions of common acronyms, like how "BTW" means "beginning to worry" in subtext.

(Knock Knock)
Natural Leather Bookmark



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Make your teacher feel like they have a real, fancy home library with this upscale leather bookmark — it slips so easily into a homemade card.

(Kingsley Leather)
Thank You Daisies Grow Kit

Sarah Burrows and Nick Behr


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Some of our teachers asked for flowers — but it could be more fun if they got to grow their own! This comes in a terra-cotta pot and a "thank you" message that's right on-theme.

(Uncommon Goods)
Airpod Case

F&W Style


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Give your teacher an AirPod case so chic, it looks like its own little purse. It has a keychain and a removable shoulder strap, it's made with genuine pebble-grain leather, and it comes in five colors.

(F&W Style)
Teacher Succulent Plant



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While our teachers asked for desk plants, they said nothing about the pots they come in. This one comes with a cute message designed to make teachers' hearts melt. All you have to do is get a succulent or air plant to pop in it, and you're good to go.

Weekly Desk Planner

Copper and Brass Paper


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An electronic calendar is good and all, but this weekly desk planner lets the teacher in your life see all their appointments and to-dos with one glance. It's undated, so they can start using it right away.

(Copper and Brass Paper)
3-in-1 Charging Station



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They'll be able to charge their Apple AirPods, Apple Watch and iPhone in one go, which is useful for a classroom where outlets may be limited. This is also great for a teacher you know has a long commute, since they'll be able to charge their devices up during the day and use them on the ride home.


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We surveyed 44 teachers, who teach different grade levels and subjects across the country, what they really want this year. Here are the best teacher gifts.