What Teachers REALLY Want for Teacher Appreciation Day

We are right in the middle of Teacher Appreciation Week, and if you’re anything like me, you just realized that you haven’t gotten anything for your kids’ teachers (whoops). As an educator myself, the irony of this is not lost on me. But if you’re scrambling for ideas, don’t worry! I have a list of teacher appreciation dos and don’ts straight from the mouths of my colleagues and friends.


  • Gift cards
    • We. Love. Gift cards. If you already know your teacher’s favorite restaurant or store, that’s great! If you don’t, we always love Target or Amazon. A website many teachers use to buy things for the classroom is called Teachers Pay Teachers and a gift card here is universally appreciated.
  • Fancy water bottles or travel mugs
    • I have a travel mug from a student that I use literally every day, and most of my colleagues can always be seen holding a travel mug as well. I typically buy my kids’ teachers a travel mug with a Starbucks gift card inside and some of their favorite candy. Water bottles are also a teacher’s best friend and would make a great gift.
  • Lunch from a real restaurant!
    • Typically we have about 20 minutes to inhale our lunch after dropping off students, making copies, and using the restroom. Needless to say, that really limits our menu options. Parents that drop off lunch or breakfast (or coffee) are always appreciated! Wrap a menu and send it in with your kiddo and pick up something for their teacher!
  • Handwritten notes
    • Not all great gifts cost money! We always LOVE notes from parents and students. My favorite gift is from a sweet little kindergartner five years ago, and it’s just a note on a tiny white board! My love language is words of affirmation, and if this is the case for your child’s teacher, they will love a note!
  • Remember specialists and other teachers!
    • I know your child spends a lot of their day with their homeroom teacher, but there are many other teachers who work with them all day that typically go unnoticed. Think PE coaches, instructional assistants, reading specialists, and others. If you have the extra time and/or funds, try to remember the other teachers!
  • The gift of time
    • If your school allows it and you’re on the volunteer list already, covering the teacher for any extra duties would be amazing! You could just come in and read to the kids, which would give the teacher a little break. Coming in to run copies would be a great gift too (and it doesn’t cost you any money!).


  • Anything with the words teacher or teach on it
    • The thought is always nice, but we get so many of these every year! See also: anything with a picture of an apple or a pencil.
  • Coffee mugs
    • Yes, I am aware that travel mugs or water bottles were on the “dos” list. But coffee mugs seem to be the gift of choice for many parents, which means that we get multiples every year (and they usually have a picture of an apple or a pencil on them).
  • Booze
    • Yes, we probably want it. But we could get fired for having it at school! However, every teacher I know would be psyched to get a Spec’s or Total Wine gift card.
  • Food not picked out by the teacher
    • Many teachers are on a restrictive diet or can’t have certain foods. Unless you know their preferences or dietary restrictions for sure (many schools pass out “favorite things” lists at the beginning of the year), stay away from foods.

This has been a notoriously difficult year to teach in. Many students have not been in-person for a whole year since 2019, and teachers are dealing with huge learning gaps, staff shortages, and a lot of behavioral issues. Anything we can do to show our teachers a little extra appreciation would be great!

Kristin moved to San Antonio from Baltimore in 2006. Although she had a brief 2 year stay in Fort Worth, the margaritas, breakfast tacos and the kind souls of our residents drew her back for good. She's a third grade teacher and group fitness instructor, and single mom to Molly (2009), Sadie (2011), Daisy (dog) and Charlie (cat). When she has free time, she's either training for a half marathon or on a patio somewhere with a Titos and soda. Favorite Restaurant: Sustenio Favorite Landmark: The Pearl Brewery Favorite San Antonio Tradition: The Elf Movie parties at Alamo Drafthouse