What Teachers REALLY Want for Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is almost here: 6-10 May! Whether you are the always-organized type, or scrambling for a gift before Friday pick-up line, you are represented among the Alamo City Moms team. If you didn’t even know this was a thing and now find yourself scrambling for ideas, don’t worry! As an educator myself, I have a list of teacher appreciation do’s and don’t’s, 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, know that 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, too.
  • 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. As a mom, a travel mug with a Starbucks gift card inside and some of their favorite candy has become my gift go-to for my kids teachers. Water bottles are also a teacher’s best friend (especially in San Antonio!) 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, send it in with your kiddo, and pick up something delicious for their teacher.
  • Handwritten notes
    • Not all great gifts cost money! We always LOVE to receive 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 who help shape your kid’s experience at school.
  • 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 an amazing gift. Coming in and reading to the kids, for example, would give the teacher a little break and take very little of your time. 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, unless it’s a gift card (ha!)
  • 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.

Teaching is a difficult and demanding task, and the huge support teachers offer to our kids over the course of the year can go unnoticed or under-appreciated. Showing your gratitude to them this Teacher Appreciation Week may only take you a moment, but it will mean the world to the teacher.

This post was originally written in 2019 by Kristin, and has been updated for 2024 by Natalie. 

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