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What Not to & What to Get A Teacher for Christmas

Updated on October 13, 2015

Forget the Mug ~ Buy the Stand!

With the Christmas holiday in people's minds, searching for a gift for the teacher usually gets put on the back burner. I mean so far back that it is usually the week of Christmas before the gift is purchased, and picking up something at the checkout isn't an option that I would say is considered a "thank you for teaching my child" gift.

Homemade cookies are always appreciated, but if your're thinking about buying a coffee mug, think again. Do you want your teacher to remember the gift you gave? Then "Forget the mug, buy the stand."

I know that finding the right gift can be a challenge, but getting that perfect gift for "the teacher" really isn't that difficult. All you need to do is a bit of listening and you'll discover the many facets of a teacher that go far beyond the classroom. You'll soon learn what not to get your teacher for Christmas.

Look for tips of things to avoid buying, along with great gifts they'll love and appreciate for years to come. Have any suggestions, please leave me a comment at the bottom of this site. I'd love to hear from you.

Photo credit google royalty free images by

What Not to Get Your Teacher for Christmas (original article). Copyrighted material. Do not copy. Photos are courtsey of google royalty free images or favored1.

Poll: So What Have You Bought?

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

Have you ever bought a gift for a teacher?

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Poll: Was your first thought "mug"?

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

Have you ever bought a teacher a mug?

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Tips on what not to get. - So what's really in for teacher gifts?

Were you thinking about buying a tie, coffee mug or ornament for a teacher?

Wait, there's a perfect gift he/she might prefer.

When too much catches up with you.

Ornaments & Gifts from Students

This is a picture of one of my trees that I used to put up each year. It had about 1,000 ornaments. Guess who many of them were from? Yep, my kids. It finally got to be too much and the last time the tree was put up was almost ten years ago.

Where are the ornaments now? Unfortunately, I don't know because they were stolen. However, the items on the table to the right, also mostly came from students.

Photo credit by Favored1

Ohhhh, thank you Timmy...

Another mug!

Forget the mug, buy the stand! - Since teacher's already have the mugs, they usually need a place to put them.

I had a cabinet full of mugs and no stands to display them. A coffee mug stand would be a nice place to switch out the mugs throughout the year to sort of show them off during the seasons.

Spectrum Diversified Italio Mug Tree, Chrome
Spectrum Diversified Italio Mug Tree, Chrome

There are a lot of styles to choose from, but I think this one is sort of fun.

Is it just me or does it remind you of happy kids?

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

What not to give your teacher.

Please don't think we are ungrateful, but...

I've been in the education field for over 30 years. During that time I have worked in seven school systems spanning over 40 districts. My teaching experiences have ranged from pre-k handicapped through college age students. So that covers a lot of teachers, parents and students. Although the locations may have varied, the average teacher gifts didn't.

When a teacher receives a gift, they are truly grateful. However, many of those gifts never get to be used and are given away before the teacher ever leaves the school (bet you didn't know that). Exactly how many mugs can one use? How many ornaments actually fit on a tree? My fridge only holds so many "teacher" magnets.

Many of the gifts that I have received remained in the classroom or got stored away in a huge filing cabinet never to be used or seen again. It's not that we don't appreciate the gift and thought, but they just weren't things we had room for could use on a regular basis.

If you don't want your gift falling into the lost bin or re-gift department, give something that is suited for the individual's interests.

Photo credit google royalty free images

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

DIY School Teacher Gift Ideas

Here is a brief list of "don'ts." - Please don't give:

  1. One more homemade gift album. They're pretty, but not practical or big enough.
  2. Mugs filled with candy
  3. Another ornament
  4. Yarn, macaroni craft or popsicle stick gifts
  5. Homemade cookies or baked goods. I understand this one doesn't apply to some teacher's, but to many. Teacher's already know you can make these items, because you baked them for your kids birthday or some other class party. It's not that they won't appreciate it, but it doesn't show that you care about their interests.
  6. Another tie that lights up or plays jingle bells.
  7. Perfume or cologne. Just like you, teacher's have a favorite scent they use. Most of the time this gift is re-gifted to someone else.
  8. Teacher magnets. We just can't display them all.
  9. Cubed or cute shaped note pads. I never use them because it ruins how pretty they, they just become one more thing on my already cluttered desk.
  10. Under garments, pj's or night gowns of any kind. This is a really big no-no.
  11. Mouse pads.
  12. Things they have to make, assemble or put together in any way. They're tired and need a rest too.
  13. Things that are to be shared by the entire class. If you want to give the class a gift, that's ok, but it shouldn't be in place of a gift for the teacher.
  14. Things that have to be used on a certain day or it is not valid. No one can predict anyone else's schedule. Example: Theater/play, game or concert tickets for a specific night. Tickets are great, but should be bought only if there is an option for them to be used for any play, concert or game.

Do you think teacher's should get a Christmas gift?

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What to Get for Your Teacher and Friends for Christmas

A Teacher's Christmas Wish

A Teacher's Christmas Wish List

A teacher imagines what she wants for Christmas.

Gifts for Male or Female Teachers ideas from a teen that is cool.

School Teacher Gifts using Totes

Do you think a teacher is ungrateful if they want a gift not related to the classroom?

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So what are some great gift ideas? - Here are 25 gifts on a teacher's wish list.

Teachers are busy being creative with ideas everyday. They know what your child can do and don't need another one of the same thing they have already displayed in the classroom. Just like your child, every teacher has their own hobbies, likes and dislikes. Find out what they are.

Single Disposable Cameras under $15.00 - Buy the double pack and save.

Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash 400 Disposable 35mm Camera (Pack of 2)
Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash 400 Disposable 35mm Camera (Pack of 2)

Every year I made sure to have a selection of cameras on hand for all the activities I did on my classes. A teacher can never have too many of these to keep in their desk for special events and once-in-a-life time moments.


Teacher's Real Wish List

  1. Disposable cameras. Teacher's take pictures in the classroom all year long.
  2. Their favorite movie. Find out what their favorite movies are and get one on DVD.
  3. Make a movie night bucket filled with candy, popcorn, soda, etc. Someone once gave me this gift. I liked it so much, the next year I gave out several movie night baskets.
  4. Gift card to a movie theater (for 2 tickets of course)
  5. Gift certificates to office supply stores. Teacher's often have to buy their own supplies.
  6. Gift certificate to a teacher store or learning center store. This is one of my favorite gifts. In one school where I taught, I had only a $100.00 budget for art supplies for all my class projects that year. The PTA (Parent Teacher's Association) gave each teacher a $25.00 gift card to any place they wanted. Almost every teacher chose a teacher supply store gift card.
  7. Gift card to the mall which allows them shop in any store they like. I really liked this.
  8. A gas gift card. Some teacher's have to travel quite a distance to school, and that takes up a big part of their salary. This card is always a great gift.
  9. Subscription to Instructor Magazine or another teacher's magazine. I love my Instructor magazine and relied on it for many years. If a teacher already has a subscription to it, renew it for them.
  10. Free car wash and detailing gift card. This is such a nice gift especially if a teacher lives on a country road.

Gift Books Are Always Nice

This book is available in Kindkle on Amazon
This book is available in Kindkle on Amazon

Teacher Gifts They'll Love

  1. Free tire rotation/change or oil change and lube/grease job.
  2. Gift certificate to a bookstore. Every year the largest percentage of my budget goes towards books, not in my classroom, but at home. I have an extensive research library and need to add to it all the time. Unlike some people, teacher's often do like an actual physical book just to read while relaxing.
  3. A nice candle and candle stand. One of my favorite gifts was from a senior who gave me the most wonderfully scented candle. I never burned it, but just opened it when I was working at my desk at home.
  4. Gift card to a music store.
  5. Sports jersey. It was during basketball season when I was hooked on anything Laker's. A 7th grader noticed that and made it a point to get me a Laker's sports jersey. It was one of my most memorable gifts.

Here are two more gifts that I not only recommend, but have received.

Swiss Colony Dobosh Torte Trio

Select from over 60 Swiss Colony items on Amazon.

I have given and received this product for over 20 years. It is one of my favorites, and can be divided into three gifts so it is economically wise as well.

I serve it over the holidays to my guests, and it has always gotten good reviews. My favorite is the double chocolate one in the middle.

More Holiday Gift Ideas

Pretzel Gift in Reusable Tin

This is another example of Swiss Colony item that I have received this gift several times, including this year.

What I like about this gift is that it has 3 different flavors, and I reuse the tin for storing my own baked cookies in the freezer.

Another way I have used them is in party trays over the holidays. It saves me so much time and the guest love the white chocolate for a change.

Swiss Colony Holiday Pretzel Trio

Great Chocolates for under $30.00

Godiva Chocolatier Signature Chocolate Truffle Assortment (8 pc.)
Godiva Chocolatier Signature Chocolate Truffle Assortment (8 pc.)

One year I had a student surprise me with a lovely box of Godive chocolates. If you want your teacher to remember you in years to come, this one will do it.


Ten More Teacher Gift Favorites

  1. Chocolates. I was blessed by a 9th grader one year with a beautiful box of Godiva chocolates. Chocolates, cheese, crackers and fruit gift baskets are nice. You can get these here through Swiss Colony. I use them every year.
  2. An everyday watch for school. I didn't receive a watch to wear, but a silver wall watch. This gift was quite unusual, because this senior gave me a clock watch that even had the bands on it. It stretched out over 3 feet. I loved it and hung it in one of my guest bedrooms.
  3. Engraved letter opener. When I received this gift I was really surpirsed. An 11th grader had a silver letter opener from Things Remembered engraved with her name and the date so I wouldn't forget her. We remained in touch for years after she graduated and became a nurse.
  4. Large photo album. Each year I took tons of pictures of projects and kids. I never had enough albums, and those that people made for me didn't work well.
  5. Large poster size photo frames. I had 4 of these hanging in my office containing student photographs. I made a collage of class trips and events, then displayed them in these large showcase type poster frames. They were less then $20 to buy.
  6. A gift card to a Bible Book store or Christian Book Store. I could have used this for cards, borders and stuff for my bulletin boards.
  7. Small music boxes.
  8. Trunk organizer
  9. Jumper cables. There were so many teachers I knew that worked late or had night classes, and when leaving for home they discovered that their car wouldn't start. Oddly, not too many had jumper cables.
  10. Scarf sets. Many times a teacher likes to keep extra items at school for when they have playground or other duties that take them outdoors. This idea works for both men and women.

On average what do you think is a good $ amount to spend on a teacher's gift?

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Do you give gifts to Sunday school teachers as well as regular education teachers?

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Gifts $30.00 and above.

Gift Basket Combo Packs from the Entire Class - I love these.

Gift Basket Village For The Teacher Gift Basket
Gift Basket Village For The Teacher Gift Basket

Give your teacher a break from the kitchen as well with a gift basket from the entire class. A big thank you will follow for sure.


Gifts under $20.00

Poll: Teacher Gifts

Do you (or did you) buy a gift for every teacher your child(ren) had?

See results

Candle gifts - Click on any photo for details.

A few more gifts we love.

  1. House plants that flower (or not).
  2. Flower arrangements.
  3. Gift certificates to a nail or beauty salon. Don't forget the barber.
  4. Restaurant gift certificates.
  5. Pizza gift certificates.
  6. Aromatherapy Candles under $15.00

Aromatherapy Candles under $15.00

Gifts from A Group to an Individual. - A nice selection that could be given to each teacher by the PTA or other groups.

Popcorn, movie night and candy gift baskets are also a good choice for teacher's and their families.

What is nice about everyone pitching in a little toward one gift, it can be a larger one and much nicer. It can be presented at a class party or staff gathering.

Holiday Wreath of Sweets and Christmas Treats Gift Box
Holiday Wreath of Sweets and Christmas Treats Gift Box

Gift baskets are always appreciated and can be time savers for a hard working teacher..


Did you ever think of giving a gift card to a teacher?

See results $50 Gift Card in a Black Gift Box (Classic Black Card Design) $50 Gift Card in a Black Gift Box (Classic Black Card Design)

If you're not sure what to get your teacher gift certificates are a good way to go.

Select from several price ranges to fit your budget.


Great idea!

Editor Dave a seasoned teacher with a house full of teachers made this suggestion that I like:

"Island Shirts"

Poll: Who will you buy for?

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

How many teachers will you buy for this year?

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Poll: Did we help you?

Photo credit by royalty free google images
Photo credit by royalty free google images

Was this site helpful in your decision making?

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"For unto you is born this day,

in the city of David,

a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:11

Thanks for visiting and shopping. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Be sure to visit my Daily Favor Blog for more inspirational gift idea.

© 2011 Fay Favored

Well, I hope you found some new gift ideas. - If you have any other suggestions please let me know.

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Hi aesta, I can imagine you could add a bit to the list as well. Thanks for visiting. Have a Merry Christmas.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      A really useful guide. I used to teach and the real wish list fits well.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      @Erin Mellor: I forgot about the magnets :)

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      The teachers I know are overwhelmed with gifts at Christmas and embarrassed about what to do with them all. 10 "World's best teacher" mugs and magnets a year for 30 years really do stack up and there's no re-gifting opportunity. Classroom supplies are fine. Gift cards are great, chocolates (with a long expiry date) are nice, wine is wonderful.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      I have been a teacher for years too -the funniest gift I was ever given was a bottle of whiskey! I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened it on Christmas morning! I wonder what his parents thought of me! Really nice lens. I totally agree with your comments. Thanks.

    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 4 years ago from Southern California

      I've got quite a few friends that are teachers. I'll have to pick their brains to see what kinds of gifts they usually get...

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      Being a teacher for many years, I appreciated it from a teacher's point of view.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This lens is fantastic. My mother is a teacher and I am 100% positive that she would agree with each and every word you wrote.

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      A great lens about a subject dear to my heart at one time in my life. Great ideas.


    • pretyfunky profile image

      pretyfunky 5 years ago

      Good lens ..thanks for this

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      We gave my stepson's favorite teachers gift certificates to a nice restaurant that was a block from the school. Good to know Godiva and Swiss Colony gifts are appreciated by teachers.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      This is a great lens, thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you! ~Blessed~

    • profile image

      MissJumpingCastle 5 years ago

      Great lens

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      @kristalulabelle: If your sister has any ideas, let me know. Thanks for stopping by.

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is a fabulous lens and such a great topic! My sister is a teacher, so I have some new ideas for this year!

    • audrey07 profile image

      audrey07 5 years ago

      I this gift cards is a great idea. It's practical and there is no need to rack your brain over what to get!

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      That was really helpful. What a great idea to let us know what not to get teachers and then follow up with really good ideas. You would certainly know.

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      We always give gift cards. Sometimes the room mother will organize a group gift card, which is really nice because it's usually for quite a bit of money.

    • lovetolink profile image

      lovetolink 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I'm still laughing about the night gown!

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      Very cool ideas

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Every parent of a school age child should read this! I budget anywhere between $20 and $35. My daughter is now in high school, but I bought Christmas gifts for each of her primary school teachers except Year 7 (he was really incompetent, dangerous and fortunately fired). I still buy gifts for music teachers, dancing teachers, swimming coaches etc., so appreciate your dos and dont's very much. Blessings.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      We have asked each kid for $5 and put it together for one $100 gift card. Teacher loved that!

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      As the son of two teachers, and after having been a teacher myself and having married a teacher, I think I've gone through a lot of this. I definitely don't need more mugs (and I hate ties -- never wore them when I was a teacher -- but then again, I taught school in the *tropics*... so "Island Shirts" were more in style). I like the idea of gift-cards. ;-) Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • JohannDog profile image

      Johann The Dog 5 years ago from Northeast Georgia

      Those are pawsome ideas for teachers! I shall share with my friends!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I have a teacher friend. Wow, does she have coffee mugs, and you wouldn't believe how many apple ornaments she has. Well, maybe you would believe it.

      Good topic and will make parents give a little more thought to the gift for the teacher in future.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I think that the gift I most recommend to give a teacher is cookies - with their being enough for one each for everyone in the classroom. A nice little reward gift for everyone ;)

    • Joycevoice profile image

      Joycevoice 6 years ago

      My sister is a teacher and I am going to have her forward a link to your lens to all of her students :) She loves getting gift cards. Fun lens.

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 6 years ago from Florida

      Nice ideas! Gift cards are always a great gift!

    • daedrea lm profile image

      daedrea lm 6 years ago

      great mom is a teacher and I could understand how getting a gift that obviously says teacher might not be such a great gift. They are people too; male teachers are males and female teachers are females and that is what their gifts should be mainly about. It may seem ok to get a gift just for a teacher, but people should know that that one teacher probably gets the same type of gift from different students every time on every holiday. That could be really annoying to me. Students should switch it up sometimes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My sister tell the story of a kindergarten teacher she volunteered with and at Christmas how many gifts were received...she was particularly impressed with a Starbuck's coffee and mug gift basket.....which she still has because the teacher gave that same gift basket to her in the spring as a 'thank you' for helping. Shell split a gut laughing when she realized what happened and still is using those mugs. Wonderfully done with such great insight....the teachers of the world will thank you!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Very good ideas for teacher gifts that they can appreciate.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Teacher gift shopping today. Nice to know what not to buy.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 6 years ago from Gloucester

      What a great idea for a lens! It's really useful to know what not to get for a teacher for Christmas... and even more important to have some ideas of what a teacher WOULD like to receive - thanks for the insider's view, and a great selection! Blessed. :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Nicely done. Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 6 years ago

      I always think a scarf is a nice gift....if you understand the person's taste. A safe bet is a great smelling candle.

      Thanks for the suggestions!