Silver Lining: terrible teacher gifts (and way better alternatives)

September 9, 2014

terrible teacher gifts (and way better alternatives)

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Office Depot, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #inspirestudents

One of the perks of being a teacher - besides the exorbitant salary, of course, haha - is teacher gifts. Granted, these are few and far between, but always appreciated. I usually got a few teacher gifts at the beginning of the year, on my birthday, during teacher appreciation week, and at the end of the year.

Here's the thing about teacher gifts: anything that comes from the student's heart is great. Two years ago I got wilted flowers with bugs on them almost every morning in the spring. However, they were hand-picked from the garden of my sweetest little student, so I loved them, bugs and all. That being said, there are a lot of weird teacher gifts out there. I surveyed some of my teacher friends, and here's a list of the WORST gifts they've ever received (some of these are hilarious):

  • a necktie (given to a female teacher who doesn't wear neckties)
  • mugs (teachers get SO MANY of these that they cannot possibly keep them all)
  • a half-eaten pizza wrapped in a garbage bag
  • lotions (again, these are nice, but SO overdone)
  • an expired coupon for carrots
  • a razor (what message are you trying to send, exactly?)
  • a baggie containing a marshmallow, a few nickels, and a plastic top
  • unwrapped food, straight from their sweatshirt pocket to your hand. Sketchy.

Some of the items on that list made me laugh pretty hard. At least we can give them points for being creative, eh? The good news is that there are fantastic, easy ways to show your child's teacher that you care. Here are some of the best gift ideas that my teacher friends and I came up with:

Gift cards! The best is when moms pool together to get a Target or iTunes gift card. Teachers also love gift cards to movie theaters or restaurants in the area.

Handmade notes, letters, and drawings. Those never ever get old, and when they come from the heart, they are especially wonderful. I still have a box of student notes that I just couldn't get rid of when I was cleaning out my classroom.

School supplies! School supplies are like Christmas for teachers. Here are three easy ways to give school supplies to teachers.

Dry erase markers - I used these every day in my guided reading groups. Take dry erase markers (I used Expo Neon Window Markers from Office Depot) and hot glue a pom pom to the top of each one. That way, when students are using them at the back table, they can quickly use the cap to erase their work. 

Sharpies - I love Sharpies, and use them all the time in the classroom and out (again, I found mine at Office Depot for a killer price). For a quick gift, tie some Sharpies together with a bright ribbon. And now you have a bouquet of brightly colored Sharpies, a la You've Got Mail. But better, because they're Sharpies, not pencils :)

Colored pens - Take a long, thin vase, like the ones you find at the dollar store. Line the rim with PaperMate colored pens (mine were from Office Depot, and there was a huge selection). Top it off with colored tissue paper and a pad of Post-it notes for a gift all teachers will love.

Et voila! Now when teacher appreciation week comes up, you can forego the lotions and mugs and give something your child's teacher will love and use. 

BONUS: If you shop at Office Depot now, you can save $5 off your purchase of $20 or more on select Newell Rubbermaid brands (PaperMate, Expo Neon Window Markers, Sharpie, Uni-Ball, and Mr. Sketch) while supplies last. Check out more and sign up for awesome Office Depot rewards by clicking here:

Happy gifting!


  1. These gifts... Even the all too familiar weird half eaten food products makes me sad. There are some aspects of teaching I'll always miss. But, yes, school supplies are always a favorite of mine. I loved post is, markers, pens.. All of it.

  2. Hilarious! Such cute ideas though! :) Good news, I am ordering my new lens next week! So excited!

  3. My dad's a teacher and he's gotten some nice gifts and some random stuff too. I love the markers/pencil ideas.

  4. Rachel would totally do a bag with random stuff in it if I let her! It's hard to reign her in and still let her have a say in the gift :) She hasn't suggested half eaten food yet though!

  5. Those are common enough gifts but I love the way you suggest to present them!

  6. Thankfully, as a junior high teacher, I never had to experience those more "creative" gifts your students gave you. I always appreciate chocolate!


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