Rudey's Room

Five Teacher Gifts That Your Child's Teacher Really Wants

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It’s that time of year. The end of the school year!

Can I get a summa summa summa summatime?

No more reading logs .. it’s summatime!

Yippeeeeeee!!! … !!? … !?? … ???

Before you sign off on the school year, I’m sure you want to give one last wave to acknowledge the teachers in your life.

I’m so grateful to my girls’ teachers for the work they’ve done with and for them this year.



Veronica’s 2nd-grade classroom door as decorated by the students and room moms for Teacher Appreciation Day.


Every year, a few of my friends pick my brain for ideas. This year, I’m taking to Rudey’s Room to share what I’ve gathered in my 13 years teaching. It’s what teachers honestly want and what won’t be tossed in the garbage or regifted.

The Don’ts: 

1. Reconsider #1 Teacher coffee mug. Unless she’s a first (or second?) year teacher, she’s had her fair share of apple-themed tchotchkes.

2. Tread lightly on the baked goods, candy, and chocolates at the end of the year. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m about to wear a swimsuit more days than not. Unless she has a known sweet tooth, save the treats for the winter holidays.

If you want to hit a home run with your teacher, try these Five EOY Gift Ideas:

1. Get to Know Your Teacher: What does she like? A little recon goes a long way. Find out your teachers interests/preferences and gift accordingly.

Does she love knitting? Get her a gift card to Jo-Ann’s and attach an interesting skein of yarn. Does she have a favorite team? My co-worker once got a Packer jersey with his last name printed on the back from his 8th-grade class. He’s a Packer Backer in Bear County.

My MIL often gets gift cards to McDonald’s. The kids and families she teach know about her daily Diet Coke fix. I’m a Francophile, so Eiffel Towers and washclothes embroidered en français are up my alley.

2. Have Your Child Write a Note:  Or draw a picture and you transcribe for them. Attach a candid of your kiddo for memory-sake.

Parents, if you write the note, be specific. These are the people who raised your expectations and encouraged (pushed, even) your children to learn, grow, and be the best they can be. Let them know how. We appreciate knowing what’s working.




All teachers have tough days, moments, class periods. These love notes are valuable beyond measure. In recognizing our efforts and successes, our mission to educate is strengthened.

I keep the hand-written notes in my filing cabinet and peek at them from time to time.




3. You Can’t Go Wrong with a Gift Card: Gift cards rule! $5, $10, $15, $20 – it’s really doesn’t matter. Pick the amount that matches your pocketbook. A five spot can spring for a cup of coffee and a croissant at Starbucks. Wanna splurge? Pick a local spa and twenty-five dollars is likely enough for a mani/pedi special. A $20 card to AMC covers two tickets to a movie that will help ease your teacher (and a friend) into a restful summer. An Amazon gift card for summer reading is a win. Teachers don’t typically get much leisure reading done during the school year. Tuck a couple recommendations in your note of appreciation (see #2).

The options for gift cards are endless and if consider #1, you’ll know where to pick. If you come up empty, go with your teacher store or Target.

Insider Tips: Unless you really know your teacher’s preferences, give her a gift card to Bath & Body Works over picking out a scent. If you’ve searched Pinterest and found a gift of appreciation to make, that’s cool. Go with it. But if you’re short on time/energy or you just don’t feel like it, consider a gift card in lieu of a home-made creation. You’d likely spend at least $5 – 10 on the supplies.

4. Personalize It: Letters, monogramming, and name stamping are in. Help your teacher put her mark on education with this trend.

This site has teacher stamps, such as “Good job!” or from the desk of ________.  Stop by Anthropologie and get a coffee mug with her first initial.

Teachers write a lot of notes home, so creating personalized stationary or notepads will get a lot of mileage and appreciation. There’s an abundance of spots to shop – local and online. Paper Source, Shutterfly, Papyrus, Vistaprint are a few I use.

Or slip into summer mode and order a monogrammed bag that doubles as home for papers to grade and flip flops.  (Lands’ End often shares 30 percent discount codes, if you subscribe with your email).

5. Team Up with Other Families: Your dollars turn into hundreds when grouped in fives and tens. Does your parent-teacher association collect money to divvy amongst the specials’ teachers? Does your school have an online teacher wish list? If so, jump on board. If not, these are untapped resources. Enlist other families and start something. Your teachers will thank you.

A lot of elementary classes have room moms that initiate and collect for class gifts. The gift card bouquets are awesome! For the middle school families or those leaving a school, how about pooling your money and catering lunch for teachers the day after the last day of school? This is the day teachers are cleaning up their rooms, meeting with grade-level partners, unwinding with their peers, and organizing for the next year.

Oh! I know I said “skip it” above, but I do look forward to this appreciation from my school’s parents to my fellow teachers.

Teachers reading this, s.v.p. …  spill it! What’s your favorite gift to receive?



* Side note: I struggled with the he/she in this piece. I chose “she” since most teachers I know are women and seeing he/she over and over is kind of annoying. Please know this is not to overlook the phenomenal men who teach. Stella’s pre-K teacher is a man and he’s incredible!!


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