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Stop guessing! 10 holiday teacher gifts, picked by real teachers

Written by
Leigh Dunn
Contributing Educator
Published on
November 28, 2022

Please welcome Leigh Dunn, a contributing teacher to Alpaca! Leigh is an elementary teacher in Omaha, Nebraska, and a creative at heart. She'll be writing on the blog about her experiences as a teacher! If you want to be a contributing teacher for Alpaca, please reach out to hello@alpacapacks.com!

Already dreading finding a holiday gift for your teacher? 

Repeat after me.  I will not buy my kid’s teacher a coffee mug or apple ornament.  Parents, we are overjoyed at the kindness of your holiday gifts.  And we know the urge is strong to lean in to school themes. We will never be ungrateful! But if you want to both thank your teacher for their work AND acknowledge them as the amazing professionals they are, we’ve got some ideas. 

Want the real list, from a real teacher? Here are the 10 holiday gift ideas that we truly want, need, and will make us feel like respected, appreciated professionals.

Beautiful note cards

Teachers write SO many notes - to parents, to kids, to fellow teachers. Often, handwritten notes are the main way we communicate! So a pack of nice note cards seems small, but it’s truly such a gift.  Cards with envelopes, thank you notes, or simply a stack of nice flat cards – this is something we buy for ourselves and love to receive. 

Gift cards for a local business

Although Starbucks and Target are the most obvious choice for teacher gifts, your teachers will love to try a new local coffee shop or brunch spot.  Holiday break is an important time for teachers to reconnect with the other adults in their lives – how about offering them a great spot for a brunch date? 

Hand warmers

File this under “extra jobs that teachers do” – recess duty. When we are corralling kids during a kickball game in twenty degree weather, we will be so grateful for a supply of hand warmers!  Hand warmers at recess sound like a day at the spa to a teacher trying to thaw their fingers out in time to teach their next lesson!

Flair pens

What’s the big deal about Flair pens? Teachers, like all professionals, love to have high quality tools to do their jobs every day, and you simply cannot go wrong with a Flair pen, trust me.  Flair pens (or other high quality pens) in bright colors bring teachers joy and send the message ‘we want you to have the best.’

Mini humidifier

I purchased this last year for my classroom, and it’s been so helpful.  When runny noses run amok in the classroom and coughs muffle the teacher’s words, this makes a difference in teachers staying well. I absolutely love mine and often have colleagues inquire about it.  

Relaxation kits

Teachers operate on tight budgets, but over winter break, we love to take some time for ourselves. I love these masks and these beautiful candles are something we won’t splurge on for ourselves.  Choose neutral scents - everyone has their own style! Pair it with a great book that YOU loved this year, and you’ve set your teacher up for a wonderful winter break.  And if you want to take it over the top, a small high quality treat from a local shop like The Cordial Cherry or Nibbs Chocolates is so appreciated.

Paper

We live on paper. Dot grid notebooks, Astrobrights paper, high quality sticky note pads (especially the big ones!) -- these are essential supplies that we need to do our jobs, but we often pay for the high quality stuff out of pocket. A a cute stack of papers, notebooks, and stickies, tied with a bow would be an incredibly delightful gift for your teacher!

Morning drink

Find out the teacher’s favorite morning drink (psst…just ask your kid to ask them!)  On a day sometime before the holidays, pick up a latte or Diet Coke and drop it by.  When we see a student walk through the classroom door with our favorite drink, it’s more than a pick-me-up – it’s a rare treat. We don’t get to just take a half hour to pop out for a coffee during our work day, so this feels extra special.

Hand soap or lotion

True confession: when you give teachers hand soap for gifts, it goes directly into the staff restrooms.  Since teachers wash our hands many times a day, dry skin and raw hands are typical. Having quality soap such as Method or Sugar Raw makes us feel both pampered and healthy.  Pair it up with a high quality lotion that lasts all day and we’re so grateful!

Handwritten notes

We adore anything handwritten from you or your child.  As we work each day to teach and love your kids well, feeling the recognition for that in a handwritten note helps us know your kids and family even better. I still have a box of Christmas cards penned from students and parents tucked away in my closet.  

Let’s review. No mugs, no apples. Why? Because your teachers are so much more than those cute school themes might suggest. Your teachers are not only teaching double-digit addition and possessive nouns.  We’re also managing recess, communicating with parents, keeping kids from getting sick or cold, and so much more.  When you take the moment to find gifts that acknowledge hard work, treat teachers as professionals, and show personal sentiment, your teacher will not only feel loved, they’ll also feel seen and respected. And that respect will be the best holiday gift you can give.

PS: If you want the EASIEST way to get a great selection of the items above for your teacher, order an Alpaca Holiday Gift Pack today!!! 20% through December 2.