Best & Worst End-of-Year Teacher Gifts


It’s that time of year again. We have just passed Principal Appreciation Day and Teacher Appreciation Week, and the school year’s end is (thankfully) fast approaching. As a veteran teacher spanning over 16 years and 4 countries, I have been lucky enough to teach so many lovely students and families who have given me gifts over the years. I’ve spoken to my teacher friends and compiled a list of the best and worst teacher gifts they have received. Let’s start with the worst.

The Worst Teacher Gifts

Oh, what a list… here we go.

  • a package of pancake mix
  • candles (oh teachers have way too many candles)
  • an umbrella hat
  • a very warm piece of hard lemon candy
  • a silk bathrobe
  • cheap, nasty chocolates (we love chocolate, but we won’t eat that)
  • fuzzy socks with built-in lotion
  • underwear
  • flip flops with bows
  • pencil box with wipes and a toothbrush
  • a gift card with 97 cents on it
  • coffee mugs (Why is there always an assumption that ALL teachers drink coffee? Have you ever seen that teacher with a coffee cup? No? Then they probably don’t need another.)
  • “stress release” bubblewrap
  • a vacation in a bag (sand and an umbrella)

Special mention for a box of blueberries as both the best and the worst gift.

The Best Teacher Gifts

Here is a collection of some of the best and favorite gifts my teacher friends have received.

  • a combined class gift of a hotel/casino voucher
  • a beautiful ornament for the Christmas tree
  • taco pinata filled with mini bottles of booze (taco bout a crazy year!)
  • baby onesie with the names of your class written on it
  • the teacher’s favorite chocolate, energy drink, seltzer, a bottle of wine/bubbles
  • personalized teacher decor/items

There was an overwhelming consensus that a teacher’s favorite gift has always been and will always be something personal from the students or their families. Letters from the parents thanking you for all the hard work you have put in for the year. Handwritten cards from the students, telling you that you are their favorite teacher and they will miss you. A hug on the last day of school.

My Best and Worst Gifts

For me personally, my worst gift was probably the gross, cheap chocolates. Every year I tell my class that chocolate is my favorite food, and I get way too much chocolate every year. Perhaps it’s time I stop admitting that?

As for my best gifts, while working in The Netherlands I was gifted a set of pots and pans. And did I use that set for years? I was also given a few handbags which have moved overseas twice with me. Sometimes, you are lucky enough to meet some amazing parents who you remain friends with and get to see their children, your students, grow up. That personally, has been my favourite and most rewarding gift.

Some Suggestions

Please don’t feel pressured to spend money on an unnecessary gift. Instead, try a handmade card or gift. Ask your child what your teacher likes or enjoys and use that as a jumping point. You could write a note or send an email to the principal, explaining how thankful you are for your child’s teacher and all their hard work and why you think they are amazing. Everyone loves hearing from their boss how they did a great job. Even that hug on the last day, when you might not see that child again, really means a lot.

To all my teacher friends, whether you received a gift or not… pan out to a montage of “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. We out, Bruh!


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