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What Your Child’s Teacher Could Really Use for Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us and everyone is working on their holiday shopping lists. Before you buy that apple mug or school themed Christmas ornament for your child’s teacher, you may want to make a few minor adjustments to your list and purchase a more practical item that he or she could really use for Christmas this year.

teacher gifts

It’s a common fact that most teachers purchase classroom supplies out of their own pocket. Yes, schools provide many teachers with some basic supplies or a small stipend for classroom expenses, but that money is long-gone by the first day of school and all subsequent supplies come straight from the teacher’s personal budget.

The best part? Many of these items are available on Amazon Prime so you can shop in your pajamas and enjoy free shipping!

Glue sticks

There is something about young children and glue sticks… they go through a ton of them! Chances are, your child’s teacher is running very low on glue sticks from all of the holiday projects. This box of 30 glue sticks is the perfect way to replenish her classroom supply.

elmers glue stick


Dry Erase Markers

These are a classroom essential! Show your child’s teacher that she is extra special with this 16-pack of Expo dry erase markers. It includes so many great colors!

Expo 16 pack of Dry Erase markers

Skinny Dry Erase Markers

If the traditional (fat) style of dry erase markers are perfect for teachers, the skinny markers are essential for students. I started with a few dozen brand new markers this past fall. Many of those markers are now nearly dry and the tips are all smashed it. This tale is all-too-common in classrooms right now. Give your teacher the gift of fresh new dry erase markers!



It’s hard to find a good deal on Crayola Crayons that comes anywhere near the 25 cent deals that are popular during back to school season. I found this great 6 box pack of 24 count crayons on Amazon for less than $7.50. It’s not 25 cents each, but it’s a great deal!


Dot markers

I use these Do-A-Dot-Art markers all the time in my kindergarten classroom. They are wonderful, but at $15 for a box of 6, they are expensive for a teacher’s budget. I would be so thankful to receive a box of these as a Christmas gift!

dot markers

Papermate Flair Pens

These are seriously every teacher’s dream pen. Papermate Flair Pens write beautifully and come in such vivid colors. If they are not your child’s teacher’s favorite pens, it’s just because she hasn’t discovered them yet!

flair pens


Sharpie Fine Print Markers

Sharpie markers are a classroom staple. They are permanent and write on virtually any surface. Most teachers carry around the standard black variety of Sharpies, but I have a great affection for color and I highly recommend this 24 pack of markers.


Tempera Paint

Early childhood teachers go through a lot of paint in the classroom. Buy a few bottles of Crayola Tempera Paints in your child’s favorite colors as a Christmas gift.



Every classroom is like the Bermuda Triangle for pencils. They come into the room, then are never seen again. I personally suspect that some children eat the pencils (eraser and all). Regardless of what happens to pencils in the classroom, the fact of the matter is that teachers always need more of them. Spare your teacher some of that expense and add a pack to her Christmas gift.



White cardstock is one of my classroom essentials. I go through about 500 sheets of it every year. It’s not cheap but it’s the perfect material for so many wonderful paper crafts. Any teacher would be THRILLED to get a package of bright white cardstock as a Christmas gift.



Papers rip in the classroom ALL THE TIME and teachers go through a lot of tape. Replacement rolls are inexpensive and make for very happy teachers!


Clear Contact Paper

This is, hands-down, one of my most essential classroom supplies. I use Clear Contact Paper on seasonal window decorations and to attach student nametags to their desks. contact paper

Thermal Laminating Sheets

Elementary teachers laminate a lot of papers. Help your child’s teacher laminate to her little heart’s desire with the gift of thermal laminating pouches . Replenish her supply so she never runs out!


Thermal Laminator

Most teachers already own a thermal laminator, but they really deserve to own two: one for the classroom and one at home. Buy a second laminator for an extra special teacher so she can laminate at home while she watches TV!


Clorox Wipes

Classrooms are germy places and teachers do a lot of disinfecting in an effort to keep everyone happy and healthy. Buy your teacher a pack (or three) or Clorox wipes. It’s a gift for the teacher AND your child!




Speaking of germs, runny noses are a regular occurrence in the classroom. Many teachers replenish they own classroom tissuesupplies throughout the school year. Help your child’s teacher out this Christmas and send some extra boxes of Kleenex her way.


Sandwich Bags

Teachers use Ziploc bags for everything. The sandwich size bags are cheap and just the right size for a myriad of classroom supplies. Tuck a pack of these into your teacher’s stocking and she will know she was on Santa’s nice list! While you’re at it, you may also want to pick up a box of snack, quart, or gallon size bags too.


Parents, what are you planning to get for your child’s teacher for Christmas this
Teachers, what would you add to the list?

Fun Ideas for the Holidays

If you are looking for more fun holiday themed ideas, be sure to check out the blog posts below. They are filled with fun ideas and projects that will spread the joy of the holiday season.

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

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35 Responses

  1. I love all these ideas. One other thing that some teachers might need is more kleenex boxes (if they have already gone through what they got during the first week of school). I also use the larger zip lock bags and go through those a lot.
    Thanks for sharing this. I hope it helps a lot of parents.

  2. My teacher gifts are already under the tree and it is a nice little fabric bag with black and blue pens, fancier pens, Sharpies, pencils, erasers, and two tins of Altoids with a little travel body spray. I already gave them playdough and a book for the classroom but there is a gift limit at the school so I did those before the holiday season 🙂 I figured that they could use them for themselves but in the classroom. My mom was a teacher and she said that she didn’t ever need another mug 🙂

  3. Colorful Papermate Flair pens.. they are my favorite! Also, if they feel like they should get you something for yourself, gift cards for stores Target or even Starbucks. Then, you can pick what you need most, though we can never have “too much” for the classroom! ha! 🙂

  4. I don’t think most of these ideas are Christmas gifts. The majority are school supplies the parents provide where I work. The laminator is pretty cool though.

    1. Although these are supplies that parents supply at the beginning of the school year, there can never be enough supplies. As a Kindergarten teacher, we would run out of tissues by December ever year … taught for 7 years!

      1. My child is in kindergarten, 3 boxes of tissues per child. If they run out by December then I think there’s a bigger problem. We spent $75 on supplies for kindergarten and bought everything on this list (plus some). I don’t think they will run out of any of it, especially when the teacher commented about the left overs from last year. I think gift cards are the only way to go. So if they do run out of anything they can get more.

        1. I teach Kindergarten and I wish my parents would spend $75 on school supplies for their kids! I am in desperate need of school supplies! I teach in a high poverty area and I’m doing my best to have 1 glue stick per child. I’m glad that’s not a problem for you, but I would appreciate any of these for Christmas.

  5. I would add clear contact paper for all those cute stained glass window projects! It isn’t cheap, but I love those projects!

  6. some new books for the classroom would be a nice gift! You’re spot on with the mugs…no more please! Also, gift cards are great! 🙂

  7. A few items that would be nice to get from thoughtful parents:

    The gift of time! Donate an hour of time in your child’s classroom to assist with a special event, project, etc. If allowable, take their recess our bus duty for the day!

    Consumables- snacks for kids who don’t bring their own, milk money for the child who forgot theirs, gym shoes for the child who doesn’t have any, hand sanitizer, the usual school and office supplies

    The things that always go missing: dice, bingo chips, real coins, batteries.

    Books for struggling readers – add to the classroom library selection for struggling readers. Look for age appropriate topics and art that appeals to the age level, but at lower readability.

  8. Some schools are not allowed to have clorex wipes in the classroom due to health and safety concerns. I recommend baby wipes instead. Also like to have hand sanitizer.

  9. as a former high school English teacher, the BEST gift is a gift card so I could best decide how to use my funds. My personal favorites have aways been Coffee Bean and/or Starbucks

  10. As a preschool teacher I have received all kinds of things over the years. The 2 most cherished gifts I’ve received was a container of homemade veggie soup that was still warm ( I use her recipe all the time now) and a handmade scarf that a mom knitted for me ( I wear it every winter).

  11. I ❤️ these ideas! I would agree with adding the TpT gift certificate. Also scrapbook paper. I copy task cards & games on the back.

  12. I second the baby wipes. I buy them at Amazon (subscribe and save) by the 8-pk case for my TK/K SPED classroom.

  13. I just bought construction paper from Amazon for 75% off. I have prime so free shipping. Only $5. Sending it to school next week. I probably give an Amazon gift card at Christmas.

  14. You know teachers work hard with these little ones. I have 3 kids and the teachers have never been unhappy with a nice bottle of wine!

  15. I feel compelled to say something on behalf of students and parents. (At least from our point of view and many others we know who feel similar)

    While I do understand the practicality of these items…I think the whole idea of a Christmas gift for a teacher is lost here!

    My daughter (8 years old) will see something in a store that makes her think of one of her teachers…and if that is what SHE wants to GIVE to them, then I feel I should honor that. After all, it’s the THOUGHT that counts, NOT the gift! She has 3 teachers at school and I spent a lot of money on required school supplies (plus some from each of their “extra” lists) approximately 11 weeks ago. These are school supplies, (which will continue to be requested throughout the school year and I will buy more as I can) not gifts. I think the whole teacher gift thing all year long has gotten out of control. For teacher appreciation week we are literally told what to buy and send in each day for a whole week. (She has 3 teachers!!! & that’s not including resource teachers!) gift card day, favorite snack day, favorite flower day, etc…Her Christmas gifts (well ALL of them, actually) for her teachers come from her heart and she always makes a personal card to go along with what SHE has chosen to GIVE to them.

    How are we supposed to teach the concept to children that “it’s not about the gift” when I am constantly reading things like this? (3rd article this week about what teachers don’t want!) These ideas about what we SHOULD feel obligated give them are evidently becoming more and more common. How about be grateful that a student thought about them enough to want to give them something personal?! (And that a parent spent more of their hard earned money.) What happens next? Teachers register at stores so their “wish lists” are fulfilled at Christmas, during teacher appreciation week and at the end of the year? (It’s awful enough that most kids are doing this for birthday parties now!)

    What happened to GRATITUDE?

    How about they get nothing for any of it…no Christmas, teacher appreciation week, extra supplies requested or end of the year gift (except for the required school supplies at the beginning of the year, of course) and we just give them $75. cash at the beginning of the year and tell them that covers all the extra supplies I would buy and gifts my child would give them that they don’t want. That would send a great message to kids…it’s all about the money…the stuff! Forget being thankful! That’s how this entire article (& many of the comments) came across.

    I adore my child’s teachers…
    I appreciate my child’s teachers…
    I support my child’s teachers with needed supplies AND my time. And I will let my child GIVE to them what is in her heart. Whether it is something they need or want is irrelevant. It’s a gift…from a child…

    How does that saying go? “If a child gives you a rock you accept it with gratitude because that may be all they have to give, and they chose to give it to you.”

    1. Hi Amelia!

      I am so sorry to hear that you found this blog post so upsetting and I am also so sorry to hear that teacher appreciation week at your child’s school as been blown so much out of proportion.

      I completely agree that any gift accepted from a child should be accepted with open arms. Not all parents involve their child in the gift-selection process and this list was intended to be a helpful list of suggestions for those parents. It’s not a list of the worst gifts to give to your child’s teacher. Nor was it a list of extravagant gift cards, designer bags, or overpriced coffee. Rather, it was written from a practical perspective. Any time I open my wallet to give a gift, I like to know that it will be used and appreciated, rather than turned around and donated to the thrift store on December 26.

      Classroom teachers do not organize the three-ring circus that is teacher appreciation week and (I hope) no teachers go out of their way to ask for specific gifts. Many teachers do spend a lot of their own money on classroom supplies above and beyond what parents generously contribute at the beginning of the school year. This list was merely intended to lessen the burden of classroom teachers by surprising them with gifts that they could sincerely use. It was not a mandate for how parents and children should gift.

      1. Maria…
        I totally agree with you! Being a kindergarten teacher, my friends and family often ask for gift suggestions for teachers and I suggest many items on your list. It isn’t about not being gracious or appreciative of a gift, but rather suggesting items that we know are practical and benefit the children in our classroom! I will be sharing your post on my page-as I know my friends and family will appreciate it!

      2. Wow, your teacher appreciation week sounds intense! I can understand why it seems like too much. However, do realize that every school is different. Teacher appreciation week was not really something that happened at my school, though I did receive a gift at winter break and at the end of the year from my class. I loved the thoughtful gifts some students gave.

        I agree that this list is especially for parents who are not going to include their child in the decision anyway. My only request is no more mugs! My cabinets are already overflowing! haha

    2. I was a first grade teacher’s assistant for 3 years and a secondary math teacher for 25. The list is practical, but I remember the handpainted Christmas ornaments (yes I still have them!) And the coffee cups. While I think the author meant to be helpful, I agree completely that we often remove the fun of gift-giving. I hope you find a way to keep it alive for your children.

    3. It sounds like your child’s teacher has a lot of help with supplies. That is awesome. But some teachers don’t get that support at the beginning of the year or ever. I am happy to get zip lock baggies and glue sticks as gifts if it means I don’t have to buy them myself. There are lots of different school situations out there. But your point is well taken that some schools over burden the parents in the supply department.

  16. As a preschool teacher for over 10 years, I always appreciate the personal “thank you” cards the parents wrote. It is years letter and Ivan go back and read those cards and I get motivated to continue doing the best I can for the children in my care. A “thank you” from a parent or child means so much to me because what we do as educators is hard work and it never ends…not even when we get home, get weekends, or go on vacation.

  17. I would like to point out that school supplies are not a gift for the teacher, they are supplies for your child. Would you like to receive office supplies for your place of work, or laundry detergent for your home as a gift? Sure you need it, but it’s not actually a gift!
    I get my kids teachers something for THEMSELVES; usually a bunch of us chip in for a gift card! It shows how underfunded our schools really are!

  18. DO NOT GET TEACHERS CLASSROOM SUPPLIES!! What an insult, they have lives outside of your child’s classroom. Go with gift cards .. restaurants, spas, liquor stores … the places and things they need to take care of themselves!

  19. Jenna and Melissa, I’m curious to know if you are teachers? I understand your perspective, but I (and all the other teachers I know) love to provide fun supplies for our students, and it’s so much more fun to write on the board with blue and green and pink and other bright colored expos instead of just black–I think these items are all wonderful ideas for gifts! And for many of us, our budgets are stretched so thin that it’s a far bigger blessing to receive a need (such as these classroom supplies) than a want (a spa day that we may not have time for anyway). If in doubt, give a Target or Amazon gift card that can be used for personal or classroom supplies!

    And to Amelia, your daughter’s teachers are fortunate to have you! Whenever my kiddos bring a gift, it means 100x more to have them tell me they picked it out–as opposed to the times when they have no clue what’s in the bag because mom and dad did all the work. I do appreciate the parents’ thought, but if the child is not going to personally select something, then it is appreciated if the gift from the parents is useful instead of something cute but that I have no idea what to do with or already have 5 of. 🙂 And to echo another teacher’s comment, the best gift of all is a heartfelt note from the parents accompanied by a note/card from the child! No such thing as too many of those, and I’d rather have that than a Starbucks gift card anytime! 🙂

  20. I was a teacher for about 15 years (without my own kids) and have gotten all types of appreciation gifts throughout the years as well. Now I’m a SAHM of preschool twins and strangely find myself stumped at gift-giving time! Regarding the dispute whether school supplies are a good gift, I have to say that you have to know your audience. I’ve worked in public, low income schools where it’s hard to get supplies for all your students and spent lots of my own money on office/classroom supplies, and private, affluent schools that supply everything you could imagine. I am the type that appreciates a practical gift so I smiled when reading some of the suggestions but none of them seem right for my kid’s school or teachers. That doesn’t make them bad suggestions! I think I’m going to go the route of “pamper gifts” (food, coffee, bath/body gifts) this year. Thanks for putting together a clever list. I agree that many of these would put a smile on many a teacher’s face!

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)


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