a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Dec, 2008

Best teacher gift ideas

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!

The other day I had a meeting in the staff lounge of one of my daughter’s schools. The cupboard doors were wide open, and guess what I saw? MUGS. Many many coffee mugs. Big ones and small ones. Bright ones and white ones. Fancy ones and plain ones. They were all different. It was like a museum display of a coffee mug retrospective.

This reminded me. Time is running out to get good teacher gifts. It’s a perennial issue. You want to show appreciation, but you don’t want to go overboard or spend money on something that isn’t going to be appreciated or used.

This year I went back to the World Vision catalogue and found something there (which I won’t reveal, just in case Someone Is Reading.) They have a whole pile of great (not to mention, meaningful!) ideas. And you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg.

It’s something can talk about it with your child as you’re making your choices.

Can you imagine not having a warm coat? A pencil to write with? Books to read?

I have a feeling many teachers would appreciate if you bought, in his/her name:

 And that’s just a small sampling.

World Vision will also send an e-card to the recipient, which I think is pretty cool too.

I think it would be a pretty nice thing to do, instead of getting another coffee mug or scented candle, don’t you think?

 If you have any ideas of your own, do share! I’m sure we can all use a little inspiration.

25 Responses to "Best teacher gift ideas"

1 | Mom On The Go

December 18th, 2008 at 10:18 am


Reid gave her teachers the World Vision gift of “a girl’s education”. I printed the certificate and Reid oh-so-carefully printed her name and drew a small picture at the bottom. We put it in a mini stocking that I knitted and included a single truffle. We used a finger paint painting as the wrapper and took it to school this morning. The teachers were touched, Reid was proud and some little girl are going to have a better chance in life.

2 | Virtually There

December 18th, 2008 at 10:27 am


I love the World Vision idea.

If anyone wants to add some homebaking to that, I’ve got the goods for sale.

3 | Scatteredmom

December 18th, 2008 at 11:10 am


I work in schools and yes, they have WAY too many mugs. Find out what the teacher likes by asking other staff.

Gift certificates are very much appreciated, and I get rave reviews when I give baskets of cookies or jam. Teachers never have the time to actually start baking things until school is out.

The World Vision idea is fantastic too, and I’m sure the teachers that I know would love it.

4 | Lynn

December 18th, 2008 at 11:38 am


I think this is a great idea. I will file it away for next year. This year I just got my kids’ teachers gift certificates to Chapters — they can shop for themselves or buy things for the classroom if they like. Boring, but useful, I hope!

5 | Stacey

December 18th, 2008 at 11:39 am


My daughter is just in kindergarten, and we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on Christmas presents, so we decided to go the homemade route. I came up with the idea, but she was able to make the whole thing herself.

She glued different coloured tissue paper to a small jam jar. Then we mixed together unscented baby oil, white sugar and a few drops of lavender oil to make a sugar scrub for hands. I printed up the directions to put on the lid, and that was it.

We had all of the supplies in the house and it was a fun afternoon activity for her. And now she is so proud to take a gift to her teacher that she made, all by herself!

6 | Anna

December 18th, 2008 at 1:34 pm


I’ve tried PC gift giving in the past and it wasn’t always appreciated. Now I try to give what I think the teacher really will use and love. My son’s current teacher has a cup of Timmy’s coffee in his/her hand whenever I see him/her….so this year was easy and GC from Tim Horton’s. :-)

For us it is mainly a gesture, to say “hey, we appreciate your hard work, here’s a little something to brighten your day”.

7 | andrea

December 18th, 2008 at 1:41 pm


Really? I’d love to hear from a teacher or two about this.

I like the idea of coffeeshop gift cards. Even if the teacher doesn’t drink coffee there is always something there for them.

And Lynn: Chapters gift certificates are not boring!

8 | Chantal

December 18th, 2008 at 1:55 pm


I did the same as Lynn with the Chapters gift cards. And I donated a book to the school library in their name. Our school is fairly new (4 years) and our library still needs tons of books.

9 | tayawilliams

December 18th, 2008 at 2:10 pm


ll great ideas. i am a teacher myself, and when it comes to getting christmas gifts everything is nice. There are two things that i especially love. I love when the kids ive me something related to their ethnic culture. Every year my classes have kids from all over the world, and its really nice to get chocolates or trinkets from their home countries, or parents countries.
What i love to get most, although i hardly ever get these kinds of gifts, are gifts that benefit the whole class. Every teacher i know would rather a child bring in something that would make the classroom a better place, than a nice candle for MY bedroom or dining room.
One year i received a board game for the class(i teach grade 1 and 2), and i thought it was one of the most thoguhtful gifts. Board games are so inexpensive and a great addition to a classroom.
I linked my name to one that my kids ahve been going nuts over all year. its only 20 dollars online, 25 in stores i think.

10 | Leah

December 18th, 2008 at 3:43 pm


Great ideas, but what do you do if, between your two kids and their school and daycare, they have 9 teachers! Ugh! I think a heartfelt card will have to do this year.

11 | andrea

December 18th, 2008 at 3:59 pm


I feel your pain Leah! Cards are fine. But you can also go for a group gift idea too …

One year at daycare we bought a pound of *really good* ground coffee. I know they really appreciated it. (You’d have to find out what kind of machine they have though!)

12 | Meghan

December 18th, 2008 at 4:22 pm


I like to give consumable gifts-I gave each teacher a nice jar of honey :) with a small card.

13 | The Veg Next Door

December 18th, 2008 at 4:41 pm


I love the World Vision idea. Just wondering if there’s a local organization that’s similar.

14 | The Veg Next Door

December 18th, 2008 at 4:42 pm


Oh, I forgot to add that The Pea is in JK. I gave the teacher (English & French) nice hand cream since they are always washing their hands and they get dry in the winter.

The bus drivers got TH gift cards.

15 | jennP

December 18th, 2008 at 5:54 pm


i get the teachers a gift card and add some homemade chocolate. The gift card last year was at Chapters. This years teacher is young and fashionable. in a discussion one day she mentioned how she loved winners. So i got her a Winners gift card.

I make baked goods or chocolate for the other staff as well, including the janitors and daycare workers. Its a little thing, but it shows them that we also think of them and appreciate all they do.

16 | ian

December 18th, 2008 at 10:37 pm


We wanted to stay away from the chocolates/mugs…etc, something a little unique and went with fat-free consumable – chinese loose leaf green-jasmine tea and a reusable tea filter.

Hope they like it!

17 | Shan

December 19th, 2008 at 10:28 am


I went with a Tim Horton’s gift card this year, but no matter what I get I always make sure to write a letter to my daughter’s teacher to let her know I notice and appreciate her hard work. I find that these days people are often quick to complain and/or criticize, but rarely do they take the time to let someone know they are doing a great job. My daughter’s teacher last year told me that the letter was the best gift she had received.

18 | Krista

December 19th, 2008 at 1:10 pm


I bought bookplates on Etsy and had them customized with the teachers’ names:


19 | andrea

December 20th, 2008 at 9:02 am


Some great ideas coming!

We received email notification that our teacher had picked up her e-card from World Vision. It explained what we had bought for her.

There was a line or two at the bottom of it, and I remembered something about WV which, I have to admit, makes me slightly uncomfortable. We’re not a religous family (I know many of you are, I’m just laying this out there) but we give through WV because although they are religous in nature with they help anyone, no matter their religion.

I just hope there are no strings attached to their aid.

I also hope that the teacher didn’t feel uncomfortable receiving the gift either.

Mark has pointed out some non-religious organizations that might make good ideas as teacher “gifts” too (I know there are lots!):




It’s a great way to give.

20 | kayren

December 20th, 2008 at 10:41 am


Our gift to Gabby’s teacher the past 2 xmas’s is a donation made to the Education Foundation of Ottawa.


The Education Foundation of Ottawa removes economic barriers to successful learning by responding to urgent needs identified by teachers and principals, with financial and in-kind support for students within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, who are at risk of failing due to factors associated with poverty.

21 | DaniGirl

December 21st, 2008 at 11:44 am


Ha, we are once again in each others’ heads. We did the World Vision gift catalogue for teachers’ gifts this year. We donated a backpack full of school supplies for a Canadian student to each of the boys’ teachers, and both sent home effusive thank-you notes. This is my new fave gift, after receiving a donated goat (!!) last year.

22 | Chantal

December 23rd, 2008 at 4:51 pm


We always donate something to the school. One year it was library books (we do this on their birthdays too rather than bake muffins or whatnot), this year and last it was mittens for the mitten tree.

I also have my kids write a personal note inside a handmade card that thanks the teacher and outlines favourite things they’ve done so far.

23 | Sheila D

December 23rd, 2008 at 11:54 pm


Sleeping Children Around the World is my favourite charity with a particular connection to children. (read about it here http://www.scaw.org/about/index.html ) The $35 cost of a bedkit could be shared. They have great instructions on the website how to give bedkit gifts. A snippet of explanation from the website: During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, while travelling East from Manitoba looking for work, he (Murray Dryden, the founder) endured many nights without food or a bed. He felt that “the comfort of a bed is a basic right of every child,” and that, “There is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping child.” 100% of every bedkit donation reaches a needy child.
Lots of great ideas coming in. Thanks Andrea.

24 | Ellen

June 10th, 2010 at 12:38 pm


I have given GC to Scholar’s Choice in the past and the teacher’s seemed to really like them. If Costco is an option in your area, that would be a good one too.

What I have done for the past couple of years is design personalized note pads for each of my children’s teachers. I get 5 pads x 50 sheets and they say “From the desk of” followed by the name of the teacher. At the bottom, I put the school’s name and address. The teachers all loved them and in fact, a couple of teachers who didn’t even teach my kids asked for some. I know you can order them from specialty shops on the web but it might be cheaper to get them through a local print shop.

25 | Ellen

June 10th, 2010 at 12:40 pm


Okay, the teachers in question would be horrified to know that I inserted a random apostrophe into the word “teachers” above. :-(

comment form:


Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • wisma bet login: alwa?s i ?sed to ?ead smzller posts ?hich al?? clear t?eir motive, and that is als? happening wityh t?is paragraph whi?h I am reading ?t this plac
  • /Article//110482: What i do not understood is in truth how you're not really much more neatly-favored than you might be now. You're so intelligent. You understand th
  • Jenn Jilks: That is really exciting! Break a leg!
  • fun88: I was excited to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also
  • Gretchen Humphrey: I had a beautiful bee& birdbath filled with a solar fountain and dozens of antique marbles that were suddenly disappearing. At first I thought my
  • Jinjer: I am sobbing reading this post. And you're right, companion is not enough. Little furry treasured gifts that they are. Thanks for sharing cutie-pi
  • Karen: Dear Andrea, Mark and your daughters I am so very sad for your family xxx Piper was/is my favourite Instagram post. You shared with us so intimately

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

Still calling it Twitter