Back to School Gifts Teachers Will Love

Back to School Gifts Teachers Will Love

Great Gift Ideas for the New School Year

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon with more than 5 children, you know this universal truth: teachers are grievously underappreciated. We trust teachers to educate our children, nurture their talents, and model positive values. We expect teachers to exhibit expertise in their field, treat each student fairly, and exercise extraordinary patience. Teachers do all those things and more; a National Center for Education Statistics survey found teachers spend an average of $479 of their own money on school supplies for the classroom.

Then, there’s the lasting effect teachers have on our lives. Think back to a teacher who believed in you or helped you discover a lifelong passion. How do you thank someone like that?

Surprisingly, most teachers say their favorite gifts aren’t things. In a BuzzFeed survey, teachers cited handwritten notes and students’ drawings as the gifts that warm their hearts the most. But before we get to great back-to-school gift ideas, let’s look at the gifts teachers definitely don’t want:

Teacher Gifts to Avoid


“World’s Best Teacher,” “This Teacher Rules,” “Teaching is my Superpower,” — most teachers have them all. They get them as gifts from students, parents, family, and friends. Anyone who’s not a first-year educator has amassed quite a collection. It’s not that teachers don’t like mugs; it’s that they have more of them than they can use, and most mugs get thrown away, donated to charity, or regifted to a fellow teacher. Save your money.

Smelly Stuff

Candles, lotions, and perfumes are great gifts for someone you know really, really well. If you notice a teacher using a specific hand cream or wearing a specific scent, perhaps gifts of lotion or perfume might make a nice end-of-year gift. But when you buy fragranced gifts, you run the risk of buying something a teacher is sensitive to (think migraines and allergies) or simply dislikes. A scent-free gift card would be a better choice if you want to go this route.

Pricey Gifts

Even though you mean well, a super expensive gift is not the way to start the year off. Most school districts have codes of ethics that prevent educators from excepting expensive gifts. Check with your district for guidelines, but anything over $25 is probably too expensive. Remember, as a back-to-school gift, a lavish present reads as an attempt to curry favor instead of heartfelt gratitude.

Apple Swag

Apples and teachers are a nostalgic association for most of us. In the 1800s, especially in frontier towns, parents supplemented teachers’ measly incomes with baskets of food and bushels of apples. Bing Crosby even crooned a tune about it— “An Apple for the Teacher” —further cementing the connection in pop culture. That’s why most teachers already have tons of apple-themed shirts, magnets, notepads, tote bags, and mugs (double whammy!).

Here are some back-to-school gifts ideas that will make your child’s teacher feel appreciated and help them stay organized to boot.

Gifts Teachers Will Love

Stamps + Ink Pads

Teachers love stamps! They’re a great way to motivate and encourage students. Educational stamps can be funny, punny, and personalized. The ink comes in a rainbow of colors, and the stamps feature phrases every teacher can use. mDesign’s Plastic or Bamboo Organizer Box is an inventive way to present your gift. Teachers can use it to store stamps or other school small school supplies. It’s like two gifts in one.

Clear Box with Open Lid and 12 Divided Compartments Containing Craft Supplies

School Supplies

School supplies are a perennial need for teachers; remember, they often spend a portion of their own income on supplies for their classrooms. This gift idea puts a new spin (see what we did there?) on the back-to-school supply cakes that are so popular on Pinterest. Fill this multi-level rotating organizer’s nine compartments with glue sticks, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and more. The smooth-swiveling base keeps supplies within easy reach. Or give the rotating organizer with a gift card to the nearest office supply or craft store.

Clear plastic 9-section lazy susan spinner turntable containing office supplies

Themed Bins

Your child is starting a new grade, so one of the challenges of back-to-school gifts is finding the right gesture for a teacher you might not know very well. Themed bins can be the universal gift you’re looking for and they’re great for coaches and after-school activity instructors, too. Start with mDesign’s clear organizer bin and fill it according to the theme you choose:

  • The Happy, Healthy Bin — With sticky hands and runny noses kids are like walking petri-dishes for germs and bacteria. Fill a bin with all the things a teacher needs to keep the classroom healthy: tissues, antibacterial wipes, antiseptic pads, hand sanitizer, and adhesive bandages.
  • Movie Night Bin — Arrange a bin with an array of popular movie-watching treats: microwave popcorn, Twizzlers, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, and anything else a teacher might enjoy noshing on a Netflix night. Upgrade your bin with a gift certificate to your local cinema.
  • Cozy Night In Bin — Self-care is everywhere, so a bin filled with comforting treats is a great idea. Fill a bin with gourmet hot cocoa mix, a mini reading light, and a gift certificate to a local indie bookstore.

Clear plastic bin filled with homemade popcorn ingredients and thank you gift tag on wooden kitchen countertop

Cookie Jars

Speaking of universal gifts, who wouldn’t like freshly-baked (or, to save time, store-bought) cookies? mDesign’s apothecary cannister makes a cute cookie jar and, once the cookies are gone, your child’s teacher can use it for storing everything from office supplies to energy bars. Here’s a delicious recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies:

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon dark molasses
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (240g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats
  • 1 and 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, molasses, and vanilla and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, beat in the oats and both types of chocolate chips. Dough will be thick and sticky. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator (and up to 4 days). If chilling for longer than a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  5. Use a large cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough, about 3 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place 4 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cookies are still warm, I like to press a few more chocolate chips into the tops– this is only for looks!
  7. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

source: sally’s baking addiction

Here’s to an awesome new school year!

Check out our Back to School mBlog series for more inspiration for the new year.

Lisa Langford is a Senior Copywriter at mDesign

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Posted: Jul 20, 2021