By Martha C. White
May 2, 2019

Teacher Appreciation Week is nearly here: It stretches from Monday, May 6, to Friday, May 10, with Teacher Appreciation Day 2019 officially falling on May 7. So there’s still time (but not much!) for you to get some great teacher gifts that your kid’s teachers will actually use and appreciate.

We asked real teachers to find out what Teacher Appreciation Week gifts they love to receive, and which classic teacher gifts you could probably skip. Among other things, what many teachers say is that coffee is great, but they aren’t really fans of mugs and other desk tchotchkes. Wine and gift cards for massages and manicures are often among the best teacher gifts too, though you should know the recipient well enough to ensure that these kinds of presents will be hits.

Like most of us, teachers say that it’s wonderful to receive gift cards from Amazon and other retailers because they are so useful. We also heard from plenty of teachers who said that a nice note is always a welcome gift — especially when it’s a heartfelt, handwritten message from a child.

Here are some more great teacher gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week 2019:

Aaah: Spa and Self-Care Gifts

“The nicest teacher appreciation gifts I got came from several students who got me a day of pampering at a local spa,” says Camilla Henneman, a third-grade teacher in Watsonville, Calif. “An office supply or art store gift card would be appreciated,” as well, she adds.

Jan Greune / LOOK-foto—Getty Images/LOOK

Adrianne Elfring, who teaches special-education kindergarteners in San Jose, Calif., is another proponent of gifts that promote relaxation. “One thing that I would love to receive is a gift certificate for a massage or pedicure — something I can hands-down, no-doubt use to spoil myself,” she says. “Especially in those last few weeks where the kids are bonkers and you’re scrambling to get all your paperwork in… the stress level is HIGH.”

“Or wine. Wine’s always appreciated,” Elfring says. (We’ve gotten enough other feedback from teachers on this that we can offer a safe rule of thumb: If and only if you know with 100% certainty that your kid’s teacher would appreciate wine, go for it. Otherwise, how about that spa gift certificate?)

Bulls-Eye: Teachers Love Target

Elfring also says she loves getting Target gift cards, which she usually uses to scoop up classroom items from the store’s ultra-cheap “Dollar Spot” (a.k.a. Bullseye’s Playground) section.

She’s not the only teacher with a love for that section of the store, and for Target in general.“Target is a huge teacher spot! I’d love to get a gift card as I spend a lot of money on school in the dollar spot,” says Nicole Wise, a third-grade charter school teacher in Albany, N.Y.

AnthonyRosenberg—Getty Images

Wise has some really creative parents at her school. One dressed up a Target gift card with a cute little bag and a note thanking her for keeping the kids “On Target.” Another gave her a homemade cookie-making kit, including a whisk and cookie dough mix wrapped in an oven mitt, with a handmade card thanking her for helping the kid be a “smart cookie.”

COFFEE! And More Gift Cards

In a nutshell: You can’t go wrong with Amazon or Target gift cards, or just about anything caffeinated.

Courtesy of Amazon

What should you avoid as a teacher gift?

“NO candy, coffee cups or desktop doodads,” says Bill Bower, a middle-school science teacher in Southern California, explaining that knick knacks that say “world’s greatest teacher” or similar just turn into clutter.

Instead, the best teacher gifts tend to be staples — including Staples gift cards. Bowers says, “Starbucks cards, Staples cards — useful, spendable cards,” are perfect Teacher Appreciation Week gifts.

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