The task of buying thank you gifts for teachers is an annual piece of parental admin that enters your life when your first child is four or five and doesn’t go away for over a decade (or at least for the seven years of primary school if you decide to neglect those poor secondary teachers).
It can be a chore, but good teachers are well worth thanking, and if you’re going to spend money on the person who has been educating your offspring for an academic year, you at least want to get them something they will appreciate.
Teachers are of course a diverse bunch, and the same gift isn’t going to work for everyone, but here we have tried to gather a range of options that will appeal to different sorts.
We’ve looked for a mixture of personalised, teacher-specific things and stuff that will work for those who would rather just have a little civilian luxury.
We have included things that would be affordable for many parents to buy solo, and a couple of ideas for bigger things that could be bought as joint gifts between classmates.
We have canvassed teachers and used our own experience as parents in a bid to avoid any duds, so hopefully there is something to appeal to even the pickiest person here.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Moleskine 18 month planner: £17.62, Amazon
Ok, so there are probably some bog standard planners in the school stationery cupboard, but most people whose lives are governed by timetables and the academic year will recognise the nerdy delight that comes from having something a bit nicer with which to do their planning. This Moleskine journal is practical – a ruled A5 page per day gives plenty of room for lists without making it too big to carry around – but it also provides a touch of gift-worthy luxury. The paper is high quality, there are pockets at the back for stashing notes or receipts, and there are both a ribbon for marking the right page and elastic to keep it shut. A teacher-friendly gift that will surely get heaps of use, and should hopefully be a little daily pleasure for them to use and carry around.
Hotel Chocolat simply thanks box: £8, Hotel Chocolat
While the 1980s Cadbury’s advert might no longer be with us – “Thank you very much, thank you very, very much” – chocolates remain a sure fire and cost-effective way to demonstrate gratitude. Luckily for teachers, there are choices beyond the standard box of Roses these days, not least from the champions of quality high street chocolate, Hotel Chocolat. This little box, with a thank you message written in gold on its lid, contains eight delicious treats and zero duds. There are two each of four of Hotel Chocolat’s biggest hitters; our favourite was the rich dark truffle.
‘A Little, Aloud for Children’, edited by Angela MacMillan, published by Random House Children's Publishers: £11.34, The Book Depository
The luckiest of primary school children, including some of our mini-testers, still get story time at the end of each day. For teachers delivering these short sessions of shared reading pleasure, this book would be a welcome gift full of inspiration and time-saving, pre-packaged ideas. It is a lovely anthology of extracts from stories and poetry, complete with approximate reading times for each one. Not all are from children’s books – there’s the brief ‘Ariel’s Song’ from The Tempest, as well as bits of The Secret Garden, Wind in the Willows and others both familiar and not so. All the extracts have been chosen because they will appeal to and hopefully inspire young imaginations. If your teacher has their own children, in fact, you might find that they take it home to enjoy there too. All proceeds go to The Reader, a charity that promotes shared reading to improve well-being.
The Literary Gift Company origami bird earrings: £12.99, The Literary Gift Company
If you’re looking for something a little more personal than wine or chocolates, but don’t want to break the bank, these little bird earrings could well be the answer. Made from upcycled pages of old books, they offer a nod to teacher’s day job, but are also a gift that will hopefully bring pleasure and get use outside the classroom too.
Rock Design personalised rainbow print: £18.95, Not on the High Street
Primary school teachers spend almost their entire working week in one classroom, so a gift that brightens up that space and offers a reminder that their work is appreciated is likely to be welcome. This fun rainbow print from a small new company, which comes installed in a white frame, can be personalised with the recipient’s name and also a brief message, for example: “Mrs Elm’s classroom. Play, learn, grow.” A lasting and thoughtful way of saying thank you.
John Lewis & Partners vouchers: From £10, John Lewis & Partners
A teensy bit mercenary perhaps, but many teachers will tell you that they would far rather choose their own gift than receive 30 that they’re not so keen on. If your class is one of those that likes to club together for one big present, John Lewis & Partners gift cards are a good option as they can be spent on such a wide variety of things. Pupils could always add a human touch by hand-making a card or small gift at little cost to go alongside the vouchers.
Rex London periodic table bamboo travel mug: £9.95, Rex London
We found at least one teachers’ forum on which debates about good thank you presents featured the sentiment: “Please God, no more mugs”. But a good travel mug is an altogether more useful thing now that we are all quite rightly trying to eschew single use cups. Better still, this one is made from bamboo and is both recyclable and biodegradable, so if a teacher really does have too many, they can turn it into something else. Which science teacher wouldn’t love the periodic table printed on their coffee receptacle?
‘The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands’, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, published by Thames & Hudson Ltd: £18.05, Wordery
This is an absolutely gorgeous tome that would be a lovely gift for an English or drama teacher, or really anyone who loves literature or beautiful coffee table books. It features images of original maps drawn by authors to illustrate their works – such as CS Lewis’s drawings of Narnia – as well as lyrical essays on maps, landscapes and the creation of new worlds, by the likes of Robert Macfarlane and Chris Riddell. A lasting gift for a thoughtful teacher.
Jackeraca personalised card: From £3.50, Etsy
So this is a card rather than a gift, but it is a card that is nice enough to be framed as a keepsake of a particular year’s class, and is certainly among the most thoughtful of the endless personalised products we’ve scrolled through. One nice version of this card used the names of all the pupils in a given class, and one word that each child had chosen to describe their teacher, to make up the image of an apple.
Jo Malone grapefruit home candle: £47, Jo Malone
This is a level of gift that few families would purchase by themselves, unless a teacher needed some serious buttering up, but it also isn’t the sort of thing that many teachers would splash out on for themselves, which makes it a pleasingly indulgent way for a few parents to club together and say thank you. This refreshing grapefruit scent is perfect for summer and – while scented candles are admittedly a more common present for women – is unisex enough to work for anyone. The base can be engraved (£15) for those who like a personalised touch.
The verdict: Gifts for teachers
If your budget can stretch to it, or you have someone to chip in with, the Moleskine planner is a lasting and useful gift. Failing that, you’re unlikely to go wrong with a thank you message atop some scrumptious Hotel Chocolat, and A Little, Aloud is a charming option for a teacher that does story-telling or has young kids of their own.