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Teaching was already a difficult profession, but things have only grown more tumultuous in the past year and a half. Teachers across all grades have been forced to adapt to the pandemic in previously unimaginable ways, from completely shifting their curriculums online to finding ways to keep themselves safe in cramped classrooms. Showing them your appreciation through a gift can be a simple yet thoughtful gesture for any teacher.
When I taught middle schoolers a few years back, I cherished gifts from my students and their families no matter how big or small these tokens were. These included everything from a classic box of chocolates to self-care tools for unwinding after long hours and stressful days.
Whether you’re hoping to shop gifts for your own teacher, your child’s educator or a loved one in the field, these highly rated products — which we compiled after combing through our past coverage with an eye toward Select reader favorites — are worth considering.
17 best gifts for teachers in 2021
To help you determine the best gift for the teacher in your life, we’ve compiled highly rated products based on our past coverage, reader favorites and Select staff picks.
One of our favorite reusable water bottles, these S’well bottles are made of durable stainless steel and are offered in several fun colors and patterns. The bottles come in three sizes (9 ounces, 17 ounces and 25 ounces) and can keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours, according to the brand. If you’re looking for a more affordable water bottle by the brand, S’ip by S’well offers 15-ounce options.
This 11-ounce White Vetiver candle is a soy-wax blend with a cotton wick and has a burn time of up to 70 hours. It combines several scents, including eucalyptus, lilac, sandalwood and vetiver. Select contributor Hanna Horvath described the scent as “light and airy” and typically lights the candle during her workday because it “isn’t too overpowering.”
If your favorite teacher is a coffee or tea lover, they would likely enjoy this personalized 18-ounce tumbler. You can add their name in a bold cursive, choose among four bright color combinations and include teacher-friendly designs like a pencil, apple or paint palette.
Amazon’s latest version of the Kindle Paperwhite, which began shipping out Oct. 27, has a larger screen (6.8 square inches, compared to 6 square inches for the previous version), a dark mode and IPX8 water resistance. It also features 20-percent-faster page turns and is 10 percent brighter at the highest setting, according to Amazon. Tech expert Whitson Gordon previously wrote that the device is a “digital must-have” for bibliophiles.
Low-maintenance plants can be a useful gift for busy teachers. Jean Berg, general manager of Philips Interior Plants & Displays, recommended the Pothos in our guide to low-maintenance indoor plants. With quick-growing vines that can reach over 10 feet, these plants prefer medium to bright indirect light and can thrive in almost any type of indoor space — including a classroom with windows. The Sill’s Marble Queen Pothos comes in two sizes, Small and Medium, and includes pots in five colors, including Terracotta, Blush and Mint. You can also purchase a more affordable Pothos plant from Amazon and other major retailers.
It can be easy for a teacher’s desk to pile up with papers, stationery and supplies, so organizational tools like these storage racks from Jerry & Maggie can help reduce the clutter. They can be stacked, adjusted and rotated to be customized to your workspace. Made from natural wood, the two included racks feature five separate units and have flat surfaces to store everything from books and mail to pencil holders and Post-it Notes.
With a high-stress job like teaching, a self-care gift set like this one from Lush can help an educator relax and unwind. This box features products infused with lavender — which studies have shown can boost mental health — like the brand’s Sleepy shower gel and A French Kiss bubble bar. It also includes a lavender-oil-based bath bomb and the Dream Cream body lotion, which features soothing chamomile.
A top-rated planner for productivity, this one from Bullet Keeper can be great for teachers hoping to effectively manage their busy schedules. It comes undated, which means an educator can tailor the 12 monthly spreads to their school’s academic year. There are five weekly pages between each monthly calendar, and the end of the notebook has 68 blank pages for jotting down notes, reminders and more.
Whether it was a holiday, birthday or Teacher Appreciation Week, I could always excitedly expect a box of chocolates from my students. With an assortment of dark, milk and white chocolate, the Godiva Gold box was one of my favorites to receive. Popular brands like Ghirardelli, Ferrero Rocher and Lindt also offer assorted boxes to brighten your teacher’s day.
Thank-you cards are a sweet and simple way to show a teacher you care. Popular retailers like Etsy, Hallmark and Shutterfly offer unique and customizable card options for every type of teacher. This one from Etsy, for example, lets you choose between the standard-sized 6-inch-by-4-inch card or a larger print that you can frame. You can even add your teacher’s name for a personalized touch.
It’s the rare educator who doesn’t appreciate a little extra help to get started in the morning. In July, Keurig released its first Wi-Fi connected brewer, which automatically detects K-Cup pods and adjusts brew settings like temperature and strength. The K-Supreme Plus Smart lets coffee lovers personalize their coffee with five cup sizes, five strength settings and six temperature settings. When you settle on a personalized setting you like, you can also name and favorite it.
My mom, who teaches pre-K through fifth grade, loves using this laminator to ensure her labels, papers and classroom and bulletin board decorations stay intact over the years. The Scotch Thermal Laminator Combo Pack comes with 20 letter-size laminating pouches. The laminator itself, which features a carry handle, can laminate items up to 9 inches wide.
These slippers, from Select reader favorite and direct-to-consumer brand L.L.Bean, can offer relief to teachers who spend the majority of their day on their feet. Available in both women’s and men’s sizes and in multiple colors, the Wicked Good Moccasins are soft, durable and feature a warm, shearling lining that draws moisture away from the feet.
Whether they’re inputting grades or creating lesson plans, teachers often spend late hours in front of a computer screen. Since the light from screens can hinder sleep, bluelight glasses can help improve their sleep cycles, as we explained in our guide to bluelight glasses. These lenses have yellow-tinted lenses that filter blue light during the day and night and provide UVA and UVB protection. They also have an anti-reflective and anti-glare coating.
A tea sampler set like this one from Tea Forté can be worth considering for teachers, especially since teas can help boost mental and physical health. The assortment box includes 10 popular tea blends like Earl Grey, Chamomile Citron, Ginger Lemongrass and other blends with aromatic fruits, spices and herbs.
A highly rated option featured in our guide to air purifiers, the Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier is portable enough to fit comfortably on a teacher’s desk and filter out dust and allergens in the classroom using its three-stage filtration system. It circulates the air in the room over four times an hour and automatically reminds you when it’s time to replace your filter. It’s equipped with a HEPA filter, according to Levoit.
To help your favorite teacher carry around papers, stationery and other supplies, Dagne Dover’s Neoprene Backpack is water-resistant, shock-absorbent and can double as a useful travel backpack. It’s available in three sizes (Small, Medium and Large) and several colors, including Onyx, Heather Grey and Dark Moss.