How Much Should You Spend on Gift Cards for Teachers?

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

If you’re unfamiliar with the gift-giving etiquette for teachers and you don’t know how much you should spend on gift cards for teachers, be sure to keep reading this article. We’ll feel you in on all the important details, so you can make informed decisions during the holiday season.

We know that you worry about spending too much on one gift. You don’t want to put your kid’s teacher in an awkward situation, right? You also don’t want to spend less money than other parents. How do you find the perfect balance, then?

Well, firstly you need to observe the context, the gift-giving occasion, the opinions of other parents, etc. After you’ve got a basic idea about the gift, you need to compare it with the average amount people spend on teacher appreciation gifts. Then, you’ll be absolutely sure that you’ve made a good decision. Let’s go through these things, one by one.

Before you get further down the article, we’d like to mention a few things:

  • Teachers always need classroom supplies. They even spend their own money to get everything they need for the classroom. If you want to show gratitude and appreciation for your kid’s teacher, you can help him/her with getting more classroom supplies. That’s definitely better than giving him/her a “number one teacher” mug.
  • Every teacher agrees that they don’t need fancy expensive gifts. The best gifts are the ones that students make by themselves. Your kid should show respect and love for their teacher with a homemade gift.  Encourage him/her to get a little crafty. You can help too.
  • Don’t forget to add a thoughtful note to any gift you choose. A hand-written thank-you note that says what the student has learned will bring joy to any teacher.

Should you buy gifts for the teachers?

Before you start thinking about what to give for teacher appreciation, ask yourself should you give a gift at all. You might think that gifts are always welcomed, but what if other parents are not getting gifts? Should your kid “stand out” and give a gift while other students don’t? Or maybe, there’s a school policy that forbids giving presents. In some places, gifts are considered inappropriate. Especially if you plan to give a cash present, that can be viewed as bribery.

You should, of course, ask around to find out what your community thinks about giving gifts to the teachers. Some communities think that gifts are wonderful gestures that show gratitude and they often buy gifts together. Joined gifts are also taking the pressure of less fortunate families. That way people can participate as much as they can. If there’s no initiative for pooling the money together for gifts, you can start one. Inform other parents and ask for their opinion on this subject.

We think that it’s a good idea to thank the person who’s been there for your kid the entire year. You can do this with a small gift or a hand-written note, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.

Why are gift cards preferred?

A lot of people ask “Is it weird to get a gift card to the teacher”. While it might seem like a strange and impersonal thing to do, teachers actually love getting gift cards. Gifts should be useful and something a teacher would like to have. All those mugs, notebooks, and other “#1 teacher” items pile up over the years. To avoid getting something that will just collect dust on the shelves, people have switched to gift cards.

It’s a simple process of elimination. When you avoid giving useless items (mugs), overly intimate items (clothes), and, of course, cash, all you’re left with are gift cards. They are perfect because they allow choice. Teachers can get what they actually need and you don’t have to worry about giving an “inappropriate” gift.

Note that some people like to give food gifts. We don’t recommend giving baked goods as a gift because you can’t know what type of dietary restrictions and allergies the teacher might have. You don’t want your gifts to end up in the trash can, right? If you really like food gifts, be sure to find out about preferences and allergies first.

Types of gift cards

A gift card is a great idea, but you need to get one a teacher will use. From so many options (book stores, coffee shops, movie theaters, etc), how can you know which one to choose? The best option is, of course, getting a few different gift cards, especially if you’re pooling the money with other parents.

Amazon or Target gift cards

If you’re getting only one card, the safest choice is an Amazon or Target gift card. There are so many different things you can get with it, so, understandably, most teachers prefer these types of gifts.

Gift cards for restaurants and coffee shops

For something more “unique” you can get a gift card to a local coffee shop or a restaurant. A night out is everyone’s pleasure and experience gifts are always appreciated. The same thing applies to movie theater gift cards too.

Bookstore gift cards

Don’t even think about what an English teacher likes. An actual book, of course, isn’t the best option because they already have a lot of books in their private libraries. However, a gift card for a local bookstore is a definitive winner for every reading enthusiast.

Gift cards for classroom supplies

As we already mentioned, teachers often spend a lot of money on buying classroom supplies. You can help them to make the lessons for kids more interesting by getting them a gift card to the local store that sells classroom and office supplies.

How much is enough?

The amount of money absolutely depends on how much you can and want to give. Nobody should pressure you to give more (or less) than you feel it’s right. There aren’t any strict “rules” about how much you should give, but we can offer you a few guidelines.

Let’s make it simple. The average value of a gift card for teachers is usually between $20 to $50. Now, this amount may vary, as we said, depending on how much parents can afford. The appropriate amount for a gift card to the teacher isn’t anything above $100 though.

Another thing to consider is the type of card you’ll give. A gift card should cover one or two items in a store or one meal in a restaurant. You should avoid giving gift cards to expensive shops where teachers have to spend additional money to use the gift card.

Factors to consider

Primary teacher and secondary teachers

The question “How much should you spend on teacher gift cards” depends also on the types of teachers. In elementary school, your child has only one teacher. Naturally, you’ll give him/her a more expensive gift. However, in middle school or high school, your kid can have up to ten teachers. You don’t have to give a gift to all of them, of course. You should ask your kid to choose one or a few he/she is closest to. Or if you want to get multiple small gifts and gift cards, it’s up to you.

When you’re giving gifts to the secondary teachers and assistants, you don’t need to spend as much money as you would for primary teachers. For example, if you’re getting a $25 gift card for the main teacher, you can give $5 gift cards for extra teachers and other school employees (assistants, principal, bus driver, etc).

When you’re giving gifts to multiple teachers and you don’t want to exclude anyone, you can give $10 gift cards to everyone. Think about how much time these teachers are spending with your kid and how much he/she learned from them. That can help you decide if you should give more or less money.

Pooling the money with other parents

If you’re joining forces with other parents, you should probably spend $50-$100 on a gift card. When you pool your money together, you can give several gift cards to appreciate every teacher that spends time with your kids.

Every parent can contribute according to his/her budget. It’s appropriate to give at least $5. Around $10-$20 is the average amount that every parent gives to the shared pool. Then the “room parent” buys multiple gift cards based on what you’ve agreed.

Gift-giving occasion

There are a lot of occasions when you can give gifts to the teachers. Depending on the type of holiday that’s approaching, you can give bigger or smaller gifts. For example, it’s normal to give more expensive gifts for Teacher’s Day and to even “skip” the gift for Valentine’s day. Discuss with other parents what holidays should be celebrated with a gift and what holidays can go without them.

Type of school

This is also an important factor that can influence your decision about gift cards. If your kid goes to a private school that has expensive tuition, spending $150 on a gift for the teacher isn’t absurd. However, for public school teachers, that amount might be too much. You don’t want to make everyone feel awkward with excessive generosity.

Giving the gift

Regardless of what gift you choose, your kid should be the one to give it. There are a lot of creative ways to give gift cards to teachers. Handing a gift in a plain envelope might seem boring for some people, so why not make things interesting. Be a little crafty and make something special where you can “hide” the gift card. You can also wrap the cards in colorful paper.

If you’re not a creative type of person, you can get some cute items in a dollar store that can help you give a gift in a unique way. The most important thing, however, is personalizing your gift with a thank you note or something similar.

Have your kid write a note expressing gratitude and specifying what he/she has learned during this school year. Maybe mention something particular that he/she enjoyed in the classroom. That will melt any teacher’s heart! Teachers want to be appreciated and they love to hear how they inspired their students. If they did something good in the classroom, you should definitely let them know, so they can continue with that activity.

Frequently asked questions

What do teachers really want for gifts?

Most teachers don’t want expensive gifts, so it’s best to give small token gifts or homemade crafts. Gift cards are also a very good option.

Can I give a gift card to the teacher?

You can’t go wrong with giving gift cards instead of gifts. Most teachers will appreciate the gesture and it’s always better to give something useful.

What gift cards are best for teachers?

The best kind of gift cards are the ones that have a lot of options available like Amazon or Target cards.

How do you thank a teacher?

Writing a thank-you note is the best way to show gratitude towards your favorite teacher. You can also add a small gift or a gift card to say thank you for being the best teacher.

Is chocolate a good gift for teachers?

Chocolate is always a great gift. Everyone loves candy and so do teachers. However, like with most food gifts, you should check if the teacher has an allergy, so you can choose the type of candy accordingly.


You probably have a clearer picture of how much you should spend on gift cards for teachers. Remember that the most important thing actually is teaching your kid to appreciate people in his/her life. Giving gifts to the teachers is something that can help your child stay humble and grateful.

If you don’t think gift cards are for you, there are a lot of other gifts for teachers you can choose.





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