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Administrators: 20 Gift Ideas for Teachers & Staff During a Pandemic (Updated 2021)

By December 9, 2020January 24th, 2024Administration, K-12 Administrators, Winter School
Administrator choosing gifts for teachers and staff

Looking for the perfect gift idea for your teachers and staff this year? We did some research and rounded up 20 gift ideas that are appropriate during a pandemic.

It’s that time of the year for gift-giving and cheer, and many administrators are realizing they have quite a task in front of them.

Gifting can be a challenge, especially for schools on a tight budget – and most are. But during a pandemic, gifting can be even more complicated than usual.

We all know that teachers and staff deserve a really special gift this year. It’s been a heck of a year for them. Which is why so many principals are asking themselves, “What gift will really show my appreciation?”

Well, look no further! Here are twenty creative, time-we-live-in appropriate gift ideas to give you a great start.


1. Personalized Treats from Your Local Bakery

Gifting from the local bakery in your town is not only a great way to show teachers and staff appreciation by giving them a delicious, personalized treat, it’s also a way to put money back into small businesses in your community. Take this example from NatsSweets – and hey, they ship!


2. Custom Coffee Mugs

Personalize a mug for your coffee lovers with names or meaningful designs. This example below by CoffeeTime Designs would be perfect for Starbucks fans! This gift will be useful both at home and in the teacher lounge, where identifying your own mug is more important now than than ever. You can pair this with a gift card to a favorite local coffeeshop or fill the cup with stocking stuffers.


3. Funny, Relatable Candles

Sometimes laughter is the best way to heal, and we could all use some healing this year. If you’re looking for a gift that does both, check out these affordable candles by NaturalAnnie Essentialswhich could be great as a standalone gift, or as an addition to a spa basket. Speaking of spa baskets… (see next idea!)


4. Self-Healing Spa Baskets

As we mentioned, it’s important that our teachers and staff take the time for a little self-healing over the holidays. There are many affordable spa baskets under $25 on Etsy like the one below by Kate and Belle Co. Or, if you are gifting for a large number of teachers and staff, you could always buy supplies in bulk and package baskets/baggies by hand.


5. Movie Night Kit

For a larger staff, an affordable present that is perfectly pandemic-appropriate is a Redbox giftcard ($5 will rent most movies for a night) with a bag of popcorn and a large box of candy, like you’d find at the movie theatre (Remember those? Sigh). Check out this one from Imagination Branding, who will even put the kit together for you, if you’re limited on time.


6. Cover a Class to Give the Gift of Time

Time can be a great gift, especially during the holidays. You could present this gift in a thoughtful handwritten card, or – a fun trend we’ve seen lately – via scratch-able “lottery cards” like this one by Etsy maker Enchanted by Design.


7. Gift a PD Book Using PD Funds

One principal shared that she adds PD books to her teachers’ gift baskets using PD funds, as a way to give beyond the staff gifting budget. You could personalize books with a thoughtful letter to help staff grow within their unique roles, or give everyone the same book on a broader topic to kick off a book club!

If your local bookstore doesn’t have its own online store set up, check the website Bookshop, which allows you to shop online while supporting local bookstores. If you’re looking for ideas, there are many “Educator PD Book Club” lists out there, like the one below from Apollo Career Center.


8. A Touch of Spring in the Middle of Winter

Give the gift of a plant friend or a window herb garden! Plants not only purify air, but they are low maintenance and easy to set up. Blogger Brendid has curated a great list of plant ideas here, and you can see some of her examples in the image below.


9. Gift a Green Experience With a Terrarium Kit

Turn your plant present into an experience too with a terrarium kit! There are many on Etsy for $25 and under, or to save money, you could buy supplies in bulk and assemble the kits yourself. This one by Etsy vendor Sandhill Shores is only $10 – all you need is the container.


10. Better Health Through Hydration

An insulated water bottle is a great gift to encourage teachers and staff to stay hydrated. We’re all stretched thin, and self-care is the first thing to go our the window when times are tough. Some water bottles even come with intake reminders for each hour, like these bottles by Etsy vendor Custom Vinyls by JAMO.


11. Custom Coasters to Protect Papers During Grading

Capture a cherished moment or send a positive message to your staff with custom coasters that will help keep desks dry. Or do it all with these coasters designed to look like Polaroids by Etsy vendor Design CKJ!


12. Amazon Gift Card in Bookmark Shape

It’s always nice to have a gift that can be used in multiple ways. You can get these Amazon gifts cards in any amount, choose a holiday design, and ship them quickly through an Amazon Prime membership.


13. Fend Off the Cold With a Toasty Lap Blanket

We all need a little more “cozy” right now, and nothing says cozy quite like a warm, soft lap blanket. These chenille throw blankets from Target are $20 and come in gray, blue, cream, and gold. Perhaps you can find one in your school colors!


14. Personalized Tote Bag

A sturdy tote bag with pockets and a customized design like the one below for $24.95 would be a great gift for those staff members who are always carrying books around; teachers, counselors, curriculum instructors, and librarians come to mind. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, there are countless vendors on Etsy that personalize totes in all shapes and sizes.


15. Affordable Self-Light for Zoom Calls

This could be a great gift for teachers who are giving a lot of virtual lessons right now – better lighting can help students see your facial expressions better and help them feel more connected. For helpful features to look for and set up tips, We Are Teachers wrote a nice guide here. We found this option below for $14.99 on Amazon.


16. Personalized Note Cube & Planner

There are all kinds of helpful office supplies that you can add a special touch to – like this note cube by Personalization Mall, who also offer lots of other options like a weekly planner, notepad, and more.


17. Mini Dry-Erase Board & Markers

Another great gift for teachers who are distance learning is a mini dry-erase board – can’t you picture this custom board below by Organize by Julia with “Mr. Smith” or “I <3 Spanish!” on it? Markers are always a welcome gift, too. They always seem to be running out of ink!


18. Culinary Gift Sets

For the staff members who love trying new recipes, there are all kinds of fun recipe gift sets that come with ingredients and molds, like this lava cake mix with baking cups by King Arthur Baking. Who knows – if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll want to share their creations with you!


19. Keep Their Coffee Warm All Day

Give your teachers and staff the gift of warmth! There are all kinds of mug warmers out there, from the self-warming mugs by Ember to this Mr. Coffee warming coaster we found on Amazon for under $15.


20. Gift Tickets to a Virtual Event

One thing many of us miss this year are live shows and performances, whether you’re more fond of comedy, music, theatre, or DIY classes. But many of these events are still happening virtually! You can search a site like Eventbrite for ideas – check out their excellent guide to the best online events to attend without leaving your home.


And that concludes our 2021 guide to pandemic gift ideas for staff and teachers! Do you have more ideas to share? Leave a comment below and we’ll add them to the list!

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