12 Teacher Gift Ideas That Are Cheap, Useful & Unusual

Buying a teacher gift can be a nightmare. If you’re a parent you want to avoid replicating things. And do they like even like chocolate or wine? If they’re your partner/sibling/parent/friend, you don’t want to have to deal with them judging you against some internal mark scheme they carry around.
So here are some things that teachers almost always want/need, but are still reasonably priced and make a nice change from getting yet another box of Terry’s All Gold.

  1. Board Marker Pens  – about £10

Debate rages over the best brand of board pen, but Berol have been around for years and are considered one of the most enduring. You can buy a cheaper brand, or a more fierce-sounding one like Staedtler, but everyone is happy when they see the name ‘Berol’ and this particular box, for around £8, has the added bonus of not having a much-loathed yellow marker.
By the way – these are bullet tip, which is the most popular, but some teachers (especially those who teach English) prefer a chisel tip.

2. A Personalised Mug – £7.50

Teachers get loads of mugs, but they usually don’t mind because they go missing or get broken a lot.
Help your teacher by getting them a mug with a defining mark, like these personalised letter mugs from MYOG. Works particularly well if the teacher is called Xavier, or Yvonne.

3. Tissue Dispenser

This is not a joke. Tissues are one of the most important pieces of classroom equipment. Having them inside a fun item helps to brighten up a class, and also stops the box from going walkies into someone else’s room.

Tissue Book Box – £16

For the traditionalists, this is a way of bringing together books and dirty noses. What else do you need?

Best Tissue Box Ever – £24.99

Okay, you might need this tissue box too…

4. A ‘no-hands’ water bottle

Teachers can’t easily sneak away for a drink, nor can they always be supping on a big bottle of water while keeping an eye on their class. Enter the motivational bottle. An easy straw makes it fab to drink from quickly, and it reminds you how much you should have drunk by a set time!

Mango Motivational – £11

Mango Water Bottle With Straw - Motivational Time Markings - BPA Free  Sports Bottles With Flip Nozzle And Leakproof Cap: Amazon.co.uk: Sports &  Outdoors

5. Large Bag For Carrying Books – £9

One of my favourites is the ‘I’m a teacher, What’s Your Super Power’ bag
They also have a teaching assistant one, and the super teacher autograph bag. 

6. Aroma Diffuser – £10 to £20

Getting your classroom to smell nice is really important. And difficult. Plug-ins have weird chemicals in them. Pot pourri isn’t strong enough. Candles have flames. And so on.
Diffusers are the perfect compromise because they can quickly pump out nice-smelling stuff using just water and aromatherapy oils. You can change scent frequently enough that it doesn’t make the room cloying, and it overcomes the smell of Year 9 boys – woo!

Expensive & solid (I use this one) – £25

Cheap (but highly recommended on Amazon) – £18

7. Edible Insects – a great behaviour management tool

In my desk I used to keep a tin of roasted ants. When difficult kids came for detention I would whip them out and ask if they wanted one. Most said no. I’d shrug and then chomp a few. It always worked. The kids went silent. ‘Miss eats ants,’ they would tell their friends later, ‘I think she means business’.
Of course, this only works if your teacher gift-receiver will actually eat the bugs. But if they’re an unfussy eater, then for a few quid you can give them the gift of silent detentions.
A bag of crunchy critters from Amazon is about £12

8. A Talking Clock – £18

Sure, you can use google and your phone and various programmes as a timer, but this talking clock has the added bonus of yelling the time at you. In countdown mode it alerts you every ten minutes, then – near the end – each minute, every ten seconds, and a final countdown.
Less useful with pupils (it gets them all riled up), it’s very useful for sticking to time when lesson planning or marking, as those can become absorbing. On the rare occasion you want to add a little urgency to a classroom task it can also be used then too.

9.  Visualiser Camera – £43

In a recent Teacher Tapp survey, a visualiser was the item people most said they would like to have in their classroom. Given they are reasonably cheap, it’s interesting that more people don’t already have them. It could be because they aren’t allowed to add their own software to a classroom, so worth checking in on this before buying it, (especially as it’s the most expensive item on here), but it’s definitely something that teachers say they want.
They are around £39 on Amazon

10. Stapleless Stapler

My mother-in-law bought one of these in Japan about a decade ago and turned my teaching organisation life around. I’m useless at remembering to buy refills for anything, but especially staples. These gizmos staple pages together without the use of any extra item. (It uses the paper itself for binding). Helpful for about a million things in school

Staples 5 sheets – £8

Staples 10 sheets – £14

11. A Heated Vest – £43

Schools are freezing at the best of times, but particularly during Covid! Give your teacher the gift of warmth with one of these heated vest tops. The range also has hoodies (more expensive, but sooo cosy).

Amazon.co.uk: Heated Clothing

12. A Foot Spa! – about £28

I know foot spas were popular about ten thousand years ago when we all had 4 telly channels and nowhere to go on a Sunday, but teachers still get tired legs! A major perk of the job is that you don’t have to sit at a computer all day. A downside of that is having to stand up all darn day.
After each half-term, the first few days can be agony as creaking muscles get used to being flexed again. A warming foot spa doesn’t half help. (And you can use those aromatherapy oils from the diffuser to help you out too!)
Right, I’m off to start ordering!

2 thoughts on “12 Teacher Gift Ideas That Are Cheap, Useful & Unusual

  1. Giving serious consideration to putting some of the items on this list in our induction pack for new staff….

    Matthew Clements-Wheeler

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