Photo by Flutterbye Prints
They encourage us to see a different perspective. They help us find our voice. They ask us to please, for the love of Pete, stop passing notes during class.
If there’s one thing we all learned in school, it’s that teachers don’t have it easy. Spitballs, lost homework, and chewed up #2s—all before 9am on a Monday? If you ask us, our teachers’ hard work merits more than a gold star; it deserves a heartfelt token of our gratitude.
Well, save that shiny red apple for another day, because we’ve found a more personal (and less bruisable) way to say thank you this back-to-school season. We’ve gathered five buy-or-diy gift ideas guaranteed to show your favorite teachers just how much they mean to you.
A cheerful planter
Buy: A cute potted friend brings a breath of fresh air to even the most chaotic desk. With this clever ceramic set, you can hand out planters to match the personalities of five special teachers in your life, from Mr. Proper Grammar to Ms. Fun with Fractals.
DIY: Adding a splash of neon to a plain white pot is easy peasy with this simple Brit + Co tutorial for watercolor-inspired planters. Common household items (Q-tips, nail polish remover, paper towels) make these pretties pop—just scribble, smudge, and spray to seal.
A custom clipboard
Buy: What better way for teachers to keep their papers in place (and their sanity in check) while grading students’ work than with a clipboard that exudes serenity? Embrace the zen, or take the personal approach and have Lemonee on the Hills design a custom board that artfully displays your favorite instructor’s name among the trees.
DIY: This elegant marble clipboard is brilliantly simple to make. Just choose a sheet of marbled paper (we’re partial to this one from Càrte) and visit Fabric Paper Glue for the quick how-to. Up for a challenge? Our exclusive marbling tutorial will guide you through the basics of painting your own paper with speckles and swirls that speak to you.
A mod bookmark
Buy: Elevate your teacher’s literary game with a bespoke leather bookmark hand-stamped with their name, or maybe even a favorite little teachable phrase.
DIY: For the teacher who loves quoting from texts, a festive bookmark is the perfect way to flag their favorite passages. Keep things simple with a colorblock page marker from Idle Hands Awake, or go bold with Brit + Co and make your own painted leather tassel (swapping the keyring for an oversized paperclip).
A desktop organizer
Buy: How sweet is this personalized organizer that doubles as a playful nameplate? Perfect for the tidy teacher with a penchant for pencils.
DIY: Harness your inner woodworker with this beginner’s guide to constructing a minimalist organizer from Curbly. With a hand saw and some good old fashioned elbow grease, you can easily piece together this chic and functional desk accessory.
A transport tote
Buy: For the teacher you hold most dear, an elevated waxed canvas bag can help shoulder the daily load. This patterned beauty offers ample room for papers, books, band-aids, tissues, and—of course—a thermos of coffee to-go.
DIY: It’s hard to believe that this perfectly elegant pansy print was achieved with a rubber mallet, but the DIYers at Design Sponge used an ingenious flower pounding technique to transfer pigment from live blossoms onto this bag. To make your own, select some of your teacher’s favorite blooms, then tape your final selections to your tote and pound flat.
Jackie Buddie is a part-time writer and wilderness explorer working full-time at Etsy HQ in Brooklyn.