What Art Teachers Really Want for the Holidays

If you are like me, walking out of school before Winter Break leaves you feeling a bit like Valentine’s day did in Junior High. All the other teachers are leaving with armloads of gifts while I’m leaving with a half-melted Hershey’s kiss someone left on my desk and a quickly scribbled “Merry Christmas” on lined notebook paper.

I’m sure it’s nothing personal… I’m sure having to buy a present for an art teacher can be pretty intimidating.

I mean, we can make all kinds of cool stuff, and we are such an eclectic group it makes it hard to know what we might like. Of course, gifts of any size are appreciated. It truly is the thought that counts. That said, here’s what art teachers really want for the holidays.

What Art Teachers Really
Want for the Holidays



clock copy
Art teachers never have enough time. Even though Amazon doesn’t stock it, a few hours of donated time to the art room would be amazing. Sorting artwork, hanging shows, organizing supplies, and more are all things we’d love help with. The gift of time frees us up so we can leave at the end of the school day to spend time with our own families or spend time creating something for fun.

Classroom Supplies

classroom supplies
It might sound silly, but the art room is often overlooked for beginning-of-the-year supplies. A bucket of new Sharpies, pencils, or erasers would be so appreciated. So would hand lotion, tissues, and sanitizing wipes. Basically, we’d be happy to receive any consumable supplies, even boring ones!


Most teachers are suckers for books. These could be books we could read or books for our classroom libraries. Favorite children’s books are perfect, even if they’re not specifically about art. We love and appreciate beautiful books. Plus, if we get duplicate copies, we’re really good at sharing.

Art-Inspired Items

famous art gifts
What art teacher wouldn’t love some van Gough-inspired socks? These days, you can find art-inspired versions of almost anything. From bracelets and mugs, to throw blankets and scarves. The options are endless. Just look at all the options for the infamous Starry Night found at alone! Find the pictured items here: socks, scarves, bracelet

Food Gifts

food gifts
Yum. These gifts can be the best (and sometimes the scariest- hello Jello jiggler stuck to a napkin). My personal favorite is gift cards to restaurants. Even if it’s just a few dollars, it helps me justify a break from cooking after a long day of teaching. However, the Pinterest-perfect gift bag with chocolate comes in at a close second.

All-Expense-Paid Trip to Europe

Of course, a trip to Europe to see some famous art would be the ultimate gift. However, that’s probably not super realistic.
The sweetest and most meaningful gifts are those created by our students for the sole purpose of showing how much they love our class (and us). We are total suckers for notes, drawings, and personalized projects made with love. A simple note or drawing will make our day, any day of the year. A painted picture or framed masterpiece will mean a lot and probably hang by our desk for years to come.

So, even if another December 22nd comes and goes with  nothing more than a half-melted candy bar, we know that the hugs, smiles, and pride-filled faces throughout the year are our real gifts. We know that when our students grow up and think back to school, they will have fond memories of our class and that we will have fond memories of them. That is much more important than gifts once a year!

What is the most memorable gift you have ever received from a student?

What is one gift you would love to receive?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Carlisle

Jennifer Carlisle, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She loves exploring and teaching art through both traditional and digital art mediums.

More from Jennifer