25+ Teacher Retirement Gift Ideas for Students or Staff


The next 30 years after retirement don't have to be boring. Some of the most exciting things you can do also include practicing the fine art of sitting. Ever been on a cruise up the Canadian Fjords? How about enjoying a yoga or health retreat in SE Asia? Even lazing around all afternoon in a hammock can be thrilling with the right book.

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Listed below are options for students and coworkers to pitch in for that perfect retirement gift. Even if your favorite teacher prefers hotels to campsites, you'll find something here for them. And don't forget to check out the DIY section.

We’ve also included some great and easy craft projects with step-by-step instructions.

Teacher Retirement Gift Ideas from Students

My favorite gifts are about the adventures that come with them. From cooking to gardening, or enjoying the bug-free patio, these gifts will be appreciated.

1. Painted garden stone

Every time your former teacher is out working in their garden, they'll have a reminder of you. If you opt to buy one at a local garden store, then you won't have to pay the additional shipping fees for such a hefty gift.

2. Gardening gift basket

Maybe they have their garden already put in for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help with a few more things.

Buy some seeds for flowers, plants, and vegetables to signify growth. Or some knee pads to show that you really care. 

3. Giant thumbprint keepsake

You can turn thumbprints into trees, balloons, small furry animals, fish, or even birds on a wire. Lots of online retailers can custom make one for you at a reasonable price.

4. Not just any old coffee or tea mug

Find a class photo, then head down to your local professional print shop. They can help you order a personalized mug with all of your shiny, happy faces.

5. Canteen or water bottle

Retirement means your favorite teacher can go for hikes in the morning instead of coming to class. With an insulated, easy-to-clean water bottle, they'll never go thirsty. It'll keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.

6. Postcards or stationery and envelopes with stamps

While your teacher is checking off their retirement bucket list, they may want to send a letter or postcard back home. Be observant and find something that suits their style.

7. Citronella candles

It's summertime, and your newly retired teacher may want to spend some evenings outside. Throw in a music gift card and they'll appreciate listening to their favorite songs bug-free.

8. Herb garden

Herbs are expensive. So head to the local garden center for some small, easy to care for herb pots. Clip some fun messages to each of the containers for an added touch.

9. Favorite book in hardcover

Head to a used bookstore to look for their favorite book. Make sure that it's in excellent condition with a solid binding and damage-free pages, and also that it smells like it's been on the shelf for decades.

If you can't find it, the store can order one in for you.

10. A memory journal with stories from every student

Plan this idea in advance. After you find the perfect journal, let every student write a story inside.

They can share their favorite memory, lesson plan, or anything they plan on carrying with them from this teacher. This gift will be priceless.

Teacher Retirement Gift Ideas from Staff or Principal

Adventure and relaxation can mean the same thing, especially if your coworker can get outside to smell the fresh air while doing what they love.

11. Name a star after them

What better reminder of someone's last day as an astronomy teacher than to buy a personalized, framed map of the sky for the day they retire. Plus, you can choose the constellation. This will make late-night star-gazing much more interesting.

12. Hot air balloon ride

What's better than a hot air balloon ride? Your teacher can celebrate their extraordinary achievement over a morning of sightseeing farm fields and valleys, followed by a stop at the local vineyard.

13. Hiking shoes

If your colleague is outdoorsy, then why not pool together for a great pair of hiking shoes. You're not just giving them a gift—you're giving them the gift of adventure.

14. Backpack and power bank

On their next birding adventure, they'll have a brand new pack for all of their gear. Plus, they'll have a power bank, to be confident that their electronics won't interrupt the day.

15. Smartphone camera lenses

Companies are starting to make high-quality smartphone lenses that replace bulky 400mm ones. The average price for a reliable lens runs around $250.

16. Glamping accessories

Inflatable mattresses become much more desirable when the uneven, cold ground is no longer enticing.

Add in an electric blanket, a sturdy French press, and a fluffy new dog bed for their pal, and camping will become a pastime.

17. Yoga retreat

This is the perfect gift to make sure that in retirement, your coworker has the right state of mind to start on the next 30-year journey. After all, it's much better to have an emotion than to be one.

18. Meditation classes

This gift will get your coworker started on releasing all of those stored anxieties that come with teaching for so many years. They may need more, but at least it’s a start!

19. Hammock

Does your coworker have two perfect trees that align for a desirable hammock position?

If not, there are lots of options for wooden or metal frames. Add some comfortable all-weather pillows, and their afternoons will be booked.  

20. Wanderlust novels

Get their juices flowing for their next 30 years! What are they going to see, do, eat, and explore?

Pick a theme that suits their personality, and then throw in a wild card to see how they react to say, swimming with the whales off of the island of Tonga. Or, drifting through the Canadian fjords.

DIY or Personalized Teacher Retirement Gift Ideas

The apple is the emblem of teaching! Below you'll find some DIY projects that are relatively easy to do. If you're not into glue guns and hammering nails, then the final option might just be the apple of your eye.

21. Pencil vase – red “apple” themed

For this quick and simple project, you'll need a hot glue gun, some glue sticks, some ribbon, a box of red unsharpened pencils, some flowers, and a cylindrical vase. 

  • Step one: Glue the pencils to the vase, one by one, with the eraser sides down. 
  • Step two: After the project is dry, add some colorful gerbera daisies. 
  • Step three: Tie some green ribbon around the vase to finish the project.

You can use this idea for a variety of other projects, too. Get creative!

22. Button art – apples

Here's an easy hot glue gun craft project where you'll be using buttons to create the shape of an apple. You'll need wood, wood stain, a large and small paintbrush, multiple shapes and sizes of red, green, and brown buttons for the apple, the leaf, and the stem, plus some colorful paint.

  • Step one: Stain the wood and allow it to dry.
  • Step two: Pre-arrange the buttons a few different ways to figure out how you'd like them arranged.
  • Step three: Hot glue the buttons in place on the piece of wood.
  • Step four: Paint a wish or quote to make the art personal.

Big or small, this will make one colorful gift. 

23. String art – apples

Whether you like traditional string art or inversed string art, you'll have a lot of fun with this project! You'll need a piece of stained or painted wood, a box of linoleum nails, a hammer, embroidery floss, some tape, scissors, a printer, and a computer.

  • Step one: Print out a picture of an apple, then cut out its shape to make a stencil. 
  • Step two: Tape the picture to the wood.
  • Step three: Hammer the nails around the stencil.
  • Step four: Loop the floss around the nails until you are satisfied with the result.

If you make a mistake, unwrap, and start over.

24. Book folding – apples 

You'll need a thick paperback book, a marker, an Exacto knife, green or red paint, a hot glue gun and some glue sticks, and a tiny stick.

  • Step one: Remove the cover to expose the binding. Bend to soften.
  • Step two: Place the pattern of an apple on the top page and trace it. 
  • Step three: Using the Exacto knife, cut through the book following the template until you’ve cut through the final page.
  • Step four: Paint the edge of the pages. The pages will stick, so fan them out until dry.
  • Step five: Place a bead of hot glue up the binding, then quickly fold and hold it together until dry.
  • Step six: Glue the first and last page together to make sure the binding is hidden.
  • Step seven: Glue a tiny stick to the top for the core.

Make one or three. Either way, apple art will look great on any entry table or bookshelf for years to come. 

25. Marketplace apples 

If you are not DIY savvy, but you are looking for a unique apple-y gift, then there are several online marketplaces from which to choose.

A few keyboard strokes will bring you directly to a red or brass apple-shaped bell. Or, maybe you’ll discover a custom plaque, framed for posterity.

Let the Adventures Begin!

Retirement is no longer about nesting and resting. Today’s retiree is having the time of their life.

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