The Best and Worst of Teacher Gifts

Dear Parents and Caregivers who will give holiday gifts to teachers in the coming days,

We get a lot of tchotchkes and there are enough candies, cookies, and popcorn in the Teachers’ Lounge to feed a small country. But we do like to know that you and your kids like us, and appreciate what we do. So here are some gift ideas that we can all agree on.

  1. Heartfelt gratitude. Many teachers agree that the best gifts they have received are the ones that are truly heartfelt. The child that makes a gift for their favorite teacher, or the parent who takes the time to sit down and write a note about how much they appreciate all that a teacher has done for their child. These don’t take up space on a shelf, add inches to the waistline, or otherwise place any requirement on the teacher. Gratitude is truly a perfect gift, so let your teachers (and all those other helpful people in the school) know how much you appreciate them.
  2. Ask the teacher what they need for the classroom. Most teachers end up spending their own money to purchase things they want for the class. By offering to get them a gift of something they would buy anyway, the teacher will save some of his or her own cash, and avoid having to get out to make the purchase.
  3. Make a donation. This might be difficult, especially with all the red tape that comes along with a public school. You might be able to donate to your school’s PTO/PTA, which in turn will come back to your child’s classroom. In private schools, preschools, or even daycare, a cash donation will certainly be well received, and easily directed to the proper supply fund. If the school is registered as a not-for-profit organization, your donation is probably even tax-deductible.
  4. Gift cards. It’s certainly not mandatory that you give a gift that directly benefits the classroom. Target, Walmart, and Starbucks are all high on the list of favorite places for teachers to shop – for themselves. A local cafe or restaurant that’s close to the school may also be a good choice. Don’t be afraid to ask for their preference.

Thank you for your gift, whatever it may be, and thanks for taking the time to find out what we really want!

– The Teachers

A Note to Teachers: Holidays offer an opportunity for you to create a “wishing tree” for you own classroom. Decorate a small tree or plant with paper ornaments, each labeled with an item the class would like to have. Let parents know that, of course, choosing a tag is optional, but they are welcome to take a tag and place that gift under the tree. This ensures that gifts received directly benefit the classroom, and takes the guesswork out of gift-giving for the parent. The best part is, you can keep your “wishing tree” going all year long!

If you’re a teacher, please use the comments section below to tell us about the best and worst gifts you’ve received. Parents, feel free to chime in and tell us what you’re giving this year.