Teacher Gift Ideas…Straight From A Teacher

Being in the world of parent-teacher conferences (I know; I can’t believe it, either) and cubbies means being in the world of teacher appreciation, too. Seriously: I cannot tell you how much I adore and cherish my son’s teachers; they’re my family’s friends in a very real way, and I care about them both as caregivers for my child and as just straight-up wonderful people.

Which means that I get a little stressed out about what to do around the holidays. I want to make sure that they all feel appreciated…but I also really, really don’t want to offend anyone (by, say, skipping someone I really should have given a gift to, or giving something that I think is thoughtful but that isn’t really welcome). I’m not entirely sure that they want another batch of cookies.

So I figured I’d go straight to the source, and ask an elementary school teacher to tell me the honest truth about teachers and holiday gift-giving.

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Q. Why teacher gifts?

A. Teachers love getting gifts not because they “love getting gifts”, but because they love the acknowledgment that they are the person who spends eight hours a day with your child, caring for them, getting to know them, thinking about them, and of course teaching them. We don’t want/need holiday gifts because we are greedy; we want the parents to say, “Hi, I recognize you care for my child, and for that, I thank you!”

The unpopular, but totally true, other reason we need gifts is…we need gifts for other people. Yikes. Yes, it’s true. Teachers – especially private school teachers – make no money at all, and those gift cards, candles, aprons, chocolates? We re-gift many of them to people we need gifts for!

Q. Which teachers should get a gift?

A. Here’s my rule of thumb: if the person touches your child within a week’s time, they get a gift (some classes, like PE, only meet once a week, but they do teach your kid!): nurse, gym teacher, art teacher, any classroom teacher, bus driver. You never give gifts to “almost” all teachers. Even if you don’t like the teacher, throw something small their way.

Q. What makes a great teacher gift?

A. Gift cards. Even for $5! Seriously, just hand out $5 S’bucks cards or Dunkin Donuts, and we’re happy campers – that is one less drink we have to buy! We also love good chocolates, mugs, picture frames, and I’ve gotten earrings, scarves I love. The gifts I really really love are the ones that have to do with the relationship with the student: a student of mine and I loved talking fashion and nails, so she got me an Essie set. Another student told me all about his dad’s BBQ steak, so he got me a Penzy’s spice set and his dad’s recipe (LOVED that gift!). Be mindful, be thoughtful.

What do teachers love most? a note from the parent or student saying thank you and what they’ve learned/gotten from the class/my teaching/our relationship. We save those forever. We promise.

P.S. Here are instructions on how to make the adorable DIY Chalkboard Coasters pictured at top.

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