Buying Christmas Gifts for Teachers

It’s that time of year again. Not only are you looking for the perfect gift for every person on your holiday gift-giving list – but you are also trolling to find the best teacher gift that will impress your child’s teacher. Let’s face it. During the holidays, teachers rack up with gifts. That last holiday party before kids get out is essentially a holiday shower of gifts for the teachers. They get tons of candles and coffee mugs, and all sorts of cutesy ‘teacher oriented’ gifts for their classroom, bags and t-shirts as well as framed pictures and personalized jewelry and gifts. And then of course, there are the boxes and crates, containers and baggies filled with home made goodies and snacks given by well meaning parents and students.

Buying Christmas gifts for teachers is tricky. For one thing, unless you really know the teacher – it can be difficult to give him or her anything that she will actually use. Chances are you have never been inside their home, have no idea what they like to do on the weekends, and have no real way to give something meaningful. And unless you are the worlds biggest kiss up who is trying to make up for your child being a total Neanderthal in the classroom you are likely only buying what this author considers a ‘token gift.’ A token gift is a gift you get because you feel like you have to. Because you are worried that if you showed up at the Christmas party without a gift you would feel like a total schlep. A token gift is a gift that doesn’t hold much meaning.

Here’s the thing. Sure, teachers appreciate the thoughtful gifts from their students. And if you were to ask them in an anonymous survey, nearly 98% of them would probably appreciate a gift card or cash over the hand made ornaments and baked goods that you spent hours toiling over in the kitchen. If you want to stay on the safe side, and you want to show your child’s teacher some holiday cheery – then cough up some money.

The following list is things that you should AVOID giving teachers. (Especially if you don’t know them very well)

  1. Baked goods. Why? First of all, the teacher has seen your child pick their nose and eat their boogers at school. They have also smelled their feet at some point. And when they open the delectable looking cookies and your child says, “I helped make these with mama,” all she is thinking about is your child’s boogers being in the batter. Chances are the baked goods are given to the dogs or throw straight in the trash can. Would you eat food from someone else’s kitchen that you didn’t know? Save yourself the trouble and either buy pre-wrapped goodies like truffles or avoid the junk food altogether.
  2. A picture of your child. No matter how cute the frame is, and no matter how much the teacher claims to love your child – they don’t want a lifetime picture that they feel compelled to leave out. The teacher may not even like your child. And chances are they don’t litter up their home with a shelf full of pictures of their students. You would be better off giving them a pretty frame that is empty, so that they can fill it with pictures they actually want to look at again and again.
  3. Clothes. There is one exception to this rule. If you KNOW for a fact that your teacher friend has a certain love for a certain college team, then collegiate clothing is an acceptable gift. But don’t try and pick them out a sweater or a dress, a jacket or a shirt. And, if you do buy them collegiate clothing – make sure you size it right. Giving them a 2XL, when they wear a large is the stuff that hurt feelings are made of. (Keep on the tags so they can return them!) Also, buying them accessories such as costume jewelry or scarves is an acceptable gift.
  4. Coffee mugs, cups, dishes. Every single catalog and every single store in the world sells ‘teacher’ appropriate mugs and drinking cups that have primary colored crayons and stick figures on them. Sure, the teacher teaches kindergarten. But that doesn’t mean that her entire life revolves around die cuts and kindergarten like decorations. Plus, she probably has an entire shelf in her garage dedicated to these gifts.
  5. Anything that says, “The worlds best teacher.”
  6. Any gift that comments about her personal hygiene. Unless you know what her favorite fragrance is – giving her a gift set complete with deodorant and bath salts is not a good idea. Most women especially are particularly picky when it comes to the scents that they want to use on their body.
  7. ‘Teacher’ t-shirts.
  8. Candles. Candles are the gifts that people give when they cannot think of anything else to give. And seriously, how many candles can one teacher burn in a year. Guarantee at the holiday party you will see at least 10 different candles given to the teacher.

Certainly, there are more gifts that teachers don’t want. One good idea for a teacher gift, is instead of every student giving one useless gift, the parents collectively organize a fundraiser where every student gives $5 to $10, and the teacher is presented with a large gift card or cash from the entire class. This way, she can use the money for some of the things she really wants – or to pay for all those extras in the classroom that she normally has to dig into his or her own pockets to pay for.



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