The Best (and Worst) Holiday Gifts for Teachers

I’m in a lot of mom groups and lately I keep seeing this same question…

What should I give my child’s teacher?

I asked my friends who are teachers for their thoughts.

Gift Cards. Recently I saw a mom comment that she refuses to give gift cards because they are “rude and thoughtless” but the truth is, teachers LOVE gift cards!

As we all know, teachers are underpaid and many of them actually spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms. Gift cards to Target or the dollar store can help them pay for the next class project. Coffee, restaurant, and spa gift cards let them enjoy a treat on you.

Some top gift card suggestions include Visa, Target, Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, dollar stores, craft stores, restaurants, and spas.

If you’re going with coffee or a spa treatment, you should make sure the teacher actually drinks coffee or will appreciate a trip to the spa. One of my friends said, “don’t be afraid to ask the teacher what she likes.”

Hand made cards & notes. Hand made cards from students and hand written notes from parents are also a favorite, especially if they include a personalized message of appreciation.

Ornaments. Christmas tree ornaments are a great idea too. My daughter’s preschool teacher said, “I still hang every ornament I got from my kiddos and remember exactly who gave it to me.” A few other teachers said the same.

Group Gifts. Might be a little late to organize something for this year, but if you have a close-knit bunch and a room parent, a gift from the whole class is a great idea.

One friend received a basket full of dry erase markers, magnets, Sharpies, pencils and other supplies along with a gift card. A friend in Florida loved receiving a basket of towels, sunscreen, koozies, snacks, and other items for a relaxing day at the beach. Movie night baskets with popcorn, candy, and movie gift certificates are also a great idea. Another one of my teacher friends said her class knew she loved the theater so they all chipped in to get her tickets to a play.

My PTA president friend collected dollar bills and notes from each student and made them into a chain. She put the chain into a mason jar for the teacher to pull out. She loved reading the messages from each student and the class had fun helping her count the cash.

Candles, soaps, etc. Gifts like candles and soaps are great for some, not so great for others. A few of my teacher friends love getting candles and body lotions, but some people are allergic or sensitive to smells. I remember being advised not to buy these items for a particular family member who was also a teacher because she had received so many of them and didn’t want any more.

Here are some things to avoid.

Baked Goods. It pains me to put this on the “no” list because my mother took great pride in making her “spritz” cookies and we always gave them to our teachers, but these days people tend to be very careful about eating food from someone they don’t really know.

I’m not sure about other teachers but I’m super careful about homemade consumables – sounds silly but true.”

“I am leery of home made baked goods.”

“All of the baked goods just get tossed. My husband got a homemade cheese ball from someone last year. It was all wrapped up and we didn’t know what it was… we came across it about a week after Christmas. It was a disaster.”

Hand Made Gifts & Crafts. Hand written cards and notes are at the top of the list, but it’s probably best to save the hand made gifts and crafts for relatives. Let’s be honest, as moms we know it’s a challenge to figure out what to do with all of the macaroni projects our own kids bring home, imagine getting 30 of ’em all at once?

Anything that says “Teacher” on it. It’s best to avoid the tacky “Best Teacher Ever” mugs, shirts, and other knick-knacks. We all know how much we love getting things that say “Best Mom Ever” but apparently teachers just don’t have the same appreciation for them. Note: sarcasm. Skip the corny apple stuff too.

Alcohol. Is it ever appropriate to give alcohol to a teacher? This is the question that led to me putting this list together. A mom in a local group asked if a mason jar full of home made infused alcohol would be a good gift for a teacher. The majority of people said no.

Even if you know your child is the one driving Mrs. Jones to drink, it’s probably best to avoid giving her a bottle of booze. You never know who may be a recovering (or not recovering) alcoholic.

That being said, a few of my friends were happy to receive bottles of wine, but unless you know the teacher on a more personal level, it’s best to go with something else.

Thank you to my teacher-friends for your help with this list!


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