Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teacher Tuesday...Christmas Gift Ideas

During the holidays, it seemed that the closer to Christmas it got, the more full my desk would get with
gifts from students. I always felt spoiled and appreciated, and it seemed as if the students really took
pride in giving their teacher a gift.

In my 2.5 years of teaching I was more than spoiled. I’m not sure if the parents of my students could
tell how stressed out I was, or if I had just tricked them into thinking I was the most amazing teacher
around, because they loved to give me exuberant gifts and let’s be real – I wasn’t complaining! Because
of this, I got a Christmas gift from almost everyone in the class. I remember my first year the kids
being so excited to bring their present to me, and getting even more excited when I opened it up.
Unfortunately, this made the few kids who didn’t get me a gift feel insecure and a little embarrassed.
This one little boy in my class would come up to me each morning as other children were giving me gifts
and offer me a trinket , eraser, pencil, or other toy that he had brought to school months ago, which
I had probably taken away at some point and given back to him on the premise that I never wanted
to see it again, to which he decided to just hide it in the dark depths of his tote tray. Each morning it
would be a new “gift” from him, and by the end of the day each day he had asked for it back. “Oh, well
I REALLY like that pencil. It is nice and shiny, um….” Or “Well, I actually really want that eraser. I think
my mom bought it for me instead of you.” Or “I have something else for you at home, can I have my
unidentifiable playdough person that I made in kindergarten back?” Ok – so maybe that last one was
a stretch, but really – he always asked for the things back, and I don’t blame the kid! As much as he
wanted to give me a gift, he wanted to keep his own “junk” even more. Bless his heart!!!

Now the dilemma – Christmas break is only a few days away, and to avoid the previously mentioned
situation, but you are wondering what to give to your student’s teacher or if you need to even bother,
here’s a few words of wisdom. Okay – many words of wisdom.

Yes – you should get your child’s teacher a Christmas gift. I’m not saying this because I am a present
whore – although feel free to bring me one if you want. I’m saying this because your child’s teacher
takes care of them for most of your child’s waking hours. They help your child learn. They show
patience to your child long after you, their own parent, would have lost it on them. They wipe tears
when your student cries, helps them be brave, and teaches them how to be independent and function
without YOU by their side. They teach your child social skills, how to be a friend, and how to work with
others. They get paid next to nothing, spend their own money so your child can have a fun experience
at school or make a fun project, and work 10 hour days every day of the week, and that doesn’t include
the work they take home, the sleepless nights they spend worrying about your student, and the
weekends they use to prepare for the upcoming week of teaching. Next to you, there probably isn’t
a more influential adult that they interact with on a daily basis than their teacher. Yes – I know these
things are part of a teacher’s job and what they get paid for, BUT, teachers barely get paid enough to
provide their own families a very modest Christmas, and a little appreciation from you goes a very long
way. Trust me.

(Soapbox over…sorry)

So – what to get your child’s teacher? It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant. Here are some
suggestions based on price range.

FREE – Give your child’s teacher your family’s holiday card. I LOVED getting these. Write a personal
note to the teacher and tell them they are appreciated. Tell them why you like them – and be specific.
Have your child participate in this and draw a picture and write something too. I really loved getting
this type of thing. Teaching is a thankless job sometimes and it feels good to know that you are

$1 – whatever you are giving to your neighbors – add your teacher to that list too! Homemade goodies
are great, and what’s one more plate? I used to always snack on these the during the day the week
before Christmas. YUMMY!

$5 – a FAVORITE of mine is a caramel apple. I love that it is a spin on the traditional apple for teacher. I
had a parent bring me one of these when they came to parent conferences my first year of teaching. To
this day, I still appreciate that gesture SO MUCH. It’s a great gift for teacher anytime of the year.

$10 – A few times I’ve had parents bring me lunch. What a way to make your child’s teacher feel
special! Make sure you schedule it before hand and know what time lunch is so that the teacher can
enjoy it. I always appreciated the thoughtfulness of this and especially for the time spent picking up the
lunch and bringing it to school.

$15 and up – If you want to do something big for your child’s teacher a gift card is a great way to go.
Movie theaters, restaurants, and Target are good ones. I’ve been given many gift cards and have always
loved it! Just the other day I used a gift card a parent gave me last year for the movies, and I was so
grateful and thinking of that student and parent the whole time. (THANKS JEN!!!)

Here’s a few other ideas…Soap, lotion, candles --Teachers get A LOT of these things. We like these
things, but just know that every other kid in the class will give this to teacher too – so if you are looking
for something original, don’t go with this one.

Something handmade by you or your student. --It’s ok if it is made by a first grader – teacher will still
appreciate it!

Candy or soda -- don’t be afraid to ask teacher what he/she likes!

Under NO circumstance should you ever give your child’s teacher something that says 2 teach is 2 touch
lives 4 ever. We don’t like those things or anything that says “world’s best teacher” or anything else like
that. We know you mean well, and don’t feel bad if you have past offenses in this area. Now is always
a good time to change…you can do it! And while we’re on the subject – school supplies aren’t really a
good teacher gift either. They are appreciated – I promise. BUT, it’s like giving your mom windex or
your dad disposable razors for Christmas. Will they get used? Yes, but is it a good “gift”? Not so much.
School supplies should be donated at various times during the school year – but not Christmas. Sorry.

All that being said – do not feel pressure to do anything extravagant. Put in some thought and call it

good. And don’t think that the bigger the present you give your child’s teacher the more they will like
your child. Sometimes not even a great gift can make a teacher like your kid. JUST KIDDING!!! Think
simple – stay in a price range you feel comfortable – and whatever gift you choose will go over well with



  1. YAY! I can post a comment on your blog! FINALLY! I used to do the school supply thing but I'd add something personal as well... I think that's good ;)

  2. You make me laugh... Reading the post was like talking with you at your desk! Good times! What about the 32 oz coke in the morning? Merry Christmas!

  3. Ha ha Jen!!! I was going to mention the coke...I was just telling someone about that today! You and Angi (Jack's mom) would ALWAYS spoil me with a drink. You're the best!

  4. You're the best!!! We miss you!!!