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Tips for Fantastic Holiday Teacher Gifts

I’m always stumped when it comes to teacher gifts at the holiday’s. I’m never sure what is appropriate and what will just be tossed away. So I went straight to the most reliable source- the teachers themselves. I asked 3 of my good friends, who are teachers in various grades, and 2 of my neighbors, who are also teachers. They all had some good ideas on what constitutes good gift ideas and what to avoid.

1. Gift Cards are a great idea. All of them said that gift cards to a store where they can buy supplies for the classroom would be fabulous. Teachers buy a lot of classroom supplies out of their own pocket and even a small gift card would help offset that cost. Also- gift cards to places like Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A if you know the teacher well enough to be sure she/he will enjoy that.

2. Homemade and edible should be avoided. Unless you are a close friend and know the teacher well, avoid giving them anything homemade and edible. If the teacher has never been to your home then they are unlikely to eat anything you prepared there. It makes sense to me. One of my friends said she immediately tosses anything homemade as soon as she gets home because she just can’t be sure of the cleanliness of the kitchen where it was made. If you want to give food/snacks then go with store bought and keep it in the original packaging.

3. Books for the classroom are great. All of them agreed that books for the classroom would be a wonderful gift to receive. If you are unsure of what books would be appropriate, ask the teacher for a list of books she already has in the class or a wish list of books she would like to have. A gift card to a book store is also a great idea.

4. Personalized Note Pads are cute. I bought each teacher a notepad personalized one year. They were school themed- apples, etc- and had Mrs. ____ Classroom on the top. The teachers loved them and they were inexpensive and personal.

5. Trinkets and kitschy items are not ideal. Think about it- what would you do with 20 coffee cups that say #1 Teacher on them? Or 18 apple themed sno-globes? Now you know why those items are so plentiful at Goodwill in the Spring. Ha! The teachers suggested skipping anything that could be considered a trinket or a teacher-themed knick knack.

6. Class gifts are great if organized appropriately. The year that I was classroom mom for one of Ty’s classes I organized a class gift for the teachers. I sent home the forms and collected the money from the students. I was able to buy each teacher a $50 visa gift card with the money collected. They were thrilled and the parents were thrilled because it was easy!

7. Holiday specific gifts might not be the best idea. Unless you know the teacher really well it was suggested that you avoid giving anything like christmas ornaments, or stockings, etc. One of the teachers I spoke with is Jewish and she seems to always get a plethora of Christmas ornaments that end up at Goodwill.

Those are just a few of the tips that the teachers had for us. I appreciate their willingness to be honest and forthcoming about what parents should avoid doing. I hope these tips help you out too! I have a ton of teacher gifts to buy this year and it helps to have a few guidelines! Any of you teachers who are reading this, if you have an idea- either a good gift or what to avoid- please leave it in the comments for us!

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  • Thanks for the insight! My daughter’s teacher told them at the beginning of the year some of things she likes, Snickers and Sonic Cokes, for instance. That made it extra easy for us this year!


  • I always ask if teachers like homemade baked goods before I bake and I’d always recommend that you do that before you go to the trouble of baking. No use spending the time or money on something that’s going to be tossed, right? I haven’t had anyone turn me down yet, but my kids are still young. We also do handpainted ornaments and letters about how much we appreciate what the teacher does. For the ornaments I figure they’re only cluttering up their house for a few weeks a year. I have lots of teachers, aides, therapists, etc to make or buy for, so food and crafts are good options for me. When I’m in the midst of baking everything I really wish I could afford to just buy something for everyone!

    Donating classroom supplies is a good idea, but I avoid it. I donate supplies each month so my thinking might be different on this, but I want to give something they can keep for themselves.

  • http://akamrsseaman.blogspot.com/2012/12/gifts-for-teachers.html

    You are the wind beneath my wings…I reposted an old post about this very thing. As I am still teaching, I like to think it’s still relevant!

  • This is a pretty good list, but I have to add to it, avoid apple anything. I call it “apple crap.” Note pads are great, I agree.

    Gift cards are the best.

    After years of parents spending money on things I just went ahead and donated, I now ask for gifts for charity specifically. This year we put together 21 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. THAT was a spectacular experience for us all.

    Last week, one of my kids said, “Do you like coffee?” I told him no. He said, “Does your husband like coffee?” I said yes. Then he replied, “Well good because we’re getting you some.” I said, “You mean you’re getting my husband some.” Sigh, I think it was lost on him…

  • I used to teacher 4th and 5th grade and think you’ve got a great list! I would add indoor board games if you live in an area where they might have to have recess inside due to weather. Those get broken and pieces lost over the years, and it’s nice to have something fresh to pull out on the upteenth day in a row of being stuck inside. I have kept a couple of the trinkety things though, because I could tell they came straight from the heart of the students who gave them too me.