There is no pressure or expectation to buy your child’s teacher a gift. Some parents do so I am here to offer my thoughts. I taught in Illinois secondary schools for 35 years. I never expected presents and neither did any of my friends. The best gift of all would be to have students who came every day and were happy and ready to learn.
However, many of my friends used to ask me for ideas. So, for what it’s worth if you are going to give a gift here are 10 Teacher gift ideas from a teacher, now retired!
First, I do have one funny story to tell about gifts I have gotten. I had a darling boy in my French class who gave me a gift. I never opened the gifts in front of the child, I didn’t want any child who hadn’t given a gift to feel bad. I just put it in a bag to open at home. A good policy for when I opened his, I burst out laughing because it was pretty darn awful.
Flash forward decades and a Mom and Dad of a Spanish student sit down at my table at Open House. The father asked me, did you ever teach French? I looked at him and could recognize the young lad of the never forgotten. I couldn’t help laughing and told his wife about the gift. We all laughed until we had tears running down our faces. She assured me his gifts had improved.
1. Gift cards – I personally adored Starbucks gift cards. I would get a bunch of 5.00 cards and transfer them all to my Paul McCartney Starbucks card. I would stop for a treat every on my way to work and be wide awake all the way to Valentine’s day. Target was my second most common gift card and I loved those also. Both are great choices.
2. A written note or card – I saved every single one of these that I got and they are still upstairs in a bin in my sewing room. You really don’t need to spend any money, heartfelt thanks from your child is a fabulous gift.
3. A glowing email to the boss – Every once in a while a parent would email my principal or superintendent and cc me in. One parent even wrote the newspaper! It was terrific, I can’t tell you how much I loved it. Let’s just say most parents who email or call the teacher or the principal are not doing it to praise.
4. A small item for the teacher’s hobby – I had a student whose Mom got me a small quilting iron for getting in corners. I was blown away! This is a tricky one to copy as you have to know the teacher’s hobby.
5. An item which matches the teacher’s passions – I love U of I and the Cubs. I had students give me pennants or cute signs. I put them on the walls of my classroom and when I retired I decorated all the walls of my garage and I smile every time I pull the car in.
6. School supplies – We had a very small budget for supplies and all the rest came from our personal money. (Or what we could “borrow” from our husband’s office.) I once had a parent give me a gift bag of post it notes. I was in 7th heaven!
7. Small item related to the subject matter – I taught Spanish and French. I had students bring me back small items like Eiffel Towers or Mexican vanilla from trips to the country. I love those! (I also got margarita glasses from a parent once back when things were a little less regimented in schools. I actually liked them but I wouldn’t recommend an alcohol related gift.)
8. Ornaments – I know there are teachers groaning out there but I liked teacher ornaments and I still have some I received on my tree.
9. Bags – Teachers are all bag ladies. I once had a parent give me a Lands End canvas bag with my name embroidered on it. I still have it and will have it forever. All cute bags are welcome.
10. Books – I have gotten lovely art or travel books about Spain, France and Mexico. They are still on my book shelves.
I do want to add there are gifts I would avoid. Teachers have allergies and restrictions. I would NOT recommend the following.
No food – No pets – No fancy smelling soaps and lotions – Please, no small decorative items – Mugs are cute, they are. But how many can you use? And I feel compelled to add no cash or booze.
If you are clever and if your child really knows the teacher, you may come up with something crazy. I had my French students from 8th to 12th grade and one year they asked me what I had gotten for Christmas. (We would talk about anything as long as it was in French.) I described the paper napkins wrapped in newspaper my MIL had given me and it was a great vocabulary lesson.
A couple of years later, a girl slipped a package on my desk. It was wrapped in newspaper but it didn’t hit me. I was so curious, I had to open it right then and there. When I saw the paper napkins I laughed so hard I could barely stand up. It was a super fun day and one of the funniest gifts I have ever gotten. I still send her a Christmas card.
Please remember that for a teacher, gratitude is always the best gift of all.
That makes me Sew happy!
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Here’s another Christmas post.