What Your Child’s Teacher Wants For Christmas

NO. Please, no.

Mamacita says: Every year around this time, I like to re-run this little piece about choosing a gift for your children’s teachers. We really do appreciate anything and everything we receive from our kids and their families, but some things are appreciated a little more than others.


It’s time to be thinking about giving your child’s teacher a gift of appreciation, whether you or he/she believe in any kind of holiday or not. After all, this dedicated professional has spent more time with other people’s children than their parents have, and deserves some little something to show them you care.

Might I suggest – nay, command – that you NOT give your child’s teacher a candle, statue, t-shirt, mug, plaque, hankie, seasonal brooch, earrings (unless they’re actual jewelry), snowglobe, poster, book (unless you know for sure it’s one she/he really wants), toiletry (unless you know exactly what kind he/she likes) homemade goodies (however pinteresting they might be), or a framed picture of your child? Teachers have more than enough of that stuff, and we never really liked most of it in the first place. Trinkets are something that must either be displayed or packed away, and who has the space to do either? The third option will be explained later in this post.

I loved your children, but I didn’t want their pictures on my wall or dangling from my Christmas tree or sitting on my desk. Those spaces are for my own children.

Yes, please. Oh dear lord, YES.

What your child’s teachers really want are gift cards to restaurants, stores, and cool educational websites. Your child’s teacher would genuinely appreciate some genuine appreciation. Teachers have very little spare time, and we often get home long after dark and don’t have either the time or energy to cook; gift cards to restaurants are really appreciated. The best educational toys are found online, and since science isn’t tested in most states yet, science toys would be met with grateful thanks of such sincere intensity that you might shed a few tears, yourself.

Teacher Appreciation certificates, good for merchandise, are also well-received. The simple act of letting a teacher know that he/she IS appreciated is really all we want, but a little swag added to it is nice, too.

I know it’s easy, heading to the Dollar Tree or WalMart or one of those overpriced classroom supply stores when it’s time to get a little something for Billy’s teacher, and anything sincerely given is sincerely appreciated. But if you want your child’s teacher to remember you forever as a parent who KNOWS, go for the science toys, Starbucks (make sure the teacher is a coffee drinker first)  restaurant cards, and even a mall card, good for every store in the shopping center. If the teacher has young children herself/himself, fast food cards are a lifesaver; you know how much YOU appreciate having the wherewithal to run through the occasional drive-through, well, a teacher is just like you, except he/she has 30 children (200 if he/she is a secondary teacher) instead of three and less free time than . . . . well, you. If your kid is in secondary school, please don’t forget those teachers, too. Elementary teachers always rake in the loot, but junior high and high school teachers, who deal with hundreds of students each day, are often forgotten.

Amazon cards are lovely, too. Breathtakingly lovely.

Oh, and that third option, for dealing with the onslaught of the candles, picture frames, apple-shaped stuff, mugs, ornaments, and trinkets?

Summer yard sale. Do you really want to see the gift your child gave his/her teacher on the ten-cent-table?

Many teacher-gift-trinkets end up here.

Many teacher-gift-trinkets end up here.

But then, what would YOU do if you were given forty trinkets every year?

So, do what I tell you. Gift cards. Restaurant cards. Science toys. Certificates of appreciation/swag-of-choice.

Amazon card. iTunes. (Make sure the teacher uses iTunes first.)

Teachers are people, you know. Most of them are INTERESTING people. They have actual LIVES, lives that really don’t include ten thousand candles, statues, picture frames, and “World’s Best Teacher” mugs. They don’t really want more wax and ceramics, but they could really, really use some gifts that give them a little breather (coughcoughrestaurantcardcough), and useful things they can actually use at home or in the classroom.

Please include a positive, grateful note.  That will be the best part.  Those, we save.

P.S.  Did I mention that your teacher already has enough mugs and lotion to start a shop?  I did?  Well, I”m mentioning it again.

P.P.S.  Even if we already love you, your child, and the whole family, please be careful about bringing a teacher home-made edibles.  We have allergies, too, or diets, or even just likes and dislikes.  I hate to break it to you well-meaning, generous, lovely givers, but most homemade goodies end up in the wastebasket.  All those adorable, crafty, homemade “favorite teacher” treats you’re seeing on Pinterest?

No.  Thank you, and we appreciate the effort and we know you are appreciative, but. . . . no.

P.P.P.S.  I’m mentioning gift cards again.  Total coincidence.

P.P.P.P.S.  One of the best gifts I ever got from a parent was a pair of razor-sharp fabulous fantastic marvelous Fiskar’s scissors.  It was over twenty years ago, and I still thank that woman every time I run into her.



What Your Child’s Teacher Wants For Christmas — 4 Comments

  1. As a secondary teacher, I know I appreciate any little thing.

    Gift cards are AWESOME! I don’t mind food, though. I should be a leery, I suppose, but one year I received so many goodies and small boxes of chocolates that I was able to set out a tray for my family to enjoy. It was one of those years where I had not had time to bake…

    I like office supplies, too. A nice pen. Some designer pencils. Cute notepads. I don’t NEED them, but I always want them. English teacher addictions…

    My own children are in middle school, and if we want to do something nice–and I believe my son’s teachers in particular need a little joy after having him in their classes–we need something for 17 teachers! Maybe even more, as I think the band and chorus assistants absolutely deserve something, too. Oh! And the club advisers! I completely understand why I get nuttin’ from my secondary students.

  2. Hmm, I wonder. Do you think a gift card would make a nice gift? Hey wait, it says “gift” right in the name, so it must be! Seriously, though, I’ll bet people don’t realize how nice it would be to get a gift that says, enjoy yourself, have a night out. Nice that you mentioned it! 🙂

  3. Honest opinion … in the past, we have made a donation in the teacher’s name to the Make-a-Wish foundation. This year for my older son’s band teacher, we plan to make a donation in his name to the Mr. Holland’s Opus foundation.

  4. Oh so true…..candles blech, earrings blech, fudge (maybe…..) cookies blech…..ornaments blech…….I appreciate the handmade sentiment, but it’s nothing I can use. The few times I got gift cards – LOVED it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *