Teacher Gifts: The Good & The Bad

If you have school aged children, by now you should have received a note from the class mom asking for a donation of $10 to help purchase a class gift for the teacher.  Take it.  It's the easy way out.  I've only been in the school game as a parent for a few years now and have had quite a range of experiences when it comes to giving gifts to teachers.  The first year, I went in with about five moms who all agreed to give approximately $10-$15 each for the teacher gift.  When it came time to collect and buy the gift, I volunteered to do the task.  Of the five moms who agreed to go in on the gift, only four gave the money.  Being the naive person I was at the time, I went ahead and gave the fifth mom's portion. Mistake.  The mom and her child never returned to school until 3 months later.  The next time I saw her, I took the high road and never asked her to pay her share but you better believe that I will never do that again. 

Fast forward to today where two notes from each of my child's class moms have already come home asking for $10 for a class gift card to be given to both the teacher and her assistant.  That's the easy way out but part of me wouldn't mind sending in a personal gift.  Then again, it saves me time and energy thinking about what to get, becoming stressed out with mall traffic, and gift wrapping it which certainly is not one of my talents.  Looking back, I do recall giving what I think now were perceived as cheesy gifts.  I gave my kid's teachers a coffee mug with candy, and another chocolate rulers which I thought were creative/cute, but considering they were produced by the dozens. I'm sure it lacked uniqueness but I thought it was a cute and easy gift.  Just this past weekend, I gave my daughter's tap teacher a beautiful scarf.  I totally forgot about the ballet teacher.  Ooops.

I asked a few teacher friends to share with me some of the good, bad, and ridiculous gifts they have received over the years.  One said she was given garden accessories complete with seeds.  Now some of you may think that was a wonderful gift, right?  It is if you lived in a home with a yard.  This particular teacher lived in an apartment.  Do your research peeps. Another teacher I know worked at one of those $30,000/year nursery/pre-schools in NYC where it's who you know and how much you make that gets you in.  I recall her being on maternity leave but somehow made her way back to school on the final day before Christmas break to collect her gifts.  Now I see why.  She was accustomed to receiving gifts such as an Hermes scarf which costs $100s of dollars.  I would go back too.  A few other gifts on the good list include a written note thanking the teacher for the the lessons taught that year (insert tears here), another received a Coach bag, gift certificate for a Coach wallet, and gift card to Rothmans Steakhouse.  On the naughty list were candy (guilty), a calendar, and one refused to give me a bad gift because all gifts from children are precious.

After interviewing a few teachers, Desiree Miller lists the following items as best and worst "Teacher Gift Ideas" on VoluteerSpot.com:


  • Candles (we just stash them in a closet that is now overflowing)
  • Food (especially Christmas cookies that just add weight at exactly the wrong time of year)
  • Soaps (unless you're trying to tell us something)
  • Dollar store items
  • Gift cards the entire class contributed to (yes, this means one parent has to step up and coordinate the collection, but one big gift card can really mean a lot
  • Gifts the entire class donates such as a flower arrangement
  • Handmade gifts the child makes that come from the heart (especially letters)
  • Trendy personalized items such as monogrammed coozies or purses, etc.
What are some of the gifts you have given your child's teacher?  Are you on the best or worst list?

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