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What are Some Good Gift Ideas for a Teacher?

Many teachers appreciate gift baskets.
A teacher working.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
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Teachers, like most people, often have too much clutter, so when considering what gifts to buy for them at the end of the year, students should think about purchasing something useful, helpful, or geared toward a teacher’s hobbies. Gift certificates make great teacher gifts. These can be for a local educational supply store, an office supply store, or for companies that offer a number of choices. Since teachers frequently need to dip into their own pockets to fund supplies for classrooms, such gift certificates are both useful and helpful.

Another type of gift certificate that makes a great gift is one that will help the teacher pursue his or her hobbies. A teacher who is an avid golfer might like a gift certificate to a local pro-shop. Other options include certificates for things that will promote relaxation, like a day spa, or to the local movie theater or a nice restaurant.

Teachers usually also have a class library, and often cannot afford to stock that library with the latest books. A set of popular books, like the Harry Potter or the Narnia series, may make perfect teacher gifts if they are age appropriate for the classroom.

Some parents like to give gifts to teachers that have a more personal touch, but they can still be useful. A well-bound collection of poems written for the teacher by the students can also make for classroom reading and inspiration for future students, as well as providing memories of a particular class.

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Gift baskets are often welcome teacher gifts. A gift basket could reflect the summer months and have a “day at the beach” theme with sunscreen, sunglasses, a sand bucket, and a nicely made beach towel. A parent could include a season pass to national or state parks that could be used year round.

Another type of gift basket that many teachers welcome is the ice cream sundae emergency kit. This includes a couple of nice ice cream bowls, an ice cream scoop, several toppings, and a gift certificate for a local ice cream store. To personalize this gift, the cups or bowls could be replaced with mugs bearing the class name.

When teachers have been teaching for a long time, they may prefer gifts that will benefit the school. These could include donations to the school library of popular or more expensive books in the teacher’s name, or a piece of necessary furniture for a classroom or school office.

When considering teacher gifts, especially if the class plans to contribute to a gift as a whole, parents or students should remember that not everyone can afford to make equal donations. It is fantastic if a few people want to donate quite a bit, but everyone should consider the economic status of the people donating the money. Even if each parent or student can only afford a few dollars, a thoughtful gift can be found. People who are organizing a gift should not set a minimum contribution, as this may keep some parents from contributing anything at all.

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Discuss this Article

anon290695
Post 18

I think if you are kind of close to your teacher, a great gift would be an engraved pen. It's something they can keep at their desk and use often, and having it engraved will definitely add to the sentimental value.

anon252661
Post 17

I have a great deal of respect for teachers, especially when they have demonstrated being a really great one. But anyone willing to work hard with children for the little pay in return, deserves respect. That's why I enjoy giving gifts to my children's teachers - so they know that they are appreciated. I know they don't expect it and that they would never play 'favorites' because of it.

anon138072
Post 16

I am a mom of three and have been teaching for quite a few years! I have always appreciated their teachers and tried to put thought into their gifts, either really nice items, bottles of wine or gift cards or something they would enjoy with their little kids. I know the kind of effort that goes into their job.

If you appreciate it, then let them know. Say it, write it or send a heartfelt gift. It's not the size of the gift that matters. Some of the best gifts I ever received from students are beautiful letters or cards written by the parent about how their child has been so happy with me etc. Also I received a card this year that a donation of classroom supplies had been made in my name to a class in a poor country. Along with that were hand-painted ornaments by the child (young kid) and handmade photo cards by the mom. Wow. I was so impressed by the thought and effort.

The size or type of gift never stays in my mind after the season and would never affect the way I thought of a child or family. It's just something you appreciate. Also even though it can be a bit over the top I have to admit that gift cards are great. It means that I get to take my kids out to Timmie's or the movies or for dinner or treat myself to something at Chapters. It does rock but I realize not all families can afford to send gift cards. Even the smaller $10 cards are appreciated.

Although I love chocolate, it doesn't love me. I really don't like getting a dozen huge boxes of chocolate as I am trying to be healthier with what I eat. I have sometimes sent chocolate when I don't know what else to do but in the future would now make the smaller gifts (for french teachers/librarians) a simple $10.00 gift card for books or coffee. Everyone can use those. Also the homemade cards made and decorated by the students are adorable and really warm my heart.

This year I did receive an extremely generous gift card that I felt a bit funny accepting but realized would have caused an insult if I gave it back. They are a family that has a lot of respect for teachers and are always so polite and respectful. I really appreciate their gift and the respect they show me.

In the future chocolate will be a no-no from me and I may drop hints that I don't want any. How do I do that tactfully?

anon133484
Post 15

Gifts are fine. Most likely greatly appreciated by the teachers. The art of giving is to show appreciation. But what ever happened to giving a nice healthy shiny red apple?

anon132033
Post 14

well nothing much to say but fortunately it was all good ideas. there's no more special gift that you can give to your teacher than a very special birthday card and a hug. we should always remember that teachers are not only second mothers but also a person who will mold you to a better someone.

anon131394
Post 13

The pre-school assistant teacher wrapped the holiday gift (an art work finished by each kid in the class) to my son in black paper while others in colorful paper. I have given her $30 for her birthday and was going to give her a gift again for the year-end. Buy the black paper wrap choked my heart. I wonder if I still should give her any holiday gift.

anon103661
Post 12

A gift can be anything. I enjoy giving, and I give gifts for every holiday and any occasion that comes to mind. Not expensive gifts, but always thoughtful. A card, a cup of coffee, homemade gift baskets, a gift card, or a hug and a thank you can express one's gratitude. I try to be creative and personalize gifts whenever possible.

I think gifts from the heart relate their meaning and are much more thoughtful. Sometimes, it is the gift of my time. Teachers are a blessing to me and my children, and in return I want to bless our teachers!

If you are concerned about favoritism, you can always give "from" or "on behalf" of the students or parents. Better yet, give anonymously! Heartfelt giving does not desire recognition!

anon103307
Post 11

I am a teacher myself, have been for about three years. I think it is disgusting that people would think giving a gift would cause unfairness or favouritism in the class. It is human nature to get along with some people really well and others not so well, but in a good teacher's classroom, no one should be able to tell there is a favourite- all children should be treated fairly.

anon86573
Post 9

For Christmas this year I gave my kid's teachers these Key Finders that I got online and they all love them! With most teachers being women, that means most teachers have purses and keys, so this is a perfect, practical gift and they're reasonable, too!

anon84327
Post 8

Really? Stop being so "PC" and say thank you for what they do.

Twenty-plus kids, six hours a day -- how hard is it to say thank you? If you are worried that a gift may cause favoritism, that really says a lot about you.

If your child used more than normal of any classroom item (tissue, hand sanitizer, erasers) that would make a great gift for the teacher. You could also check their wish list for the beginning of the year and give something off of that list.

I have never met a shallow teacher who was only worried about what they get, or how much it cost. I have given teachers a large chocolate bar and a little bit of my time to cut out something or make copies.

Everyone likes to hear thank you. You are only limited by your imagination, not your wallet. Cover a can with paper or paint and put a dollars worth of crayons/pencils in it. Or a nice smelling hand sanitizer. Really easy and will not cause any "problems".

anon82641
Post 7

When students give gifts to teachers it may amount to favoritism especially expensive gifts. some students may not have gifts so it will make them feel bad.

anon55757
Post 6

I was a preschool teacher and I had a class room of 16 three year olds.

One Christmas I received a lot of gift certificates from families. They usually were around $50 each. I live in rural Iowa and we all don't have a lot of extra money but I worked so hard all year and felt so under appreciated from my boss (lack of raise in two years + only $8/hr with ten hour days) that having these parents give so much really touched my heart.

I had two children at home ages three and five. We lived in a one room trailer with no kitchen and sometimes during the winter, no running water. I didn't have any family nearby or friends that would come over, and their dad ran off a year before. I was a lonely poor single mother putting on a show everyday just to try and get by. But no one knew this.

That Christmas, I was able to take my children to go and do things because of the gift certificates and gift cards from the parents. Looking back now, I am thankful for what I have and I am very thankful for all of those parents who gave a little more and made our Christmas special.

I have never told anyone this before.

I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes it is not about what you give but letting them know how much you care and if you are more well off, then giving them $25 to $50 isn't a big thing to you, but a huge thing to them. 'Tis the season for giving. Merry Christmas everyone.

anon31264
Post 5

I have been a teacher for 10 years and I am pretty surprised at some of the comments I have read here.

To say that you feel it might affect the neutrality or fairness is just unbelievable to me. We are teachers... our job is to teach children.... whether we receive gifts or not!

My family always gave gifts to the teachers I had growing up! It's a personal choice and some of the most precious "gifts" given to me were the ones made by my students, but I appreciate each and every gift I have received.

It is a blessing to be a teacher and I don't think the general public realizes how much money comes out of our pocket every year.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with offering a teacher an end of year gift, Christmas gift, etc. and now as a parent, I absolutely give my children's teachers gifts.

bananas
Post 4

Regarding the neutrality issue of giving gifts to teachers.... Lots of other professions have started to ban the receipt of gifts because it could affect neutrality and fairness or just the appearance of neutrality/fairness. I'm thinking of doctors, lawyers, police officers, even bank auditors. These people used to be able to accept gifts from their clients, the community, or the people they help, but they can't anymore -- or at least many of them can't. I wonder if it's just a matter of time before teachers join this wave. I realize teachers do great work and are undercompensated, but I wonder if gift giving by the students/parents is the right way to show proper appreciation?

nhusein
Post 3

my oldest just "graduated" preschool, and i've been pretty surprised at the gifts that parents give teachers. i always thought that $10-$15 was a pretty generous gift, but i have friends that spend upwards of $50 for elementary school teachers. although our teachers deserve to be rewarded generously, i think it turns into a huge competition among parents. it makes it hard for parents who may not be able to afford such generous gifts!

WGwriter
Post 2

End of year gifts seem pretty common, as do winter break gifts. My son's school has a teacher appreciation week. Lots of times, parents will combine funds to purchase the teacher a gift at the end of the year, so there's not favoritism involved and the gift comes from all parents and students.

I note that the middle school teachers do not generally receive gifts, but my brother is a music teacher at a high school, and his students always have given him end of the year gifts. I guess it varies.

averagejoe
Post 1

Do students regularly get their teachers gifts these days? When I went to school (back in the day ;)) I don't think it was common. Maybe gift giving is just more common these days, but I'd feel like it might affect the neutrality that a teacher should maintain among the students.

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