I was an elementary teacher for eight years. During those years, students gave me gifts of all types. While I appreciated the thought behind all of them (OK, MOST of them – there was that “please give me an A” gift given right before final report cards that was highly suspicious …), I quickly identified a few gifts that teachers do NOT need more of.
Gifts not to give teachers
- Lotion. I love lotion. It smells good. It keeps my hands soft. But, I don’t need five bottles each Christmas season. And that’s usually what I ended up with.
- Mugs. I like a good mug of hot chocolate as much as anyone. However, during my eight years in the classroom, I became the proud recipient of approximately 93 mugs. For awhile, I even had a shelf in my apartment devoted to a mug display (no snickering please; I was young). The worst offenders are “best teacher” mugs, of which I have maybe 27.
- Homemade goodies that the child proudly announces “I made for you!”. Okay, please don’t call me a grinch. As I said before, I love the thought behind gifts and love the idea that a little crumb cruncher spent a Saturday morning baking up goodies for his beloved teacher. HOWEVER. Would you enjoy eating goodies that a seven-year old, in an unknown kitchen, made for you? (Now, to be totally honest, I love treats so much that I usually ate pretty much any that I received from students. But the sentiment I originally expressed is one I heard often, from many of my teaching colleagues. I felt bad seeing lots of homemade goodies hit the trash can).
- Candles. This is similar to the lotion. Smells good, but don’t need ten more each year.
And … the Number One gift not to give a teacher … drum roll please …
Teacher Knick Knacks! Of any kind! Really, after a year or two in the classroom, teachers do not need anymore small wooden decorative apples, rulers proclaiming “world’s best teacher,” dollar store pins featuring apples with a smiling worm, etc. This even includes teacher-themed ornaments, often inscribed by a child “You’re the Best!” (or, as I received more than one of, “You’re the Beast!” I’m not sure if this was intentional or not). Actually, apple-themed ANYTHING is probably a bad idea. Some teachers don’t even like apples!
Lest you think I’m a total grump, let me give you a couple of ideas that teachers LOVE receiving.
- I love getting notes and cards written by my students. Unlike knick knacks, they don’t take up much space. They are heart-felt and I have a folder of them I have kept for years.
- Gift cards. Especially wonderful – have the entire class pitch in for a single gift card. I challenge you to find any teacher who would not enjoy this gift.
Knowledge is power, so now you’re ready to shop wisely for your favorite teacher this Christmas season!