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Holiday and end-of-the-year teacher gifts

Step away from the apples! and other useful suggestions

by Kelsey M.  |  34363 views  |  6 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Having been a classroom teacher for four years, and having many teacher-friends, I feel highly qualified to address this topic. In my short career I have received gifts ranging in value from $2 to $100 (no kidding, totally unnecessary, but fun!). The value of the gift really isn't important, but here are some helpful (I hope) guidelines for end-of-the-year (or holiday) gifting for teachers:

1) Step away from the apples. Seriously. The possible exception to this would be in the case of a new teacher who has yet to be showered in apple-themed nonsense. Unless the teacher is a self-proclaimed apple enthusiast, it really isn't necessary.

2) Consumable is good. Teachers, like most of us, already have a lot of stuff. You might want to steer clear of anything that will take up shelf-space. Again, unless you know the teacher's decor and tastes really well, avoid anything non-consumable that needs to be displayed in the teacher's home.

3) Gift cards are easy, available in any amount, and can be purchased from a variety of stores. Especially at book stores, coffee shops, ice cream, and video stores, a little can go a long way. $5 is a movie-rental or a really nice cup of coffee, even most of a paperback! If you can/want to spend a little more try the mall, restaurant, movie theater, or store like Target or Kohls. A local spa gift certificate might be nice too, but that's not everyone's cup of tea. Want your money to go back into the classroom? Send a gift certificate to a teacher-supply store. You might not realize it, but there's probably one near you.

4) Candles, lotion, scented soaps, etc. are not a bad idea. If you are going to go that route I suggest getting them from a decent place (do you want the seven piece cherry-scented "spa" set on clearance for $4.50?) and possibly include a gift receipt. I know someone who loves vanilla anything - lotion, candles, etc. Vanilla seems like a mild enough scent, right? But to me too much vanilla makes me feel like a cookie factory threw up nearby. I'm not trying to offend the vanilla-lovers, I'm just saying that scent is a pretty personal thing. I always loved receiving gifts from Bath and Body Works because I use their stuff and because you can take any unused product back and exchange it like it's a gift certificate. I have never had trouble exchanging items their store.

5) I always thought notepads (of the non-apple variety!) and note cards were good gifts, especially for elementary school teachers. I went through both like crazy sending notes home, to other teachers, writing thank-yous, etc. If you don't get school-themed ones then the teacher can use them at home as well. You can also have your kids decorate note cards by folding unlined, 5x7 index cards in half, and buying similarly-sized envelopes from an office store. Have your child decorate the front of each card, pair each with an envelope, and tie a ribbon around a set of eight or ten.

About the Author

A former teacher and current stay-at-home mother, Kelsey blogs to maintain sanity. Visit her family at Midwest Mom. (

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6 comments so far...

  • We also have teacher wish lists during our annual book fair. You can go to the board, pick a tag for a book that your teacher is looking to add to thier classroom library. Each year we go to the book fair, my kids get one book for themselves and then pick out one thier teacher has asked for. Then on thier library day the librarian pulls out any donated books and allows the students to present it to thier teacher. Our teacher really like this. They get to build up thier classroom libraries and even get a second copy of a poplular book. We had one teacher that at the end of each year she clears out some older books to make room for the more recent popluar ones. She has one book for each student in her glass and each gets an opportunity to go pick out one and take it home (and keep it) for summer reading.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sherry3995 on 18th December 2008

  • This year with all the economy issues, our parent club, came up with an idea. They had the teachers fill out wish lists for the classroom, paper, markers, books, the music teacher requested replacement strings for the student guitars etc. The items were listed on postit notes and placed on the wall in the office. Parents came by the office and chose item(s) that they wanted to purchase. I found this good, I could choose something with in my budget and still give to the teacher and help my children. I think it was a successful event for all.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sherry3995 on 18th December 2008

  • Great article. As a teacher (on leave) those are really great suggestions. I have also received a lot of Christmas decorations and ornaments (just Christmas ones-they aren't all school related). When I put my tree up every year I am reminded of past students. It is really sweet.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Christine on 15th December 2007

  • Wow, those are some great tips! I usually have given holiday photo frames - figuring that they only need to take up shelf space for a small portion of the year and everyone has photos to display, but you've made some good points. I'll have to re-think this for this year!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Deb - Mom of 3 Girls on 5th December 2007

  • I was planning to give my kids' teachers homemade food gifts this holiday, but you've brought up a very good point... I'll need to do some more thinking. Thanks for possibly saving me a lot of hot work and time!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 3rd December 2007

  • So many really useful ideas, thank you!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 1st December 2007