It’s holiday time which leads to two questions:  Do I have to get my child’s teacher(s) a gift?  And, What do I get him/her?

gift photo

Okay, first question. No, you don’t have to purchase a gift for your child’s teacher. After a twelve-year teaching career, I can tell you that never did I receive a gift from every child in my class. And that’s okay.

However, a gift does show your child’s teacher(s) that you appreciate all the teacher’s efforts and hard work. It’s another way of saying “thank you.”

So, if you’ve decided to go ahead and acknowledge the teacher(s) in your life with something, what do you get them? Here are a few suggestions that I offer based on my own experience.


  1. A heartfelt thank you.  One year, my most favorite gift was a card a parent wrote, expressing her appreciation and gratitude for her daughter’s kindergarten experience so far. She included some specific examples, and I re-read that card on several occasions when I needed a pick-me-up and a reminder that what I was doing each day did make a difference. Make sure your thank you is specific — acknowledge something you’ve seen or something your child has come home raving about.
  2. Gift cards.  Monetary value isn’t as important as the thought. I have received $5 Starbucks gift cards and been appreciative of each one. Think general (Target, Trader Joe’s, supermarket, gas station, or a Visa gift card). Be observant and get your clues from your child’s teacher (Does she often have a Coffee Bean cup in hand?  Always wearing a pair of Nikes?)
  3. Flowers.  They’re quick and easy for you to purchase and require no additional work on the teacher’s behalf. (Make sure to include a thank you note!)

Now, here are a few items to avoid (yes, all based on my own experience):

  1. Jewelry.  Unless you are certain of a teacher’s taste, jewelry is off-limits. Because I am a woman who wears a lot of jewelry (rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces), many students would purchase jewelry for me. However, the jewelry wasn’t always in my taste. And, yes, while it is the thought that counts, I felt badly that a family spent money on an item I didn’t really like and wouldn’t wear after the class was over.
  2. Personal items.  I have had students give me pajamas, perfume, and slippers. Both  the pajamas and perfume were not my style and both seemed far too personal to be given by one of my students. (The slippers were cute but way too small for me.)
  3. #1 Teacher items.  Yes, I was always flattered when a student acknowledged me as a great teacher. But there comes a point, when a teacher can only have so many “#1 Teacher” mugs.


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