Please No More Mugs! What Teachers Really Want for Christmas!

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If you are a parent, you know all too well the stress of the holidays. Between planning,cooking, shopping and baking, to-do lists are long and hours are short. One thing I have always put off to the last minute is the teacher gifts. Problem is, those are usually needed a week before Christmas, so I really should not have put them off. Well, good news, teacher gifts are pretty simple when you look at what teachers actually want, the same we would all like, gift cards, booze, and food.

Ok, it’s not really as crass as it sounds. Yes, teachers do report being thankful for hand written thank-you notes and other thoughtful things, but in the end, teachers are human. As cute as all those apple themed mugs and ornaments are, trust me, they have enough already. Plus, they aren’t really practical. The fact is you just can’t go wrong with a gift card. The card can be a general Visa gift card, or to a store you might know they frequent. Add a handwritten, heartfelt note to it and that’s perfect. Interesting note: teachers like gift cards, but cash, they say, is weird.

The booze idea takes a little more discernment. I wouldn’t say it is as safe a gift to give, but many teachers reported it at the top of their list. A nice bottle of holiday wine sends a different message than a bottle of Jack. However, maybe if you have “that kid” in the class who is causing the teacher to consider other career paths, the Jack might not be a bad idea. I also would probably only give alcohol if I knew the teacher enough to decide it was appropriate. Taking into account the type of person they are should guide you in your selection.

The food gift also requires a little explanation. Teachers much prefer store bought food to homemade. Yes, homemade shows time and effort, but teachers don’t know if little Suzie washed her hands when she rolled those cookies, and remember, she sees little Suzie pick her nose everyday. Homemade food may well end up in the garbage, depending on the teacher. Don’t waste your time.

I think it is hard for us, as former students, to imagine that teachers are normal people with normal lives too. Have you ever run into a teacher out at a restaurant or mall?  Awkward! I don’t know why that is but we just don’t see them that way! At the end of the day, however, they have families, homes and social lives just like everyone else.

Teachers have reported some really interesting gifts over the years. Some have been given underwear or nighties, others given hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant. Ok, I get being practical but come one!  Others report pictures of students on ornaments or even regular frames. I know your little one should be on every teacher’s fireplace mantel, but the fact is they are one of many. Unless there is a very special connection between your child and a teacher, skip the photo gifts.

Some schools are banning teacher gifts altogether this year. Some schools just do a “class gift” bought with a collection. Of course, most schools leave it up to the parents to decide. However your school approaches it, Christmas is the perfect time to show teachers how much we appreciate them. Let’s face it, they have a tough job, they deserve to be recognized. Just look at the teachers as people and that will help guide you in your giving!


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