My oldest is a kindergartner this year and I have been trying to think of what to get for his lovely teacher. Instead of trying to come up with something on my own, I decided to reach out to my friends on Facebook who are teachers and have them fill me in on what they REALLY want. The answers were all over the board, with a few surprises, and a couple of hilarious stories. I know this is not a one-size-fits-all, so if you disagree, that is fine. I am just going off the feedback I received. So here it is….But, first and foremost- they don’t want to hear from you or anyone else during their break!
Almost every single person who replied mentioned gift cards! So, if you thought gift cards are too impersonal and you wanted to be creative- get over it. They apparently LOVE gift cards. 1. They can actually get what they want and 2. Many of them use the gift cards to buy stuff they need for their classrooms. You might not realize it, but teachers spend a lot of their OWN money on class room supplies. Giving them gift cards to Target, Walmart (boo), and local craft stores is a very popular present. Other gift cards that were mentioned a lot were Starbucks, iTunes, and bath and body works.
Also, it turns out a lot of teachers enjoy getting booze. I don’t feel comfortable sending liquor with my child on the bus, but if you have a personal relationship with the teacher and hand deliver it, this would be an appreciated gift. You could include a little note that says, “For all the times my little monster made you want to drink!” If I were a teacher, this is what I would want.
Someone shared a great idea for those of you who are good organizers or know the fellow parents well… You could all chip in and get one more expensive gift or gift card. It is hard if the teacher has 10 different $10 gift cards to 10 different stores. But a $100 Visa gift card is AWESOME!
Lastly, a few mentioned that they appreciate any and all presents (you know, those really sweet, selfless ones that think its ‘the thought that counts’.) What I took from this, is if it is something meaningful in some way or really original, the teacher will likely love it.
Teachers get enough strong smelling lotions and candles. They do not need more. Your favorite sent in the world might be vanilla or cinnamon, but that doesn’t mean your teacher will like it. A good quality neutral-smelling hand cream is different than passion fruit body lotion from bath and body works. Be smart here.
Ornaments, Christmas decorations, and #1 teacher swag. Unless the teacher is a first or second year teacher, they don’t want a #1 teacher coffee mug. I guarantee they already have one. And, how many ornaments do teachers really need. They have 20+ students a year for possibly 20 years! That is a shit-load of snowmen. Not to mention, how can you even be sure the teacher celebrates Christmas? You don’t really know unless you personally know the teacher. Don’t assume.
On that note, nothing religious. You might be devout, but the teacher might not be. Even if they celebrate christmas, it doesn’t mean they want a big gold cross. And, yes, even at a christian school. Unless the teacher is a nun, don’t assume anything.
Lastly, homemade treats are iffy. I would say no. 1. They probably get enough chocolates and sweets from everyone and 2. Most people won’t eat sweets from people they don’t know well. They don’t know how clean your house it, how fresh your eggs are, if you washed your hands, etc. Maybe that is over thinking it, but better safe than sorry.
I should say the hilarious! Teachers really do grow to love our children and develop close relationship with them, but they don’t love your kid like you love your kid. They do not want a framed 5×7 photo of your child. (yes, that is a real story). Maybe a wallet size school picture that they won’t feel guilty about throwing away next year, but come on. Again, 20+ students a year for decades, your kid is not THAT special. That is not mean, it’s just real life.
Anything overly personal or inappropriate. One teacher friend told me that she received a bathrobe from a student. That is just weird. It’s too personal. A scarf is fine, socks are fine, a bathrobe just crosses that line.
Take the time to write a nice thank you note. Teachers work so hard- SO HARD! They get a lot of complaints from students, parents, administrators, school board. They hear all too often that teachers are failing our students and take the blame when they are not at fault. They would love to hear that you appreciate what they are doing for your kid. They would love to hear a personal example of a time that they impressed you or made a lasting impression on your child. They would love to hear from the student how much they mean to them. They like to hear that you know how hard they work and that you appreciate all of it. Also, maybe if your kids are small, include a little question and answer. Mine and Will’s is below.
Q: What is your favorite part about Mrs. ________?
A: She always tells me what to do, and if I make her stuff, she gives me a hug.
Q: What is your favorite part about school?
A: I like walking in the hallway and seeing all the work the other class kids do.
Q: What is Mrs. ______ like?
A: She likes when we all listen to what she tells us.
Q: What is Mrs. ______ good at?
A: She is good at reading stories and teaching and telling me what to do.
Haha, sounds like Will’s teacher has good control over the classroom.