I was an elementary teacher for eight years. During those years I collected gifts of all types from my students. 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 came to learn some gifts that teachers do NOT need more of.
5. Lotion. Now, I love lotion. It smells good. It keeps my hands soft. But – I don’t need 5 bottles each Christmas season. And that’s usually what I ended up with.
4. 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.
3. 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? Enough said.
2. 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 …
1. 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!” – not sure if this was intentional or not). Actually, apple-themed ANYTHING is probably a bad idea. Not all teachers even LIKE apples!
Lest you think I’m a total sourpuss, let me give you a couple of ideas that teachers LOVE receiving.
1. 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.
2. 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.
So, now you are armed with knowledge. Shop wisely for your favorite teacher this Christmas season!