"I’d much rather have something personal from the student."
You’re in a hurry. So you drop $5 on a trinket for your child’s teacher, then move on to the next item on your holiday to-do list.
These gifts may be accepted graciously, but be honest: Does the teacher really need a candleholder emblazoned with Santa’s rosy visage? Or a reindeer paperweight, or that perennial last-minute gift choice — the “World’s Best Teacher” coffee mug?
“Sometimes they feel like they need to get something for the teacher and so they buy that ‘teacher crap’ — an apple that says ‘No. 1 Teacher’ or something like that,” says Shannon Drizd, who has taught first and second grade in the suburbs of Chicago for nine years. “I’d much rather have something personal from the student.”
Memo to Santa’s elves: So would most teachers.
The National Education Association polled more than 2,500 teachers last spring, asking what gift they most enjoyed receiving from students. Forty-eight per cent chose “hearing the words thank you/receiving a thank you card.” A heartfelt note of appreciation from you — just a few sentences will do — goes a long way, especially if it’s tucked inside a card made by your child.
Still feel obligated to give something store-bought?
There are plenty gifts out there that can be personalized, or that recipients can customize. For example, a simple picture frame could come with a candid shot of kids on the class field trip, and the frame can be reused by the teacher years later. If it has to be an apple, perhaps it could be a useful apple-shaped item such as a cutting board or a pretty serving dish, or some nicely packaged apple butter.
Some other ideas:
- Gift certificates ranked second in the NEA’s survey, with 30 per cent of teachers saying they were happy to get them.
- Even if you don’t plan to follow the crowd, it’s worth finding out what’s usually done in your area. Are group gifts the norm? Do parents splurge or give tiny things? Are home-baked goods considered charming or tacky?