BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Gifts for Teachers
Berkeley Parents Network >
School & Preschool >
Gifts for Teachers
After several kids and many years, we have reached the end of preschool. Our family has
loved this preschool and its three teachers. I would really like to get them a nice gift to
express our appreciation, but I am frankly terrible at thinking of good gift ideas. Does
anyone have a good idea? Any teachers want to chime in?
Thoughts from a teacher here. If you're drawing a blank on a thoughtful, personalized
gift, an Amazon gift card and a heartfelt note expressing your appreciation will go far.
They won't be insulted by the ''impersonal'' nature of a gift card. We're not paid much,
and often feel like the challenges of our work are unacknowledged and unrecognized. Let
them know what you've especially appreciated about their work over the years, include a
gift card, and you've made their week (at least!)
A middle school teacher
cash, cash, cash!
Hi - it's very thoughtful of you to be thinking of a gift for your child's pre-school
teacher. I suggest cash combined with a thoughtful handwritten note and a picture of
Money, give them money. That's what teachers really want. Yes, it's not a thought out
personal gift, but what better way is there to show the big appreciation you have for
them? Most teachers don't make a lot of money and this way they they can with it as they
see fit. It's like a bonus at work; you get money, not gifts.
I'm not a teacher, but I've found that a good gift that works well for almost any
occasion is a voucher for a spa. It shows the recipient that you care about them and
want them to relax, and it's something that a lot of people wouldn't get for themselves.
Also, it's an experience, rather than more stuff to clog up their home.
Any spa will offer gift cards for treatments like facials, massage, etc. And some of
them have saunas and other facilities that can be used by the guest.
Works for either guys or gals, too!
Preschool teachers generally make next to nothing, so while it may not feel like a great
gift, I think they'd appreciate a gift card. Even if it's not a generic gift card (e.g.
Amex or Visa) but to somewhere specific, I think it would be well received. For the
holidays, for my son's Montessori preschool, I give gift cards. Sometimes I'll pair it
with another small gift, but I really think the 'cash' is really appreciated. Just my
I've been a preschool teacher for many, many years and I can tell you some of my
favorite gifts over the years. Most preschool teachers don't make a whole lot of money,
so just a general gift card is always appreciated. I often pay for new clothes for the
school year this way! More specific types of gift certificates are also great, and
these might be so that the teachers can get something for themselves or something for
the school, like to a bookstore or to Lakeshore Learning Supply. One year, I got a
certificate for a massage at the Claremont! Loved that! Many teachers also appreciate
items hand-made by you or your children. I do recommend you stay away from scented items
or specific foods unless you clearly know about people's personal allergies and
A preschool teacher
A lovely heartfelt note that includes a message from your older children about what they
remember and liked best about preschool is perfect. Then, if it is in your budget, I'd
recommend a gift certificate for each teacher to a local restaurant.
It is always nice to be appreciated
My son goes to a school for kids with special needs, and the
teachers there and staff are amazing. If it weren't for
them, our family would be struggling in a way I don't even
want to contemplate. If I could, I would give them all huge
monetary bonuses at the holidays to show the appreciation of
the work they do every day. Already, I express my
appreciation verbally and send in homemade baked goods and
try to be a good school parent. I admire them and I think I
know how hard they work and how stressful their job can be,
and I want to do something for them (there are 7) that
genuinely shows that I appreciate them, feel supported by
them and how much it means to me that they are a part of our
lives. I don't have the money to give them all the bonuses
I'd like, but can you all out there in BPN Land give me some
ideas for what I could do? I am creative and artistic, so
that's a bonus. There are both men and women.
LOVE the staff!
As a teacher, I want to assure you that I'm not in it for the tips. Of course gifts
are nice. I really do enjoy handmade cards and such, or anything that contains
a personal reference. A warm handshake or hug and verbal thanks can be
plenty. But I am not really comfortable with gifts of money, even semi-
anonymous class gifts, unless I can be sure that they are not in part coerced
out of poor parents (I have been there) by well-meaning but insensitive ones
who are more affluent. And what I really dislike is a gift card to some
expensive spa or boutique, offered by parents who are better off that I am,
when in fact I'm a bit short of grocery money - I know it's well-meaning but
it's awfully frustrating. And once I was so offended by a thousand-dollar
check I received, without even a note, from the wealthy parents of a difficult
child, that I sent it back with a note suggesting they donate it to the school
instead (they didn't). OK, accepting it would have been against school policy,
but still, I do regret the money now and then. So my advice is, just express
what you want to express and share what you're happy to share, and we're all
good. My colleagues don't all share my views exactly, but none of them keeps
tabs or worries about it much - believe me, we have bigger fish to fry!
I'm a teacher and a parent, so I can tell you some of the things that I've
appreciated most and maybe one will work for you. Does the school do a staff
appreciation lunch? At both my school and my son's school this is done once a
semester, with parents all contributing food to a giant pot luck. It's great to be
fed! You could organize something like this. You can give a larger gift
certificate from somewhere where books or other school supplies can be bought.
You can give each teacher a smaller gift certificate for books or a general one,
like a Visa card. Also, I'll bet your verbal appreciation goes a long way. Or you
could write each teacher a personal note expressing what she or he has done for
your family and your child that you appreciate.
If you can afford it, give them a $20 gift certificate to a
nearby independent bookstore. If you can't, a sincere
hand-written note will be appreciated.
Our son's preschool sent a letter home asking for a $200 Christmas
bonus from each student's family. We're supposed to fill out a form
with our child's name and the amount we're paying. Times are tight for
us, and our inclination is to write a check for $50 --- at most ---
but there's the lingering fear that if we don't pay, our child will
somehow suffer. The preschool already increased tuition rates by $40 a
month earlier this year. Our older child's preschools (he was in two
different ones) never asked for a bonus, and I'm wondering how other
BPN families feel about this.
Coercion or commonplace?
My son has gone to the same private school since
preschool. They request money every year. It's par for the
Obviously they ask for what they hope but you give what
you can (i work in the office there one day a week so i am
aware this comes up)
Hoenstly, if i felt my not giving the full amount (i
don't) would affect my son i would remove him period. If
you chose your school with care and like it, then assume
the best of them
I've 4 kids and all have attended different preschools and I
have never heard of such a thing. We've had requests for
bonuses for teachers--but never such a high, specific amount!
I think it is fair to ask if the preschool owner will match
any donations by parents or if this is an additional fee, etc.
Seems extreme to me!
I think this is obnoxious and ballsy to the max. I am a
pediatrician and have had 3 kids in preschool. I would
not even send the form back. Maybe a box of candy for the
staff. The director should be giving out their own
bonuses to staff if they see fit. You pay for the tuition
already. If they retaliate I would find another school.
I would also print this and leave at the school.
You gotta be kidding
Seems a bit out of the ordinary to me. I've been a parent at two different
preschools in Berkeley and one elementary school in Albany. It is common for
there to be an organized money collection for teachers over the holidays. But it
is always emphasized to give what you can, etc. I've never been asked to give a
specific amount. Also, the collections are semi-anonymous - usually a parent
volunteers to collect, so there is no involvement of school personnel. So yes,
this would annoy me too! Hmmm....I'd probably say something to the Director
of the preschool and tell him/her that although you are happy to contribute to
the collection, you are not comfortable with being asked to give a specific
Wow! I think I'd be inclined to ''forget'' to turn that in.
Sorry to say this, but that raises a concern about the
school for me. I know that in a lot of schools it's common
for parents to collect money for gifts (about $10 per
teacher seemed to be the norm at my kids' school last year
in a classroom with 3 teachers.)
Sounds Fishy to Me!
Maybe they shouldn't have asked for it, but here's why I
think you should give as much as you can, and likely more
My children's childcare providers are the most important
people in my life (besides my family members) because they
provide the most important service. Out of the indebtedness
and gratitude I feel toward them, I will give them the
biggest gift I can afford. I budget my other gift-giving
(including for my children and husband) and holiday meal
planning around the money I contribute to the parents' gift
pool for our childcare providers. I do this because I want
to show them appreciation and because, frankly, they can use
As you probably know, childcare workers make shockingly
little money, and certainly less money than they deserve.
Most of the ones I have come to know live paycheck to
paycheck or pretty close, and often cannot afford quality
childcare for their own children. Many cannot afford to live
close to the daycares they work in, and have long commutes
from other cities and even counties, which eat into their
already low paychecks. If you think times are tight for you,
it's a fair assumption that things are worse for your
Please don't assume that other families will pick up your
slack. Three years ago (before the recession) I facilitated
the collection of Chirstmas money for our daycare. I was
really surprised by how little many families gave. One
family with two children (so, six teachers) at the daycare
gave $20 total. I knew the family so I know it wasn't
because they were broke.
When I stayed home, I found it challenging to take care of
my own children all day. For me it's worth sacrificing
something else so that once a year I can properly thank the
people I trust to care for my children with patience and
they deserve it
Weird...sounds like the school is having financial issues...
That's nuts! Unless they told you when you enrolled that $200
bonus amount was coming, then it's not fair for them to spring
that on you.
Maybe it's their way to coerce you, in which case ignore it
and just give the amount that you want to give. And no, I
really doubt that your child will suffer because of that.
That would be rotten on a whole different level.
Odd, very odd. Are their rates super cheap compared to other schools? Do they
get paid winter/Christmas vacation time? I'm not sure why they feel entitled
unless they're working their tails off without adequate compensation or time off.
Odd, very odd.
I have never heard of a preschool, daycare, K-12 school, or babysitter asking
parents to commit to a holiday bonus in a specific amount. My experience with
3 kids in a dozen different schools is that a parent or PTA asks other parents to
pitch in what they can for teachers' gifts. This is never initiated by the school -
always by the parents - and it's always entirely anonymous and voluntary. Even
K-12 building fund drives are anonymous and voluntary. It is really bad
manners to tell someone that you expect a certain gift. The only exception is a
kid talking to Santa. Don't they know this? I would really be questioning the
integrity of the preschool. I might have a chat with the director and say that I
would prefer to pay $200 more in tuition than to be hit up for a Christmas gift.
And then I'd be on the lookout for another school.
I have never ever heard of such a thing. That seems really
out of line to me. Our kids went to two preschools, and we
never got a request like that. We would give small gifts to
the teachers, but that was it.
You can just toss the letter; you could write a note saying
that you cannot contribute at this time; or you could give
what you can (the $50 you mentioned in your post).
Tired of Holiday Extortion
I have owned and operated a preschool for 20 years and
have never asked for any kind of a bonus. You should find
out what this bonus is for and why they feel it is
necessary. Are they just asking for a mandated gift from
every family? Families are struggling so much these days,
we have not even increased our tuition.
I would talk to the school and explain your hardship, they
should be understanding. Just keep in mind they might
continue asking for money for differnt reasons.
Understanding Preschool Director
I think that is an obnoxious request. Our preschool included
a note in the month's newsletter to the effect of ''our
teachers prefer cash to gifts'', which I also found
obnoxious, but by comparison, it is quite subtle! Don't do
it, and discuss with the school's administration your
feelings why not.
As the new school year approaches, I'd like to get our
teachers a basket of useful items that they need. I'd
like to get some advice about the type of items that
teachers would most like. Please send let me know of
ideas. Thank you in advance.
It is very thoughtful of you to arrange teacher baskets!
This teacher thanks you in advance for your kindness. I've
found that classroom needs can depend on the grade level,
but in general most teachers can use:
- an electric pencil sharpener
- black, blue, red or green fine-point pens
- a bottle of Advil
- post-it notes
- push pins
- small desk clock
- blue painter's tape (odd, but this tape is great for
putting stuff up on the wall without removing paint, and
it doesn't leave glue marks)
- scratch n sniff stickers (my students love them)
- a box of mints
- antibacterial gel
- Thank you cards
I've tried to include things that might not be in a
school's regular supply list. Good luck!
What a thoughtful parent!! So sweet! Items might vary
slightly by grade level but in general I know I would love
to receive the following: white board markers
(particularly black and blue), post-it notes, pencils,
kleenex, soap, and hand santizer. (Coffee is always
appreciated too!) Those are all small items that are used
constantly by the kids and seem to disappear fast. White
board markers are particularly expensive, but very much
needed--especially as lots of classrooms let the kids use
individual whiteboards for various interactive lessons.
Have a great school year.
I hope I have your kids in my class!
What a nice idea. As a teacher I have never gotten such a thing and I
know your child's teacher will be very touched. Teachers usually get most
supplies needed or will buy them or have specific things in mind that may
be hard to know. If there are elem. age kids then crayons, colored pencils,
erasers, pencils, little sharpeners, prizes for the kids such as stickers or
other little things are always needed and used. Quality scissors is
something else really hard to get from your school site and pretty
expensive for a teacher to have to pay out of pocket but makes a huge
difference in usability for the students.
Another thought is something nice just for the teacher such as a nice pen,
memo pad for writing notes, stamps, stationary, magnets, some edible
treats such as coffee, chocolate, or fruit.
I hope this helps. You are wonderful to care. You wouldn't believe what a
hard job teaching is and how much of a positive impact a parent like you
who cares can have. Thank you!
Wow! What a great idea! I'm a middle school teacher, but I
think any teachers would appreciate such a thoughtful gift.
1) EXPO markers (especially the more colorful ones, not just
plain red, blue, green, and black).
2) A new stapler and staples (I have *never* had a stapler
make it through a school year without breaking.)
3) Packages of colorful pens of all types.
4) Mr. Sketch scented markers
5) a post-it note cube, or pop-up post-its.
6) If applicable, a gift card to a local bookstore marked
''For Your Classroom Library''
7) A starbucks/peets giftcard marked ''For YOU!''
What a wonderful and kind gesture, especially given the
financial situation of most school districts. Although you
don't mention the grade(s) of the teachers, the items I know
that I would have appreciated in my class:
A large (refill-size) bottle of hand sanitizer
2 packs of dry-erase board markers
Dry-erase board erasers and spray cleaner (really nice to
have and many schools don't provide)
Boxes of # 2 pencils
1 ream of 3 hole punch lined paper (students often run out)
Disinfecting wipes (big container)
There's lots more of course, depending on the grade of the
class (especially at the elementary level, when things like
magic markers, construction paper, paint brushes, crayons,
always need replenishing etc.), but these basic items would
be universally appreciated I'm sure!
a former teacher
It depends on the classroom & school, but I've given the
following things to our Berkeley public elementary school
teachers, and they were much appreciated: Whiteboard
markers, pencils, black Flair pens, a light duty staple gun
and staples, white copy paper, Kleenex, band aids, Scotch
tape, an electric pencil sharpener. Another option is to
wait until school starts, and ask the teacher for a wish
list. Thank you for doing this! The teacher will love it!
I wish I had had your kids in my class!
-dry erase markers
-a good pair of scissors
Teacher supplies are a thoughtful idea. If you're planning to supply it at
the beginning of the year, and your child attends a public school, a lot of
times at ''back to school'' night you will find out exactly what would be
most treasured by the class. Always needed at public schools: boxes of
tissues (a lot), printer paper, pencils (good ones, not from the dollar store),
color pencils, lined paper, construction paper, glue sticks, hand sanitizer in
a pump bottle, new dish soap & sponge. (Just a few ideas of what a
teacher will have to buy using their own salary!)
The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week. My sons
kindergarten class is putting together a small basket as a
token of appreciation to his teacher. Unfortunately, we do not
have much to spend the budget being about $40. His teacher is
a wonderful person, working long hours and devotes much of her
personal time to her students. She is truly a jewel to her
class! Does anyone have any ideas as to some creative gifts or
unusual ideas we can include? (Other than the usual
apple/teacher specified gifts.) Are there any teachers out
there that can tell me their favorite gifts received throughout
their teaching years? Thanks for your responses.
Looking to make our teacher smile!
Ms B's kindergarten class
You don't have to spend a lot to make a teacher feel appreciated. Getting every
family to fill out a page that can be made into a book would be lovely...create a
form that's easy to fill out asking parents and kids for their favorite memories of
year, or finish sentences like, ''I like Ms.B because...'' or ''The funniest thing
happened this year was...'' or ''I feel special when Ms. B...''
You could have each kid bring one flower to school on a certain day and make a
bouquet for the teacher.
I am a teacher and the gifts I love and treasure the most are the notes from parents
that let me know they actually do notice and appreciate my hard work. Noting
specific instances (thanks for helping X learn how to get along with Y, thanks for the
amazing field trip to ___, thanks for spending extra time with X on ___, we've noticed
great growth in X's ____ due to you, etc) really is wonderful.
As far as the $40 goes, gift certificates to a bookstore or Trader Joe's are my
favorites. I have gotten certificates to fancier places which has been a nice thought
but for me it's just nice to have a little bit of my normal spending taken care of.
Thanks for appreciating your son's teacher! It goes a long way.
One of the best gifts I received as a teacher was a framed
collection of quotes by students. A parent asked the students
two questions: 1) what do you like best about Ms. ______? and 2)
what did you like learning about in her class? The parent then
formatted these responses in a nice font, printed them out on
beautiful paper and had the whole thing framed. Very inexpensive
and yet very heartfelt!
Without a doubt, the gifts I've most appreciated over the years
I've been teaching are:
a) thank you notes (specific, detailed, heartfelt)
b) gift certificates to bookstore
c) gift certificate to restaurant or cafe
Wow! Kudos to you for asking! I am an elementary teacher, and you are right to avoid
the teacher themed gifts. Besides receiving lots of them (and lots of little stuffed
animals too!), the #1 teacher things are a bit insincere and cliche. My advice:
gift card. You can do any amount and everybody loves something there. If you can't
swing $40 for the group gift (that's a lot!), perhaps you could give a pedicure to a
place like Joi on Solano (about $25). Then you are communicating that the teacher
deserves luxurious break and that will be the opposite of insincere and cliche.
I have teacher friends who say that they really truly prefer
gift certificates over small trinkets. I can imagine those
gifts do accumulate over the years. So, I would gift the
teacher with a $40 gift certificate (from the entire class) to a
local restaurant, movie tickets or a local store. And a very
sweet thing: ask each student to bring 1-2 fresh garden flowers
to class on teacher appreciation day. Make a sweet bouquet for
the teacher to take home. She will love it.
Support local vendors and make a teacher's day!
As a first grade teacher, my favorites are always gift
certificates (and $40 is wonderful). I can vouch for many
colleagues as well. Not as classy as other gifts, but then I can
pick out what I need/want. Runner-up gifts have been some
clothing, tasteful jewelry, flowers.
While it is always nice to get items or gift cards that can be
put towards the classroom (such as a Staples gift card), a gift
that the teacher can really use for herself is even better. I
love to read (and my students know because we talk about books
quite a bit!) so I really appreciated it when I got a gift card
to the local bookstore this year. I also received a gift
certificate to a restraunt (nothing fancy, but it was nice to
get out for dinner and have most of it covered). What touches
me the most is the notes from parents and students about the
difference I've made--especially if there is a specific example
or lesson that they remember and enjoyed. So think if this
teacher has an outside passion that you can support (like my
love of reading) and get creative in that arena.
As a room mom for the last 4 years we do the following-the first day of teacher
appreciation week, we decorate the teacher's door(on the outside) one year i found
records(paper decorations) put the kids picture in each one and one and
wrote''Mrs.Smith, YOU ROCK!'' the school had the big butcher paper...you can cover the
door with butcher paper and write-''give Mrs.Smith a hand for being a great teacher''
and as kids arrive they hand print and sign their names to the door. We also send home
a piece of paper the week before-we ask that on tuesday EVERY kid brings a flower
into class-i provide a vase and we ''create'' a flower arrangement.On Thursday we ask
that everyone bring their favorite sweet treat(one serving into class) and I bring a
basket and we give a ''sweet basket'' or whatever theme you choose-I use the $
collected for a gift card that the class presents on Friday-have them all sign a card-
Do people give gifts to school teachers? If so, what? My kids
are in Kindergarten. How about after school care-what's the norm
Having a happy merry
Regarding holiday gifts- I have heard gift cards recommended many
times, but when I gave one to my son's preschool teacher she
seemed vaguely insulted or perhaps confused. What she really
seemed to enjoy was an ornament that I helped my son to make. I
have had a few teachers as friends and honestly they seem to be
overwhelmed with homemade baked goods at this time of year,
though I think they make a nice gift, especially if you make them
with your child. I always find myself considering holiday
decorations as gifts but end up deciding against them, because
what looks cute to me might not be someone else's taste.
I've decided to do for my son's kindergarten teachers what I did
for his preschool teachers- we paint a wooden ornament and paste
a photo of our son on the back. I am going to help him to make a
card and write a note to them which he can sign himself. I also
want to write them a letter thanking them for being such
exceptional teachers and for taking such a sincere interest in my
As with other people in our lives, we are coming to the
conclusion that a heartfelt simple gift for our son's teachers is
what best reflects our values, and honestly, works best with our
financial situation. I feel that these gifts are appreciated,
and though I find myself wondering if they are ''right'' I know
that every family is hoping to find a gift that expresses their
gratitude to their child's teachers and that what we give is
The teachers will surely get a variety of gifts. Go with what
feels right. You won't go wrong.
Put ''What Would Jesus Buy'' In Your Netfix Cue!
Teachers love gifts! I am a teacher who receives them and a
parent who gives them. The ones I love to get the most are the
ones I always give- cash, gift cards or flowers. Don't think too
much about what she/he would really like or make them feel
special unless you really know them or have a good connection or
bond. Giving them a card with a nice note and some pretty flowers
will make her/him feel very appreciated. (or like I said- gift
I think about what I want from my boss for Christmas -
and there's only thing. Cash. So that's what I give the
people who work for me, and that includes teachers. Definitely
write a nice note. Best of all, if you can organize a group
collection, it's less awkward. But if you're the only one,
then just write a note and say "please help me out and treat
yourself to something fun!" or refer to the cash as
"the gift card that works everywhere."
Gifts to teachers are complicated. On one hand when taken in
the right context they can be seen as appreciation of the
teacher. On another hand they can be construed as sort of a
bribe to insure your kid gets good grades. To do something nice
for daycare folks and kindergarten I suggest a couple ideas.
Ask them what they need to make the classroom a better place.
Sometimes a chalk board or a working vaccuum cleaner would be
heaven and since it is for everybodies benefit it is truly
appreciated and not suspect. Another idea are hand made thank
you cards or gifts from your kid to the teacher. Or a picture
of your family on a thank you card. Another idea is a gift of
time where you offer to come to class and help in any way you
can one afternoon giving the teacher a break or an aid in some
way. Work with the kids on projects, hang pictures, vacuum,
wash windows, read books, do a presentation of something you
know about. I would not give money unless it is specified that
it is for the teacher to buy something for the class. Don't
give costly personal gifts to the teacher as they might seem
like a bribe. Hopefully some real teachers will chime in here
and tell us all what is good and what is not. Last year I made
a cash contribution to our childcare family with no
stipulations whatsoever and I am not sure how it was spent. Our
daughter is no longer there so it isn't a bribe now. Find a way
to show them you are grateful to them without affending them or
making them uncomfortable. An employee gave me a shirt on my
birthday once (in front of other employees who had no gifts for
me) and I wasn't sure how to deal with it as his evaluation was
coming up soon. It was odd and his being a foriegner made it
more complex. I took the shirt so as not to offend him and
tried to be impartial on his evalution firing him in a really
nice way----just kidding about firing him, but you get the
complexity these things can cause.Perhaps it is best to wait
until the end of the year when it is clearly a thank you gift
as you child moves on to a new class and new teacher.
For teachers, think about what they might need? A Target or
Trader Joe's gift card is nice. Cookies are always nice or a
fruit basket if they are more health conscious.
Our afterschool care folks don't make a lot of money or have as
many benefits as the teachers so this year we're going to give
them cash, probably $20, and more importantly a note saying how
much we appreciate their work.
mom of two
Often a group of parents (this is often coordinated by the Room
Parent) pools money to buy the teacher a gift card or present. Gift
cards are great--Bed Bath & Beyond, a bookstore, Staples, or Lakeshore
Learning Center... But this year my daughter made a handmade gift for
her teacher. We knew she has roots in a particular California town,
so we decoupaged a little box with images from a magazine about that
town. Then we'll fill it with chocolates. I've always read that
beyond the first couple years of teaching, teachers get tired of
things with apples and chalkboard themes. Home-made or gift cards are
best, I think. In any amount you can afford. (Our group gifts have
been from $100 to $300, depending on how many people contribute.)
Oops--forgot the after-school part. For the after-school staff, we
often give food gifts--a tin or basket of home-made cookies, some nice
chocolates (Costco has good ones at decent prices, in bulk, that you
can split into many smaller gifts). One year we gave each person a
little plastic gift bag of cookies, and a ribbon with a $5 gift card
attached, for a bookstore. They loved them. I think most staff at
schools are neglected at gift-giving times--the teachers and principal
get gifts, but rarely does the cafeteria worker or the custodian, so
we try to give little things to lots of people.
I worked as a classroom aide, and I can tell you that aides and
teachers totally appreciate gifts, but they are NOT mandatory.
The best gifts I ever got: giftcards to a local coffee shop or
restaurant; personal-interest-related stuff from parents who knew
I was an A's fan, for example.
The worst gifts: little statues that were made in China; things
that looked like they had been re-gifted.
But remember, gifts are totally unnecessary: if you're not
feeling gifts, how about a nicely written note telling the
teacher how much you appreciate x, y, and z that they have done
To answer your question - many give gifts, but I don't believe
it's an obligation. I've always given gifts to elementary
school teachers and I have to say knowing now what I didn't
know than, I feel a little chagrin. For a good idea of what
teachers (on the whole) appreciate and what they really don't,
google ''teacher'' and ''gifts'' and you can read straight from the
horse's mouth what they think. To summarize for you: They
REALLY DON'T NEED another mug or any teacher-themed gifts
(apples, ''best teacher'' tchotchkes, etc.)to clutter up their
apartment. Hand-written from-the-heart cards expressing
sepecific appreciations for them are the most meaningful. These
can be from both you and your child. Gift cards for coffee
(Peets, Starbucks) or bookstores are also welcome. Good quality
candies or treats are usually OK. I've given tins of special
home-baked cookies (biscotti, etc) which I think were
appreciated quite well. I've also given mugs...my bad. 'hope
I am an elementary school teacher in East Oakland. Most of my
students do not give Christmas gifts, and I certainly don't expect
them. The few that do give gifts usually give little tchotchkes that I
have no idea what to do with. If you are going to give a gift to your
kid's teacher (a nice thought), I'd give either a gift card, something
edible, or something that you've really thought about. The best gift
I ever got was from a parent (the student made sure I knew it wasn't
from her) during my first year teaching. It was a horribly difficult
year, and the mother gave me a calendar with inspirational words for
women. I loved the gesture (even if I never used the calendar),
because it showed she ''got'' what I was going through. I hope that
no more knick-knacks, please!
I'm a teacher and also a parent. Here's what I have found to be
First see if a group of parents ( or the whole class) can get
together, and contribute ( what they each feel comfortable
giving) toward a group gift. Is there a class parent who can
organize that ( or can you take the initiative and do it)?
A gift certificate for a very nice restaurant( or to his/her
favorite clothing store, to Claremont spa , etc...) is also
nice. I think of it this way: what would be a nice reward for
all the extra hours and care s/he gives your child? what would
be a real splurge? If you know s/he has a particular passion,
like cycling or gardening, then a gift certificate to the
appropriate store for that is also nice. Honestly, a group gift
might be more useful than a lot of mugs...
Also: Really, really really( I'm speaking as a teacher now):
teachers appreciate anything that comes with a sincere note
from a kid (and one from his/her parents is also nice). That's
the kind of stuff that feeds you for months.... really, really.
- in the holiday spirit
If there isn't a class gift, then I'd suggest a gift card to
Peets... Or maybe Starbucks or Jamba.
my sister is a teacher, and while she really appreciates the
sentiment of the giving and the gifts she receives, she simply
gets too much ''stuff'' she doesn't need, and most of is isn't
her taste...consequently she gives most of it away. please
consider giving a gift card to a local coffee shop, a bookstore
or a department store. and please don't feel like you are cheap
if you aren't giving a big $$$ gift card...even a $5 gift card
I would even dare to say that this is the kind of present that
most anyone would appreciate more than more ''stuff'' we don't
please, no more stuff!
I am a school teacher, and was bit tickled to discover that
families do give presents to teachers. However, each holiday I
accrue the strangest and most useless collection of stuff which I
very guiltily donate to the salvation army. Please do not give
coffee cups, even ones with cute ''best teacher in the world''
quotes on them, Gift certificates are the really the best way to
go. Most teachers read, or need books for the classroom. So, a
certificate for a nearby bookstore is always appreciated.
My husband and I often give certificates to a nearby cafe to our
child's teacher and after-care staff.
a teacher with a surplus of coffee cups
Speaking as a seasoned teacher, gifts are obviously not mandatory
but greatly appreciated. That being said, we are no different
than anyone else, and understand that the economy this year is
pretty scary. I certainly do not expect any extravagant gifts.
Perhaps the most irksome thing for teachers around this time of
the year, is when everyone is basking in the ''spirit'' of the
holidays and you encounter a truly ''Bah Humbug'' parent whose
child you have nurtured, loved, and guided through out the year.
Extenuating circumstances aside, a parent who demonstrates no
gratitude what so ever is hurtful to the teacher and the child.
You child learns to be flippant and ungrateful as well.
The best gifts? Heart felt ones of course. A warm hug and a
''Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays'' is plenty. The rest is just
''gravy'' as they say.
give and you shall receive
I enjoyed reading the responses to the question of holiday gifts
for teachers, but I was struck by how many people suggested gift
cards. It's funny how I heard an ad on the radio about a gift
card which could be ''used anywhere,'' at any store. Why patronize
a particular store (which gladly accepts the prepayment, but
which puts an expiration date on their half of the trade), when
you could just give the gift that truly can be used just as the
teacher wants: cash! You could just make some suggestions for how
to spend it, but more than likely the teacher will have a pretty
good idea on her own. Anyway, it's a hassle keeping track of gift
cards - carry them in a wallet, how much is left, etc.
great gift for the store
Teaching kids is a hard job, and quite simply, if you feel your
kid's teacher (s) is/are doing a good job, it is good manners to
express your gratitude. A personal card would do the job. I was
surprised, however, to see an email from another parent at my
school directing us to NOT give cash or gift cards, but only
handmade items from the children. I say, give what you would want
to receive if you were doing the job! I gave both homemade
goodies (that I made with my child) and a small gift card to a
nearby coffee shop. I also included the art and music teacher and
the school secretary. They are probably often forgotten...
I'd be interested to know what other people do about gifts for teachers.
Some parents at my child's preschool have proposed to
a monetary collection for the teachers and give them cash as a holiday
While the intentions are good and I'm sure this is a very practical approach, I
have to say I'm uncomfortable with it. I may just be old-fashioned, but it rubs
me the wrong way. I'd welcome input from others, including teachers!
I want to address the elementary school teacher gift. Please
hold off on the coffee mugs, stuffed animals and other chachkes. We get too much
of this. I SWEAR TO YOU, we would rather have a heartfelt thank you note written in
your or your child's own hand. These are the things I keep in a little folder at home
The exception to the rule though, is for new teachers. These young pups make crap
for money and the PTA (bless their hearts) can't possibly provide a big enough
classroom budget for them to buy all the supplies and ''extras'' (that's sarcasm) they
need. So if you want to give your teacher a valuable gift, ask her/him what s/he
really needs for the classroom and spring for it. I'm talking heavy duty pencil
sharpeners, gift certificate to STAR Teacher's supply on San Pablo Ave., art supplies
from East Bay Depot
or gift card to an art store, a local book store (Pegasus and
Black Oak being my favorites). Things like this become theirs, not the school's, and
they can bring them from grade to grade, school to school, as they will have to do
until they have enough seniority to stay somewhere for a while.
So that's the upshot -- be as generous as you can to the new teachers!!!
An Old Teacher Who Once Was New
To the person who feels uncomfortable giving money as a gift, I
invite you to ask yourself this question:
Are you giving the gift to make yourSELF feel good, or are you
trying to enrich the life of another?
Please note that preschool teachers generally make very little
money. I have no idea how they support themselves on this. If
they're professionals, they would never tell you how they're
struggling. While whatever trinket you'd buy them might be nice
and appreciated, it's far more likely that they have real needs
that you can help out with by giving them the power to spend in
the way they see fit.
Yes, there will be less oohs and ahhs, but it will be more
helpful. I worked at a company that paid $50 each for stupid
keychains for Christmas presents (I saw the invoice). I was low
on food that year and really disaapointed by the gilted gift that
meant nothing to my stomach.
Ultimately, whatever you buy will be fine. This is just the perspective of someone on the other side of the tracks.
I'm a K teacher, and my advice for gifts is to give a
developmentally appropriate book that is not commercial (disney,
spounge bob, etc.) or gift certificates to walmart or an
educational/ teacher supply store like Lakeshore.
At my son's school all of the parents chip in money and we buy a
gift certificate to the teacher's favorite store. This is
completely voluntary and there is no pressure put on parents who
do not wish to participate or have other gift giving plans. The
present will be presented as if it were from the entire class so
noone feels left out. I think this is the most practical way to
give a gift to teachers. The aids and sub-teachers also get gift
certificates but they are purchased by the parent board of the
We make home made English Toffee and make a donation to Save
the Children or the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Then we give a
small bag of the toffee and a card that we get from the
organization we donated to indicating that we've donated in the
teacher's name. However there is also usually a class gift of
money or gift certificates that everyone contributes to and we
also contribute to that.
I think I mentioned this before, but my mom, a retired elementary
school teacher, always said that the best gift was a thoughtfully
written note of appreciation. (This option happens to be the
least expensive alternative as well.)
I'm a teacher and have loved in recent years getting gift
certificates to Borders, Target, Hear Music. Other nice gifts:
scarves, mittens/gloves, candles. I have enjoyed as well when
parents have gotten together and bought one larger gift--
usually a gift certificate to Claremont Spa, Skates by the Bay,
Hope this helps!
I'd like to know what people do about holiday gifts for teachers. I
have 2 children who each have 2 regular teachers plus a number of specialty
teachers. Are there any teachers out there who will comment on what
you expect and what kinds of gifts you appreciate?
I'm a strong advocate of gift certificates--to a bookstore is always good!
Usually only a few children out of a class give gifts, so you certainly
don't have to feel obligated to give them, especially if your child has
more than one teacher.
Gift certificates, for example to a bookstore, are nice. I personnally
like edibles -- cookies, candy etc. -- or something useful for the classroom
over nicknack type things, as people's taste on that sort of thing
varies a lot.
-- a teacher
As a Teacher, I did not expect gifts. The gifts I did receive and
appreciate the most when I was a Teacher, and they are gifts that I
still have, are letters from families expressing their gratitude for and
positive observations of my work with their children. Those were truly
one-of-a-kind "gifts from the heart."
If you really want to give something else, the next best gifts, for me,
were gift certificates to bookstores.
How thoughtful of you to be looking into/thinking about gifts for your
It is very sweet and sensitive of you to put so much thought into the
gifts you are planning to give the teachers in your children's lives. As
a teacher on leave, I can tell you that most teachers don't enjoy the
"apple" or "favorite teacher" theme Hallmark and many other stores
promote. My favorite gifts have been gift certificates for: books,
records, and coffee/tea and homemade items such as: wreathes,
stationary, and desserts. My students have loved giving me things that
they themselves have picked out or made. If your child is old enough,
let him/her help select the item and wrap it. Teachers love tokens of
appreciation, regardless of how small, from their students. It is a big
and demanding job, but it's amazing how a flower picked from a garden
can renew a teacher's energy and enthusiasm.
I have a good friend who teaches first grade. I've asked her this
very questionin the past. She told me what she appreciated most was when
a parent asked her to put together a wish-list of books (or other supplies)
for the classroom and then distributed it to other parents. Most of that
stuff comes out of their own pocket so they really appreciate it when it
arrives as a gift.
Unless they're very new to teaching, most teachers don't have space to
keep all the little gifts their students bring them. They've already got 50
mugs and 20 ceramic apples.
Something that can be used up and be gone is a great gift- a gift
certificate for a movie rental or a pie or dinner or a car wash-
candy - cookies- popcorn (stuff they can share with the class if
there's too much- or if they can't eat it)- even a hand written
not from the student sharing genuine feelings would be appreciated.
Gifts for teachers: My sister, who is a teacher, says no potted plants! She
loves getting things the kids or the kids/parents made especially for her.
One mom I know always gives a package of thank-you notes to sent to the
kids for all the other gifts. But what my sister likes the most, esp. since
she works in publc schools and spends about $2000 of her own money each
year on supplies, are things she can use in the classroom: pencils,
markers, papers, books for the classroom library, push-pins, chalk, charts,
etc. Browse the store on Grand Ave. that sells learning materials
(Parent-Teacher Education store, or something like that). Computer
programs. Dictionaries. Mobiles. Funny clock. Posters. Rock collection.
Calendar for hte classroom. Science experiment kit for the kids (the
butterfly kit is wonderful). Browse the Nature Company. Art supplies of all
sorts. (Visit the Depot for Creative Reuse). Disposable camera and
certificate for developing the pics for a class collage of a field trip or
activity. Math manipulables.
I'm a teacher and the gifts I like to get are either handmade by the
children; a picture, a note of appreciation, even baked goods OR a gift
certificate to an appropriate store. Knick-knacks are my least
favorite - you hate to throw them away but usually are not to my taste...
stinky scented candles and soap...don't get me started. Really the things
the children make touch my heart the most. Also at our school the parents
sometimes pool their money and give a gift certificate together. It then
becomes quite a generous and much appreciated gift.
I'm assuming cash gifts are most appreciated by preschool teachers,
but I'm unsure of
a reasonable/fair amount for each teacher. There are four in my
including the two directors (who are active teachers in the
classroom). What do other
people do/give? We are your typical house-poor bay area family, so
we can't be lavish,
but we also deeply appreciate the care these teachers provide and
would like to be
generous. What is a reasonable amount?
I gave each teacher a $20 target gift card. anon
What's the protocol for holiday gifts for preschool teachers and
assistants? We'd like to give gifts to our daughter's teachers,
but we're not sure how much to spend. Should the head teacher
get more than the assistants? How much do parents typically
spend? Also, my daughter is in extended care, so she is
supervised by a few teachers from another classroom as well. It
seems a lot to give gifts to all seven teachers in the school.
Where do we draw the line?
I was wondering if anyone had a fabulous idea for a gift for pre-school teachers. I
checked the archive and there is a lot of advice about what not to give. We've given
gift certificates to bookstores in the past but I don't know if I want to repeat myself.
gift giving challenged
Just wanted to put in my $0.02 from the parent-who-is-also-a teacher's
perspective. When my kids were in preschool, we always took up a collection for
monetary gifts for the teachers during the holidays. Preschool teachers make so
much less than they deserve that I got over my initial etiquette concerns and pitched
I have been giving Trader Joe's gift cards the past few years to
teachers and have received a VERY appreciative response. You can
buy them for any value you wish to place on them.
Having been a preschool teacher / head teacher for 20+ years, I
can say that the best gifts I recieved were ones made by the
child (at home, not with my help!) with a little something from
the parents as a thank you / gift of appreciation or what have
you. Consider gift certificates for some personal pampering.
If you can ask teachers about their colleagues likes and
dislikes you can be right on the money and give something that
will really be wanted. Manicures, pedicures, restaurant
certificates, movie vouchers, book certificates and so on are
great for most everyone. Avoid candy, clothes, perfumes as
these are such personal choices best left to the individual.
Whatever you choose, if given with love it will be treasured!
(And a current photo of your child is never a bad idea!)
Teacher with priceless holiday memories
I'm a preschool teacher and I can tell you what some of my
most appreciated gifts have been. First of all, there are
never too many gift certificates to book stores, which I often
(but not always) use to buy books for the classroom.
Carefully selected books are themselves lovely presents.
Gift certificates to stores like Lakeshore or other high quality
toy stores, where I get items for the classroom, are also
much appreciated. If you really want the gift to be for the
teacher and not for the classroom, then gift certificates to
fancy restaurants are always lovely. One parent gave me a
generous gift certificate to Whole Foods - I loved it. I
purposefully went to the deli and bought all kinds of fancy
foods I would never buy on my own. Another parent gave
me a gift certificate for a box of organic produce. I also loved
that, because it was a way to try out one of those
companies. I have also liked hand-made cards and gifts
(sometimes by the children, sometimes by the parents). It's
kind of you all to get anything. I'm sure whatever you decide
will be appreciated.
CASH ! (and a nice card thanking them and encouraging them to
spend the money on themselves - after all that great work they do
for others.) Alternatively you could repeat yourself and give
book store gift certificates again. They probably wouldn't buy
the same book.
When my kids were in preschool, the teachers LOVED gift cards to
Target, Blockbuster and other fun places. In elementary school
the teachers also liked gift certificates to book stores or
Peets or Starbucks. I am a teacher myself and have always
enjoyed homemade things such as cards (letters of appreciation
go a long way) or cookies, as well as plants, flowers, etc. and
of course, gift cards to book stores!
I am curious to know what people give their preschool teachers
for holiday gifts. If you spend money, how much do you spend?
My child has 2 teachers and this will be our first holiday
season with them. Much thanks!
Things I have done in the past:
holiday candies from See's
holiday mugs filled with candy
gift cards to Target
gift cards to video stores
gift cards to book stores
homebaked goods (breads, cookies)
other things that I can't remember, but always with a little
note thanking them for the TLC they gave my kids all day...
Our preschool teachers love families to donate books,games, toys
or outside items (eg. trikes,scooters,buckets,shovels)in lieu of
gifts directly for them. Our family often donates books to the
school and my children love to make something for their
teachers. We have painted wooden beads and strung them into
necklaces, made playdough models in the past. This year we are
making and decorating our own felt stockings. Our teachers have
often told us how much they treasure the homemade gifts.
Hope this helps
What we've done, and many schools do, is to invite parents who
are interested to pool their money (usually about $10-15 per
family) and then get the teacher/s a gift certificate that they
can spend as they desire. We live in Lafayette, so a popular
gift certificate is from Broadway Plaza, a shopping center in
Walnut Creek, where the gift certificate is good at any of the
I have organized class gifts for two years now at two different
preschools that my son attended. In one I gathered money as I
saw the parents - it was sort of like a co-op so this was
relatively east. At the other one, I wrote a letter and placed
it in each of the children's cubbies asking the parents for a
donation of $5 per teacher. (He has three.) ! I also provided an
addressed envelope and suggested that they mail a check to me or
place it back in my son's cubby. Last year I bought a spa gift
certificate for the teacher in the amount of $120 with all the
money I collected! This year I will do the same or get a book
store certificate - I've left that up for the parents to decide
too by placing a choice on a form at the bottom of the letter.
The teachers love these gifts and the parents are usually so
relieved to not have another person to shop for!
(If this seems too daunting, a gift certificate for a book store
is usually appreciated. I would get one for about $20.)
A gift organizing mama
When my boys were in pre-school I felt obliged each year to give
the 4 teachers gifts at holiday time. The director of the
school, and main teacher told me it wasn't necessary, that a
card with a thoughtful few words was much more appreciated. If
you think about it, if each parent gave each teacher a gift,
that's maybe 15-30 gifts, depending on the pre-school or day
care. So, that's a lot of cookies, mugs, tea, chachkis that they
I did give gifts a few years....mugs with tea, refrigerator
magnets, a nice book for the pre-school etc.
A cousin of mine has changed careers and just started teaching
high school biology in a public school in New Jersey. She has
purchased many items for her classroom herself, and I would love
to help her out. Does anyone know where teachers go to buy
classroom supplies for this type of class and grade level? I'm
thinking of a gift certificate where she could purchase what she
For a gift certificate, I would recommned Edmund's Scientific:
I would also like to suggest a film that was just released:
''In the Company of Wild Butterflies'' is a nature film with a
conservation theme and includes the lifecycle in exquisite
closeup detail. Full disclosure: I was consulting entomologist
for this project.
Although the website lists the price as $225, that is only for
public showings. For activists and garden clubs, the price is
$60. For family viewing, it is $30. So don't let the price put
You might want to gift your friend an american express or visa
gift card. That way, she can choose where to spend the $$$$ --
anywhere! She may even opt to splurge on herself... My son's
class gifted his teachers american express gift certificates
for $200 each for the holidays, and they were so very pleased!
Would either a Costco, Target, or massage gift certificate be a
good gift for an elementary teacher? Can't decide which one to
give. Please advise.
My son's school recently resolved this one by offering an
Amazon.com certificate to the teachers because it seemed to be
the least restricting. I also know people who cannot stand the
thought of a massage, who really don't like to be touched that
way. Hard to believe but those people exist.
I got a Cody's certificate once, that was great! Less expensive,
and very nice was a certificate for a pound of See's!
I've bought and appreciated gift certificates from Black Oak
Books, Cody's, Amsterdam Art, REI and Macy's.
I'd avoid Costco because it is a miserable experience to shop
there -- also I think you want a gift certificate to be from a
place that would be from a place where someone would feel like it
is an indulgence to buy something, rather than an acknowlegement
of the other person not having enough money.
If you know what the teacher likes it is easier -- i.e. if she
does art in the summer: Amsterdam Art; if she likes hiking, or
travels: REI; if she wants to sit in a cafe and read: Black Oak
Also, take the time to write a card that gives specifics about
how you appreciate her -- I save those cards and they help me
remember the children and their familes.
a high school teacher
I am a teacher that recently received a massage from some
parents, and it was the best gift I could have asked for. Why?
Because it wasn't something I can't normally afford to get for
myself, plus it is a perfect end-of-the-school-year, come down
and relax kind of thing. It was special and extravagant (for me,
anyway) whereas a gift certificate for Target or Costco would
just pay for extra toilet paper or something. Go with the
massage or another special service.
I'd say Target over the other choices. You can't be sure the
teacher has a Costco membership, and a massage is too specific.
So, I'd say Target or a general spa gift certificate would be
the best choices. Also, book store gift certificates--
especially to bigger stores that also carry CDs and DVDs are
My daughter's wonderful kindergaten teacher is getting married
this spring. Any recommendations of a creative keepsake gift
the kids could create for her would be very much appreciated.
One of the best gifts I've seen for teacher-brides is a book
assembled from children's drawings and writings on the topic of
love and marriage. Give all the kids in the class two pages -
one for drawing and one for writing. Have each child answer a
question such as ''what does getting married mean?'' or ''what is
love?'' or ''what does it mean to live happily ever after?'' Or
they can write a ''once upon a time'' story about the bride and
groom. The results are touching and quite funny. If you have an
artistically inclined parent in the classroom, have them bind
this into an attractive book, or put it together in a photo
album. Accompany this with a gift certificate to a favorite
local store, and you've made a teacher very happy1
You could draw inspiration from a cute book called ''Advice for a
Happy Marriage'' and make a little book or journal in which the
children give their teacher some basic advice (''Hug each
other,'' ''Always give your husband coffee when he's grumpy,''
etc.), and draw pictures to accompany the advice.
As a teacher, I beg you to just get a gift that you would buy for
any other ''regular'' person. Although your idea is very
thoughtful, I can tell you that I have received so many kid
gifts that I don't know what to do with them. Teachers are
normal people who don't need homes filled with more
cutesy stuff. I have enough apples, bookworms, world's
best teacher picture frames, etc.
If you can't think of anything special, something from her
registry would be perfect.
Please no ''teacher'' gifts. While we teachers do love your
kids, we are regular folks who, quite honestly, don't
surround ourselves, or decorate our homes with your
children's artwork, photos or writing. Something off the
registry would be perfect! No apples or school buses. Gift
certificates are always appreciated. Make sure to include a
card signed by all the kids!
A Teacher Who's Been There
Teachers and newlyweds both need money and your daughter's dear
teacher probably needs it doubly so. I recommend a smallish
card or paper booklet with a drawing by and/or photo of each
child....along with a check or gift certificate for where she is
registered. My kids teachers always really liked cash. and I
vividly remember a dialogue on this list serve a few years back
on gifts for teachers, and most all the teachers said they
didn't want more cute gifts, cuz they had no more room for
them. They wanted a gift certificate to a place they shopped or
cash for a treat of their own choosing.
this page was last updated: Nov 18, 2014
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network