Berkeley Parents Network
Google Custom Search
Home Members Post a Msg Reviews Advice Subscribe Help/FAQ What's New

Gifts for Teachers

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > School & Preschool > Gifts for Teachers


Gifts for Teachers Holiday Gift Ideas for ... See Also

Leaving preschool, want to give teachers a nice gift

August 2013

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? gift challenged


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! anon
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 your child. anon
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. Anna
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! Spa lover
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 $.02! Laura
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 preferences. 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

Holiday gifts for special needs teachers

Nov 2012

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! Teacher-mom
Hi, 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. Nanu
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. Amelia

Preschool's request for 200 dollar Christmas bonus

Dec 2011

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? flustered


My son has gone to the same private school since preschool. They request money every year. It's par for the course. 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 anon
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! Laura
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 amount. anon
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 than $50. 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 the money. 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 childcare providers. 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 kindness. they deserve it
Weird...sounds like the school is having financial issues... -a mom
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. leslie
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. baffled
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. a mom
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. Argh

Teacher gift basket for the new school year

August 2011

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! Teacher
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! Anon


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!''
Jennifer
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! heidi
I wish I had had your kids in my class! some ideas:
-sharpies
-dry erase markers
-a good pair of scissors
-post-it notes
-white out
-gift certificates
another teacher
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!) Good Luck

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

April 2009

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 the year, or finish sentences like, ''I like Ms.B because...'' or ''The funniest thing that 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. anon


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! --grateful teacher
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 teacher
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: Peet's 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 nice 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. Amanda
Hello, 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. L
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. Feeling appreciated
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- room mom

Holiday Gifts for Elementary School Teachers

Dec 2008

Do people give gifts to school teachers? If so, what? My kids are in Kindergarten. How about after school care-what's the norm there? 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 son's development.

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 ''good enough.''

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 cards/cash) teacher/parent
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." Fran ----------------------------------------- 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. anon
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.) Heidi
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. Heidi
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 and do? kevin
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 this helps. Monica
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 helps. no more knick-knacks, please!
I'm a teacher and also a parent. Here's what I have found to be common practice:

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. -happy holidays
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 is nice! 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 need. 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... appreciative
Dec 2005

I'd be interested to know what other people do about gifts for teachers. Some parents at my child's preschool have proposed to take up a monetary collection for the teachers and give them cash as a holiday gift. 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! Anonymous Please


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 and treasure.

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. tara
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 school. anon
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.) David
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, or Lalime's. Hope this helps! a tacher
Nov 1999

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? Thanks!


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 children's's teachers!
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.

Holiday gift for preschool teacher

Dec 2006

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 child's school, 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? Thanks!


I gave each teacher a $20 target gift card. anon
Dec 2005

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? berkeley mom


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. Any ideas? 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 in.
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. Jeanne
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. Anonymous
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. Thankful Mom
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! Anon
Dec 2003

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! Nancy


Things I have done in the past:
holiday candies from See's
potted plants/flowers
holiday mugs filled with candy
gift cards to Target
gift cards to video stores
gift cards to book stores
homebaked goods (breads, cookies)
picture frames
other things that I can't remember, but always with a little note thanking them for the TLC they gave my kids all day... D. Moran
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 stores therein. Christina
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 don't need. I did give gifts a few years....mugs with tea, refrigerator magnets, a nice book for the pre-school etc. Good luck anon

Where to get a gift certificate for teacher supplies?

Feb 2006

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 wants/needs. Thanks! Valerie


For a gift certificate, I would recommned Edmund's Scientific: http://www.scientificsonline.com/default.asp I would also like to suggest a film that was just released: http://bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/iwild.html ''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 off. Sally
Hello, 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! Anon

End-of-year gift for elementary school teacher

June 2005

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. Thanks! Undecided


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! Bookworm teacher
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 Books.

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. happy teacher
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 excellent. A teacher!

Wedding gift for daughter's kindergarten teacher

March 2003

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. Thanks Laura


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 Natasha
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. - Stacy
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. anon
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. practical parent
Home   |   Post a Message  |   Subscribe  |   Help   |   Search  |   Contact Us    

this page was last updated: Nov 18, 2014


BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website! Read more, and see how you can help: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org

The opinions and statements expressed on this website are those of parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network.
Please see Disclaimer & Usage for information about using content on this website.    Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network