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Guest Post From My Friend Kate - Helping Us With Teacher-Gift Giving!

Good Monday morning!
I asked my friend 1st grade-teacher-friend Kate over at MyMooPoints (can you tell she is a Friends fan?) to write a guest post for my blog.


After she opened her cabinet in her house one day, and I literally saw over 40 mugs in it, I said, "You like mugs, do ya?" to which she replied, "These are all gifts I've received from kids in the last few years, and this isn't even all of them!" And we thought, what a great post! Since the end of the year is coming up, and there is always an occasion to give gifts to our kids' teachers, I thought Kate would be a great resource for us on what to give, and what not to give, teachers! Take it away, Kate!
Joey: Wow, Monica runs a pretty tight ship around here, doesn't she? What are you doing?
Chandler: Monica has a secret closet and she won't let me see what's in it.

I have a secret closet.... and it is filled with mugs and plaques with cutesy teacher sayings!

I want to preface this by saying that I am grateful for every little thing my students choose to give me. Every tiny piece of paper with a message written on it, every weed they pick from the school yard and present to me with pride (although that one did get out of hand so I had to explain my "allergies" to them), every drawing with me wearing some article of red clothing (red is my favorite color) standing under a rainbow next to a tree and a flower, holding a bird or some woodland creature, because I am in fact, the real life Snow White. I cherish the fact that my kiddos love me and think of me quite often, even after they have left my classroom.

With that said, I would like to put a piece of advice out there for all parents who around Christmas, Valentine's day, end of the year, suddenly think, "Crap! I need to get a gift for my child's teacher!" Try to remember that you do not by any means HAVE to buy your child's teacher anything - we are going to love your child anyway. We became teachers because we love children and want to teach them to be better in everything they do, not just academics.

Now, do we like gifts? Of course! We are human. But, be smart about your gift giving. Don't waste your money on items you know will end up in a thrift store. Seriously, the next time you want to buy your child's teacher a mug, go by your neighborhood thrift store and walk around. We keep their shelves stocked with our donations! Every time I have to get rid of a child's gift I feel bad about it - I remember their sweet face and how excited they were when I opened their gift. But, if I keep every mug and trinket I will soon have a secret closet or I will end up on an episode of hoarders (and no child should have to see their teacher on that show).

So, a couple of don'ts when shopping for your child's teacher:
  • No mugs! Even for a first year teacher. They are probably already sporting a nice collection from when they did their student teaching.
  • No 1980's, cutesy teacher trinket plaque thingies. Ask yourself, "Would I want this in my house?"
  • No stuffed animals. I'm a grown-up. Do you want me adding to your child's stuffed animal collection (I hear lots of parents complain each year about the amount of stuffed animals at their house). You give me stuffed animals and I might just put a whole supply in my treasure chest to get you back! ;)
  • Bath and Body Works always sounds like a good idea, but really it isn't. More than likely, that flowery scent is not one I enjoy. And then I end up with a Bath and Body Works hoarding closet that I try to get my friends to go through in hopes they like that flavor. The thought is appreciated, but I should probably pick out my own toiletries.
  • FOOD! I will say there are some teachers who do love getting food. But, I feel that this percentage of us is small. I do not want to be appreciated with food. It is hard enough to resist snacking when the kids do, resist the chocolate fountain during teacher appreciation week, get to the gym after working a 12 hour day, cook and prepare a healthy lunch so I don't eat the cafeteria food.
Now, see! The don't list really isn't that long. We teachers are not super picky, I promise. I know it is hard to pick out a thoughtful gift for a person you really don't know all that well personally, but I want the guidelines above help a little. I hope the ideas below will help even more:
Things we love and enjoy:

  • A thoughtful note from your child. I know it sounds lame, but one of my favorite gifts one year was receiving notes from my current and past students. The entire school was given a piece of paper titled Touched by an Angel. The students were instructed to write a note to a teacher who greatly influenced or helped them. I kept every one and look at them each year as I get my classroom ready. This is a wonderful gift for teachers - to be reminded why we here and what we hope to accomplish.
  • Gift cards of course! I'm not talking a $50 gift card to Macy's or anything fancy. I would say $5 is a great amount! Starbucks, Target, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles (yeah, we like to read), a teacher store - we love gift cards. Even a gift card to Bath and Body Works is nice. It takes the worry off of you having to decide what we might like and gives us options. Just like our students we like to have the option to choose for ourselves. I would stay away from restaurant gift cards - again, you may not know your child's teacher well enough to know what they like. Chances are that gift card might be re-gifted which makes us teachers feel bad, but we wouldn't want it to go to waste!
  • Teacher school supplies! We love us some school supplies! Halfway through the year most teachers start running low on items like post its, sharpies, packing tape, dry erase markers, magic erasers, etc. I can't speak for all teachers, but I put a class donation list on my weekly newsletter. Teachers spend a lot of their own money on their classroom. A LOT. Most people don't know that teachers are only allowed to claim $250 on their federal taxes, when on average a teacher spends around $1,000 each year.
With that all said, please know that most teachers out there are not expecting gifts from you. Trust me, the kids make us gifts every day. And we treasure every little note and drawing. We can't keep them all because, as I said before, no one like a hoarder teacher, but we appreciate that your child loves us that much.

On another note, if you do not particularly care for your child's teacher, please, PLEASE, do not say things about why you might not be giving that teacher a present. This probably only applies to the younger grade level children, but they will repeat what you say! I had a colleague a couple of years ago who had a child walk up to her on Valentine's Day and tell her, "My Mom said we are not getting you a gift because you are not a good teacher." Oh lawdy, she got a good laugh but it was a little disheartening to hear.

Always remember, we are here for your child. We love your child and care about their future. That's why we became a teacher. No present, or lack their of, will change that. The gift of having your child in class and watching them grow over the year is one that we treasure.
Thank you, Kate, for being a guest for me today! That certainly helps me for Avery's future teacher gifts!
What kinds of gifts do you like to give to your children's teacher?


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