You Tell Me: Teacher Gifts…Yay or Nay?

Tomorrow afternoon, students all over the country will be heading home for Christmas break. This week teachers are madly wrapping up lessons and dealing with squirrely children, who are anxious for school to let out. Which leads to the question…what are parents doing for teacher gifts this year?

And for the first time in six years, I don’t have to think about teacher gifts, because I am the teacher! But in past years, this was an issue I always struggled with. First, there’s the question of whether to get a gift for the teacher at all. And then, if you do get a gift, who gets gifts? The teacher, of course. But what about aides? Speech therapists? Bus drivers?

In the past, I’ve done everything from “only the teacher gets a gift” to “everyone gets a gift” to “my kid will make a card, because we can’t afford gifts.” And really, I think all of those approaches are acceptable. I think most teachers wouldn’t want parents to stress themselves financially by getting gifts. A card from the student or a note of appreciation speaks volumes.

I believe the most important issue isn’t whether or not a teacher receives a Christmas gift from each parent. The important issue is that teachers feel supported and appreciated for the difficult and important jobs they do. So whether or not you get your child’s teacher a gift this year, please take the time to say “Thank you” when you have the chance.

So what’s your opinion? Are teacher gifts necessary? What do you do for your children’s teachers? I’d love to hear the teachers’ perspectives, too!

Photo by ajari.


By , on Dec 17, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


Popular Articles


  1. Jade Ed:

    Late to this discussion but wanted to reply. If I can prevent another person from wasting as much as we’ve wasted then I will be a happy camper.

    For years, we gave presents for our son’s teachers in elementary school. We were fortunate enough to afford small mementoes for the support staff and principal as well. We were definitely caught up in the gifting frenzy of the moment, however most, if not all gifts were home made and quite nice, if I do say so myself.

    Without getting into many details, it came to pass that we discovered our gifts did not even make it home with the intended recipient. With the exception of an occasional very expensive gift, most were relegated to the garbage bin the minute that last dismissal bell rang. Thank goodness the children weren’t with me when I discovered this, as it would have broken their hearts. I know I’m a big girl, but it kind of stung me too.

    As far as I’m concerned, I will continue to advise parents to spend a little extra on themselves over the holiday season. Teachers and school staff are very well compensated for what they do. If you must give them something, make it a card – hopefully they will at least recycle the paper so some good will come of it.

  2. diana:

    My husband teaches 4th grade and every year he helps his students make gifts (as do most of the teachers in the school). We try to get supplies in the summer, but it usually costs us at least $3 for each child’s supplies. This year they made coasters, other times they have put together ornaments, food gift bags, etc. The cost comes out of a teacher’s own pocket. Also many times kids forget milk money or lunch etc. They never go hungry, my husband gives them cup of soup or something else in his cupboard. It is a professon where every teacher I know pays for some supplies out of their own pocket. That is not true for many professions.
    A card with some heartfelt thanks is so appreciated and what he loves to get. The other items are nice, but not necessary.

  3. Erika:

    Maybe the reason I have such a dislike for gift giving is because when I do take the time to try and pick out something thoughtful I usually NEVER see the item again at that persons house or it is in their garage sale next year or given to another family member, so why bother? I tried gift cards with my inlaws and that was just a mess, word got back to me that my gift card was so impersonable, and thoughtless. My thought was that with a gift card they could get what they wanted, guess I was wrong. Oh, well just baked this year and gave it away, except our school has a strict no homemade policy so I didn’t give any to teachers. Oh, well I have worked since I was 16 and a customer never gave me a gift for doing my job.

  4. Denise:

    Rita- I couldn’t agree more. I think Charles Dickens needs to be revisited this Christmas season. Wow!

  5. Rita:

    I just read all the comments and I’m surprised at how many begrudged giving a small Christmas gift to the teacher. I always gave gifts happily to my childrens teachers. If one does not want to give a gift I would rather they didn’t. If they are happy with the way I do the many jobs for their child that I have been given to do each day over and above my paid position then it would be nice to have a $5. gift card to Wendy’s. I’m speechless…..I guess I give because I enjoy it.

  6. Rita:

    I hope I’m speaking for most teachers. I would love to have a gift card to any restraunt in the area for any amount. Many of the gifts I receive go to a thrift store because I cannot use them. Although, I am thankful and profusely thank the student who gave me the gift I would really like to have a gift card.

  7. Erika:

    As a full time unemployed college student and married with two boys our budget has been tight with only hubby working. Well husband broke anke Dec 1 and is off work for around 3 months. Money was tight this year so I cut adults completely off the list, most were cool with this except inlaws. My MIL keeps asking what I got my husband grandparents, I keep telling her no adults this year and she doesn’t get it. We did family pictures and 1 small personal gift under $10 and that was it. (the pics did cost me around $200 though) I was way too busy to do teachers this year.

  8. kath:

    When my kids were in elementary school, we would always send in a poinsettia plant or homemade cookies for the teacher. We would also send in cookies for the busdriver. The PTA always had a fundraiser to purchase gifts for the specials teachers (gift cards, supplies, etc.) Once my kids got into middle school and high school, they had too many teachers, so we stopped the practice.

  9. Maybe I am just getting stingy in my old age. My wife continues to give gifts to teachers but I disagree. Gift giving has been commercialized by the retailers. It seems there is no longer a reason not to give gifts anymore. Where does the madness stop?

    Teaching is a job and teachers get paid and benefits. But most of all they get to enjoy the reward of molding fresh minds. A heartfelt thank you from the child and support and involvement from the parents should be enough.

    It would be interesting to hear, as a teacher, how many of your students gave you a gift and what specifically you received.

  10. sam:

    I think it should be dependent on the teacher and what they have done, a friend of ours had a really difficult year and the teacher really understood the situation and gave her child a little leeway and my friend really appreciate how her child had been treated made the world of difference for the situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer and Legal Mumbo Jumbo

I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.

Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.