Teaching Profession

‘Tis the Season: 2013’s Popular Gift Ideas for Teachers

By Hana Maruyama — December 18, 2013 2 min read
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The holiday season is well underway and many media outlets are inevitably chiming in with lists of the best gifts for teachers. Here are five gifts that seem to be popular:

  1. A thank-you note: Some teachers interviewed in these articles said they had kept their favorite thank-you notes for years. One teacher noted in Parade that thank you notes “provide a little emotional boost that lasts long after the Starbucks gift cards are spent.”
  2. Anything homemade and heartfelt: The gifts many of the teachers remember are the ones created by students. One teacher quoted in News & Record, from Eden, N.C., said her favorite gift was a used picture frame with a cracked glass. Inside, a paper read, “I love you Ms. Outlaw. Muhammad.” “I still have this treasure from the heart of a young Somali student,” said Marty Outlaw.
  3. Edible treats: One teacher interviewed by Reuters said she loves receiving homemade chocolate-covered pretzels every year from two of his former students. Another teacher, whose students knew he loved donuts, recalls fondly a donut his students left him on his desk. For teachers with dietary restrictions or allergies, now might be the time to start casually mentioning them in class, since only one paper we saw actually pointed out this potential issue.
  4. School supplies: These lists thought of the many teachers spending money out of pocket for school supplies. In Florida Today, a teacher said, “I enjoy getting gifts that I can use at school with my students so they can see their generosity in action.”
  5. Gift cards: A gift card “allows me to go out and just enjoy a good time wherever the gift card is for instead of worrying about money,” first-year teacher Seth Bunch of North Carolina told News & Record. Teachers suggested gift cards to a movie theater or Starbucks. (Daily Candy has another idea: Give a teacher a Starbucks gift card and you feed his or her coffee addiction for a day. Buy a teacher a $60 Electric French Press Coffeemaker, and you feed it for, well, longer.)

If it’s the thought that counts, teachers may be flattered to hear that, according to The Boston Globe, a lot of thought (and anxiety) goes into these gifts. However, the comments section from Buzzfeed’s list suggests some teachers prefer the basics, like coffee, booze, or cash, to school supplies or a personalized coffee sleeve.

While giving cash may feel “impersonal” to you, Florida Today has a suggestion from a teacher for spicing it up: “I once got a ‘Ho Ho Ho Box of Holiday Dough,’ from my class. The room parent at the time collected money, connected it, rolled it up and had me pull it out of the box. I loved it and the class did, too,” said Jodi Rozycki. The teacher who wanted booze may be disappointed to learn that only one article we found suggested a nice bottle of wine, although Family Education‘s slideshow of gift ideas for teachers includes Kahlua Coffee, which has all the taste of Kahlua and none of the alcohol.

Teachers, what are you wishing for this holiday season? What is the best gift you’ve ever received from a student? What is the worst?

Here are a couple of responses we’ve had on Twitter:

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.