Teacher Gift Advice: Don’t Do Homemade

Every year at about this time, my Facebook and Twitter stream light up with parents asking for gift ideas for their child’s teacher.  There’s whole Pinterest boards dedicated to homemade teacher gifts.

While I think it is really sweet that parents want to make something special for their teacher, I’m also the child of an educator with a different perspective.  I have seen for practically my whole life those homemade cookies and hand-painted ornaments end up in the trash.  My dad sometimes kept homemade goodies from kids that he really loved (and parents that he really trusted), but the majority sat on his desk all day, carted to his car in case any eyes were watching, and promptly dumped into our trash can outside.

Every year I give the same thing to our teacher… a one pound box of See’s candy.  I figure if my son’s teacher isn’t a chocolate lover, she can re-gift it easily, bring it a hostess gift to a holiday party, or keep it on her own coffee table for guests.  But seriously, who doesn’t love See’s?

Gift certificates to just about anywhere are very popular at our school.  My only advice… Be sure to make sure your teacher is a coffee drinker before you get them a $20 gift certificate to Starbucks.  Our local grocery store has an entire rack of gift certificates… everything from local restaurants to movies to iTunes.

Last year, more than one kid brought in a bottle of wine as a gift.  While I’m certain that 30 third graders would bring most of us to the bottle, I just think it’s weird to have your kid bring a bottle of wine to school.  With a family member (and former teacher) that is a recovered alcoholic, I also think that the gift might not be appropriate unless you really know your teacher well.

This year, our teacher sent out an updated school supply list both for things she needed and things she thought could be used as stocking stuffers.  The list included headphones for the school’s new iPad cart and colored pencils for the kids who have sharpened theirs into oblivion.  While it certainly takes out some of the surprise, it never hurts to ask what your teacher likes or needs.

But in the end, I think all every teacher really wants is to get to the last of day school and to that 2 week break.  Anything else is icing on the proverbial sugar cookie.

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