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An Apple a Day? Christmas gift ideas for teachers

Some schools have strict policies about Christmas gift giving. These include dollar limits, “acceptable” gifts, or a “no gifts, please” policy. Parents often become anxious if their child’s school allows Christmas gifts for its teachers. Some may worry about how others might perceive the gift. Others may worry about what teachers will think if they don’t give their child’s teachers a gift. This article will give you some insight into teacher’s thoughts about student gifts and provide a few tips on gifts teachers need and will use quickly.

What Teachers are Saying About Christmas Gifts

First, let me say that this article is based on my personal experiences at schools where I’ve taught. This includes Catholic, virtual - hybrid charter, and public schools – a wide variety to be sure. It is based on conversations I’ve had with other teachers over the years.

One universal sentiment is that teachers don’t care whether or not students give them Christmas gifts. That is to say, if some students choose to give gifts and others don’t, it makes no difference whatsoever to them. When teachers receive a gift from a student’s family, it does not change their behavior toward the student/ family after the holidays. It’s “business as usual” once the holidays end.

Rest assured, teachers don’t care what kind of gifts families give them either. Homemade Christmas cards and kids’ art mean just as much as restaurant and store gift cards. Teachers teach because they are passionate about educating young people. Teachers would be happy to do what they do for free (if we could get away with it!).

If choosing a teacher gift is stressing you out, have your child make a Christmas card. Grab some paints, paint brushes, art paper, and other craft supplies and have them create a card for each teacher. This will eliminate the stress of those extra shopping trips. Personally, I have three file folders with every card, letter, or note students have given me for various holidays and school events. They’re some of my most cherished possessions.

Teacher Gift Ideas

If you decide to go ahead and get your child’s teacher(s) a Christmas gift, you’ll have to decide how much is “too much”. You’ll also have to decide what to get them, which can be stressful. Gift cards are a perfect choice for busy teachers. The following is a list of gift cards that teachers need and will appreciate.

1. Office Supply Store Gift Cards. Teachers spend between $500 - $1,000 a year on school supplies, decorations, and class party items out of their own pocket. Either the school has said they won’t pay for them or are things the teacher knows the school can’t afford but their students need. Gift cards from office supply stores like Staples, Office Depot, or Office Max will be greatly appreciated.

2. Gas Cards. This is especially true if the teacher’s commute is 30 minutes or more each way. Gas prices are high and the economy is tough. If you know a teacher who drives a fair distance to and from school, a gift card for a gas station along their route will probably be used the day they receive it!

3. Coffee Shop Gift Cards. There are two groups of teachers: those who believe caffeine is a teacher’s worst enemy and those who think no one should be forced to teach on as little sleep as they get without caffeine. A gift card from a local coffee shop or a place like Starbuck’s lets the teacher choose regular coffee, decaf., or even hot chocolate. Either way it’s a nice treat – especially for teachers who spend time brewing their own at home each morning.

4. Fast Food Gift Cards. A lot of teachers visit fast food drive thru’s on their way to school or forget their lunch and have to run quickly to the nearest fast food restaurant to grab something to eat. A gift card from a fast food restaurant near the school might be a good choice.

5. Entertainment Gift Cards. Last but not least are gift cards for entertainment such as iTunes, movie theatres, and video stores. Music is the perfect background noise during long hours of lesson planning and grading papers. Most teachers also like watching movies/ going to a movie to give themselves a break. Not just a “time” break (i.e. 2 ½ hours away from planning and grading) but a “mental” break to immerse themselves in a story they don’t have to read. (Most of our day is spent reading.) Teachers will surely appreciate your helping them take some personal time away from grading papers.


While some schools have strict policies against giving its teachers Christmas gifts, others leave the decision up to individual families. This can cause stress in choosing appropriate gifts and concern about the unintended message the gift may or may not be sending. Generally, teachers appreciate Christmas cards their students have made for them as much as store bought gifts. You may be able to avoid the stress by having your child make a card for each of their teachers. If you choose to buy a gift for your child’s teachers, some gifts teachers can really use are: office supply, coffee shop, fast food, movie theatre, or video rental gift cards.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page. I’m happy to help!


Hello! I like your article very much! My favorite gifts have been things that I can use in the classroom, or cards and letters from the kids. I am glad you took the time to write this!

Damian J. - Hello! Thank you for your kind comment! I hoped to convey a teacher's point of view to help ease any parent anxiety about teacher gift giving.

I appreciate your taking time to read through it!

Have a Great Day!
Jeff S.



Jeff S.

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