After spending an actual lifetime in the classroom, you would think that I would know a thing or two about the best teacher gifts. But this is a hard post to write. Not because I can’t pick a favorite gift (I really can’t!), but because there is so much noise surrounding teacher gifts right now. You should be practical. You should be creative. The gift should be equal parts cutesy and helpful.
In general, I would say that I get a handful of gifts each year, and it’s always surprising. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not because the naughty list says I deserve coal and wood. It’s because my students are older, and I’m only one of many teachers that each student sees every day.
So I definitely don’t expect to receive gifts.
But I do relish them. I’ve received earrings and scarves, Starbucks and Panera. I’ve even received an empty wine bottle with a strand of lights inside it! I wish I could have watched my own face as I opened that one. After twelve years, I pride myself on being able to talk my way out of just about any topic, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to graciously accept a bottle of wine…until I realized it was empty.
In case you’re in need of some inspiration or you’re simply curious, here is my short list of some of the best teacher gifts I’ve received.
Whether it is one book or a whole stack, I love it when families bring in books that they no longer read or need. Even if I can’t use them in my classroom, I can easily find a taker somewhere in my school or district.
A Scrooge Santa hat
I probably could have been offended. But I chose to see it (and wear it!) as a reminder that I help 12-year-olds appreciate very complicated texts. Not that I’m actually Scrooge. Although maybe I am.
I always appreciate any kind of school supplies that families are willing to give me. This time of year is a particularly sniffle-y one, so tissues are a big help. I’ve had families pop them in gift bags. I even received a box one year decorated in its own fabric cover!
For the past twelve years, I’ve collected songs, poems, doodles, drawings, photographs, and every other piece of art that students have given me. Minimalist I am not. It all fits in a giant storage bin that I keep in my classroom (it’s in its 6th room!). Whenever students are willing to share their talents or creativity with me, I just melt. It is so special, so I keep it all.
Store-bought or homemade, treats are delightful. It’s nice to be thought of, especially when we have a weird schedule. One year, I was booked solid for conferences, and one mom noticed. Since I had no breaks for four hours straight, she made me a plate of Blondies. But if baked goods aren’t your thing, no worries. My students know that I firmly believe that chocolate is a food group, so it’s really sweet when they leave a few Hershey’s kisses on my desk. I’ve already been gifted a few hot cocoa flavored ones (!!) this year.
A piece of fabric
Last year, I got a sloth with a Santa hat. No, not an actual sloth. It wasn’t even a stuffed sloth. It was a cut out scrap of fabric. One of my students found a remnant in his sewing classroom, and made me my sloth friend. It was totally bizarre and totally sweet–just like that student. He was so quirky and so unexpected, I never knew what kind of conversations we’d have any given day. “Hi, Miss! I got you a sloth!” was right on par. It’s a whole year later, I’m still smiling about it.
All of my students. Even those students. Yes, the ones who keep me up at night because I can’t tell if I’m reaching them or not. The ones who test my patience, the ones who never sit down. Each and every student of mine teaches me something. That’s the greatest gift of all.
Final Thoughts on Favorite Teacher Gifts
If you find yourself stressed about finding the perfect teacher gift this holiday season, don’t be. Sure, you might have to block Pinterest from your computer for that to happen. But there’s honestly no need to stress.
Teachers simply appreciate being thought of. If you want to check out some inexpensive and simple gifts I’ve received in the past, you can. But please remember that every family gives us gifts, whether they realize it or not.
So Tell Me…What are some favorite gifts to give or receive?