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If you give a teacher a cookie ...

Show your appreciation with gifts that will make teachers smile not sigh.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Teacher with students

Gifting the inspired, exhausted, and poor

Teachers are "inspired, exhausted, and poor," quipped a keynote speaker at a recent education conference. Now's the time of year when many parents and students will be wandering the halls of department stores wondering, What gift will help these heroes keep their faith alive? How do we show them we care? Will a giant ceramic apple send the right message? A "world's best teacher" coffee mug? Meditation tapes to reduce stress? A bottle of gin?

After exhaustive research, we've cracked the code on teacher gifts. Here's our primer on which to avoid (all of the above) and which will give them the goods (or goodies) to keep teaching another year.

Comments from readers

"Christmas shouldn't be just for people to get gifts because the gift of live has been given to them already and to me that's the perfect gift I will ever receive. "
"If me, I like to give teacher chocolate goodies. "
"I am also appalled that teachers have to fork out money to buy their own school supplies in the States. Gosh, it's like asking your surgeon to bring in his own gown, scalpel and cotton swabs from home before he arrives in theater to perform an operation!! In South Africa, schools either supply the teachers with books, white board markers, chalk, pens, etc or give the teachers a (modest) allowance for them to buy their classroom stationery. Maybe the American teachers are paid more than the South African teachers? Still, it's not right!!! Shocking!!!"
"I feel that a gift for the teacher should be for him or her - not for the classroom!!! I would be completely insulted if I received classroom supplies!!! I feel that even a small personal gift(eg luxury soap, handcream) or voucher/gift card is more appropriate. Above all, the least a student can do, is (hand) write a thank you note expressing his/her gratitude."
"Check out the new favorite gift trend for teachers, it is Thirty-One Gifts! Think of teachers as more than a teacher, give them a gift they can use in everyday life."
"Great ideas. Gift cards are the best. I really like gift cards to Office Max and a dollar store where I I can use the card to buy things for the class. Please refrain from mugs and cologne. One year I received a vase with fingerprints on it with each child's name (I adore it) and another year I received a large serving bowl with large colorful dots each bearing one child's name. These were made at the local ceramic studio. They are both among my favorite gifts! They are lovely, well done, useful, and bring to mind exceptional memories."
"Just give the teacher a check from the entire class. Each parent can give the money to a room parent. All of the cash can then be exchanged for crisp $20 bills or some denomination along with a thank you card from the entire class. This idea is so much more practical than gift cards that are often misplaced or not used. I know since I am a teacher and hate trying to figure out when to carry them in order to use them. Money is much more practical."