Recently, I was reading an article online about the “Worst Teacher Gifts Ever.” The article had a slide show attached, which featured some superbly awful gifts. My favorites were fishnet stockings and unicorn soap. There was also a ceramic mug with a cat face on it from a student who told the teacher, “My mother thinks you’re a cat lady.” Ouch.
With the end of the school year fast approaching, many parents are looking for teachers’ gifts, so here is my unsolicited advice on what not to get your kid’s teacher:
- School Supplies: One year I received my own school supplies as a gift. A student went into my desk, took my pens, pencils, Post-Its, etc., wrapped them up and gave them to me. My first thought was, “That was so sweet, he wanted to give me something but his family couldn’t afford a present. “My second thought was, “I have really got to start locking my desk.” Unless you are in a seriously disadvantaged school district, the school gives teachers all the basic school supplies. But, teachers have to buy all the materials to decorate bulletin boards and posters for the walls, so a gift card to a teacher’s store is a good gift.
- Items of Clothing: Do I look like an earmuff kind of person to you? A teacher in my school once received undergarments. If that wasn’t bad enough, the box it came in was from a resale shop.
- Jewelry: I have enough handmade jewelry to open my own kiosk at the mall. Jewelry is personal, so unless you know for sure a teacher will love it, don’t do it. The exception is jewelry that is made by a student, which teachers adore.
- Mugs: There is not enough coffee in the world to fill the number of mugs teachers receive each year. But, a gift certificate to the teacher's favorite coffee joint is always appreciated.
- Self-Improvement Books: These are given with the best intentions, but receiving The Biggest Loser Cookbook or Control Your Clutter, Control Your Life is just mean.
- Anything Apple-Themed: Actually, anything with an apple, schoolhouse/bell, ruler or school-related theme. I know you think it’s cute, but really, no.
- Anything that says “World’s Best Teacher”: You know you only got it because it was on display at the Hallmark store, not because anyone really thinks you are actually the world’s best teacher.
Other bad ideas that may seem like a good idea at the time include stuffed animals, religious items, knick-knacks or anything you have to dust. One student gave me a bottle of multi-vitamins. How bad do you have to look for someone to give you vitamins as a gift? Stick with gift cards, you don’t have to think of something creative and teachers love them.
Now for those of you that are outraged that I, or any teacher, would not appreciate a gift, I assure you the thought is appreciated very much. Actually, thoughts are the best gifts of all. I still have every lovely note a student or parent ever wrote me.