Gift for Teacher


Parents can agonize this time of year about what to give their kids’ teachers.

“Because you don’t know what everyone else is giving,” says Kim Egan, a mother of two in Santa Monica, Calif. “You don’t want to under-give. You don’t want to over-give.”

This year Egan opted to pool her money with other parents. She gave $50 for each of her two kids. Her daughter is also making a doll to give. Pretty modest next to some gifts reported in Anchorage, Alaska.

“There are some that are relatively outrageous,” says Todd Hess, chief human resources officer at Anchorage School District. “From plane tickets to Hawaii, to a fur coat, to diamond jewelry.”

Remember the other day when we talked about Zagat’s guide to tipping around the holidays and we were like, huh, they including teachers under service personnel and talked about what they are “tipped” (or gifted)? Marketplace has a story looking at what parents gift to teachers this time of year, and: fur coats and diamond jewelry, what? This must be a story about outliers because I have never heard of teachers getting those kinds of extravagant gifts.

But one servicey piece of advice to avoid giving to teachers: Starbucks cards.

Says a former teacher: “Everybody does it,” she says, “and I have had teacher friends of mine go, ‘I couldn’t drink all this coffee in a year if I tried.’”

Photo: Bart Everson

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9 Comments / Post A Comment

What, $1,100 a month upon retirement, unless the city goes broke or voters decide to take it away, isn’t enough of a “gift” for these lazy teachers??

OllyOlly (#669)

The Washington Post had an article yesterday about how Arlington is looking to pass a law that would limit how much parents could spend on teacher gifts. The limit was $100, so I can only assume the usual value of gifts in Arlington is outrageous.

My boyfriend has gotten mostly candy, one starbucks card, and a mug a student’s father made. It is a realy cool mug!

Meaghano (#529)

A friend of mine is an underpaid high school teacher at a fancy fancy private school on the Upper East Side and they are banned from accepting gifts! I guess because the gifts would be so insanely fancy they could be construed as bribery or something. But now she is off on maternity leave and someone gave her a fur coat :-O

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

A friend of mine is a teacher at an expensive private school, and she says that the whole Christmas gift thing makes her really uncomfortable. It hammers home the financial divide between her and the kids’ parents, and sometimes it feels like bribery. She says that she would really prefer small, handmade, token type gifts to the extravagant stuff she sometimes gets.

I work at a public university, and I’m not allowed to accept gifts that are worth more than $3. I don’t think I’ve ever received a Christmas gift from a student, but I do sometimes have to turn down gifts that students try to give me after I’ve written them recommendations. I totally appreciate the spirit of the rule, but I wish they’d either publicize it more widely or raise the limit a little bit. The only thing more awkward that being given an overly-generous gift is having to turn down a gift because you estimate it cost $7.50 instead of $3.

My mother-in-law teaches in elementary school and my husband and I can always count on a few Starbucks cards coming our way this time of year. Before the Starbucks era, it seems coffee mugs were the gift of choice– my grandmother, who taught 2nd grade, had an entire cabinet full of mugs she’d received from students.

My mom always made quick bread for our teachers. Don’t know if that would fly in today’s allergen-aware classrooms, though.

hotdish (#1,868)

My daughter has contact with her two classroom teachers, four specialist teachers, and six rotating “extended day” staffers. We usually buy a case of nice liquor (this year it was Bailey’s, with one bottle of Grey Goose for the vegan) and distribute the bottles with a bow and a brief note of thanks. It’s always been a huge hit, though I do have to do some pre-gifting recon to see if anybody doesn’t drink for whatever reason.

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@hotdish I am a teacher, and I can confirm that this would be the best ever. However, I teach high school, so…no one brings alcohol onto the premises ever. (edited to add: no ADULTS ever bring alcohol onto the premises, I’m sure a student has done it before)

I think the gift-giving may generally be more popular in elementary school. I received two holiday ornaments when I taught Middle School, and the only gift I have received at the current private prep high school I teach at is a key chain from China (it is super nice!). Over the course of 4 years.

hotdish (#1,868)

@MissMushkila My daughter is in Kindergarten, but we did the same thing for three years at her preschool and no one seemed to think it was inappropriate. Maybe the situation is different when the kids are older? My dad was an elementary school teacher, and he got lots of Starbucks cards, B&N cards, mugs, and a shocking number of ugly ornaments.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@hotdish My boss decided to play Boozy Clause this year and got me bourbon for Christmas. I adore him, obviously, but this just upped his awesome cred in my mind.

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