All I Want for Christmas: A Teacher’s Wish List

downloadThis year, my boys are in preschool full time, which means for the first time, I have teacher gifts to buy. Buying gifts for your child’s teacher(s) can be a daunting task. Do you just buy for the classroom teacher? Or do you get gifts for the music, PE, and art teachers as well? What about the principal? The recess aide? The librarian? One thing is for certain, we want these individuals to know how much we appreciate the time and effort they put into our kids.

Having been a teacher for the past 18 years, I can safely advise you on the topic of teacher gift-giving. Here are my top do’s (and don’ts).


  • Gift cards: Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a gift card? You get a little extra money to spend at your favorite store, hopefully on something special just for you. Target, Sonic, Starbucks, Zona Rosa, The Plaza or the movie theatre are top choices. If you happen to know your teacher’s favorite restaurant, clothing store, or home decor store… even better.
  • Alcohol: Although I suggest you know your teacher fairly well if you’re going to buy alcohol… nothing says “I appreciate you” like a good bottle of wine! This particular gift also presents a delivery challenge, as most schools frown on teachers stashing bottles of booze in their desks. That being said, if you know your child’s teacher well enough, alcohol is a gift I highly recommend.
  • Useful stuff: I realize this gift idea is a bit random, but let me explain….lip balm, good lotion (NOT super smelly bath and body unless you know the specific scent your teacher might wear), warm gloves for a teacher who has recess duty, a really warm or beautiful scarf. You know… useful stuff!
  • Things for the classroom: Most teachers, especially elementary teachers, spend an exorbitant amount of their own money on things for their classrooms. Teachers buy everything from classroom supplies to books to stickers to items for the treasure box. If you are wanting your gift-giving to impact the classroom, ask your child’s teacher what kind of things they could use.


  • Home decor: Unless you have been to a teacher’s home, or stalked his/her Pinterest boards, avoid buying home decor of any kind. Even holiday decor. I fully understand that you had the greatest of intentions when you had your child help you make a wreath from crayons for their first grade teacher, but I promise you, most teachers don’t decorate with school supplies in their homes. Most teachers I know will keep these treasures for years on end, as they feel far too guilty to get rid of any of it. Thus, our attics and basements become overcrowded with years of well-intentioned but unwanted gifts. YEARS’ worth!
  • Mugs: Not all teachers drink coffee and those of us who do have mugs a-plenty. So, unless you know your child’s teacher drinks something from a mug, and has an abundance of cabinet space… don’t buy mugs.
  • Apple/teacher stuff: I think the apple trend may be over, but just for safety’s sake, let me assure you, most teachers don’t collect apple or teacher stuff. We know we are teachers. We don’t need paper/pencils/ornaments/bags/pictures frames or anything else to tell us our profession.
  • Ornaments: After 18 years in education, I could probably outfit at least 10 regular trees with all the ornaments I have received over the years. They are all lovely and wonderful, and they reside with all the other stuff in my basement that I feel too guilty to throw away.

Please don’t mistake my message as cranky and unappreciative; I promise, it’s not. I just know that when I give a gift, I want it to be something to bearer of the gift will love and appreciate. Not something that could cause them to be featured on an episode of Hoarders.

A co-worker of mine said it best: When buying a gift for a teacher, do what you would do any other time you’re buying a gift for someone. Get them something you KNOW they are going to love.

I'm Cali. I'm a wife, co-parent, and mom of twin boys who are soon-to-be 6, as well as brand new step-mom to 3 young adults who are 19, 16, and 14. I was born and raised in the Northland, and I can't imagine living anywhere else...unless you were to offer me a beach house, or a villa on the coast of Italy or France. I have been a public educator for 21 years, and I currently teach middle school, which I truly believe is the very best age in all the world. I enjoy reading, cooking, and traveling, and I believe ice cream is an acceptable meal any time of the day. I drink entirely too much diet coke, and my floors are rarely clean. I joined the mommy-club later in life after an 8 year struggle with infertility. I've decided being an "old mom" is a pretty great gig.