A Gift – Not a Tip For a Teacher

Gifts or Tip???

Every Holiday Season we get many questions about tipping: how much, who, when, gifts or cash? One of the trickier questions has to do with who. The answer is simple: people who have provided a service for you and to whom you want to show appreciation. That, after all, is what tipping is about. There is another guideline that helps – generally speaking we don’t tip professionals: doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, and dentists. However, it is certainly reasonable that you might want to give any of those folks a gift when the service they have provided was especially meaningful. Many children want to give a gift to their teacher. While giving a cash tip to a teacher is not appropriate, involving your child in giving a gift makes perfect sense. Two points to keep in mind:

  • First, check out school policies. Some schools have strict policies around gift giving and you don’t want to put the teacher in a difficult position.
  • This is not a time for spending a large sum of money. The point of this gift is to engage your child in giving, to show the teacher how much you appreciate what she/he does all year long and to express a sense of caring.

It’s only natural that children want to give gifts to their teachers: after all, they spend hours every week with them. But what gifts can they give? Here are some suggestions. But don’t limit yourself to these: they are simply ideas. Also, talk with your child. After all, it’s their gift to their teacher.

  • A gift of cookies, homemade jellies, jams or salsa packaged in holiday wrapping with a card written by the student is always appreciated.
  • With digital cameras, it’s easy and fun to take photos, make and decorate a cardboard frame, put names and dates on the back, and give to the teacher to enjoy.
  • A small plant or good luck bamboo in a small vase brightens up their desk and the classroom for the rest of the year.
  • A mug full of jell beans or an individual pack of hot chocolate mix. Add a candy cane for a special mint hot chocolate treat. If the teacher has been in the business for fifteen years, they may already have a zillion mugs, but a new teacher may be just starting their collection.
  • If you know of a special interest the teacher has, shop for an ornament or box of note cards that reflects it.

Wrap any gift in festive paper and help your child write a note to go with the gift. If they are too young to write, have them color the message part of the card and “sign” their name. Before the day gets started at school or after school, go with your child to see the teacher and help them give the gift. That way you can share the experience and joy of giving together.

One idea for you, the parent. Add your own note of holiday cheer and appreciation. It’s a gift from you that means a great deal to the teacher who gives to your child everyday.

8 comments to A Gift – Not a Tip For a Teacher

  • […] Christmas is fast approaching and many people like to give their teacher a present to thank them for all their hard work with their kids, so here are some tips from Dawn on what to give your child’s teacher. […]

  • adrienne

    I was a teacher for 31 years my favorite gift was when the school PTA(parent teacher association) came and served up breakfast for a week before the state testing. I was great!!

  • Lisa Powers

    I teach 6th grade English, and none of the teachers I have ever known want baked goods from their students. Ninety percent of us do NOT consume them because we only know the students and not the parents. Thus, we do not trust the environment from where these goods were baked.
    I prefer a handmade item that is not baked goods OR a store bought token of appreciation, such as office supplies or a small box of chocolates.


    • Cindy Post Senning

      Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment. It makes good sense to me and I’ll definitely keep that in mind as I develop lists of possible teacher gifts. Several teachers I know said the same thing.
      Best regards,

  • DJ

    As a teacher for 22 years, I suggest supplies I can use in my room, student bookmarks, tape, decorative folders, etc, as teachers today spend a lot of their own money during the year on supplies. Also we feed most of them unable to bring snack, a few big bags of pretzels would be nice. We have enough candles and teacher ornaments. Would you give your mailman a mailman ornament?

  • Joy

    I agree with Lisa. Home made baked goods, though sweet and thoughtful, are almost NEVER consumed by me or my fellow teachers. The few families that we may know closely, we might trust, but otherwise you never know what someone’s kitchen looks like or what “extra” ingredient may be added (especially if the child does not like their teacher). Gift cards to coffee venues, bookstores, Amazon, or resturants are always a great idea. A pack of nice coffee is always much appreciated. Ornaments for a Christmas tree with the child’s name and year given written on the bottom are always fun! Hand made crafts warm my heart and I keep them all! Those are the gifts I enjoy recieving as a teacher and what I intend to give to my children’s teachers in the future.

  • Eric

    Gift cards are my favorite (office supplies or Starbucks!). I live in a small home (like many teachers) and don’t have room for more knick-knacks like mugs and frames.

  • Elsie

    When considering food gifts, also consider health. I am constantly struggling with my weight and I would prefer not to have additional temptations. This is not only true for me as a teacher, but just as a person.

    I do want to say I appreciate all the gifts however because of the thoughtfulness.

    One family gave me a gift card to a local teacher supply store. I appreciated that, the parent wrote a thoughtful note telling me what she appreciated about me as a teacher, that was the best part.

    I like lotions from Bath and Body works. They readily exchange if I don’t like the scent.

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