Apparently, as a quick Google search will show you, there are all sorts of dos and don’ts when it comes to teacher gifts. All those ideas you thought were super cute (… or at least feebly passable)? Well, they are total shit. Here’s why:
Mugs – Teachers love coffee. Point taken. They don't love 37 mugs per year, nor do they have the shelf space in their homes or teacher lounges to store them.
Ornaments – Can you possibly, with your non-teacher brain, fathom just how many ornaments an elementary school teacher accumulates over the span of his or her career? Take 25 students (minimum) and multiply that by 35 years (minimum) and then you can begin to calculate a rough estimate of the gross proportions of offensively superfluous ornaments any one teacher may receive in his or her lifetime.
Christmas decor – How about a nice little holiday decor for the home? Sound good? Um, who the actual fuck do you think you are, assuming you understand this relative stranger’s personal aesthetic within the sacred cove of his or her own home? Nice try, asshole.
Lotion or hand sanitizer – Please, dear lord, let’s not travel down the path of scents again. Stay away from anything that gives off any kind of chemically induced aroma.
Apple knick-knacks or anything that says teacher – You’re a really special brand of stupid, aren’t you? Please refer to “ornament” explanation, and if you can’t do the math, you should probably give you kids away to better parents.
Homemade baked goods – Are you intimately aware of this teacher’s dietary needs? Possible food allergies? Is this teacher a vegan? Cutting carbs? Do you seriously think this teacher wants to put something inside his or her mouth without having any clue what your home sanitation process and level of culinary skill are?
OK, so what do teachers want? Apparently, a lot of them want gift cards. Yep. Target gift cards. Starbucks gift cards. Amazon gift cards. Restaurant gift cards. Movie theatre gift cards. Uh, yeah. Me too! Who wouldn’t? But here’s the deal, I’m shopping on a budget, and I don’t spend $25 on some of my closest family members. I’m not about to shell out that or more so Mrs. So and So can go to the Olive Garden courtesy of my kindergartener.
Please believe me, I appreciate my children’s teachers so much. And I am in awe of their patience and talent, and I know that they are hideously underpaid for what they do. But. We’re talking about a 6-year-old giving a token of appreciation to his kindergarten teacher. That just can’t rank as high as what I give, like, my mom. Nor should it take as much brain power. And it really, truly shouldn't require the use of Pinterest.
And, serious question: how many professions are there where you are showered with gifts by an entire room full of people over the holidays? Not that many, right? Certainly not in the marketing world where I Iive. And in what scenario, other than a wedding or baby shower, do you get to request specific gifts from people who feel obligated by social contract to give them to you? If you don’t like the 37 mugs that were given to you out of the blistering, raw kindness of 6-year-olds and the frazzled gratitude of their parents? Do what we all do when we receive gifts we don’t like. Regift them, donate them, or throw them away.
Disclaimer: I fully understand that many of these published lists are meant to help parents who are genuinely looking for ideas. I also want to throw it out there that many teachers have said they prefer homemade cards, donations to the classroom or other similarly selfless ideas. Rock on.