Look, another school year is ending and I’m just going to lay this all out for you at the risk of sounding selfish: not all thank you gifts are created equal, or appreciated as much as you think they would be.
Teachers work their butts off for crap pay, using most of their own paychecks to provide extras and many necessities for your kids. They lay awake at night coming up with plans to help your kid finally understand what sound a ch- makes. They get coughed on and yelled at. They do every aspect of their job knowing full well that this is what they signed up for when they decided to take on this important career. That’s why you hardly hear your kid’s teacher complain about their work hours, their second (or even third) jobs, or how little sleep they get.
The least we can do as parents is thank them at the end of the school year. Homemade cards, a bag of their favorite treats, or something more exciting (like a gift card for a mani/pedi?) are all great options. Really, ALMOST anything, of any price range, is a great option to express your thanks. But there are five gifts that totally miss the mark.
These are the five teacher gifts you should NOT waste your time/money on this year:
Mugs: Please. Just. Stop. Unless your kid’s teacher is in their first, maybe second, year of teaching, they already have about a billion coffee mugs to last a lifetime. They’ve kept the homemade ones, the hand painted ones, and the sassy ones with phrases they actually think but aren’t allowed to say on them. The rest get chucked in the trash or donated to a thrift shop.
Along those lines, coffee, tea or wine: Just because you drink it doesn’t mean your kid’s teacher does. And if they don’t, you better believe it’ll be regifted or left for the other teachers in the teacher’s lounge at lunch. Don’t waste the good stuff on this possibility! Unless you know for a fact what he or she likes to drink, think of a different gift.
Scented anything, especially candles: Contrary to popular belief, not everyone likes the smell of Lavender or Cherry Blossoms. Some teachers, and/or their students who would have to smell it burning as well, are allergic to certain scents. And teachers aren’t allowed to burn an open flame in the school building anyways. So if you got a candle with the intention of helping the classroom of 25 sixth graders smell better, it was a night thought but ultimately, a waste.
Your homemade brownies, cookies, or whatever it used to be before your first grader crushed it in the bottom of their backpack: Teachers love treats, don’t get me wrong! They just don’t want any that have bits of pencil shavings and binder paper squished in with the chocolate chips. Don’t waste your time baking. Sealed, store bought treats are best and just as thoughtful, as long as you steer clear of any allergies they might have.
Clothing: No. Just, no thank you. You don’t know their size, their taste, or their style (you’d be surprised how differently some teachers dress on their days off). And you may think that cute knitted hat your kid made, the one with the massive pom-ball on top, would be a perfect gift but I’m willing to bet it’ll be two sizes too big or small. Not to mention it’ll probably fall apart after one wash or itch like a mother f-.
Before you get all up in arms, saying I’m selfish and, “MY kid’s teacher would be happy for anything,” cool your jets. Teachers are people, just like you and me. They don’t like asking for things and don’t dare hope for any thanks for the hard work they do. Your kid’s teacher is probably too nice to let your kid see their disappointment when they get their 8th coffee mug that year or the candle that will send them into an asthma attack.
And yes, any gift, scrap of paper they drew on, or any sweet note is cherished in a certain part of their hearts because that’s fundamentally what a teacher is: gold. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to take joy in a gift that’s, in a way, better! Like a gift card to the movies or a home cooked meal you deliver at the end of parent teacher conferences. Putting a little thought into a thank you gift or note doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you consider everything the teachers do for your kids every day for nine months.