'No more mugs, I beg you.' The dos and don'ts of buying gifts for teachers.

As a teacher for over 15 years, I've definitely experienced my fair share of the good, the bad, and the downright weird when it comes to end-of-year presents from my students. 

My most memorable gift? That’s probably a tie between a half-eaten Mars Bar and an engagement ring (that was quickly returned to a mortified mother whose child had been exploring her jewellery box that morning).

While you're here, watch the Mamamia team share the worst Christmas gifts they've ever received. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

The dos of buying gifts for teachers.

A simple 'thank you' at the end of the year is more than enough in any teacher’s books, but for those of you who are keen to get a little something for your kid’s teacher, I’ve wrapped up all my tips in a neat little Christmas bow for you below.

DIY all the way.

There’s nothing more special than something homemade from the heart. Some cookies (keeping the icky fingers at bay), a card, or a Christmas decoration are perfect.

Feel great and donate.

Making a donation to a charity on behalf of your child’s teacher will have them reaching for the Kleenex on their desk. A World Vision card or The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation with a pre-paid donation is a wonderful gift, or make it more personal by asking the teacher what their favourite charity is.


Keep it cheap and cheerful.

Christmas can be a super stressful time of year with so much going on and so much going out of our bank accounts. Stick to something small and meaningful and you can’t go wrong – favourite presents to date are a framed photo of the class on an excursion during the year, a handmade necklace, a framed painted picture, or hand-picked garden flowers.

Make it personal.

A small personalised present is going to be memorable and meaningful. A good stationery stash is the way to every teacher’s heart, so something like a personalised notepad, personalised stickers or stamps are perfect. 

Gift cards are gold.

If you’re wanting to really spoil a special teacher but not sure what to get them, a gift card is great. If you think they might need to unwind after a year of 'please use your listening ears' and 'quiet everyone' on repeat, go for a spa voucher.

Go all in.

Put in $5 each with a group of parents from the class and get a bigger ticket item like a plant for the classroom or a restaurant voucher (a nice change from scoffing down a sandwich in the staffroom day in, day out!).

The don'ts of buying gifts for teachers.

We’ve gone through a bunch of good gifting tips, but what about the not-so-good? Here are some things to probably steer clear of: 

No more mugs, I beg you!

I love a good mug as much as the rest of us, but like most teachers, I’ve accumulated enough to serve the state of NSW a cuppa. A reusable drink bottle or coffee cup would be a great alternative.


Listen to This Glorious Mess. On this episode, Holly and Tegan shared their tips Christmas shopping. Story continues below.

Leave out the lotions.

A beautifully scented hand cream or shower gel is a lovely thought, but what 'smells good' is highly personal, not to mention that some teachers may have highly sensitive skin. 

Skip the sweets.

As strange as it might sound, not everyone loves chocolate and lollies. But if you know the teacher has a sweet tooth, go for it (just make sure it’s wrapped so little fingers don’t get into the chocolates first!).  

And just remember, as cliché as it sounds, it’s truly the thought that counts. I was once given a 'fairy'. When I opened the box, it was a dandelion. The little girl went on to say that each part was a magic wish from a fairy - sweetest present ever.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful break and here’s to staying sane until the school term resumes again!

Lucy is a Sydney-based primary school teacher and co-founder of Cleverbean, a platform for teachers to create engaging, student-led and research-informed lessons for memorable learning experiences in the classroom. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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