parent opinion

“A parent is pressuring me to buy my kid’s teacher a crazy expensive gift. I’m not happy.”

We all know that teachers do a marvellous job with our little and big kids, and come Christmas time, most parents like to show their appreciation with a gift. Whether it is a home baked slice, a hand-drawn card or a voucher for the movies, a little festive ‘thank you’ treat is a lovely way to honour a much-loved teacher.

It is not always this straightforward however and one anonymous mum contacted Mamamia to describe how the teacher gift-buying situation had spun out of control at her child’s school.

Rebecca* mum to eight-year-old Amelie* was happy to part with some hard-earned dollars for a teacher present, until she was shocked by the amount she was being pressured to contribute by her fellow mum ‘friends’.

“A few of the parents I know had got together to decide on a present for the class teacher. I was okay to contribute something, but I couldn’t believe some of the ideas the other parents were swapping on the What’s App group. I had been thinking movie vouchers or a gift basket from a department store, but I was overridden by ideas of luxury day spa vouchers, city break packages and entire weekends in the wineries!”

Rebecca told Mamamia that the donation per family was expected to start at fifty dollars in order to reach the desired combination for this lucky teacher’s generous gift. This was in addition to an individual teacher present.

Another mum, Cathy, who is married to a school teacher, told Mamamia that like Rebecca, she felt group presents were excessive for a few reasons.

teacher gift ideas
Whatever happened to hand-baked cookies as a gift idea? Image: Supplied.
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“Large group presents need to be declared (as part of a tax return) making things awkward for the teacher. I guess the parents feel if they pool together they can organise a better present but it’s so much more complicated than homemade biscuits! I am often astounded by the generosity of parents at my partners school, but wonder if it’s really necessary?”

Mamamia heard from other mums with kids at school or daycare, who had more realistic ideas about what is an appropriate gift for a teacher or carer.

Fiona, a mum of twins from Sydney said that while she contributed to a gift certificate for each class teacher, the method is more democratic.

“There was one lovely parent happy to start the online collection and people donated anonymously what (amount) they wanted. My kids’ teachers each got a Westfield voucher and cards from the kids with special messages. I can say both teachers deserved it.”

A very generous preschool who are one step ahead of the game, choose a charity each year for families to contribute to, in lieu of individual presents. Mum Karen explains:

“My daughter Zoe’s preschool asked for money towards a charity rather than teachers’ gifts. Then they watch the money clock up and discuss it with the kids. Last year they raised $681 for UNICEF and the kids had a say in what charity gifts were purchased.”

teacher gift ideas
A piece of art created for one teacher. Image: Supplied.

Other mums baked rocky road, cookies or cakes for their child’s teacher, often getting the young ones to help with the cooking process or designing the labels. Boxes of chocolates or tree decorations were also popular choices among families, or even unique pieces of art as Teneale, mum to Ava explains:

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“One of the mums at our school organised a piece of art that included finger prints of each child in the class as leaves on a tree. It wasn’t expensive, all the kids were involved, and it had meaning. Under the tree was written ‘it takes a strong and kind heart to grow little minds, and we thank you for guiding and loving us throughout our first year.’ It is certainly one of the best ideas I have seen.”

It seems that while most families are happy to buy or contribute to a reasonable teacher present, Rebecca is now being ostracised by some of the parents at her daughter’s school for her stance on the expensive gift and her decision to ‘opt out’.

“I just think that we are setting a precedent that every teacher from now until year 12, will have to be given an expensive group gift. I feel especially sorry for those parents with two or three kids as Christmas is an expensive time without this additional pressure.”

“Amelie’s teacher will know she was much appreciated by us this year, but I don’t think it is necessary to contribute that much money to one single gift.”

We call our favourite teachers from school to say thank you for everything they did for us.

*Names have been changed.

What do you think of expensive teacher gifts? Do you think there is an appropriate gift amount to spend? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

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