The three reasons some parents don't buy teachers Christmas gifts.

Not all heroes wear capes.

But the heroes I’m talking about, do this: patiently put up with kids, teach them constructive stuff, feed them if they’re without food, appreciate them in ways that parents often just don’t have the time for, and on top of all of that, listen to parental concerns and demands.

That’s right, I’m talking about TEACHERS.

All parents would agree that teachers are marvellous, and an inherent part of our kids’ childhoods. But not all parents agree with the idea of giving the teachers of their children gifts – not even end-of-year Christmas gifts. It’s the subject of much debate every December; to give or not to give?

It seems that the majority do believe in tokens of appreciation for the adults responsible for their angels/ratbags for much of the year. Most parents find parenting hard work even when it’s their own kids and there’s just one of them (ahem, this author, for example), so multiply that by twenty and you can see why many of us think teachers deserve a small gift – if not a gold medal.

There are also the parents rely on the school more than others for assistance and advice on their kids, and so naturally develop friendships with teachers – or are appreciative of any extra efforts made for their family.

Not all heroes wear capes

So if teacher gift-giving is about gratitude, does this mean that the parents who don't give teachers gifts are ungrateful? Of course not.

Here are the reasons why some parents don't play School-Santa:

1. They don't know that teacher gift-giving is a thing.

The custom seems to be highly dependent on personal experience and traditions. There are people who are genuinely surprised that other parents give presents to teachers and school staff. Ask anyone at the school gate (as we did) and there will be a number of parents who didn't know it's something that many do. It also varies from school to school - with some schools actually banning the practice. So giving is not a given.

Listen: We talk to a teacher about the things every parents has always wanted to ask. Post continues after audio.

2. They don't feel the need to do it.

An oft-cited reason is something along the lines of "They are paid to teach, it's their job", which is a personal judgement-call and thus fair enough. Using the same reasoning, some parents don't feel they need to contribute to class presents, either. They usually think that a small gesture in terms of a card, or spoken words, is more meaningful.
And for anyone accused of being "tight" - it's definitely not about the money. A scan of the Kmart Mums Australia Facebook page displays dozens of discussions about what to give teachers at Christmas, and there's rarely a comment about budget. So it's really about feeling the desire and/or obligation to give, and there shouldn't be any 'shoulds' about it.

3. They don't like the competitive nature of gift-giving among parents.

Some parents feel that teacher gifts are just another area of parental one-upmanship that they don't need in their lives. If a class gift is being organised, there's pressure/judgement from the organiser to commit to a certain value, or, with individual gifts, the "what did you give" conversations are too intense. So either way, it's a no from these parents.
Interestingly, a minority (who could possibly work at the Tax Office or the ACC  lol) feel as though it's a "bribe" of some sort, that shouldn't be accepted by the teachers on ethical grounds in case it produces favoritism.
The bribery concern is the best example of how teacher Christmas gifts can be a political minefield - just like every other area of parenting. The best any parent can do is do what feels right for their family. A great barometer is asking your kids how they feel about giving Mr ABC a card/wine/chocolate in the last week of term.
And finally, the last hurdle is ensuring you don't hide in the pantry and Christmas-stress eat or drink whatever you've bought before it makes it to school.
Good luck with that.