Teachers’ Gifts: the thought that counts?

It’s the end of term here, which means the usual rigmarole of buying teachers’ gifts.  When I was at school in the ’80s, teachers’ gifts were pretty much unheard of.  Any child who brought in a present for the teacher was looked upon as some sort of nerd who deserved a turn in the Poking Tunnel™.  I believe this was something unique to my school and memory fails me as to my involvement, if any, in its invention.  Anyway, the class formed two lines facing each other and the victim chosen one would then walk (or run if they had any sense) through the ‘tunnel’ as fast as they could, receiving finger prods along the way.  Ah, happy days!

How times have changed.  In previous years at my children’s school in England, I bought gifts for the class teacher, plus the teaching assistants and the PE teacher.  Mustn’t forget the dinner ladies. Oh, and the librarian.  Not to mention the Cubs leaders, swimming instructors and piano teacher.   The list went on and on.  When my kids first started school, and my enthusiasm for crafts hadn’t been completely obliterated, I would help make posters, cards, hand-painted cups and themed gift baskets.  One year, I actually went to the effort of making a framed picture of a tree decorated with photos of each member of the class complete with a speech bubble containing their quote about how great the teacher was.  This Blue Peter phase didn’t last long and, after developing a severe intolerance to all types of glitter, paint and coloured card, I downgraded to shop bought gifts.  I didn’t mind because I could easily pop into TKMaxx and find a few lovely gifts that looked like they cost £30 but really only cost £4.

In Rome this is impossible.  Here I can only find gifts that look like they cost €4 but actually cost €30.  And the giving frenzy seems to be of a much higher level here.  I saw a pupil laden down with bags from designer shops, bottles of expensive balsamic vinegar and beautifully wrapped gift baskets.  Another child had boxes from Tiffanys.  There were huge bouquets of roses.  Cases of wine are the norm, not single bottles.  Methinks my cut-price offerings won’t cut the mustard here.  Or slice the olive tapenade.

But luckily, I’ve found a group of like-minded mums and we’re going to stick to our (tight fisted) principles and club together.  €15 each towards a ‘Smart Box’ – kind of like a Red Letter Day experience – for the class teacher.  Job done.  Hopefully, by September, all the teaching assistants, dinner ladies and other helpers will have forgotten who did or didn’t give gifts, so my children won’t be stigmatized for having a cheapskate for a mother…

teacher gift

What do you think?  Do you like to show the teacher how much you appreciate them with a thoughtful gift?  Or is it just one more chore to add to the list??

28 thoughts on “Teachers’ Gifts: the thought that counts?”

  1. Brilliant post and very funny. My wife used to give them gifts she didn’t like from the year before (never the chocolates as I ate them all) but fortunately now that my daughter is in Senior school the gift giving time no longer exists as they don’t have one particular teacher anymore.


  2. I once made huge batches of raspberry meringues that I wrapped beautifully in cellophane with red ribbon. That stopped after one teacher slung my delicate works of art into a plastic tray to go with all the other presents she had.
    The last two times I’ve gone the TK route so I smiled at that one….


  3. That is so funny and true. I do feel you should buy the teaching assistants presents as they work so hard! At my children’s school some parents are so tight that one parent even gave a USED colouring book to a PTFA event. It takes all sorts though!


  4. Great read and oh so true. Teachers gifts are in there with party bags. As you say in our day teachers just got a Thank You (if they were lucky) and you got a bit of soggy homemade cake to go home with from a party.


    1. Fortunately, party bags seem to be non-existent here so that’s one less thing to worry about. I remember coming home from a birthday party in England with a bag full of goodies worth considerably more than the gift we’d given!


  5. Although I think teachers work like dogs, I think the gift giving should be banned. It promotes favouritism and when these kids are adults this seems to be a continued mindset that lavishing the boss will get you promoted or special treatment. The parents have enough expenses these days, giving all these gifts adds up.


      1. If I was a full-time teacher, and this was a common practice, I would send a note home to the parents requesting that I would prefer no gifts or, to teach the children some charity, I would ask them to donate what they would have spent to a local charity of their choice. The parents should also band together if they want to show their appreciation and instead of many small gifts, collectively contribute towards one gift that reflects a sense of community. Maybe some much needed school supplies that are not provided by the state? A new volleyball net? Paints? Sound system for the auditorium? This would make the teachers’ job easier as well as the children will benefit too.


  6. I can’t believe you ever had a Blue Peter phase. I have not gone there. In fact I am one of those people who fail to see why teachers should get a gift. In all my years of working, I have never been given a gift for doing my job.I don’t get it. But perhaps I’m just mean. Anyway, round these parts, we all contribute a tenner and someone buys the teacher one big gift. If I was a teacher I’m sure I’d prefer that to 20 different pieces of tat.

    A case of wine……the mind boggles!


  7. The stress and expectation of being a parent these days! Another reason to be thankful for rearing my children in the 90s! Luckily not giving teachers gifts was the norm where we lived/ went to school. Plus having boys meant Christmas presents for friends was also never anything they wanted to do. Phew. Relief. I think I’d have become bankrupt! I hear stories about friends whose children are school age and there is so much pressure, whether it’s party bags at lavish adventure parties, gifts for teachers, costumes for ‘ history’ theme lessons….and that’s often on top of balancing a full time job and not being too tired to be first and foremost a good parent to the kids. Sigh. I feel for you. But don’t worry, a few years to save up for the prom dresses….


    1. Oh no, hadn’t even thought of that! Is it really mean to make kids get Saturday jobs to pay for their own prom dresses? Or maybe I’ll ask you to make them?? x


  8. In Russia the standard was the start-of-term gifts. In the 90s it was TVs, VCRs, food processors etc – something all parents pitched in for and presented together.


    1. I guess start-of-term gifts make more sense: give the teacher something really good and they’ll treat your child nicely! I sometimes wonder if tips for waiters would work better that way too??


      1. And then you’ll ha no recourse when you cant get his or her attention for 15 min while they’re chatting up a bartender… I am very much a ‘compensate proportionally to level of service’ kind of gal.


        1. Once in the US we didn’t leave a tip after a meal with the worst service we’d ever experienced. As we left the restaurant, the waiter actually ran after us with a stack of receipts showing us what tips other customers had left, just in case we didn’t understand the concept!


            1. It was a Chinese restaurant so I’m not sure he understood why we weren’t giving him a tip. We were a bit worried he’d send the chef after us with a giant cleaver!


  9. Something from Tiffany’s? Boy, I should’ve taught in a different country.

    I do teacher gifts. I usually do gift cards for Christmas and the end of the year. I’ll occasionally do a handmade gift if it’s something I know they’d like for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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