Proper Etiquette for Teacher Gifts During the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift for our children’s teachers. These individuals play a significant role in our kids’ lives, contributing to their development and well-being. It’s a chance for us to express our gratitude.

However, when it comes to teacher gifting, there is an etiquette to follow. The gift you choose should be thoughtful, appropriate to the relationship, and reasonably priced.

To help you make the right choice, here are some tips from experts:

Don’t go overboard with spending

Did you know that most public-school teachers have a limit on the value of gifts they can accept? For example, in Massachusetts, the State Ethics Commission states that teachers “may not accept any gift worth $50.” Similar ethics codes exist in other states, often with even lower limits.

To play it safe, aim to keep your gift under $20. According to Lauren Grace, a high school math teacher and crafter, spending around $20-$30 is a good rule of thumb. The value is not as important as the thought and appreciation behind the gift, as teachers understand and appreciate financial constraints.

Involve your kids in choosing a meaningful gift

While you may think you know your child’s teacher well, it’s always a good idea to seek input from other teachers or staff members who may have a better understanding of their preferences. Additionally, involve your child in the decision-making process by offering them a few options to choose from. Remember, the best gifts are those that create lasting memories.

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Be cautious when gifting alcohol

Gifting alcohol can be a tricky affair, as school policies may prohibit it on campus. It’s important to find out if your child’s teacher drinks before considering alcohol as a gift. If you’re uncertain, it’s best to choose an alternative present.

A wine gift.

Remember teachers who don’t celebrate Christmas

Teacher appreciation extends beyond Christmas. If your child’s teacher does not celebrate the holiday, opt for a “thank you” gift without holiday-themed packaging or messaging. Consider giving a Happy New Year’s card that acknowledges their hard work throughout the year. The gift will be appreciated, even if it doesn’t align perfectly with their beliefs.

Encourage your child to write a thank you note and include it with the gift. Younger children can also draw pictures to go along with the holiday card for the teacher.

For older kids, prioritization is key

When your child has multiple teachers, it’s not necessary to give each one a gift. Middle and high school students often have several teachers, so it’s okay to ask your child if there is a specific teacher or coach they would like to recognize with a gift. You can purchase gifts for one or a few individuals.

Involve your child in the gift-giving process by having them write a note of appreciation for each teacher and adding a coffee card or a homemade treat.

Choose gifts that teachers truly appreciate

Teachers appreciate a variety of gifts, such as copies of popular children’s books for the classroom library. Here are some other universally appreciated gifts:

  • A thoughtful note from parents and students
  • Versatile gift cards (within reasonable limits)
  • Coffee and chocolate (essential for getting through the day)
  • School supplies
  • Gift “experiences” like show tickets or museum passes