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Teacher Gifts: 3 Dos & Don'ts

It's that time of year when you may want to buy your child's teacher a gift. I am an Ontario Certified Teacher and I have taught students between the ages of 4 and 12. I have also been given a lot of gifts that I could not keep for various reasons. So I thought I would give you a few dos and don'ts when it comes to buying a teacher a gift.


  1. Ask the teacher. A lot of teachers buy supplies for their classrooms out of pocket. Thankfully, Ontario teachers now get reimbursed for a certain amount of these purchases; but if a new teacher is starting out in a new school, it's pretty likely they will go over this amount in preparing their new classroom. So ask your teacher what they would like for their classroom. They may want a monthly magazine subscription, a popular book series, some child friendly graphic novels, or some engaging non-fiction so all their students can read something they like. Maybe they would like some learning resources to go above the chalkboard. In all likely hood, if you ask the teacher will respond with something that will help them help their students.

  2. Buy gift cards. Buy gift cards to places that will allow the teacher to either treat themselves or the classroom. Gift cards to popular book stores, toy stores (if the teacher is also a parent), or places like IKEA are great because you choose the amount your comfortable spending and the teacher has the power of choice.

  3. Ask your kids. Kids are really observant, especially when they are younger. So ask your kids what their teacher likes. They probably know by now whether or their teacher drinks tea or coffee, if they eat chocolate or not, whether their teacher is on a special diet, or likes a certain hobby. Based on this information buy a gift that compliments one of these things.


  1. Buy hygiene or cosmetic products. As I am sure a lot of you know, it is really difficult to develop a skin care routine that works for your particular needs. You probably know what does or doesn't work for you and what you like and dislike. Well, so does your child's teacher. Unless you or your child have heard the teacher say they love a specific product or brand, please avoid buying hygiene or cosmetic products. I have received so many body care products that I had to donate because they would have agitated my sensitive skin. And I really didn't want to pretend I loved a gift I couldn't use when I saw that child again.

  2. Assume your teacher needs another mug or box of chocolate. I love mugs with cute or funny sayings, but I already have two shelves full at home and a couple that I would keep at school. If your teacher has been teaching for a while, they are likely in the same boat. With food allergies and intolerances on the rise, it's also really hard to give chocolate if you aren't aware of the teacher's dietary needs. Plus, one Christmas I'd say about half the gifts I received were chocolate. I unfortunately had to re-gift some so it wouldn't go bad! So again, I recommend avoiding these gifts unless you or your child have heard their teacher say otherwise.

  3. Feel obliged to buy anything. Most teachers teach because it's what they love and they love working with kids. So please don't feel obliged to buy something. However, in an often thankless job it is nice to feel appreciated. On that note, homemade gifts or heartfelt messages are wonderful. These gifts show teachers a tiny glimpse of the impact they've made and give them the encouragement needed to keep doing what they love. Sometimes a heartfelt thank you is worth more than gold.

I hope you find this helpful, and I wish all you parents a fun-filled holiday!