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5 Gifts to NEVER Give a Teacher

5 Gifts to NEVER Give a Teacher

Gift Advice From a Former Teacher

Before becoming a mom in my 30s, I was a teacher. I have taught public and private preschool, special education, and kindergarten. Needless to say, I’ve received many heartfelt gifts from my wonderful students and their families and heard even more chit-chat between teachers raking through the rubble and debris that follows the class Christmas parties. So let me lead with the obvious but necessary caveat that no one goes into education for the money or the Christmas bonuses. We love our students like our own kids and we truly appreciate being thought of at the holidays. That being said, now that I am a mom of three little kids, with three teachers and two speech therapists to buy for, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. I want them to know how much I appreciate them for all they do for my kids but I also have to buy all the things… for all the people… on a single income budget. So… this sh#t is about to get REAL. And while it truly is “the thought that counts” those are free. If we as moms are going to give more than just a thought, shouldn’t it at least be something they actually want? Here are five things they definitely DON’T:

Coffee Mugs

So. Many. Coffee. Mugs. It doesn’t matter how cute they may be or how clever the saying- our cupboards are FULL. And I know what you’re thinking, “But I vinyl, so therefore I am exempt from this clause.” Sorry sweetie, but unless you know for sure that your kid’s teacher is dying for a personalized mug that needs constant protection from the dishwasher of death, save it for your mother-in-law. I’m gonna go out on a limb and bet she has more time to hand-wash a coffee mug than your kid’s teacher. If you absolutely must buy a coffee mug as a holder for some other item, please just buy it for cheap at Good Will since it will end up there anyway.

Apple Stuff

Think of it like this- say you or your spouse works in the medical field: Do you want to decorate your home with tons of little red-cross-ish medical symbols? Would you like to constantly receive picture frames, salt and pepper shakers, ornaments, aprons, socks, pens, pins, spoon-rests, magnets, and random knickknacks with little red crosses on them? NO. No, you would not. Home is home, and work is work, no matter how much you genuinely love your job.

Personalized Photo Gifts of Your Child

Yes, your child is ADORABLE, and yes, she is our FAVORITE student of all time, ever… EVER. Therefore her face DOES deserves a place of honor on our Christmas tree far more than all the other students. However, this item is unfortunately subject to the terms and limitations of Article #2, which states in part, “Work is work, and home is home.” And really, do you honestly keep pictures of your essential oil customers on your Christmas tree?

Classroom Supplies

I know, I know. This is confusing, right? If teachers are always complaining about spending their own money on classroom supplies then shouldn’t they be elated to receive 24 purple glue sticks for Christmas to be used exclusively by their students during the course of their work day? I mean what kind of ungrateful b*tch wouldn’t love off-brand un-washable markers for a Christmas gift? Would you buy your tax accountant receipt paper for Christmas? Nothing says “Christmas Spirit” like a new bottle of bleach for the hard-working lady who cleans your house every other week. Just think about whether this is really a gift for the PERSON or a way to kill two birds with one stone. By all means, SEND SUPPLIES! But don’t call it a “Christmas gift” for the one and only person who spends 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, with your child WITHOUT CURSING, all while singing like Snow White about things that begin with “F” or things that are red.

Russell Stover Chocolate

Can we all just be honest here? That crap is NASTY. (And this is coming from a mom with pitifully low standards who will actually consume gluten-free fake Oreos to get a quick chocolate fix in a moment of desperation) Does anyone really know if that mysterious brown substance is derived from wax or leftover hotel soap? It really could go either way. I know, I know, its like $0.17 and it comes in the shape of a Christmas tree, but have some standards ladies! If you’ve only got $0.17, that’s cool- we get it. Then just take out a piece of green construction paper, cut it into the shape of a tree, and write “Thank you for all you do and Merry Christmas” because, honestly that would mean SO much more to most teachers than any of the above items!

P.S. I know gift cards don’t grow on trees. Check out my follow-up post 5 Best Gifts Teachers will Actually Love for some out-of-the-box affordable teacher gift ideas!


  • Legally Blind Mom of Three
  • Childbirth Educator & Doula
  • Former Special Ed Teacher
  • Chocoholic