Teacher gifting etiquette: What is (and isn't) appropriate this holiday (2024)

Teacher gifting etiquette: What is (and isn't) appropriate this holiday (1)

It's that time of year - for rest and cheer? Nope. For scrambling to find the perfect gift for the teachers in our lives.

Like a co-parent, our child's teacher is with them half the day, contributing greatly to their development and overall well-being. There are few roles more important in a kid's life, and this is one of the moment's each year we get to say "thank you."

But there is an etiquette to teacher gifting that you may not be aware of. What you make or purchase has to be thoughtful, appropriate to the nature of the relationship and reasonable in cost.

With help from experts, here are some things to consider when choosing that perfect teacher gift.

Don't spend too much

You may not know that most public-school teachers have a limit on what they can accept. The State Ethics Commission for the government of Massachusetts, for example, states that teachers "may not accept any gift worth $50." Most other states have the same ethics code, but with a limit set even lower.

A safe bet would be to keep your gift under $20, and public opinion is right around that same number. "A good rule of thumb is to spend around $20-$30," Lauren Grace, a high school math teacher by day and crafter at night wrote on her company blog, a business that sells accessories for teachers.

"It's not so much about the price tag but the thought and appreciation that count," Grace shared with USA TODAY. "Just know that teachers can understand and appreciate financial constraints."

Choose a meaningful gift with your kids' help

We like to think we know our kids' teachers, until it's time to give a gift and we realize that isn't the case. "Ask other teachers or staff members what the teacher would enjoy because often they are friends both in and out of work and know their tastes," MaraleeMcKee, founder of The Etiquette School of America, shared with USA TODAY.

It is also important to involve children in the decision-making process. Have a few ideas ready that your child can choose from. Just keep in mind, the best gifts are ones that make a memory, McKee said. "Things like two tickets to a local museum or attraction, an upcoming play, or even two movie tickets and a concession stand gift card. These will leave a fantastic memory the teacher will always associate with your children and family."

Christmas 2023:The best holiday gifts for teachers, according to teachers

Be careful about gifting alcohol

Gifting alcohol is tricky, Grace shared. "While a bottle of wine can be a lovely gesture, it's essential to consider the school's policy (some may prohibit alcohol on campus, even as a gift)."

It's also wise to learn whether or not your child's teacher drinks before gifting them alcohol. Many people enjoy a good bottle of wine, but if your child's teacher doesn't, they'll probably end up regifting it. Your safest bet is to go with something else.

Teacher gifting etiquette: What is (and isn't) appropriate this holiday (2)

Still consider teachers who don't celebrate Christmas

Think of it as continued teacher appreciation. "For teachers who don't celebrate Christmas, we suggest opting for a 'thank you' gift that doesn't have holiday-themed packaging or messaging," Grace said.

McKee suggests giving a Happy New Year's card to teachers who don't celebrate a holiday in December. Add in something thoughtful that acknowledges their hard work throughout the year. The gift will be appreciated by most teachers "even if it doesn't perfectly align with their beliefs," Grace shared.

Remember to include your child in that appreciation. "Have your child write a thankyou note," McKee shares. "Younger children can draw pictures and include them with the holiday card for the teacher."

For older kids, don't feel like you have to gift every teacher

This is the time in your child's education when it really is the thought that counts. Considering one teacher is easy, but 6-8 teachers? That adds up.

"When students enter middle and high school with up to seven teachers, you don't need to give each one a gift," McKee shared. "It's okay to ask your child or teen if there is a teacher or coach they would like to recognize with a gift and then purchase for just one or a few."

This is also the time in your child's life where they should be closely involved or solely responsible for what they gift their teachers. Consider having your child write each one of their teacher's a note of appreciation, add a coffee card to it and/or a baked good or bag of homemade cocoa.

Get teachers items they really want

"Copies of the newest best-selling or notable children's books to add to the classroom library are always appreciated," McKee shared. Here are some other gifts universally appreciated by teachers.

  • A thoughtful note from parents and the student
  • Versatile gift cards (within reason, of course)
  • Coffee and chocolate (how teachers make it through the day)
  • School supplies
  • Gift "experiences" like tickets to a show or a museum
Teacher gifting etiquette: What is (and isn't) appropriate this holiday (2024)


Teacher gifting etiquette: What is (and isn't) appropriate this holiday? ›

Don't spend too much

What gifts should not be given to teachers? ›

The Worst Gifts You Could Buy For Teachers
  • Personalised items. Do not get them anything with your kids name or face on. ...
  • Homemade or handcrafted goodies. ...
  • Handmade goodies. ...
  • Candles. ...
  • Body and bath products. ...
  • Coffee mugs. ...
  • Anything that is marketed to shoppers as “Teacher Gifts” ...
  • Jewellery.

Do you give teachers holiday gifts? ›

Giving your kid's teacher a holiday gift is a wonderful way to show them appreciation for all that they do, but buying something isn't always necessary. There are many other ways to give, that are just as thoughtful, such as a homemade gift or a card with heartfelt words.

What is the etiquette for teacher gifts? ›

Our etiquette expert would like to remind parents, “You don't have to spend a lot of money, and sometimes, a handwritten note from the heart is the best gesture of appreciation.” That said, Schweitzer says that, depending on the school policy, $50 may be appropriate (and she prefers a pooled gift) if your child has the ...

Is $100 too much for a teacher gift? ›

It really depends on each individual family's circ*mstances, too. For some, $100 is right on the mark, while for others it's overly generous. It certainly seems that no one finds it stingy, however.

Is $50 too much for a teacher gift? ›

Legally, most public school teachers are not allowed to accept gifts worth more than $50, but even if a family gives me a $5 gift, I think about the time and labor that went into it… and frankly, feel uncomfortable.

Is a $10 gift card too cheap for teachers? ›

Choose an Amount Within Your Budget

It's not necessary. A $10 gift card can be just as special as a $50 gift card if you say the right words or pair the gift card with something meaningful.

What is an appropriate amount for a teacher holiday gift? ›

Don't spend too much

A safe bet would be to keep your gift under $20, and public opinion is right around that same number.

How much should you spend on a teacher's Christmas gift? ›

According to surveys like this one from the website SheKnows, most parents give the teacher something worth between $10 and $50.

What do you give a teacher for holidays? ›

After gift cards, personalized items came up the most often as a much-wanted gift. So teachers will delight in their very own stamps, created to look just like them, with their hairstyle, facial hair, glasses and other accessories.

Do teachers expect Christmas gifts? ›

Many said they didn't expect anything. “I teach at a Title 1 school,” one educator wrote on my Facebook page. “I know our families don't have much, if any, disposable income. I don't expect anything and don't ask for anything.

Do teachers like cash gifts? ›

And more than any physical gift, teachers appreciate your support. Whew. OK. That being said, if you're insistent about giving gifts to the teachers you care about this holiday season, there is one gift I can guarantee every teacher is happy to receive and will definitely put to good use: cash.

Can you give teachers expensive gifts? ›

The law prohibits gifts to public employees, not gifts to public agencies. You may give gifts to a public school, or a particular classroom, and the $50 limit does not apply. Your school district may have its own additional rules about gifts, which you should follow.

Do teachers like gift cards? ›

Versatile gift cards.

Teachers really appreciate gift cards (along with handwritten notes). No surprise here.

Do you give Thanksgiving gifts to teachers? ›

While Thanksgiving gifts for teachers are not expected, you may want to show a teacher friend or your child's teacher how thankful you are for them with a gift. Whether you're a room parent, parent, or fellow teacher looking for ideas, here are 36 ways to say thank you this season.

Is a $25 gift card too cheap? ›

For co-workers, casual friends and your children's teachers, stay in the $10 to $20 range. Gift cards for close friends and family members can range from $25 to $100. When you're selecting a gift card for a spouse, parent or someone else who's very special, choose a card worth $75 or more.

Why can't teachers accept gifts? ›

Conflict of Interest

A teacher who receives and accepts a valuable gift is possibly sending the tacit message to either the child or the parents that there will be special consideration given to the student. A token gift of something homemade or of little monetary value does not carry the same weight or implication.

Is it okay to give teachers gifts? ›

While giving a gift at the end of the school year isn't required, it's a nice way to tell teachers THANK YOU for being there for our kids every day.

Are students allowed to give teachers gifts? ›

Be sure to check with your school's handbook to find out the school policy on gifting. Some schools don't allow any financial gifts to faculty and staff. No family feels pressure to contribute (nor should they contribute any amount over $5).

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated:

Views: 6068

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.