Choosing a Teacher's Gift to Purchase

by Ann Douglas

wrapped giftDo you get really stressed out shopping for teacher's gifts? How many bars of soap and how many mugs does a teacher want or need? And some parents are buying gifts for everyone at the school: the secretary, the janitor, the principal, the lunch supervisor, the librarian. Is this the new norm?

You're right: even the most fastidiously clean, coffee-worshipping teacher can only use so much soap and so many mugs. If you're looking for an alternative, handmade or practical gifts are always appreciated: a painted flower pot or bath salts made by your child or a gift certificate for books or music that can be redeemed for an item of the teacher's choice.

Of course, this assumes that you decide to hand out gifts at your child's school at all. Many families choose to make a donation to a local charity in lieu of purchasing gifts. And, to encourage this practice, some schools routinely send notes home at the start of the holiday season suggesting that families go this route.

Some parents and kids get a huge amount of pleasure out of making or buying gifts for teachers and other staff members. but you shouldn't feel obligated to give a pricey gift to each and every person on staff, just because other parents at the school may be into gift-giving overkill.

As for the issue of who to shop for—that's totally your call. You shouldn’t feel obligated to give a gift to each and every person on staff, just because some other parents at the school are doing so. Why not simply recognize those people at your kid’s school who have made a genuine difference in your child's life this year and leave the gift-giving at that?

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to