Teacher Gifts: A Kind Gesture or a Mug’s Game?

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I read a piece recently which asked the question, ‘what to buy your child’s teacher for their end of year gift?’

I think the question should be rephrased: why buy your child’s teacher an end of term gift at all?

Because you’ve got a bit more money than sense?
Because you want to say thank you for a good job well done?
Because it’s become the norm?

At this time of year parents are thinking what should they buy their child’s teacher as an end of term gift. Research carried out by Debenhams found that parents spent an average of £50 on end of year gifts for teachers with some paying as much as £300. John Lewis and Not On The High Street, to name two companies of many, have a special ‘Gifts for Teacher’ section of their website and what to buy teacher at the end of the year has become a competition among some parents. In fact, in some schools, accusations of bribery have been levelled at parents who’ve given teachers gifts including spa days, keys to the family villa, cases of vintage wine, and items from Chanel and Prada, with Tatler reporting how some teachers have been given thousands of pounds worth of gift vouchers and wads of money as a thank you.

Lets see why we might usually buy someone a thank you gift.

Thanks for looking after my cat, here’s some chocolates
Thanks for the donation of your kidney, here’s a bottle of wine.
Thanks for DOING YOUR JOB? HERE’S YOUR SALARY. It’s what you get for doing what you do.

As you might’ve guessed by now I struggle with this concept. Why buy someone a gift for doing what he or she gets paid to do?

I’ve heard of people who buy gifts for the teacher, the teaching assistants, the PE teacher, the headmistress, the deputy head, the caretaker, and the dinner ladies. But this is not going to happen on my watch. We at Chez Us are leading a rebellion. When asked what we’re going to get the teacher as a gift this year, our response was “NOTHING”.

Should I go to the GP and give him something for checking out my prostate? What about the man who scans the shopping in the local Sainsbury’s? The postman? No. He turns up about 11.45am most days and once tried to put a bike helmet through the letterbox. If I were to give him a gift it would be the same as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

Am I mean spirited and tight? No. If I was going to buy a gift to thank someone for all their work, the gift would be for the children who’ve worked so hard this year, especially when there was an avalanche of ridiculous homework in October when we had to basically build a life size 17th century London from cardboard and pasta, The work they did for the SATS and the extensive reading they do outside of class, diligently and without complaint, also deserves due reward and, really, I’m sure the teacher doesn’t expect a gift. I’m sure the teacher won’t think any differently if we don’t buy them something.

Actually, I asked a friend who’s a teacher if they get annoyed if they don’t get gifts and they replied that gifts were the ‘main thing to look forward to’ as there has to be ‘some perks to the job.’

If I had to buy presents for MY teachers at school, back in the day, the best things I could’ve bought for them was some breath mints for Mr Chappell, and, for Miss Thompson, a bottle of whisky. To replace the one she’d already drank that morning. Perhaps that’s the way to go. Just buy teachers booze. After all, what do teachers do when they’re not moaning? That’s right. Drink.

I am of course able to say this as I have quite a few friends who are teachers. Plus I’m joking. Kinda.

I suppose, if this present giving is now the norm, then I should send something in with one of the girls. Perhaps something that someone gave us but we don’t want?

Thing is, I’m not sure a set of nipple tassels is appropriate for Mr Barker. Maybe we’ll just loan him the private jet instead.

What are your views on this? Do you buy gifts for teachers or are you, like us, normal in the head? What sort of gifts do you buy? Would Mr Barker like the nipple tassels? Do teachers just drink and moan, moan and drink and moan while drinking? Are you a teacher? Do you now hate me? What are the most extravagant gifts you’ve been given and what’s the worst? Please leave a comment and let us know if you’ll be buying, baking, crafting or making a gift for teacher this year.

Thanks for reading.

13 comments on Teacher Gifts: A Kind Gesture or a Mug’s Game?


    I could not agree more. I have 7 children and I’ve yet to buy a teacher a gift!
    ALEXANDRA recently posted…Win tickets to see Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather!My Profile

    • @adadcalledspen

      Go you! Let’s lead the rebellion!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. Much appreciated. 🙂

  • Daisy Hollands

    When my daughter was in reception, her teacher was lovely – they were her first class after graduating, so I wanted to do something special.

    I wrote a poem for the teacher, and got each child to draw a self portrait, on which they wrote their names and “Thank you Miss Ladbroke” – we put them all in a ring binder and presented it to her on the last day of term.

    She LOVED it; it meant something personally and it cost next to nothing.

    Way better than assorted flowers, chocolates, wine, mugs and fridge magnets.
    Daisy Hollands recently posted…11 things TagMy Profile

    • @adadcalledspen

      Hand crafted efforts are all good. If they are spelt incorrectly that’s all the better because it shows the teacher just how much work STILL needs to be done. 😉

      Thing is, teachers teach, I get that. But not all learning is done in class. So many people are involved and to say thank you to all of them is just too much, IMHO.

      Thanks for reading and taking time to comment.

  • Alex

    Some self appointed parent started the trend of demanding a tenner per child in cash to pool to give the teachers something “nice” a couple of years ago. Bugger that. We often get the kid to make the teacher a small crafted gift, which has a hell of a lot more meaning than £300 of John Lewis vouchers for, like you said, simply doing your job.
    Alex recently posted…Ned’s a gamerMy Profile

    • @adadcalledspen

      Just no, to that. I’d tell self-appointed person just where to appoint themselves. Bloody playground bullies.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Petra

    How many ‘best teacher’ mugs can one person use in a lifetime ?
    Silly idea , if you feel you should do something then get your child to draw a picture with the word ‘thankyou’ on it , costs nothing but comes from the heart

    • @adadcalledspen

      Exactly. Or write the teacher a letter saying thank you and why you’re doing so.
      Or not. We didn’t do this in my day. Why do people do it now?

  • Candace

    We used to made fudge or truffles cost less than £5 and home made things were appreciated.

    World has gone made the sort of money that is being spent. I wouldn’t bother too much about a Debenhams survey at £50 because typical Joe on the street would certainly not be spending that. That really can’t be right as not everyone shops at Debenhams do they?
    Candace recently posted…Behind That SmileMy Profile

    • @adadcalledspen

      Good point, well made. Also I’m sure there’s a wee bit of competitiveness/exaggeration when it comes to it, so I didn’t take it too seriously.

      Thanks for reading and for also taking the time to comment.

  • Trevor

    I’m married to a primary teacher. I’m sure she’d be perfectly happy with no gifts, but things children have made always go down well, even if they’re a bit rubbish.

    Personally I like it when people give her bottles of wine, because she doesn’t drink so they often come my way.

    • @adadcalledspen

      I actually laughed out loud at your comment. Hope your wife gets lots of bottles of wine as a thank you for her efforts. 🙂

  • Hayley - Downs Side Up

    It is a tricky one this. Eldest is leaving the school and littlest gets lots of support from TAs, that get paid a minimum wage and without whom she wouldn’t have been able to go on school camp and trips etc, so token thank you gifts have been purchased. I agree that hand crafted or home grown is best and I do worry that it’s getting out of hand…
    Hayley – Downs Side Up recently posted…A Poem by Jo Adamson: Would a Blood Test Have HelpedMy Profile

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