Christmas is almost upon us and we’re officially in shopping mode. Our lists have been made, we’ve checked them twice and we’re on the look out for the perfect gifts for loved ones. But, has your child’s teacher made the ‘nice’ list? To gift or not to gift? That is the question.

I’m a secondary school teacher. Secondary school teachers don’t generally receive Christmas gifts from parents or students. If you’ve absoutely nailed it in the first term – and inspired in Dead Poets Society proportions – then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a Twix and a handmade card fashioned from the middle page of a copybook, signed by the 60% of the class that doesn’t want to hurt you or key your car.

Primary and pre-school teachers, on the other hand, get showered annually with all sorts of goodies. Come December 22nd, they’ll be laden down with chocolates, bath products and homemade crafts. But what really puts a smile on a teacher’s face at Christmas time? Well, I’ve asked a number of my teaching friends on the chirpier side of the divide for their input and I’ve put together the perfect gift guide for that saintly someone who spends six hours a day with your little cherubs and thirty of their clamorous companions.


No, it’s not. As sweet as the custom is, no teacher expects a gift at Christmas time. All of the teachers I spoke to deemed the practice completely unnecessary. In fact, an increasing number of schools – including the school my kids go to – have no-gift policies. So, if the teacher specifically requests no gift, then we should kindly respect her wishes, shouldn’t we? If the school has such a policy, we should obey it. Blatantly flouting these rules tends to a) make teachers uncomfortable and b) make other parents feel like they look bad for not breaking the rules too. School staff are aware of financial strain at Christmas and feel just as appreciated when their students make them a card, put their gratitude into words or draw a festive picture. It’s the thought that counts.

If you have decided to give a token of your appreciation, the gift guide below outlines some simple ideas that cost less than €15 and were given a thumbs-up by the folk in the trenches. Interestingly, a number of the teachers I spoke to said that receiving expensive and ostentatious gifts made them feel awkward and embarrassed. So just don’t.

I’ve also made note of items that are likely to be regifted to an elderly neighbour.


  • dont-shopToiletries – you don’t like it when you receive a cheap Lily of the Valley soap set. Neither does your child’s teacher.
  • Jewellery – it’s difficult enough to buy jewellery for yourself.  It’s almost
    impossible to gauge a relative stranger’s taste.
  • Personalised items or anything that says ‘World’s Greatest Teacher’ – He already has three picture frames, eight key chains, eleven mugs, four wall plaques and a partridge in a pear tree trumpeting the accolade. And he can’t regift any of them.
  • ‘Best Teacher’ soft toys – Absolutely not.


There are certain items that, while they make perfectly lovely gifts, teachers don’t really need any more of. These include the following:

  • Mugs –  teachers have been gifted mugs since their career began, the majority of which will have some teaching-realted text on the front. Unless you have found one that’s very distinctive, quirky or humorous, then don’t bother. They don’t really need another one that says ‘Mrs Murray’s Coffee.’
  • Scented Candles – A perfectly acceptable gift, but I have it on good authority that teachers receive a LOT of scented candles. Approach the Yankee Candle shop with caution.
  • Newbridge Christmas decorations – as beautiful as they are, her tree is already full of shiny silver carriages and angels. She has received two a year for the past ten years. That’s enough Newbridge. Most of them could sell the stuff.
  • Chocolates –  Everyone loves a little box of luxury choccies to indulge in over the holidays. Nobody wants nineteen boxes of luxury choccies, an eight pound weight-gain and an acne break-out. Think outside the (chocolate) box.



  1. Cinema tickets make the perfect gift for someone who spends their days containing a gang of rambunctious seven-year-olds. Relaxation guaranteed.
  2. A voucher for a filling-station, while falling on the boring side of practical, is a great gift provided he/she owns a car.
  3. Do you know how much time these people spend walking around yards on cold, wet days? An umbrella or a nice pair of gloves? Yes, please!
  4. Books work for pretty much everyone but don’t buy anything too political or risqué. Play it safe and pop the receipt inside or pick up a book voucher instead.
  5. Many in the profession have an unsurprising stationery fetish. Classroom supplies will always be accepted with gratitude, especially since teachers usually have to buy them themselves.
  6. The break-time offerings in school staff rooms are generally grim. Public sector budgets don’t stretch to as much as a packet of Marietta biscuits. Home-baked goods generate much excitement, but only if baked by a parent; teachers witness enough nose-picking to be wary of goods baked by students themselves.
  7. A charitable donation in a teacher’s name is one of the nicest ways of acknowledging your gratitude. All of the teachers I spoke to agreed that the likes of Bóthar, Trócaire or a local homeless charity are much more deserving of your money.
  8. Everyone loves a gift-card. Everyone. No exceptions. Pick up one for a cafe, the local pharmacy or a nearby department store. Avoid cash in a card – that’s just weird.

As a rule of thumb, don’t buy anything you wouldn’t like to receive yourself and don’t spend a fortune. Remember, kind words of gratitude or a note of thanks – either from a parent or a student – will make a teacher’s day and nothing else is really called for. No mater how you choose to express your gratitude to a teacher, it will always be appreciated.

A special thanks to all the lovely primary teachers who shared their thoughts with me. You know who you are!

I’d love to hear some more suggestions. What gifts have you given teachers in the past? Are you in favour of the practice? Do share your thoughts below!

Is the practice of gifting teachers really necessary? And if so, what kind of gift should you give? Find out what teachers really want...


I’ve linked this post with…

3 Little Buttons     Cuddle Fairy    Mummuddlingthrough    My Random Musings My Random MusingsAdmissions Of A Working Mother



  1. Laura Illand Reply

    Useful, timely piece Shinners 🙂 lol at the lily of the valley ????
    Thankful of the no gifting policy in my children’s school too!
    I probably do have to partake for playschool tho. What about wine? Any opinions on alcohol? Xx

    • Sinéad Reply

      I think a bottle of wine is a perfect gift for a teacher, Laura. And even if they don’t drink or don’t like wine it can be easily regifted over the holdiays. It probably would’t last a day in my house!

  2. I always quite like the chocolates – if you end up with loads they can keep you going through staff meetings for weeks.

    My favourite though is a really thoughtful note written by the parents – and on a few occasions a note to the headteacher about how awesome I am has really made my Christmas!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Totally agree re the note. I have kept most of the nice cards and notes I’ve gotten over the years. They mean so much more than a gift. That being said, chocolates can cheer a gal right up too! Haha…

  3. We don’t buy gifts for teachers it’s just another expense however the kids do make cards for them. I think it’s hard enough buying your family gifts #dreamteam

    • Sinéad Reply

      Home-made would go down a treat. I’ve kept a lot of cards students have given me over the years. So nice to re-read them.

  4. I am one of those parents that have never bought a thank you teacher card or gift for my daughter to hand in. Mainly because I wouldn’t have a clue what to get, but I like the sound of book vouchers and gift vouchers. I think that’s a nice way to say thanks. #MarvMondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s so hard to know what to do sometimes, Kat. The no-gift policy really helps but at the end of the day nothing is ever expected from a parent. A casual hi and thanks at a PTM suffices, in my experience.

  5. my son is in first class so this will be our third year of xmas presents for teacher. The last couple of years one of the ‘organiser’ mams gets a tenner off everyone and buys a gift voucher for Dundrum shopping centre. theres 29 kids in the class – so that is an absolutely massive amount of money, imho. I join in, but im not sure I feel 100% comfortable with it. But I guess, for the teacher, its better than getting 29 mugs. When my son left senior infants last summer I sent the teacher and the principal a note saying how amazing she had been – i think she appreciated that.
    i really enjoyed reading this Sinead- well written and funny. haha now i sound like a teacher.

    • I’d be really embarrassed to be given that much money :/

      The thing about the gifts is the children really like giving them – which is kind of the point even if they do end up in the charity shop!

      • Sinéad Reply

        Good point, Beth. They love wrapping them themselves and handing them over, don’t they? I guess what’s the harm if it’s something that won’t get much use. I think the bottom line is that anything goes; anything from a smile and a verbal thanks to a weekend’s luxury shopping in Dundrum and everything in between. And equally appreciated, from what I’m hearing.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Haha – your teacher voice comes across well in print! Yeah I can’t imagine any teacher not being a bit morto over getting a gift worth so much. God bless the ‘organiser’ mams at the same time! I’m not one of them but man, do I appreciate them when the committee sheet comes around or there’s cause for a collection! 😉

  6. Great advice Shinners! As usual! It’s so funny and true how the desire to gift just disappears entirely from primary to secondary!

  7. Brilliant read. As an ex-nursery nurse I recognise all to well the list of don’t buys ????. Your recommendations are great, especially love the specific home bake by parents tip. I’ve baked with all the children in my class. I’d never eat anything they produced ????. #marvmondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      Haha – I know, Catherine. I felt a bit bad writing it because of the level of effort the little mites probably put into baking thinngs but eh, teachers can’t really afford to get sick so common sense must prevail! Thanks for reading!

  8. Sarah (Mum x3x) Reply

    Ohhh very helpful post! Cinema tickets is a good one! Thanks! #BloggerClubUK

  9. Good ideas! I remember our teachers getting piles and piles of chocolate (not going to lie, slightly jealous!).
    Thanks for sharing #marvmondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks for reading, Devon Mama! I’m starting to wonder if there’s such thing as too much chocolate! Perhaps not!

  10. Very helpful. I would have never thought of cinema tickets, spot on!! To be fair wouldn’t we all love a fuel voucher for Christmas over and above another set of smellies #coolmumclub

    • Sinéad Reply

      I know, it seems like a strange one but the teachers I spoke to who received them seemed to really appreciate them – they could spend their own petrol money on something much more fun…

  11. It’s never occured to me to buy The Boy’s teacher a present. Ever. I’m not a huge present buyer though, we really just buy for our kids and each other, not even parents. #coolmumclub

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s very easy to lose the run of ourselves and start buying gifts for everyone! It’s good to know that they don’t genuinely expect anything.

  12. Oops I bought my sons teachers a ox of heroes each because they were on offer and I’m skint and he has a teacher and 3 teaching assistants in his class. I was going to buy them assistants bottle of wine each that would have worked out quite expensive buying a lf decent bottle and then it’s a question of to do they like white or red? So yeah I got them heroes and figured if they end up with more chocolate than they can eat (is that really possible? lol) then they can just stick them in the staff room to be shared. I do like your idea of a voucher for a cafe or something similar though. I wish I had thought of that.

    (Unhinged mummy stopping by from #coolmumclub).

    • Sinéad Reply

      Heroes are a winner! Janey, if we got into buying for teaching assistants, etc. we’d be skint alright! A big box of chocs for the staff room buts massive pep in the steps of a gang of tired teachers. That much I know! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  13. My daughter just started nursery school this year and hadn’t even thought about gifts for teachers or even that it was a thing! Argh! another thing to add to the plethora of things to think about but at least this useful guide helps decipher it all. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xx

    • Sinéad Reply

      Sure it’s just a big minefield of etiquette faux pas, Tayla! Haha… Good luck to you!

  14. I love this post sinéad! Its a funny one, getting a gift is always lovely and the children are always so excited the morning of the holidays-standing excitedly at your desk, bag in hand and them shouting at you about whats inside before the classroom door closes! But you dont want to put any extra cost on parents and as nice as vouchers and bottles of wine are, I really do love the homemade gifts-pictures, christmas tree decorations, cookies etc☺☺☺ Excellent idea for a blog post????????

    • Sinéad Reply

      I can totally picture the scene you’ve described. I can hear the screams of excitement. Bless them, they are too adorable! Still don’t know how you do it, though. Vocation for sure! 🙂

  15. Love the ideas here and the insight into the teachers lounge. Some buy gifts for the workers at my son’s nursery and I didn’t even think to. I’m blatantly the Mum who always forgets and feels bad haha. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’m pretty sure you’re not alone. It’s hard to know what to do sometimes. And even harder to remember these things. So. Much. To, Remember. Aaarrgghh…

  16. My mum always buys the teacher chocolates of something edible but with a few years until Amelia starts I think I’ll save a few of these other ideas and think outside of the chocolate box also 🙂 Great list! #MarvMondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  17. My mum was a primary school teacher for years and the amount of chocolates she used to get would see us all through Christmas and well into the new year! Chocolate boxes from 30 kids is an awful lot of chocolate! As well as far too many mugs and scented candles! Love your alternative ideas, I’d love to receive any of those. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      I bet you kids loved all the chocolate coming into the house, Katy! 🙂

  18. I hate the buying of presents for teachers. It’s hard enough thinking of things for family and friends and they’re people I know, like and want to buy for. I also have a primary teacher friend who has cupboards of presents that she’ll never use, eat or enjoy, and would rather she just had a handmade card from her class. But with so many parents buying nowadays, you feel like your child could almost be frowned upon for not bringing something in. Oh yes, and this year not only does N have a teacher and a TA, but he also does half his days in the next class up so that’s another teacher and TA or 2 to buy for. Maybe I won’t bother, or send send N in with a load of Sharpies!


  19. This is a really great post and very helpful. My daughter started pre-school in September and I have been wondering what to do about presents. So this post is just what i need to read. I must admit, i probably would have gone with chocolates. Hugs Lucy xxxx #MarvMondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      So glad you found it helpful, Lucy! It’s so hard to know what the done thing is, isn’t it?

  20. At our school there is usually one parent that puts up ether hand to collect $10 from whoever wants to put in and we get a shopping centre gift card or a day spa gift card. With 30 kids per class they usually get a great amount to go and enjoy. I agree though with how many Best Teacher things they must have! But I would probably love yummy chocolates lol #sharingthebloglove

    • Sinéad Reply

      A spa voucher sounds like the PERFECT gift for a frazzled, tired teacher!

  21. Hi Sinead, gifting wasn’t really a thing when my two were small, but I had wondered about edible gifts made by children. You have answered that question rather well and given me a giggle to boot!


  22. Some great ideas. I would never have thought of a gift card. Come to think of it… who doesn’t love a good gift card… you are absolutely right. We usually go for chocolates, but I might try and think outside the box this Christmas 🙂 Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam. x

  23. Thankfully mine are both under three so not worrying about it too much. Good to know though. Especially the not expected bit though haha!! #stayclassymama

    • Sinéad Reply

      So glad you found it helpful, Carolina! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  24. Its my daughters first year at school and I brought her teachers there presents the other week. I went for presents that I would want to receive and not down the chocolate and mug route! Hopefully they will like them. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlgoLove x

    • Sinéad Reply

      I bet they will, Laura! You can’t go wrong when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, I reckon!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh yay! Phew. Love to hear that my fellow teachers concur! Come to think of it I need new gloves…

  25. what a great idea post! I dont really give the teacher a present unless there or we are leaving and last time 2 of the nursery staff where leaving i collected from all the other parents and manage to get a 60£ shopping centre voucher for each of them and a large card with well wishes from all the participants. And both absolutely loved it! #GiftGuideLinky

    • Sinéad Reply

      That sounds so lovely. Like, wouldn’t you be just delighted with a gift card like that! Perfect!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks for reading Naomi – delighted you liked it!

  26. Great ideas here. Some made me laugh a bit. My kids don’t go to school yet but they are going to creche. I don’t think we gift them anything though. I would have in the old creche but they only started in the new on a couple of weeks ago so I haven’t had the “bond” with them yet if you get what I mean lol
    Thanks for linking up to XmasGiftGuide Linky.

    • Sinéad Reply

      You totally need the old ‘bond’ alright, Janine! I didn’t gift individual creche workers in the past – I just dropped in cakes or chocolates for the whole staff. I will get her pre-school teacher something this year because, MAN does she deserve it! And I firmly believe she is some sort of angel. My daughter adores her, as do we.

  27. Excellent tips. I usually go with a Starbucks gift card. I mean even if they don’t drink coffee, they can grab some lemon loaf or something, right?

    I figure the only toiletry item they might be interested in is hand sanitizer 😀 Children are little germ factories.

    • Sinéad Reply

      I can’t imagine how they would survive coffee, tbh! Or hand sanitizer for that matter! Thanks for reading, Dara!

  28. Great post.
    When my children were young we generally just went for a card they’d drawn themselves. By High School they’d progressed to a bought card lol.
    I think presents are a totally unnecessary expense.

    • Sinéad Reply

      I agree, as do most teachers. A thoughtful card goes just as far, if not further than a gift.

  29. Great list! I stress about teacher gifts. Shoud I get them and if I do, what to get? Thanks for the great ideas.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks for reading! So glad you found it helpful! 🙂

  30. What about a good ole red apple? ; ) my son is still in nursery so I haven’t really considered this, am I supposed to get the nursery managers gifts?? Oh he haha. I think a good book goes a long way so will probably be sticking with this for my sons future teachers (if I even remember to get them one! Do I lose points if I don’t get a gift?) lol. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    • Sinéad Reply

      The whole nursery thing is a bit of a grey area, isn’t it? Throw them in a bag of apples! Sorted! Hah!

  31. My two are not at school yet, but I will definitly bear this in mind when they start #AnythingGoes

  32. Ya I agree – there are so many items teachers much receive over & over each year! You can’t go wrong with a voucher of some kind. Luckily our school has a no gifting policy which is great!! #ChristmasIsCalling x

  33. This is great advice 🙂 When I was at school it was always a gift card (which my mum probably selected for all of those reasons you mentioned above). By senior school it was just a card
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’m impressed that there was anything at senior school! Haha…

  34. Great post. Was thinking of sitting down with Mini and helping her to make some handmade cards for her teacher and SNA. Something a little more personable!

    • Sinéad Reply

      I think a trip to Mr Price is in order here. I haven’t as much as a piece of blank card to make one! Thanks for reading, Aedín! 🙂

  35. Lovely post Sinead. Wish I’d read it before I bought the bath stuff…at least I didn’t go for Lily of the Valley. ???? There may be possible redemption in the enclosed card fashioned by the wee man, especially because (unlike his mother) he decided to be different and went for a a festive picture with a difference – a drawing of the school in two shades of brown (which to be fair it is)! ????

    • Sinéad Reply

      Lol Aine. Bless him. Well I’m sure she gets enough red and green! You just have to let them at it, don’t you! Haha. Bet he’s as proud as punch. We need to get card-making here now tomorrow avo… ????

  36. I was thinking about whether to get my daugters teachers something flr Christmas and was thinking along the lines of chocolate. There 5 teachers in her classroom, so back to the drawing board. You have inspired me with your ideas though.

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