Okay, I'm not a teacher. But my mom taught preschool for nearly two decades, and I saw a lot of teacher gifts come into the house. So I feel slightly qualified. And there's nothing teachers appreciate more than the opinions of the slightly qualified, except maybe ornaments shaped like apples.
A. The Gift Card
Pros: Like getting cash, in a range of denominations from "I threw in a few bucks on the group gift" to "thank you from the bottom of my wallet for giving me a break from this kid." A way to let teacher choose something nice that teacher wouldn't buy for himself. Easily regifted.
Cons: Often to useless places, like $30 to use at a store where nothing costs under $200, or $50 to use at a seafood restaurant for a teacher with a deadly seafood allergy. Impersonal. Usually the kid has no idea that he gave teacher a gift at all.
Gift Cards were just starting to become the go-to present at the end of my mom's teaching days. For years and years and years it was far more common for her to get these:
B. Teacher Ornaments
One time my brother and I bought a fake Christmas tree at a yard sale and set it up in the basement to play Christmas year round. And guess which ornaments my mom let us have? It was always an apple and chairs-with-books themed Christmas in our basement.
Pros: I'm sure I'll think of some later. Um, supporting the makers of teacher ornaments? Could that be one?
Cons: Unless you made it yourself, I can almost guarantee that teacher has one or six just like it. Impersonal. Usually the kid has no idea that she gave teacher a gift at all.
C. The Supposedly Handcrafted Not-So-Useful Thing
Note to self: Learn to draw things covered in glitter.
Over the years, my mom got some really cute handmade gifts that are still in Christmas Decoration rotation at her house. And as a kid, I thought that handmade cookies and candy were excellent gifts, especially buckeyes and sugar cookies, since those were my favorites.
But there's another class of handmade gifts that are not really useful, not really that handmade, kind of unwieldy and unsightly, and yet strangely hard to throw away.
Pros: Slightly less impersonal than an ornament or gift card, and the student was possibly involved in this gift's creation. Unique, unless it came from a kit and teacher got several.
Cons: Not exactly appealing, and yet teacher might feel guilty getting rid of it. Can be enormous. After transporting gift home, glitter may remain in teacher's car for months.
I know there must be more. Teachers, what other bad gifts have you received?
Bearing gifts we traverse afar with more Unnecessary Winter Holiday Traditions. Oh yes, really.