If you lean towards the group gift, do some parents get upset because the total amount collected isn't large enough for their liking? That happened with our class this year so a couple moms chipped in even more money. I also have another friend who went out on her own and is being extremely generous with spending at least $30 on each teacher (we have four total) for gift baskets. I wish I could spend that much, but I just can't afford to do so with all the teachers and other people I have to buy gifts for... after all, it isn't about how much you give, it is the thought that counts.
Within the last couple of years I've seen discussions at DigiShopTalk about this subject and now I'm hanging at Blogfrog and the conversations are happening there too. I'm extremely interested in the replies from the teachers. Hearing from them, about what they like and dislike is very beneficial to all.
I even shared one reply with my preschool mom friends from Melissa @ Stockpiling Moms (via Blogfrog)...
"I taught high school for 11 years before leaving my career to stay home with my son. I can tell you from experience that handwritten letters were the most meaningful gift EVER received. Knowing how I impacted the lives of my students and even from their parents often times brought me to tears. I kept those letters and cards in a special box and on days when I needed a "lift" that was my go to for a pick me up.
I personally have a policy that I don't eat handmade gifts given to me from my students....I am a little strange with that and I know some teachers will and others won't as well...
Appreciation is all teachers want for Christmas. So a card or letter is very appreciated. If you want to do a gift then I would do a small gift card, school supplies for the classroom, bottle of hand lotion or sanitizer, or even a small box of chocolates is nice." A couple moms replied that they were so happy I shared this and one said she is going to make sure they include a personal note too.
Here are a few other noteworthy responses from teachers I gathered from Blogfrog:
Reply by The Thrifty Mama: I really think that ornaments are special for teachers. When I was teaching, the most precious gifts I got were ornaments because I see them every year when I pull them out to put on the tree. I think of the children and remember them at Christmastime because of this. Even though I probably won't ever see them again, I can think of them every year. (I do want to add that while she thought this was a fabulous idea, I know some who would not love this because they have their own special themed trees.... so you might want to find this out first about your teacher.)
Reply by Jean: When I taught I got overloaded with holiday decorative items and candy! So now as the parent, I do Dunkin gift cards, or things like that. Stuff I know they can use or even regift if they want! But as someone said above, the notes, cards, and photos of me with kids were the most meaningful
Reply by Leslie: This teacher agrees with the gift card idea. :) The "teacher flair" as many of us call it is cute, but we run out of room for it. Think about all of that stuff your great aunt gives you when you're 6...that's how we feel with the magnets/coffee mugs/statues. Don't get me wrong, the personal stuff is the best! My favorite thing to get from students are homemade cards (don't cost a dime, and are SO special). But, if you're wanting to spend something, a gift card is the way to go.
Reply by Lynn (no blog): I am a teacher and I end up giving away the mugs, chocolates, lotions, and candles (etc.). Gift cards are great but so are books for the classroom library (with a nice note written in the front cover). For my daughter's preschool teacher, we will give her a $40 gift card but I know that's high. I just adore her so much...not that the value means how much you love the person. We will give the assistants a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card each.
and.. my favorite... Reply by Shayna: As a daughter of a teacher I've seen well over twenty years' worth of teacher gifts, so I'll tell you what I can "from the other side"
- If you can plan a group gift - every parent puts in a few dollars for a gift certificate to the local mall - that's the best bet (you can have your child make a card to give on his/her own for a persona touch, which the teacher will love)
- Chocolate is good
- Clothing is weird...don't give your teacher clothing
- No home decor items
- No mugs - I promise, s/he has several dozen... even if they're fairly young, yes, they have A LOT (most popular gift)
- Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks gift cards are great (especially if one is near the school)
- Nothing with apples/teacher stamped on it... my mother could decorate a not so small home with the stuff, and she boxes it and puts it away - because no one wants to think about work all the time! (this is true for all the other teachers I've met over the years as well)
Hope this helps!