Monday, December 5, 2016

The gift that keeps taking

So, it’s Christmastime, and you’ve decided to get your child’s teacher a gift.  What would be the best gift for him or her that he or she would like but wouldn’t cost you too much or be troublesome?

Here’s a major hint: nothing.  Don’t get the teacher anything.

In all honesty, I’ve never received many presents from students or parents.  Maybe I could take this as a sign that I don’t inspire much devotion, or that I’m not that good of a teacher.  Regardless, my experience with the few gifts I have received has been less than stellar.

I’ve gotten a couple of useless photo frames that didn’t match anything I had at home or were in a weird size, and I had no way of returning or exchanging them.  Rather than regift them, I just threw them out.  Twice students have given me a “world’s best teacher mug.”  I don’t drink coffee or tea (gross!), so what am I going to do with a mug?  My husband and I have quite a few, and they clutter up our shelves until we think about them and throw them out.

Candy or Christmas cookies seems like a safe bet, but they usually come to school partially crushed or stale if the student brings them.  For some reason, I constantly get those hardened, decorated sugar cookies that no human wants to eat, or something with peanut butter in it (yes, I hate peanut butter as well.)  Plus, by the time Christmas rolls around, most of us are sick of sweets.  We get way too many of them in our staff meetings as a token gesture that the administration cares about us, rather than taking the time to listen to what we say.

A gift card would be great since you can’t give cash, but I’ve never gotten one of those, maybe because a parent doesn’t want to put a dollar amount on how much he or she appreciates you helping the student.  Decorative candles are a useless gift for anyone, so just don’t even bother with that.  Maybe some people love them, but I’ve never met anyone who likes them or uses them unless they're trying to cover up a bad smell in their apartment. 

The best gift I ever got was a Yeti mug.  It was so unexpected and useful that I still mention it to the parent every time I see her.  I’m even using it now.  But the Yeti is still an anomaly.

I’d rather get nothing at all than having to haul home useless crap that I must pretend to be grateful for.  I imagine many of you feel the same about gifts from the office exchange or from family members. Getting a gift should be pleasant, not a chore or a trial.  

If you really want to give the teacher something, give him or her a letter or email, telling how much you appreciate his or her help or the influence in your child’s life.   That’s something the teacher will keep and appreciate. Plus it takes up no space, works in any home and doesn't cost you anything but a little bit of time.  See?  Now everyone's happy.