Not another coffee mug: Teachers share the end-of-year gifts they actually want

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

They've dutifully looked after, looked out for and helped open up the world to their charges throughout the year. 

So it's only fitting that parents want to say thank you at the end of the year by way of a gift - especially given all the challenges they've risen to in 2020. 

But finding the perfect gift that is both thoughtful but not too personal and that stays in budget can leave many parents bereft of ideas.

So we put it to the teachers in the Essential Baby community to share the best gifts they've received from students through the years - to save their fellow colleagues from more coffee mugs and chocolate boxes. 

Handwritten cards, craft:

Many of you said that cards, letters and craft which students had taken the time to make was a great keepsake to remember the year by.

Especially those that included a meaningful message, as reader Sarah said.

"The best things are cards with genuine words. I'd take that over any thing else!"

As another reader, Ellie joked, they can also be sanity savers. 


"Letters and cards which I put in my drawer to read when I want to quit," she joked. 


Working off the metaphor of teachers helping kids to grow, many suggested that plants make great gifts, either to brighten up the classroom or remind them of why they enjoyed teaching.

"My favourite gift received was a lucky bamboo which I got a few years ago. It's still going strong," said Veta.

It was also top of the list for Stephanie, who also suggested Christmas tree decorations with Children's names on them. Another said they loved a small lemon tree they were gifted.

Practical gifts: 

As many teachers pick up stationery items throughout the year using their own money, practical classroom resources were also top of the list.

Stickers to use as rewards, Office Works or Smiggle vouchers and personalised stamps were all top picks.

"I'm a teacher's aid but I know a lot of my colleagues enjoy getting something useful for the classroom. Personalised tote bags (to carry marking to and from school), plaques or nice things for the desk to hold stationery etc," Bridget suggested. 

Altruistic gifts: 

While not a teacher, reader Sarah said her children give their teacher altruistic gifts, such as donations in their names, chosen by the kids for what reminded them of school.  

"I'm not a teacher, but the last two years we have had our kids pick out charitable gifts via world vision that symbolised their year of schooling and write in a card explaining why our children chose those gifts," she explained.

"Our teachers were blown away by their thought process. Last year my daughter (nine) chose a fishing kit because it reminded her of their school camp. My son (six) chose sporting equipment because his favourite lessons were PE (and playing with his friends at lunch and recess)." 

Little luxuries: 

After an intense year, many suggested gifts geared towards relaxation or recreation would be well received. 

As Kring said, something that said 'you deserver a rest' would always be very welcomed, suggesting movie tickets, massage or pampering vouchers.

For Jodie, one gift from a year 12 class remained particularly memorable. 

"A beautiful group of year 12 students gave me an amazing bundle of gifts that included a copy of A Tale of Two Cities (English teacher here), a movie voucher (that I used to see Bohemian Rhapsody) and gift vouchers for a massage and session at the Salt Caves! I was completely spoilt and so very grateful to this wonderful bunch!," she shared. 

Other small luxuries - especially if they were chosen by the students, were also great, said Emily, who rated a silk scarf and clutch bag among her favourite gifts. 

And after the stressful year that was 2020, Marina's request for Grey Goose vodka would no doubt be enjoyed by many a teacher. 

It's also worth noting some restrictions on gifts may also apply. In NSW, for example, the Department of Education's code of conduct stipulates teachers must declare any gifts above the value of $50 value (including group class presents) and that cash could not be accepted.