Christmas presents – a seasonal problem?

As Christmas hurtles towards us thoughts turn to present buying. What shall I get? How much shall I spend? Could get away with not buying anything? I’m not thinking about family presents but those exchanged at school.
Many teachers agonise over whether to buy their children a gift. Some parents are unsure of the etiquette – can you give a bottle of wine? I’m not sure when this custom started. When I was at school (yes a few decades ago now!) I can’t remember buying or receiving a present from my teacher.
My experience as a teacher is that children love to give you presents. Some children buy a gift at the end of the year as well as at Christmas. In July, a parent asked me what sort of thing she should buy. What makes a good gift – chocolates/bubbles/flowers? I was once given a Formula One annual. I hadn’t expressed any interest in the sport! The elder brother was not best pleased when he discovered that his younger brother had given away his recent birthday present!
For teachers, it is a real problem, especially if you have 30 children in your class. What can you get them that doesn’t put you in debt for the New Year? Many PTAs and Friends groups raise money and buy gifts for the children at this time of year so do they need something from their teacher? In my own school a staunch band of volunteers would buy and individually wrap 350 gifts for Santa to give out!
One of my teachers wanted to use the opportunity to show the children that not everyone was as lucky as them. Rather than buy gifts for each of them, she sent some money to ‘Adopt a Cow’ in Africa on behalf of the class. The children received details of the animals they had bought and the work that was being done in the village. Some parents however, were quite vocal in their displeasure at the action of the teacher. They felt it wasn’t fair as other children had received presents!
So, what should happen? Do children generally get enough at Christmas? Is this a chance to show some charitable thinking? What is the protocol in your school?

Please follow and like us:


  • I also think that there is a problem the other way around as well. I have so many mugs, pens etc. I get loads of chocolates and wine, which are all very nice….but, I would really appreciate the ‘Adopt a Cow’ idea from a group of parents more so! But how can I relay this message to the parents of the children in my class without sounding ungreatful, or in an assuming way?

  • Pingback: Educational Blog Digest 6th December 2010 | Creative Education Blog

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure most teachers must come back after christmas fat, drunk and smelling beautiful!
    On a more serious note though, I was horrified to read of parents complaining about the Oxfam cow idea which I think is a marvelous idea, and one the kids might actually learn something from?
    I highlighted your post in my Daily Digest of Education related blogs today as I thought other teachers would find it of interest. You can see it here:

    • Anonymous

      My son & his soon to be wife have banned chocolate gifts (they both teach). They keep them in the boot of their car until they can deliver to relatives!! I thought the cow idea was fabulous but there’s nought so strange as folks.
      Many thanks for your support with the blog!

  • Sally Thorne

    I knitted hats for my old tutor group when they got into year 11. It was costly in time rather than money, but they looooved them!
    Now I have a new bunch of year 7s, I got some personalised pencils made with “7-1 are the best” on them – less than £10 for 48, so not a bad shout. I don’t like giving out sweets, but this option was roughly the same in cost. I think it’s nice for them to have a little something from their teacher: helps with class unity and so on.

  • I create a page of photos of each student, print & laminate – cost to me is around 50c per kid max (depending on how cheap I got the paper/laminating pouches/ink cartridges). This year I’ve hardly used the laminator so the pouches I got earlier in the year are still here so the cost is even cheaper. I may also buy a couple of lambs via Oxfam unwrapped on behalf of the class.

    • Anonymous

      You have certainly got it well organised! ‘Home-made’ gifts are always so special! Great to see you here Jo!

  • As a parent I do feel the pressure, not from staff, but from other parents, to buy a present. One year a parent who was in a clique with some other parents suggested that we shouldall club together. All well and good but then there is an open knowledge of the amount of money being spent.
    And where do we stop? My son has one to one support and we couldn’t leave his support TA out, but we know that theclass TA is as much part of the team as his TA and the two job share teachers.
    At the end of the day, we buy the staff presents because we appreciate the effort that they have put in on our children’s behalf and this is a way of showing it. Just because staff get paid for what they do doesn’t mean we can’t show appreciation as well. And I’m sure that as far as the staff are concerned, it really is the thought that counts.

  • Pingback: Festive Friday – Nativity Week and A Playful Giveaway! | Thinly Spread

  • I have bought a present for the whole class from our whole family every year. It is always a charitable gift, one year it was books for African children but I think the best one was Adopt A Tiger because the teacher took it on and did a mini project with it! I stopped buying tins of biscuits for the staffroom when I was in there and saw the huge pile of untouched food stuffs!
    Many thanks for linking to Festive Friday J! x

  • Pingback: Festive Friday – Nativity Week and A Playful Giveaway! - |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.