Teachers of small children receive some of the most unique gifts during the holidays. Now let me be clear, I do not expect anything from anyone, and I am certainly not complaining about any gifts! I’m grateful just to be thought of and when I tell my students, my favorite gifts are usually pictures and notes from them, it’s actually the truth (there was that one time a mom smuggled in a six pack of really good beer, but I digress).

Most of the gifts I receive fall into one of three categories. I’ll outline the pros and cons of each below in a handy chart (teachers love charts):

Gift Category



Gift Cards
  • Kind of like cash
  • Almost always for Dunkin Donuts
  • I do occasionally grab a decaf on Fridays
  • Easily re-gifted
  • Who doesn’t love cash?
  • I don’t drink coffee
  • Even decaf makes me appear to be The Energizer Bunny (this could also be a Pro)
Homemade Treats
  • Sugar!
  • Who doesn’t love chocolate?
  • Sugar!
  • Easily shared with others in the teacher’s room
  • During the holiday season, do I really need more sugar than I’m already consuming by eating treats other teachers have left in the teacher’s room?
  • Who made these treats?
  • I’ve seen where some of my students’ hands go, do I really want to eat treats they helped make?
  • Affirms I really am ‘The World’s Greatest Teacher’
  • Homemade ornaments warm my heart and are saved to go on my tree every year.
  • How many identical items do I need letting the world know I’m The World’s Greatest Teacher?
  • Friends, visitors, family, always ask, ‘Do you really need every handmade ornament on your tree?’ (The answer is, ‘yes’.)

Every year, there is always one gift that strikes a special cord for me. One year, a little girl who was going through some rough times at home, but always had a smile that lit up my heart, came in from the bus, and before she even removed her backpack or coat, she handed me a wrapped candy cane.

“I brought this for you,” she said.

“Oh, thank you, I love candy canes! Where did you get it?” I asked.

“I took it from my tree, my mom said I could give it to you,” she continued.

And with that, I gave her a huge hug and thanked her. When I got home, I took the candy cane from my bag and put it on my tree. After Christmas, when I took my tree down, I gently put her candy cane away with the other handmade ornaments I save and place on my tree each year.

It really is true, it’s the simplest gifts from the heart that mean the most.