What Is Customary to Give Day Care Teachers for Christmas?

by Shelley Frost

The glowing Christmas lights and mistletoe are the first signs of the upcoming holiday -- as well as your long gift list. It is customary to give a gift to a day care teacher as a sign of your appreciation and as a gesture of kindness. Figuring out what to give and how much to spend is often a challenge for parents.


The cost of the gift is often a primary concern for parents, especially at the holidays when you're spending money on multiple gifts. A general price range for teacher gifts is between $10 and $25, according to etiquette expert Peggy Post in a Good Housekeeping article. Anything more becomes too extravagant and unnecessary. Check with your child's day care to determine if they have restrictions on gifts. Some schools limit the monetary value of teacher gifts.

Type of Gift

Teacher gifts fall under two categories: homemade or store-bought. Homemade gift items include food treats, decorations, ornaments and cards. Some teachers prefer not to get homemade food because of dietary preferences or simply because they aren't sure of the preparation conditions or ingredients. A card is a simple, inexpensive homemade option that even a young child can make. Let your tot dip her hand in paint and stamp it on the card, for example. Store-bought gifts include anything you can buy at a store and gift cards. A gift card is often a safe route if you know what the teacher likes.

Alternative Gift Ideas

Since teachers get a lot of "stuff" as gifts, some parents consider alternative gift options. One idea is to coordinate a class Christmas gift by asking all of the parents to contribute cash for one large gift. This cuts down on the amount of small things the teacher receives and allows for something nicer than each individual could afford. Another option is to buy a gift that the teacher can use in the classroom. Buy a children's book with your child's name inscribed in the front for a personal touch. A game or toy that the day care class can use is another option.

Gifts to Avoid

While any gift is a kind gesture to show your appreciation for the day care teacher's work, certain gifts are so common they should be avoided. As a general rule, skip anything adorned with apples or the words "#1 Teacher." She likely already has a collection -- or has tossed similar gifts. Teachers have lots of students but only a small amount of space to store items such as mugs, candles, lotion and decorations. Cash is also a no-no, according to Emily Post, who says cash can look like you're trying to bribe the teacher or can make a teacher feel uncomfortable. A gift card is a more appropriate way to give the teacher cash value for something specific.

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