Why I Don’t Buy My Students Gifts

Nov 29, 2015 | Christmas, December, Teacher Wisdom | 19 comments

3 reasons NOT to buy your students gifts. Some things to consider before you purchase gifts for your students.

OK don’t hate me, but I don’t usually buy my students Christmas or holiday gifts.  I see all these teachers talking about what they are going to buy their students for Christmas and I wonder how they would react if they knew that I did not buy gifts for my students as a whole.  Hear me out before you start throwing stones.  Here’s my train of thought:

  • I would rather spend my money on things so my students can EXPERIENCE the GIVING of GIFTS.  In my class we make lots of gifts for other people through the entire year and not just at Christmas.  For example, during Thanksgiving we give a Thanksgiving card to several people we love with a cute little turkey handprint on it.  And sometimes during Mother’s Day I will buy those mylar balloons on plastic sticks so the kids can surprise their moms.  And during the winter holiday / Christmas season my class gives to all of our specials teachers and our support staff throughout the school.  We make extra ornaments and projects and as a class we deliver them the week before the holiday break.  To me it is much more worth my money to let kids experience the giving as opposed to the receiving something small from me.
  • There is usually 1 or 2 kids in my class who really need the help during Christmas.  Instead of getting each of my students one small gift I will make sure that 1 or 2 students’ families have everything they need for the holidays.  I will advocate for them with agencies, shop for essentials, and make sure these students have 2-3 gifts for under the tree. I will even make sure the parents (or guardians) have something small to open as well.
  • Kids get so much these days as gifts and especially at Christmas.  Even in low-income neighborhoods (and I have worked in some very poverty-stricken schools) most students in my class have had pretty good holidays from what I am aware of.

My job, my career, my passion is to teach children to not just read and write but to be compassionate people who will be successful in the world.  This is just one of the many ways I try to achieve that.

In 14 years of teaching I have never had a child or parent complain that I did not give out gifts for Christmas.  I am not against those who do, nor am I saying those who do don’t do the things listed above (because I know they do.)  Just wanted to put it out there – get it off my chest.

 

Related Posts:  10 Truths About Teaching Kinder,  An Open Letter to Teachers Who Bully Other Teachers, and 99 Things Teachers Really Want for Christmas

19 Comments

  1. Melanie

    This is a question…can a teacher buy one of her students a jacket?

    Reply
  2. Nicole

    I am giving out “gifts” but the gifts are what my students need. I have multiple homeless students as well as students with not enough food in the house to last them a weekend, let alone winter break. I have students with newborn siblings that don’t have diapers at home. My gifts are stockings full of toiletries, jackets, and a few small toys (because they don’t have toys at home). I think it just depends. Now with that said, many of my students have not celebrated Christmas because “they can’t afford to” and I teach that Christmas is about being with family and love. We’ve made cards for nursing homes and soldiers and every day during December I have a “Kindness Challenge” type of advent calendar. I think it just depends. If I was in a more privileged school I would not be getting them anything. I think it’s important to focus on the non-gift receiving aspect of Christmas but when my kids are so so grateful just to get a bouncy ball or even body wash, I can’t help but not give them something. <3

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I absolutely LOVE this! This is exactly the kind of thing I would do if my students were in need at this level. Your comment catches the exact meaning of what I am saying! Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Amen sista!

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      Thanks! =)

      Reply
  4. Angie

    The past 19 years of teaching, I have typically given my students a little something.. I made them bookmarks one year or used book club bonus points to buy them all a new book. This year I am financially unable to do anything and thought about them making something to take to nursing home residents or something.

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I think that’s a great idea. I have never done that with students but I have always wanted to do so. Such a valuable lesson for them in kindness and compassion!

      Reply
  5. Kristin

    I give them each a book to show them the importance of reading even while on “break.” I don’t think a one dollar book is going to spoil them and send an overindulgent message. Plus we do everything else you mention- giving to others throughout the year. It doesn’t need to be an either-or situation. And I don’t agree that every kid in “even the worse districts have a great Christmas.”

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I appreciate that you give your students books and it makes perfect sense why so many teachers do so. Also – the part you quoted in your comment is not something I said. What I said is “most students in MY CLASS have had pretty good holidays from what I am aware of.” If I was aware and able to figure out that kids in my class were not going to have a great holiday, I would do everything in my power to change that. I also never said it was one way or the other. “I am not against those who do, nor am I saying those who do don’t do the things listed above (because I know they do.) Just wanted to put it out there – get it off my chest.” Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts.

      Reply
  6. vikingmomsdHelen

    I don’t give gifts for the holidays, either. I do teach high school history and Language Arts and for my Seniors I will give them Congratulations/Graduation cards. For some of my students they are the first in their families to graduate from high school so it’s a huge accomplishment for these students. As for holiday gifts my budget is so stretched thin as it is that to maintain that level of giving is difficult. Now, as a class on some occasions during my 20+years of teaching a community need as occurred and we will collect for that occasion. But, I usually let that be student driven which makes it more meaningful.

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      Thank you so much for adding these to our list! These are all very important as well! Happy Holidays to you!

      Reply
  7. Bex

    Thanks for this post! I also ask families, instead of giving me a gift, to consider sending in a toy for Toys for Tots. I talk about it with me class and it is nice to see them excited about giving to those who need it.

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I absolutely LOVE that idea! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  8. Laurie Leahy

    For many years now I have made my kids a coupon book with things like “Writing Workshop at my desk,” “Choose a quiet activity at rest time,” “One recess on the big kids’ playground,” and “Your choice for read-aloud from our star book bin.” They LOVE this, and it is not just more little stuff!

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I love this. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  9. cleigh7777@gmail.comc

    im pretty positive you can sposper families for the holdiay times……and many shelters through out the year need supplies……..why not each mon;th have a donation drive a specific item, such as ….shoes, socks, …..jackets,

    Reply
    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      That’s a great idea!!

      Reply
  10. Amy

    Amen! I also do not buy gifts for my kids. As a parent, my kids weren’t overly impressed with anything they received from school. Sadly (or reality in a kids’ eyes) they were waiting for the BIG day. It was just one more thing. I vowed not to bother. No complaints from anyone thus far. 🙂 All kids get WAYYYY too much stuff.

    Reply
  11. Kristen

    I see nothing wrong with this idea! You are right that even in the worst districts kids still have a great Christmas. Even the gifts they we give to our kids will be forgotten about when they get that new toy. However, I still do give them gifts lol typically a book and crayons. Perhaps this year I will give them their new books at a different time. Or at least not the day of break. Thanks for your post, it was definitely something to think about!

    Reply

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