Holiday Shopping for Teachers – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Oh, holidays, the most wonderful time of year and the most stressful time of year. Let’s be honest, it’s not all kissing under the mistletoe and curling up by the fire (as much as we like to think it is). It’s more like beads of sweat running off your forehead as you run laps around the mall in record time, forgetting two trays of cookies in the oven because your kids are arguing about the TV remote, and realizing you forgot to pick up a gift for your daughter’s teacher that she needs for TOMORROW.

What do you get for steam trainingomeone you meet with only a couple times a year? You ask your kid for ideas and they claim:

“She would probably really like Ritz Crackers, I see her eating them all the time”.

I have two teachers for parents and I have seen some interesting things come home with them. Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to share with you what it looks like when mom walks through the door on the last day of school with 17 bags in her hands, and tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks. Here are some of the funniest and strangest gifts my parents have received over the years.


Traditional. Useful. Classic. Overdone? Yes, overdone. Mugs are without a doubt the most popular gift for teachers. Something about the stereotypical image of a teacher sitting at their desk with an apple on one side and their #1 teacher mug on the other is carved into students’ minds each year. Must be all the TV they’re watching!

My mom and dad have been teaching for over 40 years combined and it’s amazing to see our holiday mug box double in size each year. I mean we ran out of cupboard space 10 years ago. On the bright side, if any break we are stocked for life!


You put off picking up a gift because you had no idea what to get and honestly life happens, I get it. You ran into the 24-hour Shoppers Drug Mart something remotely holiday related so your kid isn’t the only one showing up empty handed on the last day of school. This strategy is foolproof if you pick up a gift card to Earls but chances are you have ‘holiday brain’ and picked up festive earrings or a festive ornament related to teaching such as a ceramic pencil, porcelain apple, or a #1 teacher ornament. I can tell you from personal experience that seeing these take over our family tree each year is both amusing and confusing, especially because there are usually multiple ornaments that look exactly the same!


I took to the internet to see what I could dig up. My parents have thankfully avoided any jaw-dropping gifts landing on their desks, but many teachers out there have been much less fortunate. These are some of my ‘favourite’ finds:

  • A bottle of wine … half finished
  • A dirty bear toy the student said they “found it in someone’s garden”
  • A shoplifted Leek from a 5-year-old
  • Two bags of frozen soup
  • An ornament of a Bondage Bear covered in leather and carrying a whip
  • And finally, my favorite: A dead sparrow in a shoebox

Are gifts expected? No. In fact, most teachers discourage bringing them gifts but I can assure you they still fully appreciate them and will never send them back (although I can’t promise some of these gifts will end up in storage, it’s the thought that counts, right?). All jokes aside, if you are going to give a gift to your kids’ teacher (you should!) give them something fun, exciting, and useful. Below are a few gift ideas for the teachers in your life:

  • Gift Cards: an easy gift that gives the freedom to redeem it whenever. Not to mention the happy reminder of who gave it to them when they use it! ProTip: we have InjaNation gift cards available to give the gift of play to anyone in your life!
  • Hand-written notes from parents, students, or both: teachers appreciate knowing their work is appreciated. These little notes may not seem like much but mean the world to teachers!
  • Homemade gifts: inexpensive, unique, and thoughtful. Teachers will cherish these for years and will serve as a fond memory of the students they had in their classes over the years!

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