Top of the class

Hands up who wants to trade jobs with their child’s teacher/nursery key worker? No one? We thought as much. Anyone who can successfully command the attention of a class of 30 five-year-olds – never mind teach them phonics – definitely deserves a medal. Or at the very least a festive token of appreciation at the end of a long term. But what should you get them? Is a bottle of fizz too showy? Are vouchers impersonal? What are they actually going to do with 17 novelty mugs? We’ve gone undercover to ask every teacher we know (anonymously, of course) for the staffroom scoop so you can gift in confidence this season.

Pick Your Own
The voucher option might seem an impersonal way to high five the end of term but according to our sources it is the most universally well received. Teaching is a vocation for many and few teachers are rolling in riches. Clubbing together with some other parents (or the whole class if there’s enough enthusiasm) and buying a voucher for somewhere with lots of options  (John Lewis or Amazon are good) means they get to choose something they actually want. As long as you avoid systems where parents feel obligated to contribute and, ideally, avoid being the person who collects the cash and sorts it all out, this option is a winner for all concerned.

Great Gifts
If you can’t bear the idea of handing over an envelope instead of a present but there’s plenty of club together enthusiasm among the parental masses, a joint gift is likely to be better received than 15 individual boxes of chocolates or bunches of flowers. Indulgent gift boxes (we like Don’t Buy Her Flowers and Rockbox), classic hampers (try Harvey Nichols or Fortnum & Mason) and beauty advent calendars (if age/gender appropriate) all got the thumbs up from the teachers we quizzed. Or simply send in a mole to work out what they really want and get them that if it’s in budget (those fivers/tenners do add up). One teacher we spoke to was thrilled to be gifted an Apple watch this time last year, which certainly gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘an apple for the teacher’.

Going It Alone
As much as we love Christmas and appreciate our children’s teachers sometimes the whole group gift thing can be more hassle than it’s worth. Christmas by its very nature is expensive and busy so if the funds (yours or your fellow parents) or inclination to organise said gift (anyone who’s ever tried will understand exactly what we mean) is lacking it can be easier to go it alone. But what should you get? According to 99 per cent of the teachers we asked: a bottle of wine or fizz* trumps flowers or chocolates every time.
*Just make sure they definitely drink first.

The Personal Touch
We know, we know, there is nothing more adorable than a lovingly crafted pasta necklace/loo roll pencil holder… But only if proffered by your own flesh and blood. To anyone else it’s just extra recycling. Steer your child away from the loom bands/junk modelling masterpiece and get them to write a card or draw a picture showing their appreciation instead. Out of all the personal/homemade gifts mentioned by our staffroom insiders, genuine words of thanks were the most appreciated. Often even more so than the John Lewis vouchers.

What They Don’t Want
Now for the hard bit.  Teachers are nice people and like all nice people they will smile and say thank you and outwardly appreciate any gift bestowed upon them. But this wouldn’t be an undercover investigation if there wasn’t a bit of honesty. According to the cross-section of teachers we asked, they’re already up to their necks in candles and bath products, they want chocolates about as much as you do pre party season, don’t have enough vases for more than one bunch of flowers at a time and won’t risk eating anything your child has baked themselves (even if it comes with a food hygiene certificate attached). And if you saddle them with another mug they might actually hate you.

Vouchers it is then.