Hint: It’s not another macaroni necklace.

By Lambeth Hochwald
Updated December 14, 2017
Cookies wrapped in ribbon
Credit: Topic Images Inc./Getty Images

Still deciding what to give your child’s teacher for the holidays to show how much you appreciate her skills and patience? We asked five educators what they love to see on their desk the day before winter break—and the answers are sweeter and simpler than you may have expected.

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Cookies wrapped in ribbon
Credit: Topic Images Inc./Getty Images

1 A few hours of your time

“We really do appreciate a parent who is willing to come in and organize a holiday party and take a little stress off our daily workload,” says Abby Yemm, a third-grade teacher in Kansas City. “It’s even better if they coordinate holiday goodies without us having to do it!”

2 Something personal

“I love receiving a holiday gift that shows the student or family has really gotten to know me. I think it’s great when the kids have ownership over gifts and are excited to share them with me!” says Maddie Mayerson, a first-grade teacher in Boston.

3 A heartfelt card

“I’ve been teaching for almost 30 years, and the notes and cards are the only thing I keep,” says Randi Pellett, a math specialist in New York City. “I read them all and then keep them in a decoupaged cardboard box that a student made for me during one of my first years as a teacher. The time and personal touch are more important to me than a mug holding another bag of hot cocoa mix.”

4 A gift the entire class can use

“Instead of sweets, I love getting gift cards for stores like Office Depot and Office Max, which I can use toward supplies for my classroom,” says Stephanie Shaw, a third-grade teacher in North Texas.

5 Spontaneous gifts

“Some of my favorite gifts have been unexpected, ‘just because’ gifts,” says Liz Savage, a teacher in Cabot, Arkansas. “For example, a child recently brought in my favorite coffee drink and a muffin, and one time a little girl brought me a handmade card with a picture she had colored. These gifts are heartwarming and very much appreciated!”