The Teacher-Appreciation Gift That Might Not Be Appropriate

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

’Tis the season to buy the “school’s-over, thanks-for-putting-up-with-my-kid” tokens of appreciation. But what do teachers really want? I polled some elementary-school educator friends of mine for ideas (thumbs up on gift cards; thumbs down on homemade baked goods), and a few actually said they’ve gotten bottles of wine in the past, which surprised me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like wine. A lot. I imagine I’d like it/need it even more if I were a teacher, particularly come June. But it seems kind of suspect to send your first grader on the bus with a bottle of merlot, no? And knowing my son, he’d accidentally smash it and show up to circle time with a wine-soaked backpack and a contact buzz. But apparently it happens. And it’s not just wine that’s being delivered.

A friend of mine who teaches third grade recently got a bottle of Dewars as a gift, which was presented to him by Aidan, a third grader. Another teacher, who received presents from one of her seventh-grade students for every holiday and then some, was handed a little gift bag for St. Patrick’s Day. In it: two mini bottles of Baileys Irish Cream. Call me too P.C. (I’m not, I promise), but isn’t that crossing some sort of line? Particularly since the kid was older? And on school grounds? When I was in junior high you’d most definitely get schooled if you rolled through the halls with booze, no matter what the reason. And as a parent, I just wouldn’t allow it. My older kids (ages 6 and 4) know that adults sometimes drink alcohol — and we have it in the house — but I don’t think I’d be comfortable with them handling it, let alone handing it to a teacher at school.

There is a way around this, of course, which is to have the parent hand the teacher the adult beverage directly. Or to leave it for them in the office so the middleman (middleboy?) is cut out. Most of the people I spoke with had received their drinkable gifts this way, and often it was from a parent they had a close personal relationship with. That I get. If I were ever to go this route, I would definitely be sure I knew the recipient well enough to know that they actually liked wine (and weren’t, say, a recovering alcoholic). And I would be the messenger.

I see the allure of this type of gift from the parent’s perspective — I do. No matter how hard I try to accomplish end-of-year presents before the end-of-year craziness, I’m always scrambling at the last minute. It would be so easy to just pick up a few nice bottles of wine and call it a day. I even know which one I’d buy (an Oregon Pinot Noir from a vineyard I visited and loved). But I don’t think I will do it.

Would you?