Should I buy a holiday gift for my professor?

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If you’re an undergrad, the simple answer is no

Most of the time, professors are not allowed to accept gifts of monetary value from students. However, there are some cases, especially as you move into Grad school or beyond, where it is a little more accepted. 

For Grad students who spend a lot of time with their professors or one-on-one with a mentor, a small gift can go a long way. 

When considering which gifts to get your professor, here are some ideas that are acceptable and cases in which you absolutely shouldn’t get a gift. 

Consider something simple

It’s never okay to go above and beyond to give a gift to your professor. It’s much better to keep things really simple, and sometimes, not even give them a real gift at all. Especially if you haven’t been working closely with them for some time.

A card or something homemade will work just fine and doesn’t pose any issues for your professor. It’s a nice gesture to show them that you appreciate all the wisdom they imparted while still not going over the top. 

Keep it small

A gift card to the local coffee shop or some snacks that you know they like will be more than appreciated. These aren’t huge gestures that will cause a scene, but they’ll let your professor know you’re thankful for the time spent together that semester. 

It’s probably better to avoid anything homemade unless you’re well aware of any allergies or dietary restrictions. 

Or grab something useful

Office essentials, coffee accessories, or planners, and notebooks are little things that professors can get a lot of use out of. These don’t have to be expensive or flashy, but they’re just enough to show you thought about their day-to-day and wanted to do something to make it easier. 

When not to get a gift

If you’re in a huge lecture hall or don’t have a relationship with the professor, it’s better not to get a gift. 

Additionally, gifts should only be given after grades have been released, so as not to come across like you’re trying to get anything out of your gift-giving. While this probably isn’t true to you, it is one of the reasons that professors are encouraged not to accept any gifts of monetary value from their students. 

Giving your professor a gift is definitely not a necessity. But if you feel the need, just make sure it’s something appropriate and done at the right time.

If your professor is someone you’re working closely with, whether that’s on your thesis or another big project, it’s a super nice gesture that they will surely appreciate. Just keep in mind that they’re probably not expecting a gift, and the giving is totally up to you.