Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea

Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week! Mark your calendars and shout out a thank you as you head through carpool line. If you want to do a little more to show some appreciation, you can borrow my idea. I always try to put together a small thank you gift for all of my children’s teachers, so they know that I do recognize the work they do each day. This year’s teacher appreciation sirsee is not too grand but remember that it does not have to be big or showy (or expensive) to be enjoyed. The purpose is to let educators know that their work is noticed.

My kids and I made mini clipboards for Post-it notes and added Papermate Flair Pens in fun colors. Teachers go nuts for the Flair felt tip pens and even if they don’t have a pen preference, all teachers use marking pens and Post-it notes, so I am fairly confident the gift won’t end up in the trash.

Materials

  • 3″ x 3″ Post-it notepads (colors that match your coasters)
  • 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ cardboard drink coasters (see notes below)
  • 1″ binder clips (or one size bigger)
  • Papermate Flair pens, assorted colors

Directions

  • Remove the back paper from a Post-it notepad. Center the Post-it to the top edge of the coaster. Press the Post-it and attach.
  • Add binder clip to the top of the coaster and Post-it notepad to secure. Leave the “handles” folded up.
  • Print a message for the top page. It is possible to print on Post-it notes and attach as the top sheet of your notepad gift. Use THIS TEMPLATE for a Post-it message. For complete directions for printing on Post-it notes, CLICK HERE.
  • Tie curly ribbon around the middle and slide a pen under the curly ribbon to complete the gift set.

Notes

  • You can use coasters with cork backing too. I had a really hard time finding coasters that were not made of stone and super thick. They can be ordered online, or you can visit your local watering hole and ask if they will donate to your teacher appreciation cause. The cardboard coasters are easy to cover with scrapbook paper, and then you can choose your color scheme.
  • While we were on the coaster hunt, Miss Priss found mini clipboards with attached notepads and a magnet back at Michael’s Crafts for $2 a piece. We bought every one they had and supplemented with the few pink cardboard coasters I did find.

For more teacher gift ideas I have used in the past, CLICK HERE.

Mini Cakes and Breads

mini-pound-cake-gifts

We have science fair and Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month. A trip to Michael’s Crafts was inevitable. We hit the store yesterday, and after we completed our lap through all of the craft and school supply aisles, a small end cap display with Valentine baking supplies happened to catch my eye. Mini paper loaf pans– with hearts! Does it get any better? Mini + baking + holiday craft all in one.

mini-loaf-pans-package

I bought the last two bags of mini loaf pans and immediately came home to make small breads and cakes. I baked this Savory Rosemary and Pine Nut Bread in 12 of the pans and a “faux” chocolate chip pound cake in the other 12 pans I had (recipe below).

mini-bread-and-cake-gifts

We wrapped the mini loaves in 3″ x 4″ clear plastic treat bags and used a twist tie to close. I printed labels for the bags with a small heart motif, and we will be delivering these little treats to my children’s teachers for Valentine’s Day. They make a great teacher gift because they are a single serving and are easy for little people to carry to school and deliver.

mini-cake-size

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small box instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips

mini-cakes-ingredients

Directions

  • Stir cake mix and pudding mixes together in a large bowl.
  • Add eggs, oil, and water. Beat by hand until smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. You can coat the chocolate chips with about 1/2 T. flour before adding to the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking. If you are making mini sized cakes, use mini chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. If you are using the mini paper loaf pans, you do not need to grease or flour the pans. You will fill the mini pans about halfway.
  • Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If baking the mini size, reduce baking time to ~30 minutes.
  • Cool 20 minutes and remove from pan. If using the mini pans, leave in the paper pans.

mini-cakes-filling-loaf-pans

Notes

  • The mini paper loaf pans can bake in a temperature up to 400 degrees. They do not need to be greased. To get your bread or cake out of the little pan, you unstick the corners and pull the sides away when serving.

mini-cake-side-view

Homemade Cheezits (kind of)

cheese-crackers-gift-bags-front-and-back-2

It’s holiday teacher gift season! I love teacher gift ideas, and I try not to repeat too many ideas from year to year. If I were not a teacher and a parent, I would not take the teacher gift situation so seriously, but I know how much I appreciate getting a small thank you from a student or family at the holidays, so I try to do the same for my children’s teachers. At the holidays, I often receive lots of home baked sweet goodies (no complaints here). Because there might be lots of cookies and candies on the way, I thought I would go the savory route for this year’s teacher gifts.

cheese-crackers-close

The crackers look like a Cheezit and have a similar taste but are slightly more gourmet due to the rosemary. I found THIS RECIPE via Pinterest. The recipe is easy to follow, but it is time consuming since you need to mix the dough, let it rest in the refrigerator, roll out the dough, cut, and bake. I put about 2/3 cup of crackers in each gift bag and ended up making three batches of dough to have enough crackers (twelve teachers).

cheese-crackers-cutting-shapes

In order to make my cuts even for the cracker shape, I cut a strip of cardstock paper one inch wide and used that as a guideline for cutting. I had straggly edge pieces that were not perfect shapes, and those were the pieces we ate at my house!

cheese-crackers-gift-bags

I printed labels on Avery 8163 shipping labels (2″ x 4″). You could use this ROSEMARY CHEESE CRACKER LABEL template and print on regular paper, cut, and tie to the bags with curly ribbon. The crackers would also be pretty in pint Mason jars or small, decorative Chinese food container boxes.

cheese-crackers-cooling

I am hoping the teachers receiving these little gift bags will enjoy this snacky treat. For our teachers who we know are dog owners, we are giving these DOG TREAT GIFT BAGS in place of the human treat. It saved me having to make even more batches of crackers!

cheese-crackers-gift-bags-front-and-back

 

 

Homemade Dog Treats

dog-biscuits-christmas-treat

This year, Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars have several teachers who are dog owners. It gave me a little inspiration for a new teacher gift idea for the holidays. We got out a dog biscuit cookbook and tried out a few organic dog food recipes. Most of the dog treats need to be refrigerated after baking, so we narrowed down our choices to two recipes that can be stored at room temperature when finished. (CLICK HERE to see the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company cookbook information.)

dog-biscuit-dough

We liked the recipes that made a dough that rolled out, so you could cut fun shaped dog treats. We used bone, fire hydrant, and squirrel cookie cutters. The dough is a little sticky at first, and we kneaded in a little extra flour to make it easier to work. We tried to roll the dough about 1/4″ thick, but if you have kids rolling out the dough, you might have some batches that are thicker. Increase the baking time if you have thicker biscuits. We watched until the biscuits were browned on the edges.

dog-biscuit-cookie-cutters

There are many dog treat recipes available online. You need to know if your dog has any food sensitivities, and the dog biscuits should never have chocolate, raisins, onions, and a few other items that are toxic to dogs. Many of the recipes I found had specialty flours (we used brown rice flour and oat flour), so check your pantry before starting. CLICK HERE for one recipe from the Bubba Rose people that is similar to the ones we made. Our cookbook said it is easy to swap out the “flavor” ingredients for something similar– it did not recommend replacing the flours. For example, if a recipe calls for cheddar cheese, you could replace with provolone. If a recipe calls for ground chicken, you could replace with ground turkey.

When we are putting together our gift boxes, we are making sure there is a mix of shapes in the gift box (or bag). We are also wrapping up a few gift boxes for our neighbors and friends who have family dogs.

dog-biscuits-in-a-bowl

Birdseed Ornaments

birdseed-ornaments-hanging

For several years now, my teaching teammate and I have organized a class business around the holidays. My fourth grade students develop, produce, and sell a product to our school community, and we donate any profits to charity. In the past, we manufactured and sold one product (like these Mason Jar Cookie Mixes) that families pre-ordered, and we had a limited production. Since I had clearly blacked out the incredible amount of work it takes to source the supplies and organize this little venture, I spearheaded an expansion of the business into a full holiday market with six products to sell.

Students filled out job applications at the beginning of the school year, and we have been running workshops every week to make all of the products. They have been calculating our costs to date and determining product prices. On the day of the market, students will man a booth where they will provide sales help and handle cash.

birdseed-heart-ornament

This week, we are making birdseed ornaments. This is a good low cost holiday gift. The ornaments are easy to make in bulk, and after we bag and label them, they will be the perfect gift for a party host, a neighbor, a teacher, or a co-worker.

Materials

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 3 T. light corn syrup
  • 4 c. birdseed (finch bird feed packs better into the molds)
  • molds (cookie cutters, muffin tins, chocolate or soap molds, etc.)
  • nonstick cooking spray like Pam
  • drinking straws cut into 2-inch pieces
  • waxed paper
  • cookie sheet, sheet pan, baking pan, tray
  • ribbon or twine
  • clear plastic bags
  • labels

Directions

  • Put a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet, tray, or baking pan. Fill the tray with the cookie cutters or molds you will be using. If you are using cookie cutters, and there is a sharp edge and a protected edge, put the cookie cutter sharp edge up. Spray the insides of the molds with the cooking spray.

birdseed-ornaments-with-cooking-spray

  • Combine flour, water, gelatin, and corn syrup in a large mixing bowl until it is well-combined and turns into a paste.

birdseed-ornament-paste

  • Add the birdseed to the paste mixture and stir until well-coated.

birdseed-ornament-mix

  • Spoon birdseed mixture into each mold. Pack the mixture down well and make the top smooth. The back of a spoon or the bottom of a measuring cup work well for smoothing the top of the birdseed.

birdseed-ornament-filling-molds-close

  • Poke a hole near the top of each birdseed mold using a drinking straw piece. Even though the straw will be near the top of the ornament, make sure you do not have the straw too close to any edge, or it will break apart later when you add the ribbon. Make sure the straw goes all the way through to the bottom. Leave the straw in place.

birdseed-ornament-completed-tray

  • Leave the birdseed mixture in the mold for 2-3 hours. Then, remove the straws and gently remove the ornaments from the mold. Place the ornaments on a new piece of waxed paper and let dry an additional 2-3 hours or overnight.
  • Thread a string or ribbon through the hole and tie, so the ornament can hang from a tree branch. I liked the natural look of twine rather than a colorful ribbon.

birdseed-ornaments-finished