Mason Jar Cocoa Mixes

layered cocoa mix

For the past two years, my students have operated a small business at the holidays selling Mason Jar Cookie Mixes to the families in our school community. It is part of our focus on business and financial literacy skills that we cover all year. This year, we changed it up a little and manufactured layered cocoa mixes. The new business had a lower overhead, and it was easier to source pint sized Mason jars, which translated into (a little) less work for the teacher-supervisors!

Mason jar cocoa mix front view

The cocoa mixes make great gifts for friends and neighbors at the holidays and are easy to assemble. Whether you are making 27-dozen like we did or just a few for gifts, it is an easy DIY holiday gift.

IMG_1123

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. powdered milk
  • 1 T. original powdered creamer
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. crushed peppermint bits
  • 1/4 c. mini marshmallows (or enough to fill to the top of the jar)

Directions

  • In a pint Mason jar, layer ingredients in the order listed above beginning with the powdered milk.
  • Press firmly after the chocolate chip layer and again after the peppermint bits layer.
  • Fill to the top of the jar with marshmallows.

Serving Instructions

  • Attach a tag with a ribbon that says, “Mix jar ingredients in a large bowl. For each serving, place 1/3 c. mix in a mug and stir in 1 c. boiling water. Store remaining mix in an airtight container.”

cocoa mix serving

Notes

  • I found 5 oz. bags of crushed peppermint at Walmart in their holiday baking display. If you can’t find pre-crushed peppermint, buy classic candy canes and crush them yourself. If you are making really large quantities, order online from a source like Candy Warehouse in 5-lb. bags.

complete

Personalized Christmas Gifts

I kicked off the holiday shopping season with the personalized rubber stamps for Miss Priss’ and Mr. Star Wars’ teachers. Personalized seems to be the theme for me this year. I usually keep a list going all year (yes, I am that OCD) and jot down ideas as people mention things. When holiday shopping season officially starts, I review the list and try to come up with ideas that might apply to several people, so I can order more than one of the same thing. I have a brother and two sisters who all have kids plus TheRoomDad’s family. We try to do a little something for each family group, so the list gets pretty long.

Here are some gift ideas on my “to buy” list this year, and most of them are personalized in some way. That usually means a longer ship time, so I better get on the stick!

Monogrammed Jewelry: I know my tween nieces would love necklaces like this because they keep pinning these types of things. I also think they are great gifts for my mom, sisters, and sisters-in law.

gold-small-discs-double-layer  moon_lola_script_monogram_in_orange_large   4-letter-necklace_20

Monogrammed Scarves: I love all of the color choices for these scarves. I would also do something like this with a pashmina. Find pashminas at a local store and take them to a monogrammer. FYI– This would make a great teacher gift. Classroom temperatures can be difficult to regulate!

monogram-scarf-scarves

Personalized Wrapping Paper: One thing I like about this gift is that it is consumable, so it does not have to be stored for very long.

wrapping paper initials wrapping paper recipe wrapping paper

Mini Photo Books: These books are set up like board books. I think they make great personalized gifts for little people and grandparents to share when visiting.

mini board bookspinhole-press-mini-book-names-faces-photo-baby-toddler

Custom Ornament: My parents have a collection of paintings of all of the houses where they have lived. We moved a lot, so the collection is large. These ornaments reminded me of the paintings. It would be fun to order ornaments with a different house every year.

custom ornament

Fort Kit: This one is not a personalized gift but a DIY gift. Fill a drawstring bag with supplies to build a fort like plain sheets and clothespins. I think this is so clever.

for kit

Anyone else have a successful shopping strategy or great ideas that will work for several people? You could also return to last year’s gift list for a little inspiration.

Holiday Teacher Gift 2013

teacher rubber stamp

After completing a thorough search for the perfect holiday teacher gift, I finally selected this year’s sirsee for my children’s homeroom teachers. This is a big decision for me. I contribute to a group gift for the teachers, but I always want to add a little extra from our family. This year, I ordered personalized rubber stamps and will be giving the stamp along with some blank notecards.

a note from teacher stamp

There are several reasons a personalized stamp makes a good teacher gift. Teachers need to add their name to all kinds of items throughout the day. We write notes to a variety of people for hand delivery (even if it is just to the school office), and we need an identifier on it. You might think we could just use e-mail, but it is pretty difficult for a teacher to send and receive e-mails (or get to the computer) during the day and handwritten notes sent by “student post” often work better.

this belongs to stamp

We have all kinds of classroom supplies that need to be labeled. Pretty much anything in my classroom is fair game for student hands. If I don’t stamp my name on it, there is a good chance it is walking out the door. My classroom library alone requires constant monitoring. Even if a student doesn’t walk away with my classroom supplies, I loan materials to other classrooms all the time. Without my name stamped all over, I would not get the materials back.

this book belongs to

I considered several rubber stamp options, and I think all of them would make a great teacher gift any time of the year. I ended up choosing a Paperwink rubber stamp with a checkbox option. I personalized the stamps with my children’s teachers’ names and checkboxes for desk, class, and library. I received a proof within 24 hours of ordering. Delivery did take a full two weeks after approving the proof, so if you use Paperwink, order early– like today.

checkbox rubber stamp

What teacher gifts are you considering this holiday season? If you need additional ideas, take a look at my Good Teacher Gifts Pinterest board. I also started a Crappy Teacher Gifts Pinterest board as a public service to parents. Pretty much any scented candle, lotion, or apple related item is out (in my opinion). Punny notes are bad too.

As a final note, holiday teacher gifts are not required, and we really do appreciate anything a student and/or student family might choose to give. But, there are definitely gift ideas that work better than others, and remember, a student can always write a thoughtful note that will be more meaningful than gift cards and chocolate.

Other Teacher Gift Links:

Christmas Cocoa Kit

I donated to the teacher gift fund, so my children’s classroom teachers will be getting a group gift card from the class for the holidays, but I always like to send in a little something extra and personal.

This year’s Christmas teacher sirsee is a Cocoa Kit. I am not sure why I like “kits” so much (in the past year we have given Ice Cream Sundae Kits and Teacher Emergency Kits), but this kit is something the teachers can use at school or share with family at home. I should be able to create an assembly line in my kitchen and pack them up pretty quickly. I am going to make extra to take with us as hostess gifts to holiday parties or to give as gifts to friends and co-workers. What are other festive sirsees to give this holiday season?

The Cocoa Mix: Click here for the Cocoa Mix Recipe I used. I put about two servings of cocoa mix in the plastic bag that went into the box. Alternately, you could simply buy pre-made cocoa mix.

The Chocolate Stirrers: I originally saw these candy spoons on Pinterest. I adapted the idea to make cocoa stirrers. Go to the Cocoa Mix Recipe for directions about how to make the chocolate filling for the spoons. After the chocolate is melted, turn the heat off and let cool slightly (5 min?). While the chocolate cools, rest plastic spoons on the handles of wooden spoons (or another kitchen item) to hold the spoons level. Place a gallon Ziploc bag in a large measuring cup and fold the top of the bag over the edges of the measuring cup. Pour chocolate into the Ziploc. Pull the Ziploc bag out of the measuring cup and hold it like a pastry bag. With scissors, snip off a very tiny piece of one corner and fill spoons with the chocolate. Hold your finger like a stopper over the opening of the bag as you move from spoon to spoon. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on the chocolate and let set.

The Other Contents: I added mini marshmallows and a few cookies to the kit. I used snickerdoodles because I think they are a good dipping cookie for cocoa or coffee. I think gingersnaps or a classic Christmas sugar cookie would work well too.

The Packaging: I need to buy stock in Avery labels and clear gift bags. I own almost every size possible. I wrapped the bowl of the candy spoon in a 3×4 inch clear bag and tied with raffia ribbon. I used my trusted clear bead bags for the cocoa mix, cookies, and marshmallows and printed small labels for each item. The boxes are Wilton Treat Boxes I purchased at Michael’s.

The Gift Tag: I printed a message and directions for making a mug of cocoa on cardstock and tied it to the top of the box. When we are actually getting ready to deliver, I will have my children sign their names on the tag rather than using The Room Mom!

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, a Summary

After I wrapped up the Christmas gift series last week (ha ha– wrap, gifts…), I realized you have to do a lot of scrolling through previous posts to see the full gift list. So, for those of you who came late to the party, here is a summary of the 12 days of gift ideas. I probably should have done it this way in the beginning, but it sure does make one long post.

Click on the names that go with each gift day for links back to the original posts to get specific product information.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Day 1: Watercolor Portraits

Watercolor paintings by Susan Woodard

Day 2: Jelly Marbles

Low price point, good stocking stuffer, great gift for children’s birthday parties

Day 3: Calling Cards

Give to adults or children, monogram or full name

Day 4: Monogrammed Ts

Purchase cotton Ts and take to your local monogrammer

Day 5: Man Gifts

Personalized steak branding iron

Reserve a spot at BBQ judging school with friends

Personalized needlepoint belts

Nike ID athletic shoes

Day 6: Mini Crock Pot

Keep dip warm at parties.

Day 7: Author’s Tool Kit

Write and publish your own book– order extra copies to give as gifts too

Day 8: Photo Gifts

Have a photo turned into a paint by number

Make “best of” albums to highlight any family events from the previous year

Personalized postage stamps

Personalized skins for smart phones or other electronics

Have photos, names, or monograms inserted into a set of Tervis Tumblers

Day 9: Gifts with Tiny Pieces

Barbie sized kitchen playsets

Calico Critter mini animal playsets

Quadrilla wooden marble run

Build your own Lego set

Day 10: Consumable Gifts

Cupcake supplies or other tools needed for a hobby– the other suggestion was unusual spices and rubs for a grill guy (like my husband)

Magazine subscriptions

Food delivery of some kind– Wolferman’s English muffins for Christmas day brunch

Day 11: Gift Ideas for This Year

Flavored olive oil

Personalized dog collars and other pet accessories

Neon cord wrap bracelets with charms

preppy casserole carriers

Custom rubber address stamps

Day 12: Family Calendar

Customized family calendar