Bookmark this idea for next Christmas. In fact, go buy the clear plastic ornament sets at a major discount at Michael’s Crafts right now, so you are ready to make these next year. That’s what I did. Even two weeks before Christmas, Michael’s had already marked down the ornament sets to 50 cents (originally $1.29). I bought a class set, so my students could make personal Mason jar toppers to take home as gifts for their families. They are fun to make, and you can fill the jars with all kinds of treats.
- plastic ornament in two halves (2.75″ diameter– fits 4 oz. and pint mason jar lids, regular mouth)
- full body photo printed on cardstock that shows above the head and below the feet (printed ~1.75″ and then cut down)
- mini trees, presents, snowmen shapes or other accessories for the scene inside the snow globe (found these at Michael’s in the snow scene section– these materials did sell out close to the holidays)
- fake snow flakes (sold in bags during the holidays– a little different than glitter)
- sparkly pipe cleaners
- hot glue gun
- Elmer’s glue
- Remove the lid pieces from a Mason jar. Separate the ring from the flat lid part. Run a bead of hot glue around the flat edge of one half of the plastic ornament. Quickly and firmly, press the dome to the edges of the lid ring. The hot glue cools quickly, so you have to move fast. If you attach the ornament part off center, carefully pull it apart, remove the cooled glue and start the process over.
- In small sections, run a bead of glue along the line where the plastic ornament half attached to the Mason jar ring. Press the pipe cleaner into the glue. Keep running a small bead of glue and press the pipe cleaner as you move around the edge of the ring. When you have finished the circle, let the glue cool and then snip the extra pipe cleaner length off.
- If you want to personalize the snow globe topper, take a photo of a loved one that shows the full body and has space above the head and below the feet. Pet pictures would work well too. To look more authentic, have the subject look cold in the photo or hold hands up like it is snowing. We added props like scarves and Santa or elf hats when taking our photos. Print the photo on cardstock or another stiff paper. Set the height of the photo to 1.75″. You will cut around the shape of the body and may need to cut the bottom part of the legs off too. Cut around the entire figure and when it is time to attach to the jar lid, you can make adjustments to the height of the picture after testing to see if it stands straight inside the plastic dome.
- Using a hot glue gun, attach the photo and scene accessories like a mini present or mini snowman foam sticker to the flat plate-like part of the Mason jar lid. Attach the objects, so they stand straight, and they should be as close to the center of the jar lid as possible. Test the height of the objects to make sure they will not get squashed down when the ring with the plastic ornament is screwed down. Cut off the the bottom of any little figures as necessary.
- Drizzle Elmer’s glue all over the rest of the flat part of the lid and around the edges of the little figures in the center. This piece of the Mason jar lid has a slightly raised edge, and it makes it easy to fill the center area. Avoid the edges of the plate.
- Scoop fake snow onto the Elmer’s glue and let dry.
- Fill your glass jar with its contents. There are many fun options– cocoa mix, cinnamon sugar, soup mix, spiced nuts, candies…
- Carefully lift the flat part of the lid with the snow scene onto the top of the jar. Gently put the domed ring over the snow scene and carefully screw the ring down to tighten.
It’s the time of year where I like to send a small thank you to all the teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who work with my children. It adds up to more than 20 little gifts, so I am always looking for something that I can make in bulk AND will be something that the receiver might use. I typically go for something consumable meaning the gift receiver can eat the item, or it has a one time use and then is gone.
This year, I made flavored popcorn salts. There are many recipes available and lots of cute ways to package the salts to give as a gift. I found containers that look like French fry boxes at Hobby Lobby. I put one package of microwave popcorn in each container along with a variety of mini bags of flavored salts. Even if our teacher friends don’t use the salts, most people I know will eat popcorn, and it is something that can be a good snack to make at school (although you have to be careful not to pop in a central location because the smell does linger!).
We gave a mix of 3 salt flavors– Bacon Parmesan, Buffalo Ranch, and Mexican Hot Chocolate (my favorite). I read through a handful of recipes by doing a Pinterest search and then clicking through to the websites. I used recipe ideas from THIS WEBSITE and THIS ONE. For our popcorn packets, I bought “light” microwave popcorn because that type usually has the lightest amount of salt and butter flavor. You need the least amount of salt and butter as possible to start because the flavored salts are SALTY, so use sparingly. Of course, you could always pop your own popcorn from scratch and control the salt amounts that way.
I printed THESE LABELS for the mini bags. I used my favorite 3″ x 5″ bead bags that I get from Michael’s Crafts and Avery labels 8160, size 1″ x 2 5/8″.
The salts can be sprinkled on meat, eggs, or anything to which you would normally add salt. Based on the few blog posts I read, it is really easy to create new combinations so think about flavors you enjoy and start mixing! If you want to take this idea and make the gift a little more substantial, add a movie gift card for your local theatre or a gift card for Redbox.
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.)
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.
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.
Holiday market week is here! After working all semester, my students’ products are bagged, tagged, and ready for purchase. The first product we assembled back in September were these reindeer food ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree (we also made these BIRDSEED ORNAMENTS and several MASON JAR MIXES). On Christmas Eve, you open the bag and sprinkle the reindeer food on your lawn to attract Santa’s reindeer.
I originally received a bag of reindeer food from a grandparent in my son’s 3-year old nursery school class. I kept that original bag all these years and duplicated (modified) the pattern over the years. The original reindeer food is a little fancier than the version my fourth graders made this year. Mass production with a 10-year old work crew forced us to simplify a few of the steps.
- old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
- glitter (we prefer silver, light blue, or clear colored)
- bead bags with ziploc top (3″ x 5″)
- tan or light brown cardstock or scrapbook paper (3″ x 4″ pieces, folded in half)
- dark brown cardstock or scrapbook paper
- googly eyes (10 mm)
- red pom poms (10 mm)
- jingle bells (3/4″)
- skinny ribbon (~12″ strips– curly ribbon works)
- Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun
- Mix oatmeal and glitter in a bowl. You will need 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of oatmeal mix per bag, so mix the amount you need and add the amount of glitter sparkle you like!
- Scoop sparkly oatmeal into a bead bag and seal the bag closed making sure the ziploc is secure. Don’t overfill the bags. I like the bags to be about half full and not overly plump. Set aside.
- Make an antler template. I cut up a manila file folder to make my template. The antler is about 2 1/2″ tall and 1 1/2″ at the widest bumpy part. Using the template, trace the antler pattern on the dark brown paper and cut as many antler pairs as you need.
- Fold the light brown 3″ x 4″ paper in half, so the paper is 2″ x 3″. Glue two antlers on the back and let dry. Watch that the antlers do not slide while the glue is wet. You may need to hold the antlers in place for a minute until they stick in position.
- Thread one jingle bell onto a piece of ribbon. Silver jingle bells were easier to thread than gold; they had a bigger “loop” on the bottom in the brand that I purchased from Michael’s Crafts. Move the jingle bell to the middle of the ribbon piece. Match the ends of the ribbon and tie a knot close to the ends. After the antlers dry, wrap the loop of ribbon around the folded piece of paper, so the knot of the ribbon sits up against the fold, and the jingle bell is above the paper near the antlers (like a handle for hanging).
- Slide the oatmeal bag into the folded paper and line up the top of the bag with the crease at the top of the paper fold. You may have to adjust the ribbon strip a little, so everything sits neatly. Staple the bag in place in the center of the paper where the mouth would be.
- Glue eyes and nose onto the front of the paper and let dry.
- If you want to dress up your reindeer food a little, see the picture below with embellishments like the bow on the front (to hide the staple) and pointed face. This one is my original reindeer food bag that I have been using as my model all of these years– and not letting my children open and use it!
I pulled out the turkey toilet paper roll napkin rings my children made when they were in kindergarten. I like to use them for a few weeks around Thanksgiving– not just on Thanksgiving day. The year my son built his, we made sets for all of the grandparents and extended family and brought them with us to our family Thanksgiving meal. My in-laws still have their napkin rings.
If you make the napkin ring at school, it’s a fun little craft students can take home to their family. If you are building these with a whole class, you may want to pre-make certain steps, and you will need two days to let paint and glue dry– or do some work at the beginning of the day and finish construction towards the end of the day.
- toilet paper or paper towel rolls cut into 2 inch wide rings.
- brown and yellow tempera paint
- brown pipe cleaners (for the feet, optional)
- red felt
- assorted colored feathers (we used red, yellow, and orange)
- googly eyes, 3 mm
- wood craft spoons ~3/5 inches in height (I used THESE)
- Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun
- Paint the wooden craft spoons yellow and the toilet paper roll rings brown. Let dry. (This step can be prepped ahead of time if you do not want the mess and clean-up of lots of tempera paint.)
- Cut the red felt into a tear drop shape about 1-inch tall.
- After the paint dries, glue the red felt tear drop shaped piece onto the middle of the spoon end of the wooden stick. Glue two googly eyes above the read waddle. Let dry flat.
- Glue the yellow wooden stick turkey face to the side of the painted toilet paper roll piece. You may need to hold the craft spoon in place for a few minutes, so the face does not slide to the side. ** Note: Hot glue might be a better option here since the Elmer’s glue takes longer to dry and hold.
- If you are adding the pipe cleaner feet, you will need an adult to poke two holes at the base of the wooden spoon. Thread the pipe cleaner through the two holes, so a loop runs around the inside of the toilet paper roll. Fold and bend each pipe cleaner end into feet shape with 3 toes. Cut any excess length of pipe cleaner off.
- Glue 3 feathers onto the back of the toilet paper roll and arrange, so the feathers are fanned out.
- Roll a napkin and slid into the napkin ring and set at each place setting for your Thanksgiving feast!