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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Combine flour, water, gelatin, and corn syrup in a large mixing bowl until it is well-combined and turns into a paste.
- Add the birdseed to the paste mixture and stir until well-coated.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
I have been agonizing over holiday teacher gifts again. Each year I need at least a dozen small gifts for all of my children’s teachers. It is not something I have to do. It is something I like to do. I know how much I appreciate the gifts my students give me at Christmas, so I like to do the same for the teachers my children have. I spend a lot of time finding something that is affordable yet (hopefully) useful.
This year, I mass produced flavored sugars in small jars. Almost all teachers I know drink coffee on a daily basis, and while they don’t need a coffee mug, I thought they might like a coffee “mixer”. The sugar has a little gourmet twist to it with the vanilla bean flavor, and the gift is consumable. Teachers won’t have to store or care for it once it is used. I made extra jars to use as hostess gifts or little sirsees for neighbors.
- 2 c. sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- Put 2 cups sugar in a mixing bowl
- On a cutting board, split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean.
- Add the vanilla bean seeds to the sugar and mix well.
- Put a piece of the vanilla bean pod in the bottom of the jar and add flavored sugar to the top.
- Store in an airtight container.
- I purchased my jars at Hobby Lobby during their 50% off glassware sale this weekend. At full price, the jars are about $2.50. They are 3 1/4″ tall with a flip lid.
- Two batches of sugar filled 18 jars. The jars hold a little less than 1/3 cup.
- I printed Flavored Sugar Labels and tied the label to each jar with baker’s twine.
- For a variation, mix 2 c. sugar with 1/4 c. whole cardamom seeds. Add the cardamom sugar to your daily cup of coffee.