Tis the season when I start obsessing about holiday teacher gifts for my children’s teachers. Let’s recap. I teach at the school my children attend. I like to give a sirsee to each teacher who works with my children, so I need close to twenty little gifts at a low cost. Since I am a teacher too, I (over) analyze the practicality of the gift and whether I think the teachers and administrators receiving these holiday treats will need them and use them– and like them.
After much consideration, I chose to make herb mixes in little jars. Over the holidays, people often have guests or extended family at their house and need group food or dips on hand. These herb mixes are easy to mix by adding sour cream or mayonnaise (or both). They look pretty in the jars, are easy to assemble in large quantities, and will keep if they are not used right away.
I found the recipe for the herb mixes at Bubbly Nature Creations. I tested the Fiesta Dip Mix, Italian Dip Mix, and Ranch Herb Dip Mix. The original recipes fit perfectly into the smaller jars with cork stoppers that I had. I ended up doubling the Fiesta Dip Mix and using 65 mL jars with a flip lid. The jars held roughly 1/4 c. of dry mix. I purchased the jars at Hobby Lobby.
I made Fiesta Dip Mix Labels to tie around the jars. I printed the labels on green cardstock and used my paper cutter to make sure the labels were cut evenly with straight edges. We glued each label onto a piece of red cardstock that was a little larger than the green label, punched a hole in the top, and tied to the jar with curly ribbon. The red paper border really isn’t necessary and made the label a little too long for the height of the jar. I will skip that detail next time.
Congratulations to Lucy and Stephanie for winning the petal gift bag giveaway! Thanks to all who submitted an entry.
If you missed out on the giveaway but want to make your own petal bag, click here for directions. I have many other little gift ideas for teachers, friends, and neighbors, so be sure to click the picture links below or the Sirsees tab in the black bar above.
When organizing a teacher gift, I try to follow a generic but personal policy. The carrot pickles with cilantro are a little bit of a risk and break this rule. I visited Sewing Sister last weekend, and she served some carrot pickles with grilled hamburgers for dinner. The pickles were surprisingly delicious, easy to make in large batches, and they looked really pretty in the jars. The risky part, however, is that it is a pretty specific food type– not very generic. I teach at the school my son attends and know my son’s teachers fairly well. I was pretty sure everyone would eat them (or at least try them).
If you don’t know your child’s teachers at all but want to send a small appreciation gift for the end of the year, I think the Insulated Drinking Cup with gift card or an Ice Cream Sundae Kit works better. If you know your teachers like trying new restaurants or enjoy good food, I would give this gift a try, especially if you need to make a large quantity. I needed about 15 teacher gifts.
I will also be bringing an extra jar to a friend’s house this weekend as a hostess gift.
1 1/2 lb. carrots, trimmed and peeled
8 oz. shallots, thinly sliced
6 sprigs cilantro
1 c. distilled white vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. celery seeds
2 t. whole black peppercorns
Cut the carrots into sticks that match the height of the jars you are using or slice using a bias cut (this is the diagonal, oval shaped cut).
Combine the carrots, shallots, and dill in a glass container with a lid.
In saucepan, combine 1 c. water, 1 c. vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, celery seeds, and peppercorns. Heat until it simmers.
Pour the heated vinegar mixture over the veggies, cover loosely, and let cool to room temperature.
Tighten lid when cooled and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Can be kept in the refrigerator ~2 weeks.
I used a 5-lb bag of carrots, 5 shallots, and 2 bunches of cilantro to fill 17-20 jars. I used a mix of tall and wide mouth half pint jars. I needed 4 batches of the vinegar mixture.
I tied a label to each jar with raffia ribbon explaining the contents and wishing the teachers a happy summer from our family. Click here for the Carrot Pickles with Cilantro Labels.
The recipe is fairly forgiving, so you can double, triple, etc. pretty easily.
The cilantro can be replaced with dill.
The original recipe came from Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Brothers. They have a whole section of pickle recipes. Sewing Sister also recommends the radish pickles and the watermelon pickles.
What homemade recipes have you given as teacher or hostess gifts that work well? Do you think this gift is a hit or miss? I will admit that I am giving Miss Priss’ teachers (who I do not know as well) the insulated cup gift!
It is only December 2, and I already feel like a crazy person. Every year, I decide to make all kinds of Martha Stewart-ish holiday treats (cocoa kits, reindeer food bags, gingerbread houses…) and then get testy with everyone in my house because they interrupt my projects when they want something– like dinner. Even though I had about 6 loads of laundry to do, several sets of school papers to grade, and various other weekend chores, I chose to mix up a batch of Buttered Nuts with Rosemary and Orange, print cutesy labels, and bag them using one of the clear gift bags I have in my vast collection.
This morning’s project is super fast and will be going to some of my husband’s co-workers or given as a thank you sirsee to the hosts at the (few) holiday parties we are attending if I run out of cocoa kits.
2 cups lightly salted roasted mixed nuts can (an 11.5 oz can)
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. sugar
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 T. thinly sliced orange zest
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts, sugar, rosemary, and zest. Cook, tossing, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool on a baking sheet.
NOTE: Recipe can be doubled easily. I added an additional 1/2 c. of pecan halves and 1/2 c. of plain almonds and a few extra mixed nuts, then doubled the seasonings and butter.
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!