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:

On the 12th and Final Day, I Gave a Traditional Gift

Well, it is here. The final post for Christmas gift ideas. This year will be the tenth anniversary of our family calendar. Not only do I include family photos and all of the standard holidays, my family calendar has all school dates and special school events for the grandkids. If it is your birthday or anniversary, a picture of you is on that calendar day. If you have a special reunion or favorite sport event, it is highlighted.

I would be lost without this calendar. I know my mom would too. It helps me keep track of my siblings and their families since we don’t live very close to each other. It also acts like a little yearbook. When I started giving this gift, my second niece had just been born. Now there are 9 grandkids in our family! What special traditions do you have for your extended family?

The Template: I built a massive Word document with tables and text boxes. Each year, I open the old calendar and update the months. I just checked out Shutterfly, and they now offer the option to customize the small “day” squares as well as the photos in the top page where the name of the month is listed. I am sure other photo websites are beginning to offer more flexibility in what you can add to your calendar. I may change over to Shutterfly this year after testing out the options.

The Months: I include pictures that relate to the specific month. For example, April this past year had all of the Easter pictures of the grandkids. If there is a month that does not have related pictures, I can dedicate that page to the grandparents or one specific sibling and his/her family.

The Dates: It is usually pretty easy to go to school websites and get a calendar of the current academic year. I cannot always get the dates for the following academic year, so sometimes school dates won’t go beyond June. I also include items like Final 4 (for my dad and brother) and Kentucky Derby (for my husband) and Mardi Gras (for me). It is fun to add dates that are not national holidays but are special events for my family.

The Photos: I keep a file on my computer throughout the year. Any time a family member forwards a picture, I save it to my calendar folder. OK, I will be honest. I have a main calendar folder with sub-folders of all the past calendars listed by year. Within those sub-folders are 12 sub-sub-folders, so everything can be saved by month.

The Printing: I save the document as a PDF and have it printed at FedEx Office. It is color printed on white cardstock, front and back. I have spiral binding inserted at the top and ask for a hole to be drilled at the bottom for hanging.

Thank You: Thank you, Beth. You inspired me to start this tradition many years ago when I saw a calendar your sister made for all of your family members!

On the 8th Day, I Gave Photo Gifts

I try not to give a picture of my kids in a silver frame to the grandparents every year, but it is hard to avoid. To be honest, someone in my family is getting something that is photo related at Christmas. First of all, I love photos. Secondly, it is just too hard to bypass once there are grandkids and family get togethers and new babies. However, you do not have to give a photo in a frame. There are many cool photo related gifts available. Here are some I like. What unique photo gifts have you found?

Idea 1: Easy123Art will take your digital photo and turn it into a paint by number. I gave my brother and sister-in-law a paint by number of one of their wedding photos the year they got married. These are not a child’s paint by number. One of my Atlanta friends completed two of these of her children, and they looked like professional paintings. She did say they take time and work.

Idea 2: Kolo 5×7 Vineyard albums are paper photo albums that hold 12 photos.. They come in a variety of colors. If there has been a special family trip or event, I will complete an album for a gift. When I went with my husband’s family to Yellowstone, I made albums for his parents and sister to remember the trip. When my whole family came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I made albums for everybody with fun family pictures from the parades. The albums are little “best of” collections. I keep a huge basket of them in my living room, and guests browse through them– or I browse through them when I need a little pick me up.

Idea 3: Have a photo turned into a postage stamp. There is a surcharge, but these are actual USPS postage stamps. If you do not mind paying a little extra, these are fun for baby announcements, holiday cards, or wedding thank you notes.

Idea 4: Smartphone covers or e-reader covers can be made with a special photo. My husband had one made as a Mother’s Day gift for my iPhone. He used Zagg.

Idea 5: Have photos inserted into a set of Tervis Tumblers. A good friend saved invitations from parties she hosted and mailed them to Tervis. She has a set of “party cups” with all of her party invitations sealed inside. There are some size limitations.