Friday, November 06, 2009

Ask Design Mom Week — Teacher Gifts

I need help with an idea! I'm on the PTA hospitality committee and we do Christmas gifts for all the teachers and staff (about 70 people — men and women). We are struggling to come up with an idea for this year — our budget is very limited (about $200 - TOTAL). In the past we've done: homemade caramel apples, white chocolate popcorn, Christmas potpourri.... Do you have any craft or cooking ideas for us? — Thanks, Cherie'

Hi Cherie! Here's the first thing to come to my mind. Last Christmas, my friends Laura and Lisa made homemade vanilla extract (you know, like you'd use in baking) and packaged it in charming little bottles. I've been wanting to try the same idea for ages! In addition to vanilla extract, they also made vanilla sugar, vanilla almonds and lip gloss too. You can find more photos and instructions (and label pdfs!) here. Between those 4 ideas, hopefully everyone on your list will be covered. But if not, I'm sure my super smart readers will have tons more suggestions.

Dear Readers, what would you do if you were Cherie and needed to find gifts (on a limited budget) for teachers and staff at your school?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hot Chocolate

Cake in a jar

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:06:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

I actually made the vanilla extract
last year (thank you, by the way) and everyone was totally 'ga-ga' over it!

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:12:00 PM EST  
Blogger nikki said...

I've always liked the idea of giving a donation to the needy schools in your city (to provide breakfast or lunch or school supplies to needy children) Similar to giving a goat to a family in a foreign country. We did this last year and my daughter's teacher loved that it was for the education of needy children locally.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Bridget said...

Vanilla extract is a GREAT idea...but it needs to sit for 6 months before it can be maybe something for next summer that you can use for the next holiday season. I made 45 bottles this June for Christmas gifts, and it cost $2.90 per 4 ounce bottle.

The pretzel sticks that are half covered with chocolate and then dipped in nuts or sprinkles are pretty easy, and they are pretty easy for four people (one work on melting chocolate/almond bark, one work on dipping in chocolate, one working on dipping in different toppings).

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:21:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Deborah said...

My mom was a teacher and while she loved the students, the gifts piled up. I'd have a group of people make different cookies and give the teachers plates with assorted cookies. Wrap with clear wrap and a ribbon. Tasty, inexpensive and they don't take up space.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tara said...

Little Birdie Secrets had a great idea last year....pretty hand sanitizer!

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:34:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Jessica L. said...

I made stationery one year by using card stock and cutting the edges with pinking shears. Then, I bought colorful envelopes. Homemade and pretty cute. Tie up the bundle with a pretty ribbon.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:38:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Barchbo said...

As a teacher, like a thoughtful note or card - something personal that shows I am having a positive impact on my kids.

I have also loved: teas, coffees, spices (vanilla extract would have been lovely) gift cards, cute games, lottery tickets (that came with a funny poem that the student wrote), picture frames - small tokens. Please, NOTHING high-calorie. PLEASE! Also, 86 the apple decor unless you know your child's teacher likes it.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger Shannon and Cameron said...

I'm a teacher too and I agree with the other teacher... no treats! We appreciate the thoughtfulness but you get soooo many and honestly, I tossed a lot of them. My favorite gift was a donation in my name to a charity. I also loved gift cards (in any amount) to book stores, Lakeshore, even Target. We spend so much of our own money teaching and it is awesome to get a gift card. I have also appreciated classroom gifts (i.e. books, games, supplies, etc.)

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 5:06:00 PM EST  
Blogger Michele said...

I think gift certificates work best. As a room mom, we asked each of the teachers to fill out a little survey which included questions about where they like to shop and eat. Throughout the year, for holidays and birthdays, we pull the lists and give gift certificates to those specific places. It's more personal that way, and the teachers can go pick out something they will actually use.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 5:45:00 PM EST  
Blogger Sarah said...

An easy and functional gift would be to make rice heat packs. You can make them without blowing your budget if you use donated or inexpensive fabric.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 6:02:00 PM EST  
Blogger Bloom said...

love this idea embellished kitchen towels

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 6:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger DPeaGreen Designs | Diane Green said...

If you cross-stitch or know teachers who do, I designed a Chinese symbol pattern for the word "Teacher". The costs then would be 1 pattern, the fabric, thread and a bit of time, less time if several people can cross stitch them. I don't think they take too long for even a beginner to complete :)

or a gift certificate/card and enclose it in personally created notecards?


Monday, November 9, 2009 at 6:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger LetterB said...

Last year my son made bookmarks for his Pre-K teachers. It was easy enough for him to do (almost) on his own and he loved personalizing each one (like he stuck about 25 googly eyes on the one for his art teacher) His teachers really loved them. We had already chipped in on B&N gift cards for them but it would also be nice to make a bookmark and put it inside a gift book for the teacher.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 8:32:00 PM EST  
Anonymous EmmersRae said...

I'm doing chocolate covered Oreos this year. They're everyone's favorite cookie, and a little extra chocolate never hurts. Super easy to make, and easy on the budget. Package 4 or 5 in a cellophane bag with a pretty bow and you're set

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 8:53:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea for the heated rice can also use corn. However, if you make them small, they can be hand warmers (for in pockets or inside mittens). Quick to make and inexpensive if they are small.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9:13:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Amber Lee said...

Love the comments from teachers. I've tried and loved the vanilla too. A shelf life of forever makes it so easy for the giver and receiver.

One we might do this year is seed tape with flowers

Or one we did last year was personalized hand soap

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 10:11:00 AM EST  
Blogger Design Mom said...

I think many of these same ideas would be great for neighbor gifts too!

Barchbo, Shannon - so glad you chimed in. I think it's great to get the viewpoint on real teachers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 11:02:00 AM EST  
Blogger KJ said...

Pretty bags of mulling spices: I purchased whole spices in the bulk section at the grocery store, and bundled them together in little bags tied with ribbon (cinnamon sticks, cloves, allpsice, star anise). It was very budget friendly. My husband is a teacher and quite frankly, we receive far more sweets, cookies, candy, popcorn, soda, cocoa, than we can possibly ever consume. It's all very thoughtful, but a sincere note is more meaningful than any gift. MOre ideas here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 11:20:00 AM EST  
Blogger Bri said...

While this may not be practical for the person who wrote in, I love the idea of the oilcloth lunch bag. I found a tutorial from a lady who has several great ideas for teacher gifts. The lunch bag does require a small amount of sewing, but they turn out darling. As a former teacher, I would've loved something like this...I always brought my lunch in a plastic bag.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 12:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger mandi said...

granola! you can make a lot for just a little (money). put it in a cute jar, with a bow, and something catchy like 'we're nuts over you'. ok, maybe not that cheesy.

i am a former teacher so i can tell you what NOT to give: apple decor, t-shirts about being a teacher (that are 4 sizes too big), scented lotions, candy/cookies. i mean really, my favorite presents were the sweet ones from the kids. like the 12 pack of lipstick or the chipped bird statue. those were treasures to me...because they were from the kids. even though i had to wear lavender lipstick all day...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 11:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dee said...

I'm a former teacher, and I can tell you what we don't want. "Apple ANYTHING" No apple necklaces, apple mugs, apple paperweights. No Thank You! Gift Certificates are great! Coffee, Yoga, Message, Dinner. Love them. I do love the cute vanilla ideas for a home made touch.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:19:00 AM EST  
Blogger connie j said...

I'm a high school art teacher. My favorite gifts are those that show my students listen to me and know me. (So basically I'm like most humans).

So gifts with wit are the best. Examples: A wisk with a tag: We wisk you a Merry Christmas. Or a hilariously corny Chick-fil-A calendar with coupons.

Bookstore gift certificates are pretty great too, for us nerds who love to learn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 5:45:00 PM EST  
Anonymous LeAnn said...

The heated rice bags are GREAT. I had a student several years ago who gave those as gifts. I keep mine beside my bed. It smells great and works like a charm on headaches.

Check the scrap bin or clearance racks at places like JoAnn or Hobby Lobby. You can often find great fabric for a dollar or less a yard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 9:00:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How crazy, I never post but wanted to chime in....I am a teacher too (middle school)...and am breaking my ban on leaving comments in order to say PLEASE don't give us sweets! We love the thought and the effort and even those of us who eat a TON of sweets and LOVE chocolate get overwhelmed at Christmas with sweets (even homemade ones!), If you have a really good sweet treat idea you want to give to your child's teacher, give them a card in December that say when they are least expecting it, they will get find a treat from you--then surprise them in March!

But really, thank you to all the moms who care enough to remember the teacher during this HECTIC time!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 11:19:00 PM EST  

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