Sunday, December 13, 2009

Teacher and Classmate Gifts

So many parents get stressed out over the age old question – what do I give my child's teacher for Christmas? Or worse yet, what about the classmates? Or the bus driver? If your crafty, teacher gifts shouldn't have to bring you to tears, it's simple, everything looks better in a pretty package.

Some people pay $50 or more for classy and elegant stationary and gift sets, but come on, is the paper in that notepad really any better than the $1.99 for 3 counterpart sitting right beside it? Of course it isn't, retailers simply know that if you put something in a pretty package it sells better. So rule one of great teacher gifts – DRESS IT UP.

Another tip with teacher gifting is to simply remember that she probably, if she's been in the profession for any length of time, has it ALL. There are only so many mugs and paperweights and ornaments to be bought, so when you pick your gift think outside the box. One thing that comes to mind in particular this year is school supplies. Due to the economic crisis many schools were forced to cut the teacher's supply budget putting more responsibility on the teacher to buy class supplies. So why not gift what she probably already needs? Pick up supplies on after school clearance racks for this type of gift and you'll look impressive while keeping your own costs down. What types of things would be useful? Think composition books, crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, scissors, etc. Taylor your items to the grade level of your child (if you couldn't tell, we still deal with preschoolers Same thing goes for the bus driver, he probably doesn't need another travel mug (Shouldn't be drinking and driving anyway, right?) and he's probably got 3 fruitcakes stashed away from his last 3 stops. So what's a mom to do? I can honestly say, in this household anyway, I don't think twice about gifting the bus driver a nice (and small) gift card for the local coffee and donut shop. We keep it simple and inexpensive at $5, enough for one coffee and one donut or breakfast sandwich. There is no need to buy his breakfast for the next year. Package it in a nice gift card holder or a small decorated gift bag and your good to go. So, to recap, rules 2 and 3 – KEEP IT SIMPLE AND PERSONALIZED and DON'T BREAK THE BANK, SMALL IS OK.

So, you might ask, how do I pull all these off and still make it look impessive? It's easy and I'll show you. Go to the dollar store and gather up a few supplies. For this example I bought...

A colorful bucket (Target usually has these in their $1 section every season. I happened to pick these up in the summer months and they were bright and colorful.)

Some shredded paper or, as I've shown here, some $.99 tissue paper (If you have a paper shredder at home, this is even easier, put some colored scraps through there and shred your own.)

A few fillers (My son is giving this as a gift to his “play date” friend.) here I used Markers, some Safety Scissors, and some mini Play Dough Tubs and cookie cutters.

Add some ribbon and you've got it!

Now, just a few tips about arranging it.

  1. Make sure all the contents of your container can be easily seen. You can make things more visible by putting paper shreds or tissue paper directly into the base of your container.

  2. Keep larger items to the back and smaller, less visible items up front where they can be easily seen. Use crumpled tissue paper or paper shreds to hold up smaller items so they don't slip to the bottom of the container.

  1. Make good use of product packaging (colors, designs, etc.) but if packaging makes something too big to fit or too bulky, don't be afraid to discard it, as I did here with the markers.

  2. Arrange everything in a pleasing manner and don't be afraid to re-arrange until you like what you've got.

  3. If a small object doesn't fit (example, the cookie cutters I added) tie it onto a fun bow as an accent.

  4. If you wish, you can buy inexpensive rolls of cellophane at most craft stores to wrap up your finished creation. Add a great card and some ribbon and you've got a fun, personalized gift.

You can hop on over to my blog to view more of the gift items I've been crafting this season. Have fun making a personalized gift for your special teacher!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great article Melanie! As a first grade teacher, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your suggestions. Other small items I always need are waterless hand sanitizer and thank you cards! :)

  3. Now this is such a cute idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. so cute Melanie, and a great idea for a gift ;)

  5. Thanks for sharing. If you are looking to promote your brand in a unique way or want to add that special touch to your gifting solutions, an ideal option is to use customized gifts like t-shirts, pens, mugs, bags which have your company logo imprinted on them.

  6. So very cute Melanie! I'll be making something like that soon for my DD's teachers. Thanks for the inspiration!