Food is on the way, friends: I promise you. But until then, we craft.
I hope, for those of you who have school-age children, that you didn’t miss the boat on teachers’ gifts this year. The half-hour of my yesterday I spent at the Wee One’s preschool only confirmed what I already knew, and that is that teachers of pre-school age children deserve to be paid way more than football players, actors, or anyone else, for that matter. Have you ever spent any amount of time with 20+ 3 year olds? It’ll steal a part of your soul. It will suck the life force right out of you. You’ll feel like curling up into a tiny ball and hiding under very small furniture. There is not enough time on this earth for me to outline the amount of things I’d rather do than spend 5 minutes with pre-kindergarteners. Except for mine, and she is awesome.
Her teachers are pretty awesome as well. Aside from having to deal with working in a Terrordome all day, they’ve really taken the time to get to know and love my sweet Wee, and I know they know and appreciate how wonderfully well-behaved and eager to please she is. They support and encourage her in all her activities, and I’m so happy to have found a group of teachers so loving towards her. Of course I’m going to give them a christmas gift. And yes, I am going to make it myself.
I come from a long line of gift-creators. Our tribe does not purchase pre-made gift baskets, cookie trays, something random from a craft store, oh no, no: we do it. We went to private school our entire lives, and those teachers are extra deserving, in my opinion, because they’re held to very high standards in both their classrooms and as individuals in the community. The bar, then, for presents is set higher as well.
My family takes that perhaps a bit too far. For instance, when I was in first grade, my teacher (who is still regarded as my favorite elementary teacher) was a family friend. My mom made, as her christmas gift, a scale gingerbread model of the entire school building for her. I kid you not. I believe there was another year where she did a scale ginger model of our classroom. She also was known for doing things like this:
That’s a hand-cut, hand-painted wooden baby sheep, which is part of a much larger nativity scene, created by my mom. She made them for all the teachers when we were little. We had a band saw in our basement. For those of you unfamiliar with band saws, those are the giant ones that you can cut whole limbs off with if you’re not careful. All of us still have our appendages, don’t worry: mom’s a pro. She taught us that when we heard the sweet, dissonant melody of shrieking blades downstairs, we were only allowed to come as far as the doorway.
So I’ll be upping my game by degrees. For now, I thought this turned out really cute, and it was inexpensive and easy to make. The Wee has three teachers in her classroom, so my goal was to not spend a fortune, and make it something practical, and let her participate in it as well. Here’s what’s included:
- 1 extra-large holiday mug, $3.99 each
- 1 bag Dove chocolates, divided $2.79
- 20-ct mechanical pencils, divided $5.49
- 3 holiday spatulas, $4.99 each
- 3 Eos lip balms, $2.69 each
- 1 recipe Cinnamon Dough* for handmade ornaments (which costs maybe $7 by my estimation to make, and you have lots of fun doing it, plus lots of extra ornaments left over for gift tags and tree-hanging. I feel like that negates the actual cost)
- 1 spool thin grosgrain ribbon, $1.99
- Elmer’s glue or other all-purpose white glue (which you buy for the ornaments themselves, so no cost)
- Glitter shakers (range in price, but you can get them most anywhere for around $5/dozen. Don’t go Martha Stewart on this: $19.99 for glitter shakers?! I DO NOT THINK SO.)
- 3 clear lunchbag-sized gift bags (again, extras left over for food gifts, which negates cost, IMO)
- wired fat ribbon for bow-ing (because wired ribbon makes everyone look like a pro)
*A note regarding the cinnamon dough: This is the recipe I used, and it worked wonderfully. On the recipe I linked to, it says the ornaments take from 4-5 days to dry. Not true, if you roll them out to about 1/8 inch thickness, but it does depend on size, because they dry from the edges inward. Let them dry on waxed paper for maybe a day, flipping once when the upturned side has dried/stablized. Transfer them to a wire rack for maybe another day at most, because this allows the air to hit both sides, and therefore will dry them faster.
And that’s it! I’d include a tutorial for making them, but the instructions on the link are very straightforward, and it’s no more difficult than rolling out/cutting sugar cookies: actually easier since there’s no “warm-up” factor with this dough. The Wee One cut all the ornaments out (and everyone in my family is getting one as a gift tag as well), and we had the best time decorating them together one night over christmas music. She has a little art table downstairs in her play room that’s perfect for projects like these: a simple run of the DustBuster and all that excess glitter is a thing of the past. I drew the glue lines, she shook the glitter, we set them out to dry: instant cute ornaments. And glitter’s totally optional: we used to make these as kids for our regular tree and they were simply a cut/dry/hang deal.
To assemble the gifts, simple remove all price stickers from the mugs and wash (sometimes they’re fingerprinty and/or dusty). Insert clear bag into mug and spread out like you would put a trash bag in a trash can. Place the spatula, pencils, and lip balm in the bag and secure around the spatula handle with a (included in the clear bags) twist tie. Throw some candies in around the outside of the bag (double duty here: not only does that provide a little color splash and added stability, it also serves a practical purpose by keeping the lip gloss flavor scent away from the chocolates). Secure your finished ornaments with another twist tie around your initial twist tie at the top. Finish up with a big bow using your fat wired ribbon.
I added a handmade card, hole-punched and threaded with kitchen twine and tied around where the bow is, but you can just throw a card anywhere either in this or alongside it. Your choice.
So there you have it: simple teachers’ gifts, simple craft to make for that OR for your own personal use. Hope all of you have a lovely weekend. Mom and my sister touch down on Sunday, and I’ve already got a lineup of (extremely relaxing) events planned out for us this week. I’ll be sharing all of that with you (as well as a little holiday house tour) in the very near future.