Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas (Part 1): Students and Parents

It's almost the end of the quarter for us, which means grade cards.  I'm spending my days working on grades and rounding up a list of late work, and generally just working through my list of things to do.

On my school list- the bolded gifts are included in today's post:
*Finish grades; get list of late work to collect
*Complete gifts for students 
*Gifts for my fourth grade team
*Gifts for the office, administration, school nurse, school counselor, and our classroom aides
*Finish gifts for parents from me (a card)
*Prepare gifts for parents from students

I absolutely love gifting.  With my list above, that means 20 student gifts, 2 team gifts, 5 office/admin gifts, and 5 support staff gifts.  The money adds up fast.  Here's what I do and how I keep it affordable for the holidays.  Mostly, coupons and shopping a year ahead of time at after-Christmas sales.

I always hand gifts out a day or two before break to ensure that everyone gets their gift and I don't forget anyone.  Also, last year we had a snow day on the day before break so everyone was in a tizzy about not handing things out earlier, but I was all done!

Student Gifts: 
Name Magnets
I have done the same gift for years now.  Kids love things with their names on them, so I make wooden letters with their names and added some magnets to the back.  Most of them end up keeping it on their desk for the remainder of the year.  On the front end, this was a little more money, but since I've done it for years now, I have leftovers that I can use from year to year.

I don't wrap them.  I used to, but after you watch 25 kids tear through the wrapping and then leave it on the floor for you to pick up later, you just kind of give up on making it look all pretty.  The kids just don't care how much effort you put into the wrapping.  So I stopped wrapping them.  I have never heard a complaint and it saves me a lot of time. 

What you need:  
Wooden letters- I get these at Hobby Lobby (2 for $1.49- used to be 2 for a dollar but they upped their price).  Grab a 40% off coupon each time you stop in to make it more affordable.  Now that I've done this for years, I raid last year's left over letters before I make a trip to the store, that way I only end up spending about $10 on letters per year.  

Spray Paint- I have tons of this at home, so I just use whatever color I already have

Paint Pens- Unfortunately, I do have to re-buy these each year because they dry out.  Again, grab a coupon as you run out the door.

Magnets- I get one pack of 50 and wait for the best coupon I can (usually 50% off).  

I tend to stop in and pick up something when I'm out in about throughout the year so that I can use coupons on everything.  Then I'm also not doing all my running around the week before break when there are so many other things going on.

Parent Gifts from Students: 
Cinnamon Ornament
These smell so darn good.  I made up the "dough" the night before and rolled it out and stored it in gallon baggies in the refrigerator.  It was really helpful, except that I didn't make it thick enough and had to reroll it in class again.  If you roll it between saran wrap, it is much easier and way less messy.  That way, all we did at school was cut our shape, let it dry out, and tie on a ribbon.

Here's the recipe: (with Elmer's glue so that they stick together better than mine did...)

Cinnamon Ornaments
1 cup ground cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbs glue

Mix all ingredients together for 2-3 minutes.  Add more cinnamon or applesauce depending on texture- too much cinnamon will make the "dough" crumbly.  

Roll out dough between two pieces of saran wrap to about 1/4 inch thickness.  If you want to let it sit overnight (and be ready to go the next day!) then put the flattened saran wrap dough in gallon baggies and stack them on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator overnight.  

Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, using a toothpick to make a hole at the top.  

You can leave these out to dry for 3-4 days or back them at 200 degrees F for a few hours.  

Tie on a ribbon and you're done!

We will wrap them and take them home on the last day before break.

Parent Gifts from Me (and the class): 
Picture Holiday Card
This is pretty straight forward.  At the after Christmas Sales, I find 2 packages of cards with picture holders for dirt cheap.  Every year, I hand out Santa hats and we take a class picture.  I send it to Walgreens (with, you guessed it, a photo coupon code).

We have a card signing party and all the kids sign the card.  I write on them before I mail them out.  I teach at a parochial school, so sending out a Christmas card is not a problem.

I give the kids the job of stamping their cards, addressing them, and putting on return address labels.

So you probably read "I hand out Santa hats" and about fell out of your chair.  If you've ever had lice in your room, you are probably cringing at the idea.  I do give students the option of bringing their own hat on picture day.  For those that don't have one (or forgot!) I hand out hats, give a speech about not sharing things that go on our head, and take our picture.  Then I collect the hats, put them in a big plastic bag and tie it up to kill those little suckers (if we have any, of course).  I just assume all kids have lice.

Here's a {silly book full of facts} about those gross little critters.  Are you itching yet?  I'm sorry.

I've never had anyone come back to school with lice after using my Santa hats.  But if it scares you, you can do this instead:  

Image from Paper and Cake Etsy Store.  Click on the link for this product!

I'll post Gifting Part 2: Administration, team teachers, and support staff tomorrow!

Happy Gifting!

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