Last year my boys and I came up with this simple and frugal teacher gift idea. We wanted to give nice gifts that were still affordable. Since we have multiple school age children, often with more than one teacher, this can add up quickly. And we can't forget our Sunday school teachers!
To start, I bought lots of Christmas coffee mugs from my favorite local thrift store. I think I paid around 10 cents a mug. You can find really cute mugs in thrift stores for a fraction of the retail price and they wash up just fine. In fact my favorite mug (I always use it if it is clean) is a Christmas mug I bought at the thrift store.
Here's a glimpse at our real-life crazy looking house that day. All you need is some goodies for your mugs like cocoa packets, candy canes, chocolate mints, tea bags, etc. You can even add small bags of homemade candy if you like and if it fits your budget you can add $5 gift cards for your local coffee, donut, or pastry shop.
Tie gift tags on with ribbon and use some filler or put in gift bags for easy wrapping and a nice presentation.
What are your favorite simple and frugal teacher gift ideas?
Last year the boys had a Dr. Seuss dress up day at school to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday. Since it is time to celebrate again I thought I would share their costumes.
Our oldest decided to dig this homemade GACK costume out of the costume dress-up box.
He wore this years ago when he was in preschool and was still able to fit into it.
We made a new Green Eggs and Ham costume for our second son. Mostly my husband who is quite artistic made this costume. He painted cardboard to look like a skillet, then we made a form for the green ham. I think we made it out of newspaper covered with green tissue paper. The eggs are made of white paper with green tissue paper yolks. The eggs and ham were taped to the board with packing tape and stayed on really well. They survived a whole school day and I think we still have this costume somewhere.
The yarn holding the costume up was taped to the back of the board and broke during the school day so he didn't wear it the whole day, but I think he made it through the hallway parade. He loved this costume and it was a fun project.
The boys had such fun being a part of the Dr. Seuss birthday celebration. Get ready to celebrate with your favorite Dr. Seuss stories on March 2nd!
These flower arrangements made in a hollow pumpkin are the cutest! They are perfect for Halloween and easily carry over into November for fall decorating.
My husband taught his floral design students how to make these pumpkin flower arrangements.
First you cut the top of the pumpkin off. You don't need it anymore since your pumpkin is essentially now a vase. Next scoop out all of the seeds and stringy strands until the inside is pretty clean like this.
You will put floral foam inside the pumpkin to hold water and the flowers. Once you position the moistened floral foam, start adding flowers until you get a full rounded shape with some height in the center (aim for about 1.5 times the height of the pumpkin). If you are making a centerpiece, it should not have a front and a back. You want it to look good all around since it will be seen on all sides.
This pumpkin flower arrangement makes such a lovely fall centerpiece.
My husband demonstrating how to make floral pumpkin arrangements at Pumpkin Daze at the arboretum. My seven year old made the square styrofoam jack-o-lantern by carving a solid block of styrofoam. He brought his jack-o-lantern to decorate at the arboretum too. He's such a sweet and creative kid and he is always making something.
One of my husband's students helped demonstrate at Pumpkin Daze and created this elegant pumpkin arrangement with floral sprays extending from each side.
Experience the the magic of Christmas with your children by preparing for Santa's Reindeer. They will love helping to make reindeer food and sprinkling it on the ground outside.
All you need is some oats or oatmeal and glitter. If you have access to oats that you would feed to horses you can mix it with glitter otherwise oatmeal works too. Just mix the oats or uncooked oatmeal with glitter and put in a container or small bag. Then let your little ones sprinkle it outside on Christmas Eve. Younger children love this. I found a picture of my oldest sprinkling magic reindeer food seven years ago. Such great memories.
I made these as party favors for a Mom's group children's Christmas party several years ago so I attached labels with a little poem and tied a bell to each one.
The poem reads: On Christmas Eve, sprinkle the magic reindeer food on the lawn. The magic glitter sparkling in the moonlight and the smell of the oats will guide Rudolph right to your house.
I was not the creative thinker behind Magic Reindeer Food. My department made this as a favor to send home with children who attended a Christmas party we threw every year at my old school where I taught Family and Consumer Science.
Linking up at Friendship Friday
Updating this old post to make it a little more pinterest friendly. I originally published this in February 2012 which means that my now 8 year old was only 5 then. He looks so cute and little in the pictures. How do they grow up so fast?
The other day I noticed a draft by the front door so my oldest and I decided we would make a draft snake. We used materials we already had and recycled some of my husband's old jeans for fabric. I always save his old jeans when he is done with them so I can reuse the fabric for sewing projects. This was a fun project to complete with my son. He helped me measure the door and the fabric. He also helped fill the snake with beans and fabric scraps. Then my husband drew scale patterns on the snake's back and they both colored them in.
Small piece of felt for the tongue
Two buttons for eyes (I save the extra buttons that come with new clothes)
Long piece of fabric for snake body
Dry beans and fabric scraps for filling
T-shirt markers if you want to draw scale patterns
1. Measure your door to see how much fabric you will need. Then measure and cut the fabric adding a few inches. I measured my door at 32 inches and added 4 inches making my fabric legnth 36 inches. I did not measure the width of the fabric. I just cut as wide as I thought would work for the snake. You only need to cut one piece of fabric because you can fold it to make a tube for the snake's body.
2. Fold your cut fabric so that the wrong side is out and sew along the bottom and side. Then turn the fabric so that the right side is out and you have a tube with one open end. Trim the open end so that it has a curved shape like a snake's mouth.
3. Sew two buttons onto what will be the snake's head. Cut a tongue shape out of your felt and sew it into the bottom of what will be the snake's mouth.
4. Fill the snake with dry beans and fabric scraps. The more beans you use, the heavier it will be so add some fabric scraps unless you want a 10 pound snake.
5. Leave a little room at the top so that you can sew the mouth shut. You may need to have someone hold the snake for you if you sew this part on a sewing machine. I sewed the mouth shut with a zigzag stitch twice to make sure that it was very secure. You could also hand sew this part.
6. If you would like to make a scale pattern on the snake's back draw a simple pattern with t-shirt or other fabric markers. Color in the scales or let your children have fun coloring.
Linking up at Create with Joy, Best Mom Advice, Friendship Friday, Share the Wealth
Merry Christmas Eve. I hope you have finished your shopping and are home enjoying your families. If you need some last minute ideas, here are a few of my favorite homemade gifts. These are all pretty simple to put together which is really important for us. With a house full of energetic boys, simple is always best.
Christmas Wreath Pull-apart Bread would make a beautiful addition to Christmas morning breakfast and a thoughtful Christmas gift for a neighbor.
Since we are talking homemade bread, here is another simple idea using a bread machine. Make loaves of homemade bread to gift to friends and neighbors.
And who wouldn't love fresh baked cookies?
This year I made chocolate covered pretzel rods and added them to gift baskets and I have some saved for family at Christmas. Really simple using candy molds and dipping some right into the melted chocolate.
We made this basket for some relatives. I combined some homemade candies (chocolate covered pretzel rods, peppermint bark, homemade fudge, and chocolate covered pretzels) with a box of peppermint tea in a small basket tied with a ribbon.
We made a similar basket for the boys' Kung Fu teacher adding pistachios since we knew his wife likes them. I didn't get another picture in the rush to get the boys to Kung Fu on time, but we added a red ribbon, a small card, and my oldest made origami and tucked it in.
Onto some non food gifts. Sewing kit in a jar is always a nice gift.
Homemade play dough is always great for kids. Include some Christmas cookie cutters for a fun gift.
This year the boys colored towels for their teachers. We combined seasonal teas with the homemade towels in gift bags. Make sure the markers will not wash out of fabric. I ran into this problem before. The boys colored beautiful towels for their grandmothers and uncle and the markers which were supposed to be for fabric washed out. I bought a new set and tested it this time and these markers do not wash out.
The boys had a blast coloring their towels.
Another great idea ishomemade liquid hand soap. You can use your favorite soap and make a whole gallon from one bar.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Linking up at Create with Joy, Friendship Friday, Share the Wealth
Since Christmas is almost upon us, I am reposting my old trusty recipe for Sugar Cookies with a few updates.
This recipe makes crispy cookies which are our favorite.
I like to frost some cookies with buttercream and some with a vanilla glaze.
I love snowflake cookies. I bought a new set of 4 different sizes of snowflake cookie cutters last year on clearance after Christmas. Snowflake cookies are perfect for Frozen themed parties too.
Christmas trees are fun too. I use a basket weave tip and pipe buttercream to make this pretty design, then top with a yellow star using a star tip. You can whip up a bunch of these really quickly.
To make this simple star, I use a star tip and pull the icing across the cookie giving it a slight twist as I go.
I love the look of swirled glazed cookies.
First pipe a border of buttercream to hold the glaze in place.
Then using a spoon delicately drop and spread a base color of glaze on the cookie spreading it to the buttercream border. Then drizzle on a second color and pull through it with a toothpick to create a unique swirl design. This is a fun activity to do with older kids. My students always enjoyed making these. When these are done, you need to let the glazed cookies set for at least a couple of hours before serving.
Create a lovely tiered cookie display by placing a cake plate on top of a coordinating platter.
½ cup butter (1 stick) ¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar 2 cups flour
1 Egg, large 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. milk ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
In electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg, then milk. Add vanilla. Blend salt and nutmeg into flour. Mix flour into dough. Knead on pastry cloth then put in Ziploc bag and refrigerate for about an hour or overnight if you want to bake later.
Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface and press with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Make frosting below. Frost cookies with butter-cream frosting or vanilla glaze.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick real butter not margarine)
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
In electric mixer, cream butter, shortening and vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar and milk. Continue to mix at high speed until icing is blended. Tint with icing color if desired.
2 Tbsp. milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir together in a bowl. Tint with icing color or food coloring if desired.
I always wait to the last minute and realized yesterday that today was my son's last day of preschool and I didn't have anything ready for teacher gifts. My son has three teachers in his classroom and being the frugal girl that I am I always try to come up with something nice, but inexpensive. Last year I made these really simple coffee and tea pouches for teacher appreciation week. One nice thing about these gifts is that they are consumables so my son's teachers aren't getting things that will add clutter to their lives.
With one day to prepare, I got my bread machine out and made homemade bread for each teacher. It took several hours to make three loaves, but since the bread machine did most of the work, it wasn't too difficult. I even programmed the bread machine to start early this morning before anyone was awake.
I packaged the loaves in plastic wrap and curling ribbon and attached hand written notes. One of the loaves was still warm so I placed it in a brown paper lunch bag inside of a gift bag.
What are your frugal homemade teacher gift ideas?
Disclosure: Sponsored post. I received product from Hershey's and a stipend from Global Influence for my post. All opinions are honest and are my own.
It doesn't get much better than brownie bites with CADBURY MINI EGGS. These are the perfect addition to your Easter celebration that will delight both young and old alike.
I love how easy these are to make. Simply bake your favorite brownie recipe in mini muffin pans. I made my favorite, Coconut Oil Brownies. You will need to reduce the cooking time and possibly the oven temperature depending on how crispy you want the edges to be.
I reduced the cooking time to 12-15 minutes and baked them at 350 degrees F. This recipe makes really moist brownies so it works well for the smaller mini muffin size.
I used my cookie dough scoop to put the batter in the mini muffin cups. It was easy and just the right amount of batter. The boys assisted with scooping batter into the muffin pan too (with careful supervision).
While still warm, I pushed in the tops of the brownies with a spoon to make little nests.
Cool on a wire rack. Then after they cool place CADBURY MINI EGGS in each nest. This is a fun job for any little helpers you may have.
For an enchanting display, nestle them in Easter grass on your serving tray.
HERSHEY'S has everything you need for Easter. The boys will be excited to find their baskets filled with HERSHEY'S candy on Easter morning.
Feeling crafty? You can make a cute recycled milk jug Easter basket out of an empty milk jug. I found a cute edible craft to make candy race cars that the boys would love too. You can find all kinds of recipes and crafts at the Celebrate with HERSHEY'S site.
If you love HERSHEY'S Candy as much as we do, enter to win my giveaway featuring an assortment of HERSHEY'S Easter Candy (U.S. residents)
Disclosure: Sponsored post. I received product from Hershey's and a stipend from Global Influence for my post. All opinions are honest and are my own.
Last summer we gave our oldest a fun backyard birthday party. He picked a Transformers theme and we had a lot of fun with it.
My husband has become quite the pinata maker. The year before, he made a Dr. Octopus pinata for a Spiderman themed birthday party and then he made this amazing Soundwave pinata for the Transformers birthday party. He used balsa wood to construct a frame and covered it in paper mache. He put so much detail into making this pinata. He even made a "cassette tape" and "tape deck" that opened. Finally, he painted the pinata to look like Soundwave. Well done, Honey!
Who's ready for some pinata action? I don't know much about Transformers, but apparently Soundwave is a Deceptacon which means that he is a bad guy so he is a perfect candidate for a pinata (since pinatas get beat up).
I was trying to be clever here, but I am not educated in the language arts of Transformers. Also, I didn't realize at the time that I put a Deceptacon (bad guy) image on the container. It was however, a nice way to distribute loot bags and make sure that names were on the bags. I bought solid color bags at Dollar Tree and glued on a transformer image that I found online. The bags were sold in 10 packs for $1.
I was really proud of my Transformer wrapping job and then found out that I unknowingly glued a Deceptacon on the package instead of an Autobot. Oh well, the colors are really pretty together.
My cousin loaned us this awesome bounce house for the party. The kids loved it and played for hours.
And lastly the menu... I don't have any fabulous food pictures to share. To simplify things, I combined a few homemade dishes with some easy store bought snacks. I used paper products form Oriental Trading Co. Another fun blog post if you haven't read it already. Oriental Trading Co. sent me some great Transformers products to review. They have a nice selection and my son was thrilled.
Chips and Dip
Vegetables and Hummus
Cheese and Cracker tray
Honey Chicken Kabobs
Pigs in a Blanket
Hot Ham Sandwiches
Corn and Black Bean Salad
I went really easy with the cake for this party. I made chocolate cupcakes and frosted them with vanilla bean icing and sprinkles in the party theme colors. The link to the recipe is for a chocolate cake, so if you bake the recipe as cupcakes, bake for a lot less time. I think these took around 20 minutes.
We also made an Angel Food cake in a 10" square pan. This is two Angel Food Cakes stacked together to get the desired height. My sister-in-law actually frosted this for me (It's nice having help on party day.) with chocolate frosting. I cut the autobot symbol out of a black sugar sheet I purchased at Walmart. I used a print-out as a stencil and cut the design out with an exacto knife on a cutting board.
Sugar sheets come in this packaging and are usually sold one sheet to a package. I have seen them in craft stores, Walmart, and Meijer. They are versatile, edible, and come in handy when cake decorating.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for anything in this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.
Linking up here: Monday linky: Boogieboard Cottage, Twelve0eight Craft-O-Maniac, DIY Home Sweet Home, Deceptively Educational
Tuesday Linky: One Perfect Day
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) Teacher turned work at home Mom, bringing you family friendly, homemade recipes and homemaking tips to simplify your life. Join me on my homemaking and mothering journey.
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