Quick, Easy, and Frugal Teacher Gifts

Teachers are wonderful people. We have been blessed over the years with some truly fabulous teachers for our children. There has been the odd teacher here and there who is not a good fit for one of the kids, but mostly we have been lucky.

Every Christmas, I struggle with what to do to thank the men and women who work so hard on our children’s behalves. I don’t want to clutter up their lives with things, especially knowing that there are only so many things a teacher might like to get, and with anywhere from 18 to 30 students getting those same 10 things for them every single year, they probably don’t want yet another mug or calendar or keychain with your initials on it.

I’ve been told by teachers that gift certificates are always appreciated – to Tim Horton’s coffee shop, or better yet, to the teacher supply store. I understand. I do. But I also know that I want my kids to have a hand in the gifting, and when they were little, gift cards were not on their list of cool things to give their teachers.

One year, we made salt dough Christmas ornaments. (One can never have too many ornaments.) One year, we made homemade chocolates. One year we made super simple post-it note holders.  Last year, we made paper ornaments big enough to joyfully adorn a classroom (and easily recycled at the end of the season to reduce clutter).

This year, we went in a new direction.

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Once again, we chose a super simple, inexpensive, crafty-ish gift the kids could help make. We started with a pack of 100 popsicle sticks we bought at Bulk Barn for $1.50,  some semi-dark chocolate, and a few drops of peppermint flavouring oil. Honestly, the peppermint flavour is the most expensive item, but we had it left over from previous years of making homemade chocolates, and you could easily skip it for this project.

Start by melting the chocolate. We used the microwave on half power in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate was just about silky smooth with a few lumps left in it. We then stirred it until the lumps vanished and we had a smooth mixture that was starting to cool slightly.

We lined several cookie sheets with waxed paper, then dipped each popsicle stick into the chocolate and twirled it a little to make sure the chocolate was adhering all the way around and presto! Chocolate stir sticks that are perfect for stirring your hot chocolate with to make it even richer and creamier than it usually is.

The chocolate-covered sticks were then laid gently in rows on the cookie sheets and left to harden. You can put them in the fridge or freezer if you are in a hurry.

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While the chocolate hardened, we started filling little treat bags with marshmallows. Then we filled more treat bags with tiny peppermint-flavoured chocolate pieces that I found in a gorgeous antique-styled tin at Chapters, of all places. You could use miniature chocolate chips just as easily, or even skip this step altogether. Another bag was filled with hot chocolate mix, and then we filled the final bag with a half-dozen or so of the dark chocolate peppermint stir sticks.

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Add a mini candy cane for good measure, pack it all in a cute tin from the dollar store, and voila! A Hot Chocolate Kit for under $5 per tin. Don’t have a tin? Just buy some lunch bags, draw a snowman outline on them with a Sharpie marker, then have the kids paint them.

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We were having so much fun, we made some for the neighbours, too. Except if you look closely, you’ll see that the neighbours are also getting some Triple Chocolate Extra Pepperminty Peppermint Bark in theirs.

I’ll tell you how we made it in another post.

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