Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homemade Teacher Gift Ideas

I had a friend ask me yesterday if I had any ideas for teacher gifts that she could make.  I'm still a year away from having teachers to get gifts for, but I can see how the cost can quickly add up when your child potentially has multiple teachers and teacher aids! So, what a great, timely idea for a blog post!  (thanks, Kim!)

I pulled several ideas together from my Pinterest boards and some of my previous blog posts.  Here's what I came up with so far!  I'd love to hear if you try any of these and if they go over well!  These are great ideas for ANYBODY, by the way, not JUST teachers, if you're looking for some fun homemade gift ideas!

Bake cookies and wrap them up in empty Pringles cans!

Make hot chocolate dipping spoons! This would be great paired with a couple packets of Swiss Miss!
Felt apple coasters!  So cute!

Fabric wrapped hangers!  Everyone has clothes to hang, right?  This is a great way to recycle fabric scraps from other projects too.
And speaking of hangers, this is posted as a wedding dress hanger, but I was thinking it could also make a cute teacher gift, whether it's hung on a wall as a decoration or actually used.
Framed initial made from crayons!  I've always loved this idea.  You can often find shadow boxes in thrift stores too or you can use a regular frame and skip the glass.  Here's another idea to use pencils!
Cookie cutter fudge!  A treat to enjoy now and a cookie cutter to use later!

Try blinging out a clipboard!
Peppermint bark always makes for a pretty presentation!  Try doing a search on Allrecipes for bark.  You can try peppermint, or maybe a chocolate mint, etc...maybe try a few and do a little sampler of a few kinds in a tin!  I also LOVE this nutter butter bark recipe.

This would be a fun twist on those jars of cookie mixes...make your own spice mixes!  These would make great teacher gifts, of course with a label that looks cuter than a piece of tape ("Seasonings Greetings?"), and maybe some cute fabric covers over the lids.  Take a trip to Whole Foods to buy spices WAY WAY cheaper by bulk.

Cute felt pencil toppers!  I'd love to post a link to this to give the creator credit, but it was shared on Pinterest with a link to a blog that is only shared with invited readers.  (If this is yours, let me know and I'll be glad to credit you!)
Another broken Pinterest link here, so I can't share a tutorial unfortunately.  But these are coasters made from cheap 4" tiles from Home Depot.  Cut scrapbook paper into squares to fit, adhere with mod podge, and put felt on the bottom! Sweet!
Apple cake pops!  Cake pops can get real time consuming, from what I hear.  But if you're up to the challenge, these are totally adorable!
I wish I could knit, then I might try this cute knit apple!  But you could do this with crochet too.  Cute to use as a pin cushion, or just a cute decoration!

What kind of business woman would I be if I didn't promote my own products?!  ;-) I've sold quite a few of my Junk Mail Gems letter magnets to people looking for teacher gifts.  For $1 per letter you can spell the teacher's last name, or choose words like "teach" or "learn," etc. 
I also sent out a Facebook message to my fellow teacher friends.  Suggestions included things that they can really use as opposed to gifts of the knick-knack variety.  Also, you can't go wrong with gift cards!  But don't sweat the expense...they seem to me to be just as happy to have a hand written note, a picture made by the kids, or just a heartfelt verbal "thank you!"

Are you a teacher?  I'd LOVE it if you would comment on this post with your favorites and least favorite gifts to receive! (And feel free to shoot down any of the ideas I've found!) I know it would help out a lot of moms!

For more ideas for teachers and other family and friends, be sure to check out one of my posts from last year which has more fun ideas for homemade gifts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Random Blonde Mall Woman,

This post is for all of you moms who have had some stranger lecture you on how to parent your children in public.  And you, random blonde woman in the mall. Especially you.

So tonight I was a the mall in the Apple store waiting for someone to help me get a new iPhone.  Fifteen minutes into waiting for help the boys were getting antsy and wrestless and naughty.  This happens every time we go to the Apple store.  They hate to sit and wait in the stroller and I don't blame them. They were in a double stroller, Sam behind Toby.  So, naturally, Sammy starts to kick Toby in the head, and poke his ears with chopsticks from our previously enjoyed dinner at Big Bowl.  (Typical entertainment idea that pops into the head of a toddler.) Figuring that it probably would NOT benefit Toby in the long run to have chopsticks shoved into his brain, I immediately grabbed Sammy's hands, yanked the chopsticks out of his grip, and yelled, "Stop it, Sam!!"  I think my husband grabbed his chin and turned his face toward his and also yelled "stop it!"  Seems like a normal reaction to protect your youngest child from being turned into a vegetable, right? 

My hubby decides to go take the boys to the soft play area while I continue to wait.  They had a BLAST and I'm wishing my phone hadn't taken 45 minutes because I wanted to play with them too!  But, as I'm wandering around looking at stuff, this random blonde woman comes up to me and says, "excuse me, it's probably none of my business but...." oh, here we go.  I should have stopped her right there and said, "you're right, it's not!"  But, being the civil person I am, I smiled, nodded, and listened.  She went on to tell me that "when you were dealing with your kids just then, EVERYONE was watching!" (in my head: "um, so what?! I care about my kids' safety more than the opinions of random strangers!")  She goes on, "I just wanted you to know that it really bothered me to see that..." (uh, once again, so what?! Who the heck are you again? Oh that's right, some completely random stranger in a mall who knows NOTHING about me or my kids!) ... "and you know children are a GIFT!" I resist the urge to punch her in the face, figuring that it wouldn't help my case that I happen to be an insanely loving and quite capable mom.

Well, I was in such shock and disbelief all I could say was, "uh, okay," and "I didn't hurt anybody."  And to her last comment about children being a gift, as she walked away from me I added, "Believe me, I KNOW THAT." She of course had no interest in what I had to say as she walked away while I was talking. But after the fact of course I have all these things running through my head that I wish I had told her.

So, random blonde woman in the mall, if you ever come across this blog post, here is what I'd like to say to you:

#1 - Yes, you are absolutely right, it IS none of your business how I parent MY CHILDREN.

#2 - I have never hurt either of my kids, nor do I ever plan to. ever. If I were abusing my kids in public, then yes, you may be the hero of the day.  Didn't apply here.

#3 - You are telling ME that children are a gift?! You have no CLUE what we went through to get our two most precious gifts in the world and have a heck of a lot of nerve to even suggest I don't know that with every fiber of my being.  Yes, they are precious...too precious to ruin by lack of discipline or by a foot to the skull.

#4 - You say you and "everyone" in the store were "watching." I'm sorry to hear how concerned you are with what strangers think.  Must be a lot of pressure for you.  But did you happen to notice that one child was about to scramble the other's brain with a pair of chopsticks?!  Because I think if these gifts are so precious I wouldn't want one of them mutilated by the other.  And I'm guessing you didn't turn your head until we were yelling "stop it" and had no clue what we were trying to stop.

#5 - And heck, as long as you're here, why not take a stroll through my blog history.  You may notice how much I dedicate my life to my boys.  How I spend every waking and sleeping moment with them as a full time mom.  How I put their best interests above my own on a, minute-ly basis. See how happy, well adjusted, loved and blessed they are.

I am actually embarrassed to say that I let her get to me at all.  That on my way home I was so infuriated and that tears were welling up in me at the thought that anyone on the planet, even a complete stranger, was doubting that I did not love and cherish my precious boys more than life itself.

To you, random blonde woman, and all random people who think they know how others should handle their children and feel the need to tell them, I tell you this.  Unless you see someone actually ABUSING a child, not preventing physical harm like I was, Keep your opinions to yourself, because that's all they are...opinions, first reactions with absolutely no background information or context. If the first words out of your mouth are "it's probably none of my business," that's your flag to shut your mouth.  I understand you probably had good intentions, that you do have kids yourself, and that you were looking out for my kids, and I appreciate that.  But take a second to think before you judge someone you don't know based on nothing more than the information you gathered from the one thing I did that was loud enough to catch your attention in a crowded mall. Somehow I am thinking the giggles, cuddles, kisses and hugs I gave my kids that very same night in the very same mall didn't catch your attention.

And to all of my wonderful friends and family on Facebook, thank you for helping me cool my blood from a boil to a simmer.  I'm hoping it'll be lukewarm by morning.  ;-)  And from here on out I'm gonna try very hard to tune out clueless strangers and only tune into those who actually know me and my kids and care about us.  And our brains not being scrambled by chopsticks.



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