Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fun (and inexpensive!) gifts for teachers

This is the first year I've had a child in my home, so though I've been on the receiving end of teacher gifts for years and years, I've never had to be the one planning them.  I debated going the easy route and just picking up a starbucks card for each, but Pooh has 4 teachers, so that would be at least $20, even if we only did $5 cards for each.  However, with all the great sales this week, I came up with an alternative that I think is cute, as well as easier on my budget:
Regardless of my love for orange, believe me when I say that those ribbons are red!
A few years ago, my awesome niece Brittany made chocolate covered spoons for all of us, and I thought it was an awesome idea.  I was super-impressed with all the time and effort she had obviously gone to for us.  My eyes have now been opened - while I still am super-impressed with Brittany in a myriad of ways, I now know that she did not go to much trouble in preparing them - these spoons were very easy to make!

Basically, you melt chocolate chips (I had 3 bags from my Tom Thumb trip yesterday), dip a spoon in, set it on a tray, and stick it in the freezer to set.  I made 3 flavors of spoons:  milk chocolate, butterscotch, and semi-sweet, since I had those flavors of chips on hand.  I chose to use a tall slender cup to heat the chips, rather than a short squat mug, so that I could use less but still cover the bowl of the spoon completely.  Once the chocolate was melted, I just dunked the spoons in, tapped to get a bit of the excess off, and set them on a flexible cutting board sprayed with cooking spray so they wouldn't stick.
Milk chocolate and butterscotch spoons
One thing I noticed is that if you don't have plenty of chocolate around the edges of the spoons, the chocolate covering the bottom may stick and separate from the rest - that's what happened with the butterscotch one that did not get double-dipped in the pic above.  But other than that, I thought the spoons turned out great!  You could have also gotten much fancier, but that's just not me.

Other than the chocolate, there are only a few things you need for a project like this.  Spoons for dipping, plastic to wrap around the chocolaty part, mugs/cups, ribbon, and anything else you want to put in the cup.  Here's what my supplies looked like:

Everything you need, except the cups
You can see in the pic that I used plastic spoons.  I did end up using some real spoons once I ran out of plastic, but I started with these since I did not have enough real spoons I was willing to part with.  If I had planned ahead more, I could have found some cheap at a thrift store or garage sale, but I've been too busy to plan that way.

I had no cellophane bags to put the spoons in (yep, that lack of planning ahead thing!), and Tom Thumb didn't have any either.  Rather than drive to a bunch of different stores looking for them and getting Pooh out of and back into his carseat multiple times, I instead bought a pack of sandwich size ziplocs, cut the zippers off, and tied them up with red ribbon that I had on hand.  Of course I curled the ribbon with scissors like my mama taught me to do.

I thought about going out and finding some cute Christmas coffee cups, but since I've gotten those multiple times as teacher gifts, I didn't think that was a great idea.  First, it's way too typical.  Every teacher gets several Christmas mugs every year.  Second, Christmas mugs can only be used for a limited period of time.  Third, it would cost me money, and time that I did not have.  Finally, we had an elegant option already in our home.  My sister Amy got married a few months ago, and we shamelessly raided her house for anything we thought we could use.  We had taken a simple set of white dishes, most of which we use regularly.  However, the set has 2 sizes of cups, which I assume are teacups and coffeecups.  We use the larger ones all the time, but have never really used the small ones at all.  So, we simply used those.

While I wouldn't have headed out to purchase more to go in these mugs, I had tons of instant coffee sticks on hand that I got on sale at Tom Thumb this week.  So I took a few sticks of each flavor and added them to the cups.  Then I stuck one spoon of each flavor in, tied a red ribbon around the cup, and it was done! 
The finished product
The best thing about this project?  It was easy!  Sure, I had to take the time to make the spoons and put the stuff together, but it was not difficult, and I did it while chatting with P-Daddy, who, by the way, was completely disbelieving that this was going to turn out to be an acceptable gift, until I finished and he was totally wowed!

Also, it was cheap!  Here's an in-the-ballpark-but-not-exact breakdown:
cups:  free (already had them)
ribbon:  free (had it on hand)
chocolate chips:  $1 (probably less - I paid $0.99 per bag, and I used less than 1/3 of each bag)
spoons:  $1
ziplocs: $1 ($2 for a pack of 100, and I used less than 50 of them)
instant coffee:  $1.20 (I paid $0.99 for a pack of 20, and I used 6 sticks per cup, so 24 total)

All told, that makes the 4 gifts less than $5 total, plus I have about 20 more spoons since I just kept making them until I ran out of the chocolate that I had melted.  Wahoo!  A fun but frugal holiday coffee treat!

1 comment:

  1. Hey thats great! Just reading it now, yummy, makes me want to go make some more :)