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Looking for Nice, Easy Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

So as the holiday season approaches, I realize that this year we are really and truly broke. This will be a very small Christmas celebration for my family. I am thinking now about some of the other people in my children's lives that we need to buy gifts for - the three year old's preschool teacher and assistant teacher and the invaluable, amazing women who babysits for all three of my kids. I don't want to buy cheap, tacky gifts, but we truly don't have money for anything nicer. (BTW when I mean "broke", let me also share that my in-laws are actually paying for preschool and my parents are helping pay the increase in baby sitting costs since I went from one to three kids.) I was wondering if anyone has fun, easy ideas for homemade gifts that maybe my three year old could participate with. Thank You.

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Wow, thank you for all the responses and all the great ideas! It helps to know that I am not the only one who'll be struggling this holiday season. I love the idea of the painted flower pots that say, "Thank you for helping me grow" and I think we may do that one with an extra baked gift for my babysitter who has a large family. Thanks again to everyone who responded. It is so great to have this resource!

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have the kids to fingerpaintings in whatever colors you want, or use holiday colors. let them dry, then cut them up and paste them onto blank note cards with the artist name. you can get a pack of blank cards and envelopes at Michaels and just glue on the paintings. i do this all the time and send the note as thank you cards from the kids. my daycare has like 4 teachers for each class, so i may do the same thing. even a $10 gift adds up when there are 8 people to buy for.

K., I bought from Avon all the 99 cent items, like lotions etc . I put about five of them in a bag along with hershey kisses.

ok, you got lots of good ideas here, i have something different.... a few years, for my students, i went to one of those science/discovery stores and bought a bunch of stones that i had looked up the meanings of, i dont remember the meanings, but i do remember some of the stones with "good stuff" were hematite, tigers eye, and malachite. google it. they are pretty, and maybe $1 or $2 each, if that. and i printed out cool cards with the meanings of the stones on them and packaged them nicely in those little gauze bags (ebay!). i had students coming up to me years later with the stones in their pocket, telling me how they carried them for luck/protection/etc..... i think this would be a really nice touch along with a heartfelt letter. write the letter out on nice paper and roll it up like a scroll, tie with ribbon, etc.... and dont sweat it, we are all in the same boat, and we all have so much STUFF, anything from the heart is so much better. best of luck to you..... and by the way, i was watching oprah the other day, people talking about how they were trying to sell their houses, and a couple of people actually sold/bought houses on craigs list! dont know, it just popped into my head. again, good luck to you :)

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HI K.,

I've pretty much had it with all of the "stuff" of Christmas anyway, so I decided to do something different this year. I found a good sale on scissors (some nice and sharp, some blunted for kids) and I'm going to write a poem to go with them -- and I will give everybody a pair of scissors. The poem will have the theme "the gift of time" -- because I seem to spend a lot of time running around looking for scissors when I'd rather be talking to my kids or whatever. Plus,, on Christmas morning, everybody needs a pair of scissors. The idea is that having an extra pair of scissors on hand frees us FROM the crazy looking-around and frees us TO do the actually important stuff of life.

It may still sound cheap and tacky, but it comes from my heart. Also, Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace University courses) has this mantra: If today you will live like no one else, then later you can LIVE like no one else. Living a frugal or simple lifestyle baffles most people, but (also a Dave Ramsey quote) we shouldn't keep up with the Joneses, because they're BROKE! Good luck to you in gifting others and in caring for your household!

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Do you have a digital camera? Take some great shots of the kids and get inexpensive frames or even a pack of the christmas cards that are frames. Have copies made at WalMart or any store (check the size of the frame or card before rinting them) iif you can't print them at home. If you don't have a digital camera ask a friend who does to borrow it. Write a heart felt message to each and give that to them. Another idea I often use is I go to dollar general and they have great smelling candles for $1 each. grab a pack of pretty tissue paper and simply pull a square up and around and tie with string, yard, ribbon or raffia or anything you have around.

Just so you know your not alone in the "state of broke"!!! We too have cut Christmas back but I am looking more forward to it this year than many of the others. It will be a fun, simple Christmas celebrating Jesus's birth with cake and ice cream and a few gifts. Getting back to the true meaning of Christmas is proving to be more fun and less stress of other years. Merry Christmas abd God Bless!!! A.

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well how about an apple,and have your child draw a picture.

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I just made up some holiday spice freshners/ornaments. You take equal parts of applesauce and cinnamon, mix them together until it forms a dough (similar to playdough). Then you roll or pat out the dough, press cookie cutters into it and lay them on a wax covered cookie sheet. Let the ornaments/spice freshners dry for 3-4 days (turning them over once so the ends don't curl up during drying). They are awesome to hang or put in a dish any where in the house because they smell so good. You can use them year after year as long as you store them in a Ziploc after Christmas. I really like the dove, mittens, snowman, and tree (you can use a straw to make a hole in the tops to hang...or let them be and put them in a dish). Another tip: we bought the huge jar of applesauce and a huge plastic container of cinnamon from BJs for only a few dollars each. It's fun and they look and smell great.

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Having a large family, I need to be creative and make personal homemade gifts! I think they are so much better than store bought!!!
Here is what I have used in the past, and am giving to my son's teachers, aide, and therapists for Christmas.

Spiced Nuts

3 egg whites
2 tsp water
12 oz salted peanuts
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup walnut halves
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 TBS Pumpkin Pie Spice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins

Beat egg whites & water in bowl until frothy. Add nuts. Stir gently to coat. Combine sugar, spice & salt, and add to nut mixture. Stir to coat. Fold in raisins. Spread onto 2 greased 15 x 10 baking pans (other size pans work, too). Bake uncovered at 300 for 20-25 min or until lightly browned ***STIR EVERY 10 MINUTES WHILE COOKING*** Cool and store in airtight container. Put into basic Wegmans (do you have this grocery store in your area) Food and Bread Storage bags, attach a recipe card with the recipe, and tie with a pretty bow!

Do the same for this recipe!

Cappuccino Mix (Yield 3 cup dry mix)
1 cup instant coffee creamer
1 cup instant chocolate drink mix (like Quik)
2/3 cup instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup sugar (I usually add less - too sweet)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients; mix well (I usually shake the container all around to make sure what is on the bottom gets mixed in); Store in airtight container. I usually make 4-6 batches so we have some tp keep for us. My husband loves this recipe.

Put into ziplock bags, with these instructions:
Add 3 TBS to 6-8 oz of hot water; top with whip cream

I have a cute tag/graphic that I made for this one year. I can send it to you if you would like. E-mail me your e-mail address.

Happy gift making!

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Stained Glass Candy is awesome!

* 1 cup water
* 3 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
* 1 tablespoon almond extract (or any Loraines candy flavoring, or other flavor extract)
* 1 tablespoon food coloring


1. Lightly grease one 12x18 inch or larger baking sheet.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Heat over high, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spoon, until all sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and bring to a boil. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 310 degrees F (154 degrees C). Remove from heat.
3. When bubbling has ceased, stir in the flavoring and a food coloring. Spread into the prepared pan so that the candy is no more than 1/4 inch thick. Cool for 45 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, crack into pieces and enjoy!

You can get candy thermometers at CVS, along with the candy flavoring, usually around the pharmacy area. They are really inexpensive.

Use different colors for each flavor.

Then put them in a canning jar or other decorative jar. If you have some plain (old candle holder jars work great, just clean them well) jars with lids, clean them well and put some ribbon and lace on them or decoupage them with Christmas paper. Put the candies in them with a little card, and you're all set!

Other hand made things:

Cookie Tray
Small scrap books
fruit Basket
Pot holders (buy inexpensive ones and put your kids' hand prints on them)

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Hi, K.! I'm sorry that I can't help you with any recipes, but if it helps, this year we are going to the dollar store and picking up a few whisks and whatever candy they have there, putting the candy inside the whisk, and writing on it "We whisk you a Merry Christmas".. Quick, easy, and cheap.. also my son loves to be the one to put the candy inside the whisk! I hope this helps! :)

Hi K.,

I buy a few red and gold gift bags throughout the year and store them away in my closet. If any one of us gets a "holiday" colored gift bag - I add it to the "holiday" gift bag pile.

If I bake organic cookies, I always dress the platter with some drk chocolate candies. The candies make the cookie platters so much more festive! If you have a dollar store close by - check out their holiday platters.

One year I recycled a holiday dish set that I never used - The new, never opened holiday dish set was a fabulous find - it was stored in my storage closet.

For others, I usually go to Trader Joe's and purchase pumpkin bread mixes and boxes of organic teas...

...Then, there's always a nice box of assorted teas...The tea drinking teachers appreciate this gift rather than receiving another mug.

For a few friends, I place 2 or 3 one dollar scratch off tickets in a recylced paper Christmas card. They look forward to this...and it's also better than buying extra gifts - yet, we're still exchanging "gifts" that cost less than five dollars each!

K. Colello

K.--I was a school nurse for 14 years in an out of district placement for kids with learning disabilities. Believe me, teachers don't want all the gifts they are given--I had candles, ornaments, boxes of candy galore, and I actually felt guilty because I knew how stressed out and overextended these families were and didn't want them adding one more thing to their lists. What mattered to me were cards and notes--things made by the kids themselves, and just heartfelt 'thanks' from parents. If you truly feel you must give a 'thing', a plant is nice--not a holiday one, but something like a violet or Christmas cactus that doesn't cost much at all (especially if you buy a tiny one in shoprite) but is a growing memory of your child. God bless-we're all broke this Christmas!

I like to save old christmas cards, buy a cool hole puncher thing (I have hearts, flowers, etc) from Joann's or Michael's (use their coupon for 40% off!) and MAKE holiday cards! :)
Reusing and reducing paper from throwing things out. :)

Making cookies, pies, etc. is always a good thing.

Try to look around your house for items you may not use. Goodwill/Salvation army stores are great too! :) Fix it up or whatnot...

Ask your principal or secretary what items may be good for the teachers - they may have ideas...

If you have old vases, go outside, cut some pine branches or even sticks with the red berries on them to make a fresh fall/winter bouquet. Tie a christmasy bow on it. :) Instant gift!

Let your kids doodle over the blank cards with red, green crayons/paint/markers - then you write inside the card "MERRY CHRISTMAS" or whatever...

Make ornaments!! Joann's/Michael's have cheapo wood ornaments that your kids can paint, put glitter, etc...or if you have ornaments that you don't like and want to recycle, you can "fix" it up somehow...

Best of luck!! :)

Hi K.,
I never like spending a lot of money on teacher gifts. One year I bought a flower pot and painted flowers on the pot using my daughters thumb prints as the petals. Around the top I painted "thanks for helping me grow". The teachers loved it. You can buy them a walmart or other stores relatively cheap.
Good luck.

ok, you got lots of good ideas here, i have something different.... a few years, for my students, i went to one of those science/discovery stores and bought a bunch of stones that i had looked up the meanings of, i dont remember the meanings, but i do remember some of the stones with "good stuff" were hematite, tigers eye, and malachite. google it. they are pretty, and maybe $1 or $2 each, if that. and i printed out cool cards with the meanings of the stones on them and packaged them nicely in those little gauze bags (ebay!). i had students coming up to me years later with the stones in their pocket, telling me how they carried them for luck/protection/etc..... i think this would be a really nice touch along with a heartfelt letter. write the letter out on nice paper and roll it up like a scroll, tie with ribbon, etc.... and dont sweat it, we are all in the same boat, and we all have so much STUFF, anything from the heart is so much better. best of luck to you..... and by the way, i was watching oprah the other day, people talking about how they were trying to sell their houses, and a couple of people actually sold/bought houses on craigs list! dont know, it just popped into my head. again, good luck to you :)

How about a variety of homemade cookies. You can have your daughter decorate a little giftbag with ribbons and glitter and she can help make the cookies too.

I think that a nice "craft basket" would be a good present for a pre-school & assistant teachers. Just a simple basket filled with items that they can use in the classroom for craft projects. A nice jar filled with colored beans/buttons/pasta; shells, fabric scraps cut in cute shapes (flowers, leaves, hearts, shapes etc); dried sticks/seeds/acorns, yarn scraps, ribbons, pictures cut out of magazines or old cards etc. Your daughter can help you collect and arrange these items in the basket and make a small card using some of the items too.

For many years I have given baked goods at Christmas and almost everyone loves the idea. I also make homemade jelly and stuff like peppermint bark and/or peanut brittle. Some years I make hot cocoa spoons - plastic spoons dipped in chocolate with mini marshmallows applied to the chocolate while it's still soft. There are so many little projects like this that just take some time and not a lot of money and people really appreciate the effort you put in. So many other people just don't have the time to do this. You can then attach a card made by your child to these gifts.

Another Christmas gift I worked on with my son when he was in pre-K was coasters. I bought an inexpensive box of 4x4 tiles at a kitchen/bath remodelling surplus store and we hand painted them and used homemade pressed flowers and leaves and put on a coat of polyurethane. I got felt from the craft store and cut it to fit the back of the tiles and just glued it on. The ones my then four year old painted were a huge hit.

Just remember what the season's all about and good luck finding something that will work for you and your family.

Having your 3 year old make a picture would be a lovely heartfelt inexpensive gift for her teachers. And as a former teacher, I can say that receiving a card from a parent with a note about something that I helped their child to learn or do, was truly the most cherished of any gifts I ever received!

have the kids to fingerpaintings in whatever colors you want, or use holiday colors. let them dry, then cut them up and paste them onto blank note cards with the artist name. you can get a pack of blank cards and envelopes at Michaels and just glue on the paintings. i do this all the time and send the note as thank you cards from the kids. my daycare has like 4 teachers for each class, so i may do the same thing. even a $10 gift adds up when there are 8 people to buy for.

Try making cookies. I started with my daughter when she was 2 and thru out the last 13 years it has become our special time. It doesn't cost that much and it is something that the kids can help with, plus people love the homemade cookies.
Good luck, D.

I read all the responses first b/c honestly I think you're question is a great one that I personally need some answers to myself. We are really cutting back this year more than ever. It seems baking is a great idea. I think I'll go with that this year. I baked last year for my son's daycare staff (and b/c SO MANY of the teachers take care of him - he was an infant at the time, so it was hard to leave anyone out. I also baked for the wonderful older man who is our neighbor and helps around our house a lot. I bought really cute holiday tins (reusable for the teachers and I found around the holidays cookie tins are great!) at the dollar store and filled them up with homemade cookies - for his main teacher I added a little gift card as an extra special thank you - I didn't have to spend much on the gift card b/c I just got it for someplace she can get coffee/breakfast in the morning, so a little goes a long way - like Dunkin donuts or WAWA (if you live in NJ you know a lot of people get coffee at WAWA) If it was me, I'd be so happy to recieve baked goods - who doesn't love food - and a nice hand written not with any added touches from the kids should be enough! I hope this helps.

i was a pre-k teacher before my daughter was born, and i always appreciated homemade gifts like baked goods, knitted or sewed items and cards with dictated words by my students. you could even tell the teacher that you are in a tough money situation, but still wanted to give her something so she can relax and enjoy her vacatio. you could pass one one or two of your favorite books that you've already read.

plus, a nice card with what she does for your daughter and your appreciation for her teacher always warms a teacher's heart.

good luck!

Anything that your child can make wuld be a great gift. I would steer awawy form a frame with your childs picture in it for the teachers. Only give this to someone who would really display it. As a former teacher , a note with a word of thanks is always nice to receive. teachers rerceive so many little things that they land up in a garage sale. Idea----a planter - have your child cut out pictures from a napkin, or any other kind of paper and put modge podge on it---- great gift that can be used for many things---pencils, utensils, etc.... Another idea, make a basket --teas, coffees, candies---find out what each teacher likes and build it from there---Christmas Tree Shop or dollar stores are great for this

last year we went to Michael's (craft store) and bought clear glass bulbs, (Christmas ornaments)...clear drying glue and teeny tiny beads...the kids squirted a little glue in the bulb, swirled it all around, then I put the glitter beads in and let the kids shake them...they came out soooo cute and their teachers loved them.

I also like to do candied walnuts...but be sure no one has nut allergies! LOL...that wouldn't be a good gift!

Best wishes...and Merry Christmas!

K. - I'm sorry this will sound pretty vague, but if ANY of these ideas sound like something you guys would want to do, please message me and I'll forward the directions/recipes on to you.

For my "cut back Christmas", I'm giving out homemade pumpkin bread (I bought HUGE pumpkins at Stew Leonard's for a few cents a pound, and I steamed them and pureed them and put them in the freezer, just for this. Saves a TON over buying canned pumpkin!). One recipe makes three small loaves, or one large loaf. I like the smaller loaves better for those "extra people" that you're talking about - babysitters, teachers, garbage men, postmen, etc. Truly - who wants to take home a pound and a half of pumpkin bread from someone that ISN'T family? The holidays are full of enough treats as it is!
I'm also probably going to give out homemade white bread (using flour, yeast, a little sugar, salt, shortening and honey, this comes in under $1 a loaf. In fact, it's what my family is eating now - it makes great toast, and a decent sandwhich. Very smooth, yummy bread!) Finally, I've been saving every orange peel from the oranges we eat during the fall. I've dried them out and I'm going to mix it with bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc. and give it out as "potpourri" - you simmer it on the stove in a little water, and it makes the house smell AMAZING. By buying the spices on the "Mexican" or International aisle, I can get them fairly inexpensively.

Again, if ANY of those ideas sound good, please send me a message. My two year old loves to get into the kitchen with me and bake, and making the potpourri would be especially easy for kids to do - give each kid one thing to dump into a big bowl, then help them measure it into smaller bags and tie it off with a ribbon and a tag.

Good luck - we're all cutting back this Christmas!!

In this economy, yours seems to be a hot topic! Here's what I have to add:

Glass paint. Buy 2 or 3 colors, and you can do handprints or just let your kids go to town on the outside of a glass platter, mug, bowl, etc. You bake it to set the color in, and it looks amazing, can be washed and really used by the recipient. You can even paint a jar (recycled, Mason, etc.) and fill it with sauce, and add a bag of fun-shaped pasta. Hint: You can tape off a border, or tape off all but a heart-shape for your kids to paint. When you take off the tape before baking, it gives a "cleaner" look to the gift.

If you do go to Michaels for a lot of the ideas your getting, check out their dollar section. They have great notecards, magnetic pads, and more, with very pretty designs that look nicer than typical dollar store fare.

Best of luck!

I think it's fun and easy (and cheap!) to buy plain wooden picture frames from a craft store. Print up a picture of your children (or just that child) either alone or with that person. Then let the child decorate the frame with nontoxic paint or stickers.

It's sweet, and especially cool if you add home baked cookies to the gift. Yummy!

When I was a child my mom and I made a few different types of cookies for Christmas and we put them in decorative holiday bags that you can get at the dollar stores and that's what I gave to my aunts, uncles, and teachers. Or you could go to the dollar store grab some jars with lids and get the dry ingredients to chocolate chip cookies but instead of using chips use red and green m&m's. You layer the ingredients in the jar, tie a ribbon around it with the directions. You could even put a small piece of holiday cloth around the lid, tie the cloth down with the ribbon and directions.


I am also a former teacher of 16 years. I am in agreement with many of the former teachers. The most meaningful and most cherished gifts are those the children made themselves and the cards with notes from the family about a time their child enjoyed with me or something they appreciated. I saved all of these and smile (and sometimes tear up) when I look through them again. For instance, one family gave me such a note of thanks with their child's handprint on it. The handprint was especially meaningful because the child had cerebral palsy and it was difficult for her to open her hand to make the handprint. At the beginning of the year, she couldn't have done that but she had made so much progress in our care that that was possible. I still see her face and her little hands everytime I look at the page.

As teachers, we never expect families to give us gifts. It was always my feeling that entrusting me with their children was the greatest gift. Sappy, I know, but we definitely don't do what we do for the money. It is tough work and sometimes it is easy to feel unappreciated so those words of thanks and those simple child-made gifts are the best.

Blessings to you and your family and I hope things turn around for you.

I have the same problem, not having enough money for everyone. I plan on doing the picture cards this year, a little expensive, but then I'm taking my 2 yr old out and looking for some good pine cones and we will be making the bird feeders for everyone. The kind with peanut butter and bird seed.

I also am doing the towels with the crochet topper for everyone. My sister also has the same problem of not enough money, she has found some clay pots for plants, and will have her son color/paint them and she will get a small plant to put inside of it. Not too expensive, depending on how many you needed to make.

Hope you get some good ideas.

Here are some of my fav.s...I have 5 kids, so by the time we do all the teachers/speech therapists and eveyone else we're overwhelmed...

fyi....Bath and Body Works has a huge semi annual sale where you can get tons of soaps and lotions 5 for the price of 1...I love to stock up(Ithink it's around may) and I fill my closets with matched sets of a lotion/soap or gel and I will save them until I need a gift...

but for now homemade gifts are what you're looking for....

www.mypublisher.com you can make photobooks for a really reasonable price and they usually have coupons like 2 for the price of one...it's great for the grandparents/relatives and the more you buy the cheaper it is per item...

I like to bake so I start in late Nov or early Dec and make one batch of something a day...I use mini muffin tins for banana bread , pumpkin bread, brownies...everything really...then I freeze them (I wrap indivual groups together for extra protection and those 2 layered freezer bags work the best)then I hit a craft store or the dollar isle at Target and find decorated "Chinesse food" boxs or tin buckets and I fill them with all the goodies we've made, tie on a bow, a tag, and a little tissue paper and I'm done!

you can also buy canning (mason) jars and layer the dry ingredients of chocolate chip cookies, decorate the lid with ribbon and or fabric and put on a tag with the rest of the ingredients and directions....

we also like to make oranments for people, those clear glass ornaments come in so many shapes and sizes....I take off the top and roll on a pencil a doublesided pattern paper and when you drop them in they start to unroll and you can fill it...quick easy, no mess...I've also used velvet ribbon and just layered it in...you can use rub-on or those rhinestone sticker to make them look fancier...

I also like to buy the little Christmas wreaths and decorate them my self...

hope this helped a little...have fun!

Someone gave me a jar with dry ingredients for Chocolate Chip cookies.. it had a small tag on the side.. said from .... family Merry Christmas.. on the back had directions for cookies and what else to add.. it was really cute. They put them in the jars you can buy at some supermarkers for canning.. they were big jars.. like 18 oz. and it had a piece of Christmas cloth around the top.. which made it festive.. you can buy smaller sizes.. so the person can make like 2 doz. cookies.. mine that I got.. was 4 doz. you add the flour, sugar, chips.. and whatever else a cookies recipe ask for .. only the dry stuff.. and you layer it.. it looks so nice.. and it's a nice idea. I also give a lottery ticket sometimes attached to the jar.. like a dollar rub off.. Good luck.

I just want to say "you're not alone" just about everyone out there is hurting this year and when it comes to our kids, it hurts to not feel like we're providing a great holiday for them. I have found that alot of churches do something called "treasure box" where you spend $30 and they provide you with everything you need for a holiday dinner. I'm personally using that this year, and just adding here and there. I have 9 kids of my own (six in the house) plus we took in a family of 3 who were homeless (2 kids) so we're really struggling.
Now Christmas gifts, I know it's been said before but Christmas isn't about the gifts. We need to go back to the basics here. I found that martial arts places break wood in half, and throw the pieces away. I was able to get two boxes of usable wood! I have sanded down edges and handpainted different things like kitchen plaques, garden stakes with their names on it, all personalized to the person. What did it cost but my time really? This way they have something cool that's just for them.
I've also tried glass etching. Wow, do you know how easy it is? I surely didn't. I put first initials on champagne glasses for a couple that's getting married cost $6 for the glasses. Etching creme is about $10, but you can get it 40% off with a coupon at craft stores from the sunday papers and it lasts for many many projects. Took me about 30 minutes (only applying sticker/stencil takes time) and now they have a beautiful gift that's just for them. You can do that with plates, glasses, vases, mirrors, possibility is endless.
I took my kids to a nice area of town and took digital pictures of them for calendars. I also put one on a box and personalized it with their names for a memory box. (Takes no skill, easy for beginners) There are so many things that don't cost much money at all but are really.
I'm scrapbooking small books for my sons who are not close and don't get to see their siblings but a few times a year. Bought scrapbooks at BigLots for $2.
I sat down and made a journal for my husband "101 things you do that make me smile" I know he'll love reading all the silly reasons.
One of my daughters likes to write music. I found a free online "make your own sheet music" site that I was able to personalize and print up for her, I'm going to make her own sheetmusic book.
I found after Halloween sale on wooden masks for kids, cats, dracula, bats, etc for 50 cents each. I bought five for my great nephew whose 2, handpainted them in an afternoon. Do the math on that one.
You see where I'm going with this? It isn't about what you give, but how well you know the person. There are ways to do things for $0-$10 range for just about anyone. I take the time everyday looking up ideas to do more.

Basically, give from your heart. I'm even planning a day for all the kids to come home and make Christmas cards. We'll be going to a mobile home park close to Christmas and hand out Christmas cards we made and sing songs. Just give of our time to strangers who might not have anything for Christmas. That's what I'm teaching my kids. Not about getting, it's about giving of yourself. Isn't that what we were taught many many years ago???

if you have a few bucks, look for the sales on one roll of ribbon, and a few flower branches at ac moore or micheals. then buy a wreath, with a coupon of course(every week its either 40-50% off one non sale item), get the smallest one and make it. if you buy a few flowers, and one roll or ribbon, you should be able to get all three for just a few dollars each. coupons and sales of at least 50% off are key. wait till it gets closer to xmas, and im sure you will find deals.

for $5 each, everyone loves dunkin donuts giftcards.

or get(again with a coupon) either a tin or a bag, and make cookies. when chocolate chip cookies come in a christmassy container, it always is appreciated. another good thing to get at micheals is nonpareils. they have red and green. then get some chocolate and a squeeze bottle, and some little xmas boxes for food items(again coupons every week). make nonpariels. its so easy, and they are usually quite a bit of money.

good luck, this is a great time for your children to see no matter how big or small, its the thought that counts.

I think home baked treats are the best idea. Your children can help decorate cookies, like gingerbread men (one I would think is enough to give as a gift with a nice note). Or a a small bunch of sugar cookies wrapped in colored celophane. You can cut costs by making your own icing with powdered sugar. Have fun with it!

Teacbers always appreciate homemade cookies (never tacky.) In the early ages, they love a picture colored by the little one. Any sincere verbal gesture from you - a thanks with a smile - can work wonders. Teachers know how precious little ones are. Get something symbolic but not pricey for the asst teacher - perhaps something related to a subject studied.

Good luck with your relocation. I hope you find what you want.

Hi K.!

I love this website/magazine for great ideas:


Merry Christmas!

You have your hands full. Have your 3 year old create art work as gifts. Framed or not, family will love it. Other things you could do would be to dip pretzels in chocolate and wrap them in pretty bags with ribbon. Get everything at an inexpensive place like "Christmas Tree Shop" and you should make out okay. Truth is, people should understand if you can't do the gift thing this year. For our holiday this year I told my kids we aren't getting gifts each night; too expensive. This year, as always, we will have a charity night, where we donate clothing and toys to others, help out at a soup kitchen or old age home. Other things we will do is visit friends and family with homemade cards and pictures. By the way, you never are obligated to get anyone a gift. I am a teacher and never (I mean never) expect a gift. "Thank you's" from the heart in a handwritten note are always my favorite and most appreciated gift.

I buy a lot form Oriental trading, and then add my pictures to it. I have found things on sale and really cheap. I spent $30 with shipping and got 4-5 crafts, stickers and some fun candy. So you can do this for kids friends and teachers. Take care and Happy Holiday!!

I taught first grade for 32 years and received hundreds of gifts. The best are letters from the parents thanking me for some special little thing I did to make their child's life easier or make school a better experience. I still have and treasure them. I don't have the mugs, ornaments, pencilholders, etc. And though I received lots af more expensive things it's the letters and cookies/holiday breads for which I was most grateful. And I still have every handmade (with love) card done by a child with Mommy's help. Your gift is sharing your child with people who are grateful for tha experience. Happy holidays.

Bake!! I was a teacher for 14 years(before baby) and my favorite gifts were always the homemade goodies. Yes I loved to eat them, but it was so helpful to have nice things for my family since I didn't have time to bake in the days prior to the holidays. Some moms would even write up the recipe too. Choose things that your three year old could help with and you'll have a blast! She can do things like pour, stir, sprinkle... by herself.

Have fun!

K., I bought from Avon all the 99 cent items, like lotions etc . I put about five of them in a bag along with hershey kisses.

Hi K.,
I have been a teacher for 32 years and I have to say that all the baked goods during the holidays are kind of overwhelming. My favorite gifts are letters from the parents in regards to the work I do. You could even put the letter in an inexpensive frame and have your child decorate it with you. I also love plants and I cherish all the pots that kids have made for me. One of my favorite gifts was a handpainted pot and a packet of seeds so I could look forward to spring. Take a look around the room and you can get a feel for what the teacher is interested in (my room screams frogs and the tons of plants I bring in from home)and go from there. I also give gifts to my class moms, but in the spirit of the season, I make a donation in their names to a local Children's Cancer Support group. Good luck!

Dear K.,
I would go to your local craft store and see what you can find. I used to do cross-stitch and would buy kits to make X-mas tree ornaments for teachers. The kits used to cost about $1, came with all you needed, and would take a couple of nights to complete. Teachers appreciated them. Or you can cross-stitch hand towels or pot holders. In grade school I would buy erasers at the craft store for $.75 and paint them with an apple and #1 Teacher and their name on them. Teachers treasured those. So my advice, go to the craft store, use your imagination and talent.

The one gift that teachers, bus drivers, etc. really like more than anything is a loaf of banana, date nut bread, cookies etc. My daughter-in-law is a teacher and said she would much rather have baked goods as they come in handy during the holidays for people dropping by. The kids love to help make the baked goods.

Hi K.,

Last year my husband lost his job 2 weeks before Christmas, and we quickly realized that we could not give our daughter's day care teachers the (cash) gift we had given them the year before. I still wanted to do something nice that they would enjoy but that wouldn't cost a lot of money. The next day I saw this recipe for chocolate truffles by Mark Bittman in the newspaper. They are simple to make but seem elegant and special. If you make and chill the mixture ahead of time, your daughter can help roll the truffles in cocoa powder, coconut, chopped nuts... anything you choose. I bought little candy gift boxes at a local party store that neatly held 6 truffles. Since they're rich, I thought 6 was enough for each person. The teachers loved them. Hope this helps.



You are not the only one in this situation!!! I have found that people would rather have homemade items than store bought ones. One of the things I do for my sons teachers at daycare and neighbors is buy a Christmas bowl - (usually you can find decent ones at the Dollar Store)and make a treat for them. They get to enjoy the treat and have a little bowl. My sone loves to help me make this and has helped with this since he was 2.
I usually put in Christmas trash, which is a mixture of pretzels, rice chex's, wheat chex's, cheerios, and sometimes M&M's or nuts. Then you melt some white chocolate and mix it all together in a very large bowl, once it is all covered, lay it out over wax paper that is covering the table and let it dry. If you want to be very festive you can add some, red and/or green chocolate splashes, or christmas colored sprinkles. The other thing you could put in is a mixture called Puppy Chow, it's just as yummy - the recipe can be found on the internet. Hope this helps!!!

Hi K.
First Congrats on your lovely family.
Let me just say grandparents love anything to do with their grandchildren.
But you mentioned others-- since you don't mention what you might have to work with, I will mention these that we have used as gifts.
Plants-- my boys helped me transplant some beautiful plants when we brought them in from the yard, they were loved by all. We simply put them in peanut butter jars. We did it early enough that the boys had fun watching the roots grow. Later we tied wrap up around the jar with ribbon.
Cookies -- all my children loved making cookies for friends. One year I gave 4 cookies on odd extra dishes to neighbor couples. Two of the neighbors brought the girls Valentine gifts when they brought the dish back. What a surprise for all of us!!!
Certificates to teachers for help -- you probably know about these.
I volunteered in the room once, and once I cut out crafts that the teacher just wasn't getting to.
Of course there are crafts, but it is costly to buy the materials.
however you might find some interesting ones on line.
God bless you and all you do and especially find the interested buyer for your house.
K. SAHM married 38 years -- adult children 37int coach, 32lawyer-married and has our only grandbaby, and twins 18. By the way they do grow up. Twins are in college after homeschooling. One majoring in art and one journalism.

Hi - K. - There'a a book called "The One Hundred Dollar Christmas", I don't know the author, but if you Google or Amazon, you should find it. We try to do gift cards or baked goods or maybe decorate picture frames. Good luck! A.

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