34 answers

Small Gift Ideas for Holidays for Acquaintances- Eco Friendly, Practical, Cute

This group always has such good ideas- I thought I would throw this one out there. Does anyone have any cute or clever ideas for small gifties for day care workers, co-workers, acquantainces etc? Something I can buy 20-30 of? I have always given small gifts, and of course this year would like to find some clever ideas for under $5- and practical is good because with this economy i don't think people need more wasteful gag gifts to throw away. I was thinking something along the lines of something eco friendly or otherwise useful- saw some cute reusable bag in a bag types of thing at the grocery store. Of course, I have done and can do baked goods, but would really appreciate some other ideas. I work full time, so I can't really make anything crafty for 20 people, but feel free to share those ideas too if you think it would help other moms. :)

12 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I knew I would get some fabulous responses. Tnanks everyone! I ended up doing the Chico bags for the small gifties (the website had some other prints instead of the ones with the store name on them that I saw at the store). However, I also am using some of the other great ideas for gifts for family. The green gift websites were the best (thanks Aphra!). I also recommend globalgirlfriend.com-- I found some great items there that not only are eco friendly but support working women in developing nations and other women's groups. Gifts at various prices that carry good stories with them about the women who make them (India, Afghanistan, Burma etc) at all prices. I also got some great donation certificates. Thanks again everyone!!!

Featured Answers

A cute gift I saw a parent give to teachers and teacher aides was a small potted plant of thyme (the herb). She got small gift bags (fabric) from the Dollar Store and put the plants inside and tied the string just below the plant -- you might even take some cute x-mas fabric squares--try some fabric that won't fray like fleece-- and just tie them to the plant with some ribbon. You might want to wrap the bottom of the plant with cellophane/Saranwrap first.

The note attached said either "thanks for all the "time you've given", or "wanted to give you a little "time"), or some other clever phrase.

4 moms found this helpful

We made paper out of old paper and embedded flower seeds in the paper. Then gave everyone a little garden. All they had to do was plant it and water.

One year we bought those smaller clay pots and bottoms (trays), put dirt in a little baggie and put the baggy in the pot. Then cut the seed embedded paper to fit the top of the pot. The card explained what to do.

Stephanie

1 mom found this helpful

Making food always gets a good reception. Years ago when I was more ambitious, I prepared a homecooked lunch for the day care staff (12 people). They loved it! I had to take the morning off from work to do all the cooking and deliver the food. They really appreciated the food and the effort. I've also done a Noah's Bagel spread and delivered it in the morning.
On other occasions, I've given Starbuck's Bucks which everyone seems to like. You can dress them up a bit by putting the card in a little pouch with some candy.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

A cute gift I saw a parent give to teachers and teacher aides was a small potted plant of thyme (the herb). She got small gift bags (fabric) from the Dollar Store and put the plants inside and tied the string just below the plant -- you might even take some cute x-mas fabric squares--try some fabric that won't fray like fleece-- and just tie them to the plant with some ribbon. You might want to wrap the bottom of the plant with cellophane/Saranwrap first.

The note attached said either "thanks for all the "time you've given", or "wanted to give you a little "time"), or some other clever phrase.

4 moms found this helpful

My answer isn't going to relate much to the small "gifties".
You mentioned daycare workers in your list of people you want to give something to. Having been there as a daycare worker, I'd like to put out some ideas for them. People tend to bring in candy or bath items... special soaps, lotions etc. With each parent spending $5 to $10 on these items that the teacher often doesn't need .. or that isn't a scent that the teacher would use, I've often thought it would be really nice if several parents would get together and pool their money into one small 'token' and a gift card. Someone in the group could, in casual talk with the teacher when dropping off or picking up their child, find out a favorite restaurant, store, etc. from which to get the gift card. Nice 'token' gifts to go with a card might be something the parent has helped the child make.

As far as the smaller gifts go, I have received several over the years that have been special. Probably the best one is a bracelet one girl gave to me when she left my class to go into kindergarten. It has little figures on it that look like stylized people (children) and I have worn it almost constantly since I got it over 5 years ago. The children I work with now love to look at my bracelet and play with those little figures. Another family had a side business selling Mexican pottery and gave me several pieces of that... so if you have something that would just remind the teacher of your family each time she/he looked at it, that would make a wonderful gift too. I remember those two families each time I look at their gifts.

2 moms found this helpful

Do you know how to make jam? You said that you have done baked goods in the past. I usually give my kids' school "people" (principal, librarian, etc.) jars of homemade boysenberry, raspberry, blueberry jam that I decorate with cute holiday fabric and a raffia or jute bow with a homemade gift tag. They love it, and have for the last two years asked if I will be doing it again!

People tend to appreciate something little to say thanks and Merry Christmas that can be tasted, enjoyed, and that doesn't clutter up the space. If you don't have time to bake or do "crafty things" then a $5 gift card to Jamba Juice, Starbuck's, or something that will get them a few minutes to enjoy the treat is usually appreciated.

I have done everything from homemade candles, bath salts, flavored oils to picture frames and baked goodies and jam. If you don't make jam, find a store (Cost Plus is great for this)pick up some packets of scone mixes and a sampler pack of jams and split them up between everyone. You can wrap them in a brown lunch sack that you have stamped, colored, or tied a colored ribbon around and give that as a small thank you. It really doesn't have to be anything big. Even a simple Thank You card is appreciated if money is really tight.

Maybe you have a store in your area that sells handmade items from different artists and vendors? Who says you have to make it yourself? We have a place in Fresno called The Palace Courtyard that is full of handmade items by various crafters/artists in the area.

Have fun, whatever you decide to do!

2 moms found this helpful

How about a donation to a charity in your area; in their honor? My neighbors, for example, make a donation in our honor to Heifer International. You "purchase" a goat, bees, rabbits or other animals for a village. It is a gift that keeps on giving. Or how about a donation of books or blankets to a homeless shelter, childrens center or SPCA...make a nice card on your computer to go to the person or people you are honoring in this way. Joy to you and your family!

1 mom found this helpful

etsy.com is a crafters site, most everything there is eco- friendly. here is a link to some things under $20.

http://www.etsy.com/gift-guides/under-20/34

1 mom found this helpful

I realize you've made your decision already, but I just wanted to share what I am doing this year for family...

Cookies in a Jar
Soup in a Jar

You don't have to actually bake anything - just layer the ingredients in a mason jar and tie a pretty ribbon around it. There are recipes online with the instructions for the recipient on what to add and how to cook the recipe from within the jar.

Enjoy!

1 mom found this helpful

Make a donation to your local food bank or Toy$ for Tot$ etc. Then get boxed gla$$ holiday ornament$ for each recipient - attach a tag that readz "A donation waz made in your honor to __________________. Happy HOlidayz!"
I do thi$ for all my co-worker$, auntie$ etc. and they all love it!
I found cute gla$$ boxed ornamentz at Long'$, O$H, Walgreen'z etc. for under $8 each.
Kiddo broke a key off the laptop - $orry for the funky $pelling!

1 mom found this helpful

We made paper out of old paper and embedded flower seeds in the paper. Then gave everyone a little garden. All they had to do was plant it and water.

One year we bought those smaller clay pots and bottoms (trays), put dirt in a little baggie and put the baggy in the pot. Then cut the seed embedded paper to fit the top of the pot. The card explained what to do.

Stephanie

1 mom found this helpful

You've already gotten lots of good ideas. I used one of your ideas last year--reusable grocery bags--as "gift wrap". I bought the $1 reusable bags at Trader Joe's, then put items appropriate to the recipient inside. You could put home made goodies or buy mixes or teas or whatever. TJ's has many yummies. I like the bread mixes, especially the pumpkin bread. And easy favorite of mine is a loaf of pumpkin bread, with or without frosting made from 50/50 cream cheese & pumpkin butter (also from TJ's.) Another is the cream cheese/pumpkin butter mix with TJs triple ginger ginger snaps for dipping--yummo! For personal friends I put 2 bottles of 2 buck Chuck wine in a TJs bag. A $5 dollar gift worth getting. Christmas cheer for now & a reusable bag for the rest of the year. And no, I DON'T work for Trader Joe's! Just love the place :) Merry Christmas!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.--I wrote a post the other day on my blog, Relevant Mom, that gives you tons of resources to check out for this request:

http://relevantmom.blogspot.com/2008/12/hmn-green-mamas-t...

Happy Holidays,

K.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
My favorite gift for the eco-friendly types (and those who are not, but should be) are reusable sandwich wraps. You can get them at reusablebags.com. I think you can get them 3 for about $18, which is a little more than you want to spend. On the other hand, it is really practical and everyone can use them, especially for those with kids. Maybe you could just get a few for those you know will really appreciate a practical, eco-friendly gift that keeps giving all year long. I have also given out the reusable shopping bags from places like Trader Joes. Most people use them these days and can use another, even if they already have them. The have cool ones at the same website mentioned above too. Good luck and happy holidays!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
You could get some simple and inexpensive picture frames (maybe 4 x 6 to stay in your budget). For the day care workers, you could put a picture of your child in it if you like. Or if you have a quote or saying you like, you could print it out on plain or colored paper to put in the frame. If the recipient doesn't want the saying, then they can always put their own quote or picture.
Good luck,
C.

1 mom found this helpful

My sister makes this amazing homemade soap with Dove bar shavings and water. Boiled into the smoothest, maisturizing hand soap around. It's easy to make large amounts on the stove and all you need to do is buy cute pump bottles to put them in.

1 Large bar of Soap (WE use Dove)
Optional-Glycerin, hand cream, and/or scented oil (or just choose soap with the scent you prefer.) We don't add any of these.

Grate soap. Boil in 3 cups of water until dissolved.
Let cool, it will thicken.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.!

I always go to Walmart for these "bulk" gifts. They always cute choices for under $5.00. This year, I've bought small tins with shortbread cookies in them. I've wrapped the tins in Irridescent Paper, then gathered it at the top with a big bow :o) They look so much more expensive just because of the wrapping.

Anyway, my thought is, "It's the thought that counts". And like you, I don't want anyone wanting to throw out another gift. These tins are small enough for them to eat quickly, and "pretty", to show how much I love them in my life :o)

Merry Christmas!

~N. :o)

1 mom found this helpful

I think you'll like this...purchase mugs and make Snowmen Soup...

1 individual pack of hot chocolate mix
3 Hershey's chocolate kisses
10 - 15 mini marshmallows
1 small candy cane

Attach the Following Note:

Snowman Soup

Was told you've been real good this year.
Always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You'll need to warm the spirit!

So here's a little Snowman Soup!
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water,
Sip it slow.
It's sure to do the trick!

1 mom found this helpful

One alternative to gift giving, is a donation made on behalf of your coworkers. One of my coworkers does this every Christmas and it really gets people talking. She makes a donation of bees or goats or a few chickens through Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.204586/) In return they send her -last year it was bees for a farmer to help pollenate-a few bees wax candles, and a bunch of honey sticks. She set all the 'gifts' on the counter with the thank you card from the organization and a note saying we could help ourselves to any of the little gifts.
Alternately, I usually make a big batch of homemade peppermint bark, wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap and tie a ribbon around it ;)

1 mom found this helpful

Making food always gets a good reception. Years ago when I was more ambitious, I prepared a homecooked lunch for the day care staff (12 people). They loved it! I had to take the morning off from work to do all the cooking and deliver the food. They really appreciated the food and the effort. I've also done a Noah's Bagel spread and delivered it in the morning.
On other occasions, I've given Starbuck's Bucks which everyone seems to like. You can dress them up a bit by putting the card in a little pouch with some candy.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I have Opal'z, the soap making place in Palo Alto. Handmade soaps are great gifts. You could bring a friend and spend about an hour and for about $5 each and make all your great little gifts.

www.opalzoap.com

Hi A.,
In my store N.'s Attic, Pacific Grove) I have little pots with everything in them to start an herb plant. They are boxed in a cute pop-open box with great graphics---maybe something like that. Another good idea, esp. for working Moms, is a soup mix--all you add is meat. There are also holiday drink mixes, gingerbread latte mix, etc. How about a cute, spice filled coffee mug pad. Trapp candles are the best. Votive size is under $5., burns 15-20 hours, and fills a room with fragrance. Happy Holidays! NancyA

canvas bags sounds great. I am making customized canvas bags myself with children drawings inprints( transferred with the heat). I sell them for 10$ at the fairs. but can probably do it for 6-7$ depends on quantity.
to get an idea please visit www.mysnoozles.etsy.com or email me if you have questions to ____@____.com
good luck! Y.

A.,
I found a recipe for peppermint bath salts that I just made this past weekend as gifts for girls in my MOPS group and son's teachers. It is fun, easy, cute, and inexpensive. Even my husband liked them and wants me to make more for his coworkers. The recipe makes 12 and it has a sheet you can print for the tops. I just tied a ribbon around it with a candy cane to finish it off but if you are crafty you could do something more fancy. It only took me 30 minutes with my 5 and 3 year old helping so if I was by myself less time. The only thing that was hard to find was the peppermint oil and we got it at GNC. Here is the website.

http://organizedchristmas.com/recipe-candy-cane-bath-salts

Here is a link tp a bunch of gift in jars, the reason I chose the bath salts was because I didn't have to measure a bunch of stuff for each jar, so the bath salts were faster, easier and very festive.

http://organizedchristmas.com/gifts-in-a-jar

Good luck,
C.

Go to the 99c super store. Not the $1 store, not the .99 and up, just "The .99 cent store". They have great stuff - picture frames, plants, snacks, cards, etc... -

It sounds like the bag you saw may have been a Chico Bag, and I saw another mom gave you a link to that website. I had been given a Chico Bag and just love it. I keep it clipped to my diaper bag or toss it in my purse and use it all the time when I need extra room to carry snacks, toys, etc. Also have used it when I go shopping and forget my big resusable bags in the car. I think it's a great gift!

A.,
Hi...I'm not sure if you would be interested but I just got the new "Family Circle" magazine in the mail (my mom sent me a subscription) anyway they had some real good idea's in there. One that sounded good to me was they took some plain glass vases (different shapes & size's,could be purchased at the dollar store or big lots) and used gold or silver leaf on them(can be puchased at any craft store).Placed at odd angles,crinkled to look old, they added a few inexpensive ornaments in them or filled them with water & put floating candles in them, or just put flowers in them. The vase's seemed like something everyone would use in thier homes for decoration without feeling like a CHEAP gift. Check out the magazine, they have other idea's too!
Good Luck....L.
P.s. Happy Holidays......

When I saw this post, I thought this link was in order to send to you: http://buyhandmade.org/. This is a group of people who have pledged to only buy handmade items from artists this season. Many are eco-friendly and made from recycled goods. Perhaps you can find something meaningful here. Good luck!

-H.

Chico Bags! They're the greatest! available at chico natural foods, and Blue Oak Charter School in chico has a fundraising deal, 5 for 20 dollars (they're usually 5 bucks each!)

good luck

SOY Candles. They are made with 100% soybean oil. Renewable resource. Non-polluting. Supports American farmers, etc. Soy wax can be poured into any heat proof container so you could even recycle jars, etc. Soy candles are hard to find in stores yet, but there are candlemakers all over the country making candles as a home based business.

Hi A., I found that a cute mug or 2 with hot chocolate, teas or coffe's work. You can usually find mugs for $1 or so and fill them with packets. Wrap in plastic with cute bow. The other thing I have done, is cookies in a jar. It is time consuming, but you can make alot. You buy jam jars, and layer dry ingrdients. Then make cute little note cards that include rest of ingredients and baking directions. Good Luck

I make some lovely handmade soaps and other objects in my mom-owned business. Follow the link to my site if you are interested.

Wishing you a joyous holiday season!

I saw this is Family Fun this month and my daughter is going to do it. Bookmarks. You get a roll of ribbon, buttons, and tacky glue (or hot glue). Cut the ribbon about the length of a book and glue the buttons on to one end. You can buy the buttons in bulk at the fabric store in an assortment of shapes and colors. Stack different sizes and use specialty buttons for a bit more pizzaz. I know you're not looking for anything crafty, but this is a pretty easy one and cute too.

Can't wait to see other's ideas!

I thought first about the Chico bags--little, cute, and so practical! I bought some at Whole Foods that I will use as stocking stuffers this year.
And we make donations (usually to Heifer Project) in people's honor--they have nice gift cards to print out so let people know what you did. (They also have cards that can be emailed to the recipient.)

Hi A. -

I can tell you what I am giving my group of moms, teachers, etc. -- handmade soap! It's inexpensive, it's completely green and natural, it's not fattening (lol!) and it's easy to do.

You can make all the custom soaps you need in about 2 hours at Opal'z in Palo Alto. The owner (Annie Jenkins) is a Mamasource Mom and a very good friend of mine. She's located in midtown Palo Alto. You can check out her site at http://www.opalzoap.com/ for hours and location.

Have a bubbly holiday!

J.

Hi A.,

My son recently went on a field trip to our local recycling center. They made paper there out of old paper. It can be scratch paper, have writing on it, doesn't matter. You take the paper and put it in a blender with water. Then you pour that mixture into a tub with water in it. Put a screen down in there, get some of the blended paper mixture on the screen and pull it out. Then you blot it with a paper towel and lay it flat to dry.

I plan to do this for a gift for my son's teacher and aide. You can purchase envelopes to go with this note paper at the dollar store. The note paper ends up looking very nice.
The paper I'm saving for this project is my son's old homework so that makes the idea really cute.

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