’Tis the season of giving, and as a teacher, you probably wish you could give a lot. After all, what some of your students receive from you might be the only gift they open this Christmas. We know a teacher’s budget is small though, which is why we came up with these awesome, easy and inexpensive holiday gifts. It doesn’t matter whether you have 5 or 205 students. These ideas won’t break the bank.
1. Microwave Popcorn
We love the idea of giving a single bag of microwave popcorn as a gift, and it’s even better when you can make it adorable. Here’s an idea from Craft-O-Maniac to make snowman popcorn covers.
This teacher was able to create an inexpensive gift for her students using holiday pencils and labels. It’s quick and easy, and all kids need pencils! Learn more about how she did it and how much it cost.
3. Play Dough
You can’t go wrong with giving play dough as a gift, and we especially love this peppermint play dough recipe from Growing a Jeweled Rose.
4. Glow Sticks
Buy packages of glow sticks from the dollar store, then attach simple holiday signs to them. (The Techy Teacher had this idea, and she even includes a template you can use.) If you’re brave enough, you can even let them crack their sticks at school with some of the lights off!
5. Candy Cane Mice
Felt, glue, googly eyes and candy canes—it doesn’t get any easier than that. Learn how to make these candy cane mice from Southern Plate.
6. Ice Cream Floats
You can’t beat a break in the school day for a good ol’ ice cream float. It’s the perfect gift for a group of students.
7. Marshmallow Pops
If you are a crafty teacher, give these reindeer marshmallow pops a try. If you have a lot of students, this is perfect because you can make them in bulk.
8. Homework Pass
You can’t get any more “free” than the classic homework pass. Students are guaranteed to love it!
9. Minion Bookmarks
If your students are crazy about Minions, check out this project from Craft and Creativity. (We’ve also seen a version of these made from Popsicle sticks.)
10. DIY Games
You can give a simple deck of cards if you’d like—perfect for playing those multiplication games we recently blogged about. Otherwise, gather up some rocks and try creating this tic-tac-toe game project.
Giving a child a book is always a good idea. Some teachers tell us they buy books in bulk, getting a great deal so they can give all their students the same book. Others tell us they have great luck finding gently used books at thrift stores.
12. Create a Piece of Art
One of the teachers from our WeAreTeachers Helpline group gave us a fabulous idea. She has her students write down adjectives for one another. Then she turns them into pieces of art and prints them out for the students. They love reading what others said about them.
13. Classroom Games
One of our wise teachers says she buys presents for the classroom—the kids get to open them, which adds to the fun. She buys presents like puzzles, games, STEM labs, etc., so everyone can enjoy them for the rest of the year.
Most teachers don’t allow gum in the classroom, so when you give each student a whole pack for him- or herself, they’ll definitely know it’s a special occasion. This will make you oh-so popular!
15. Advent Calendar
Our teacher friend Sarah Blair puts up an advent calendar in her classroom. Each day, there’s a different prize or surprise the students get to do. Here are a few of her examples: Make a Christmas craft, watch a Christmas movie, get a special coloring page, make a Christmas card, make paper snowflakes.
It might be a small gesture, but hanging a stocking on every student’s desk can be a big deal. For many of them, it might be the only stocking they get this year. Encourage other students to drop in kind notes to one another. Then sneak in little chocolates, erasers and other inexpensive items.
You can find dozens and dozens of cute and adorable edibles on Pinterest, and your students will love them all. This is one of our favorite winter treats for a healthier snack option from No Biggie.
18. Christmas Store
We heard of one school putting together a Christmas store for their kids, and we knew we had to share this idea. Here is how it works: Teachers and administrators buy and bring in small items (either new or donated) for the store. Then each child in the school gets to “shop” for one gift to give to someone special in their family. It has been a huge hit!