Holiday Gift Guide: 7 Homemade Teacher Gift Ideas

image of narcissus bulbs, bowls of filler, plant
Image Credit: L. Kalmbach

Now’s a good time to get started on teacher gifts for the holiday. In the event that you’re thinking of some homemade teacher gifts, I’ve put together this list of ideas. The benefits of homemade gifts are plenty:

  1. the kids are involved in the process, which seems quite appropriate to reciprocate the time and effort the teachers have devoted to our kids,
  2. these gifts tend to be cheaper because the cost is in the time you put into creating the gifts (though yes, it’s entirely possible to go overboard and make it more time-consuming and expensive),
  3. you spend time with your kids, not just coming up with the idea, but also cooking/assembling the gifts, and
  4. I generally try to come up with ideas that don’t result in a lot of stuff that the teachers have to deal with. I’ve talked to some teacher friends of mine, and they voiced their preference for consumable gifts; they can either share the cookies/cakes/goodies with others or enjoy it all by themselves, and if presented in a recyclable container, their cupboards don’t get filled with yet another mug.

I can’t speak for every teacher everywhere, and I certainly wouldn’t presume, so now would also be a good time to get to know your teachers to see what they’d prefer (or read the Homemade Teacher Gift Poll Results). Anyhow, here are some teacher gifts I’ve given in the past (and a few more to round out the list) that have (seemingly, at least) gone over well:

Baked Goods Make Good Homemade Teacher Gifts

Bake up a mini loaf of either Banana Bread or Zucchini Bread for each teacher, wrap it in foil, enclose it in a decorative plastic or paper gift bag, and attach a homemade card with a ribbon.
Note that a standard recipe for these Quick Loaves yields one large loaf or three mini loaves. Use this to determine how to scale your recipe. If there are nut allergies, omit the nuts. Add chocolate chips instead (or in addition). Start now and try out your favorite recipe.

If you opt for gifting in a paper bag, you could enlist one kid to decorate the gift bag. They could trace holiday cookie cutters, use stickers, make abstract art, whatever. Here’s a set of white bags, a.k.a. the perfect canvas.

Other useful supplies:

Homemade Granola Makes a Great Homemade Teacher Gift

I seem to have an affinity for food with nuts in it, but if you’re so inclined to make homemade granola, you can certainly make one without them. Serve in a jar with a homemade label.

Sing Channa (Indian Trail Mix) or Other Savory Snacks

Sing is peanuts, so again, avoid this if there’s a nut allergy. But this tasty treat takes equal parts roasted peanuts and spicy fried lentils (available at your local Indian grocer or online). Pour into a decorative jar or plastic bag, and again, attach a note.

Canners Can Make a Homemade Jelly Treat for Teachers

Yes, I went there. Yes, this is laborious. But I’ve learned that if you want to make grape jelly, it really is easier to start with grape juice. I might try that next time. This spring, I went in with another mom, and we made Montessori Marmalade (which bore a striking resemblance to Jabba Jelly, but shhh) and presented that to the teachers. A small jar with a label hand-written by your kid can be reused later.

Hot Cocoa Mix Is a Homemade Gift to Warm a Cool Night

This really is quite simple to make, yet so much more convenient than assembling it every time you want some hot cocoa. If the teachers have kids, they’ll all enjoy it. I usually add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne pepper into my hot cocoa mix, but here’s a good base recipe to get you started.

Teachers Will Be Moved By Homemade Stationery

Teachers send thank you cards. Why not supply them? Get some card stock and have the kids design/paint/create the design on the outside of the blank cards. Depending on their preferred size and artistic medium, choose from any of these options:


Head to Home Depot and pick up some orchids. One per teacher. Or, some bulbs. Per Lewis Kalmbach of Lewis Kalmbach Designs, here’s what to do:

Paperwhite (narcissus) bulbs are fun, easy, and very fragrant. Start planning now for holiday blooms.

  • Head to your home store, nursery, or online and get either Ziva or Winter Sun narcissus bulbs. These are best for forcing.
  • Start with a small glass container or votive and different fillers. (Dollar Tree!) Choose colors to reflect the holiday: Natural pebbles for Thanksgiving, blue and white glass for Hanukkah or New Years, and red or green gravel for Christmas.
  • Fill 1/3 way with fillers. Add bulb then more filler.
  • Fill with water until the lower half of the bulb is submerged. (Bulbs could rot if totally underwater.)
  • Transfer to a cool dark area for a couple of weeks until the first green sprouts appear. Then place throughout the house or give as gifts. They grow fast from this point on!
  • Keep out of direct sunlight for longer lasting blooms. If plants get leggy, stake with bamboo skewers and wrap with ribbon.

So there you have it. These are just a few potential ideas for homemade teacher gifts. If you have any other great ideas, do share them in the comments (seriously, I’m always looking for fresh new ideas!).

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