Non-treat Neighbor & Teacher Gifts

 

We love this season of giving. We have a family tradition of going Christmas caroling and delivering neighbor gifts. We also think teachers are unsung super heros and like giving teacher gifts at Christmas. As homemade sweet creations were my jam, they usually ranged from a giant 5 layered candied caramel apple to peppermint bark to orange rolls. But, as we’ve gone gluten-free, dairy-free as a family and I’ve dealt with my sugar addiction, that doesn’t work us anymore.

We also have 5 kids, which means at least 5 teachers (my middle/high schoolers pick their two favorite teachers – I can’t do them all!) and that plus every kid picking a favorite friend to carol too, plus some close family friends…it adds up fast! So, most of our gifts are on the homemade side and cost under $10 each.

So, for the last few years we have explored non-treat neighbor and teacher gifts. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Roasted pecans, using my perfectly roasted pecan recipe. Put them in a cute cellophane bag with a nice bow and card. I worried how this would play out compared to the sweets showing up, but a lot of people really appreciated something non-sweet. It’s become our go-to with a $5 Starbucks gift card for male teachers. Obviously, this only works for neighbors and teachers that don’t have a nut allergy!
  • Rice packs – Rice packs were a gift one of our friends in Oregon gave every year and we just loved it, so we gave those for a few years. It’s basically just a fabric filled bag of rice. I know, does not sound exciting, but they are awesome – you heat them up in the microwave for 2 minutes and it turns into a heat pack to warm up your feet in bed, stick on a sore muscle. Or, stick it in the freezer and use it as a cold pack. We did this one two years in a row, as so many people said they needed a second so family members would stop fighting over them, ha! My kids helped pick out the fabric for each of their teachers, personalizing it for their favorite animal or hobbies (music fabric for the band teacher, cats for the teacher who has 4 cats, etc.). My kids also insisted making one for themselves and we still use them on the regular. Super inexpensive to make, especially if you have leftover fabric to use up!  Click here for a great explanation on how to make these. Not a good option for you if you don’t like or know how to sew though!
  • Christmas in a Jar – A follower gave me this suggestion this year and I loved it! Super easy, no cooking or sewing involved, just assembling! Also pretty inexpensive, mine came out to around $3 each, but it depends mostly on how much you get your mason jars and ribbon from. Basically, it’s a Christmas popurri kit – contains items you boil in water over the stove and it makes your house smell magical. This link on how to make it even includes an adorable tag to go with it. The kids helped on this one by being an assembly line to get everything into the jars.  You can also make this even more inexpensive by using clear bags, not jars, like this tutorial shows.
  • Christmas Succulents – This is the route we are going with teachers this year, as I am loving the succulent trend and the kids are excited to help plant them. I loved how this tutorial even uses recycled cans to make planters and help make this afforable and easy.
  • Hand soap – I love a nice soap and this is a practical way to checkmark that gift idea. I especially love Bath and Body Works Christmas scented soaps, but there are definitely less expensive options out there. Here’s a cute free tag saying, “We WASH you a Merry Christmas” to put on it.  Super easy this one!
  • Redbox Codes – This is a fun twist on a gift card. You can give Redbox codes by going to their website here and then there are lots of free cute printable tags to put them on like this one. You could of course toss in some popcorn to go with it.
  • Gingerbread cashew butter – Oh, how I love this stuff! Again, doesn’t work if someone has a nut allergy, but put it in a small jar with a cute bow, add an apple on top and it’s a tasty but slightly more nourishing gift, with such a fun festive flavor that we LOVE. I love and make every year this recipe from the Whole Smiths.
  • Kitchen utensil – I know, totally on the practical side, but I’ve had this show up on my doorstep several times and I think it’s fun! A spatula, a whisk, whatever you think is fun. There are great little sayings for them like this one (“We WISK you a Merry Christmas”) and this one (“We hope this helps SPREAD holiday cheer.”)
  • A pineapple? Yup, a full on pineapple came to my door and I though it was kind of brilliant! No baking or assembly required folks, and I love these free darling tags tying it into the holiday.

Keep in mind, the point of a neighbor or teacher gift is to show your love to someone. Homemade or not, simple or more complex, I am always grateful when someone thinks of me and takes the time to let me know!