Fun Friday – Crayon and Sandpaper Iron-On Transfers

I am notoriously bad at crafts.  I think Pinterest is the devil because my crafts NEVER turn out the way they should, regardless of how easy someone claims the project is.  As such, I have just about given up trying homemade things lately.pinterest 2

However, I discovered a website (The Crafty Collaborative) that features several daring women who try out various crafts and recipes and then let you know the honest scoop on how “easy” they really are!  You get pros and cons from multiple ladies who are testing out the same craft so you know if it really is something worth trying!  I appreciate this on so many levels!

Their most recent art project was making a homemade iron-on design using only sandpaper and crayons!  This looked like a legitimate project to me and the ladies all testified that it was, so my kids and I sat down to attempt it too.

*To try this yourself, you will need the following items:

  • Crayons (old crayons would work great because they will get worn down on the sandpaper)
  • Sandpaper
  • An Iron
  • Paper Towels
  • A plain t-shirt, tote bag, pillowcase, etc. that you can put a decal on

I love that the materials for this project are all things that you probably have just lying around the house!  Cheap and easy? YES, PLEASE!

The kids sat down and colored a design on their individual sheets of sandpaper (we used the thin grit so it was easier to color on).

I forgot to take a picture of their pictures before I ironed, but you can see how well the sandpaper held on the colors even after transferring

I forgot to take a picture of their pictures before I ironed, but you can see how well the sandpaper held on the colors even after transferring

When they were finished, I flipped the paper over, lined it up on an old white t-shirt, and ironed it on.  It only took about 5 seconds to get the picture on the t-shirt!  Then, I put a paper towel over the t-shirt picture and ironed a few times to get the excess wax off.

A specially designed t-shirt in just 5 seconds!

A specially designed t-shirt in just 5 seconds!

Voila; new art shirts for school (we purposely tested this out on daddy’s old t-shirts because they would be used for messy art projects anyway and I was still a little skeptical of the outcome, given my history of crafting).

showing off their shirts

showing off their shirts

You do have to push down on the crayons a little harder than usual to make sure that the picture is really bright on the sandpaper or the picture will be faint (notice that my son’s shirt is not nearly as bright in certain spots because he didn’t color as hard).

And, if you want to put any words or numbers in the picture, you have to remember to write them backwards on the paper or they will show up backwards on the shirt.  My son forgot that rule and had to adjust his picture accordingly (BUT MOM, HOW DO YOU DRAW A FOOTBALL PLAYER WITHOUT THEIR NAME AND JERSEY NUMBER?! – a question that should have been asked before he started drawing seeing as though I only had 2 pieces of sandpaper at that time), which is why his looks a little wonky – he tried to turn the numbers/letters he drew into helmets on a football field, but he gets his artistic ability from his mama so it is what it is.

The whole point of my rambling is that the project was SO simple and required very little preparation, no specialty tools, little to no money, and very little work on my part – HOORAY!  pinterest 1It is definitely something that I would recommend trying with your kids the next time they get “bored” or if you need a cute gift for a grandparent or family member.

Thanks The Crafty Collaborative for reviewing this fun idea so that I was brave enough to try it myself!

Wordless Wednesday – Pencil Vases For Teachers

We'll be replacing the flowers with fuller bouquets and adding a personal card from each kid, but this is what we went with for the school teachers this year :)

We’ll be replacing the flowers with fuller bouquets and adding a personal card from each kid using the flower clothespins on the front, but this is what we went with for the school teachers this year.  With the exception of one stubborn pencil that is refusing to fully stick to the glass, I think they turned out pretty well  🙂

End Of Year Teacher’s Gift Dilemma

Well, it’s that time of year again; end of the school year and time to purchase the teacher gifts.  Last year I did small gifts for all of the teachers and slightly bigger ones for the main teachers.  Seeing as though this ended up being for approx. 25 people, it was very stressful and expensive, even though we limited price amounts.

This year, we’re just focusing on the main teachers, both at school and at Sunday School.  But even with limiting the number of people we are purchasing things for, it’s been extremely difficult to come up with ideas, especially since the end of the year gifts come right after Teacher Appreciation Week.

I see lots of cheesy things on Pinterest that I could make (and we kind of did for the “SundAE” School teachers – yes, we got them small frozen yogurt giftcards housed in little ice cream cups on top of tissue paper vaguely resembling an ice cream sundae), but I’m kind of burnt out from making things for everyone (I know, I’m pathetic) and I’m kind of sick of the cheesy stuff for some reason.  I feel like the teachers might be sick of it too seeing as though some of the popular stuff has been around for many years and chances are, they have already received the gifts we were considering.

My daughter wants to make a pencil vase with “beautiful” flowers in it for her teacher and I think we can pull that off (plus she got a first year teacher who hasn’t had the good fortune to already receive the cheesy gifts yet).

something like this?

something like this?

But then, there’s my son, who has a teacher that has been teaching for A LONG TIME and has everything she needs; not to mention his gifted teacher who is a little quirky (aka, not your average teacher).

Does anyone have any reasonably priced go-to gift ideas for teachers?  I am at a loss and we only have 2 weeks left before our crazy Summer!  Please help! We can pretend this is a blog party if that makes it more exciting! 🙂

Why I Want To Punch Children’s Toy Manufacturers

My daughter will be turning six this week so we had a birthday party for her this past weekend.  It was semi-Barbie themed/semi-rock star themed so as to include boys and girls.  It was at a skating rink.  It was awesome.  Check out the pictures below.

birthday princess, rocking the neon colors

birthday princess, rocking the neon colors

hokey pokey

hokey pokey

fun food

fun food

lots of presents

lots of presents that require too much effort

However, as fantastic as this party was, it resulted in an influx of new toys for the birthday girl, as birthday parties have a tendency to do.  She was ecstatic.  I was petrified. The majority of the toys were Barbies and similar-type dolls in boxes – exactly what she had wanted.  And, of course, they must be played with immediately upon returning home from aforementioned party.  This requires opening all of the boxes and attempting to get the toys out in record time.

the wicked stash of goodies clearly taunting me from our couch

the wicked stash of goodies clearly taunting me from our couch – look at all of those boxes

Now, for some reason, all toy manufacturers are sadists who get their kicks from the knowledge that all over the world there are poor, unsuspecting parents struggling to maintain their composure as they try to separate the toy from the box it came in.  I don’t understand the need for 37 different zip ties that are impossible to untwist or cut without seriously maiming yourself.  The kids are going to lose half of the pieces immediately anyway and they are all inside of a plastic box, so just shove it in there so we can dump it out easily once we get home!  Don’t tape it, sew it, wrap it, glue it, etc.!!  Do you know how frustrating it is to try to open boxes of toys for your happy kids, only to start hearing, “Hurry up, Mom” “How long does it take, Mom?!”  “Mom, I just want to play with my Barbies.  Why can’t you open a silly box; you’re an adult?”

Hearing these phrases makes a parent want to chuck the toy (and sometimes the birthday child) out of the window and wash their hands of the whole mess.  This is not the reaction we want to have immediately following a fun birthday party.  So, please, please, please toy manufacturers, STOP MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT TO PLAY WITH TOYS!!!  Or else I will be forced to stop buying your products and just make my children play outside with rocks and sticks because it just might safer and less of a hassle than trying to open your boxes!toy

Don’t even get me started on the toys that need 800 batteries or appear to be in one piece from the outside and then require ridiculous assembly with tools not even carried by Home Depot….Ok, whew, got that off of my chest so now my daughter can go play Barbies and  I can move on to assembling a cardboard Princess carriage she also received.  Good times.

Craft Wars, Compliments of My (Bored) Creative Kids

About a month ago, I started running out of ideas for things to do with my 3 children over this very long Summer.  Coincidentally, it was right about that time that I discovered the show Craft Wars on TLC.  It’s the one that’s kind of like Project Runway but with weird art projects instead of clothing design. **Here’s where I feel the need to give my obligaTORI shout out to Tori Spelling for bringing this show to life and for inspiring me to come up with new ways to incorporate the name Tori into everyday words like she does with all of her branding.  (You’re welcome for the title of your next book, Tori)**

Anyhow, the show was an instant hit with my kids and we watched several episodes while they attempted to create their own similar masterpieces from our meager stash of art supplies.  (What? You don’t have a Michael’s Craft Closet like the contestants on the show?!  Um, no, but we do have what I like to call the Michael’s Craft Bucket and it seems to do the trick.)  The problems started arising when the kids ran out of episodes to watch and started coming to me for their ‘Pop Craft’ and ‘Master Craft’ challenges.  They weren’t looking for me to say, “here’s some popsicle sticks and glue, now go make a frame, kids.”  Oh, no.  That would have been too easy.  They wanted me to make weird requests like those on the show.

I tried to indulge them with challenges such as make a toilet out of leftover wrapping paper and used gift cards or make a fully functional kitchen out of toothbrush holders and unused diapers, etc.  Luckily for me, my kids have great imaginations so they actually pretended they were able to accomplish these ridiculous artistic feats.  But, pretending only goes so far so when they finally asked me to let them make something real, they decided they should create some DIY office supplies for their Grandma’s new office.  Each child could have the same tools, but could choose their own specific supplies and their personal methods of decoration.  Much to my relief, they liked the idea.  So, we headed to the store and purchased some basic office supplies and took them home to see what embellishments we could find in our Michael’s Craft Bucket.

My daughter decided her theme would be SPARKLES because obviously nothing says, “I’m a professional” like sparkly office supplies.  She chose a tape dispenser, a calculator, highlighters, and a large painted clothes pin that could be used to hold a stack of papers together.  My son went down a more practical route and decided that he would use paperclips and scrapbook paper to create his supplies.  He chose a mousepad, binder clips, a pencil can and post-it notes.  We fired up our glue guns and we were ready.

My daughter and I kicked things off by hot gluing “jewels” around the items she chose (except for the highlighters, which we painted gold with garnet glitter on top to add our signature Seminole flair).  NOTE TO SELF: next time forget the glue gun and just get some glue dots so that no one, namely mom, gets burnt in the process.

Bejeweling is coming back

While I was busy burning myselfcreating jeweled masterpieces with my daughter, my son was creating paper clip chains to decorate the cup and an unused acrylic frame which he turned into a post-it holder.  (I have to hand it to him, he had an inventive way of incorporating his paper clips into the design while still having some leftovers to use as they were intended – too bad I’m still awful with a glue gun so there were definite visible glue strings; the judges would not be pleased).

Notice the intricate glue string detail around the paperclip post-it holder which I wisely decided to hide with “watery” background paper

A few burns later, “we” moved on to making tiny paper rolls to insert into our plain pens, followed by decoupaging similar papers onto the binders and mousepad.  I use the word “we” loosely here because the older kids eventually became deserters of our craft war, leaving my 21-month-old as my closest lieutenant.  I know it is hard to believe, but an almost 2-year-old is not the ideal soldier in times of war.

it doesn’t look like much, but just try to envision me fighting with my 21-month old about where exactly the glue is supposed to go (hint, not in the mouth or hair or on the tv or the couch…you get the picture)

So, as Commanding General of my troops, I pulled out the biggest weapon in my arsenal: chalkboard paint and some wooden letters we could turn into initial-style paperweights.  This was all it took to coerce my children into returning to battle.

the initials of my kids, chalkboard style (notice how they cleverly tested the chalk for Grandma to make sure it worked)

Not everything turned out quite as planned that day, and the kids did abandon me momentarily, leaving me to use my toes to attempt to encourage my toddler to go to sleep on the couch instead of eating glue while I finished on one foot, but all in all, we had fun playing out our version of Craft Wars.  It kept us busy for an entire day and I think Grandma enjoyed the fruits of our labor.  If only Tori Spelling could see us now!  I wonder which crafter she would choose?

Fun, Yet Practical Baby Gifts!

In previous posts I have mentioned my love of creating baby gifts out of practical items that every mother can use.  I have made items for craft shows and private parties, along with numerous personal parties for friends and family.  I don’t make a lot of money doing this, but it’s a fun escape from the craziness of mothering 3 little ones.

Recently, I have had a few people contact me for tips on putting together cakes and other baby goodies in original ways and I would love to share them with you.  The prices of most of the diaper cakes on the internet are ridiculous so if you are even the slightest bit crafty, you can absolutely make a fun, practical gift yourself for a fraction of the cost.  I am no professional designer, obviously, but I truly believe you can tell when someone’s heart goes into a project and that means a lot to people in this age of generic gift giving!  So, please feel free to use/tweak my ideas for your personal use and share pictures with me if you are inspired to create something magical!

diaper wreath for a hospital room door

  • Tip 1: If the person you are making the gift for has a baby registry, scour it early on in order to see if they have established a theme for their nursery because it will help you in deciding how to decorate.  The registry may also include specific items that the parents are looking for that fit the theme (such as rattles, bottles, pacifiers, etc.) and you can purchase those to use in/on your cake if you so desire.  You are purchasing from the registry while giving the gifts a unique twist so it’s a win-win.

    lady bug theme using items from a registry (including head bands, brush/comb, nail clippers, socks, etc.)

  • Tip 2: If you know the expectant mom very well, think about her own personal tastes and incorporate those into a gift.  I have done this for friends and family via the “pregnancy craving” route, which is why so many of my non-cake creations are still food items.  Some foods are easier made than others, but I’m convinced anything is possible if you have time to try!

    “sushi” made from layette items, diapers and washcloths

    “sub” made from blankets, diapers, washcloths and socks

    “lollipops” and “candy”

    fuzzy sock “cupcakes” (or “ice cream” if you add a spoon to the package) for the mommy

    diaper “cupcakes”

    If the personal tastes are of the non-edible nature (such as flowers or shoes), you can try to create something in that genre too.  I’ve always wanted to try to make a diaper jewelry set, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

flowers made from a layette set

baby bootie made from diapers

  • Tip 3: Don’t forget the dad when creating the gift.  Everyone always oohs and aahs over the mommy and her growing belly, and rightfully so because it is no joke to be pregnant, but sometimes the dads get lost in the shuffle and it takes them a little longer to really get the feeling that they are about to become a parent!  I like to make a little daddy diaper kit that is silly, but funny, and helps the dad feel like part of the process too.  You can also get little bibs or clothing with sayings like, “I love daddy” or “daddy’s little helper” which you can include in the project in order to let the special guy know he is thought of as well.

    silly items included in the diaper changing kit (goggles, gloves, mask, tongs, diaper, wipes, powder, hand sanitizer, and diaper bag)

    all wrapped up with a cute poem (if you are interested in the wording of the poem, send me a message and I will get it to you)

  • Tip 4: If you can’t come up with a specific theme, there is nothing wrong with going down the traditional blue or pink path (or green/yellow if the gender is unknown).  It may seem less creative, but despite a lot of parents wanting to break down gender barriers, there’s only so many times you can deal with a stranger asking “how old is he?” when you have a brand new little girl – or vice versa.  Having a little pink or blue lying around can help avoid the mix up in the beginning when ALL babies look like little, wrinkly old men. (Be forewarned that some people are just dumb and still won’t get it, regardless of the obvious color scheme you present, but we’re going with the assumption that most humans will understand).

    twin “generic” cakes

  • Tip 5:Don’t use adhesive that will ruin any of the items that you are giving as gifts.  I have seen diaper cakes that are absolutely stunning in person, but they use so much glue/tape to hold it together that a lot of the diapers are ruined in the process.  This kind of defeats the purpose of giving diapers (or clothes or blankets, etc.) as it should be something that is easy to take apart and use immediately!  **8 oz. Bottles are the perfect item to place in the center of the diapers to hold cake tiers together with no adhesive.  Large cloth diaper pins (or safety pins) work well when you want to wrap a cute towel or sheet or blanket around something without destroying it.  The holes never show when you take the pin out and the items will stay in place.  Also, if you are wrapping up diapers individually in rolls, the little, clear plastic hair bands that you can find in packs of 500 at any store work FANTASTIC for holding the roll together and maintaining the integrity of the diaper at the same time.  Tying ribbon or tulle around the edges also helps to keep everything together during the transport of the gift and can also allow a safe surface to glue or tape tiny decorative items to, if need be!**

    everything is held together by hidden rubber bands, ribbon/tulle, and diaper pins!

  • Tip 6: Don’t overdo the decorations if you are making a cake!  It is so tempting to keep adding toy after toy and bottles and socks and all other sorts of goodies to the outside of the cake.  However, it’s difficult to attach all of these things in a permanent way and even if you can manage to do it, the cake starts looking really cluttered and overwhelmed.

    I got a little carried away with this basketball-themed cake…

    …and it continued on to the back of the cake

    The good news is that a lot of the items that you will want to include can be hidden within the layers of the cake (onesies rolled up just like the diapers; fork/spoon sets  pressed into the center of a diaper and hidden with a nice pair of scratch mittens; the top of a bottle covered in a cute skull-cap, stuffed animal, or bath mitten, etc.).   When it comes to decorating, less is more; just remember to add a tag listing all of your ingredients so the recipient knows everything that is included!

  • plenty of hidden treasures, but in a subtle way

I hope these little tips and pictures will come in handy and I hope you are inspired to make your own fun baby creation.  It seems to always be baby season these days, no matter who you are, so it’s fun to mix things up for each shower you are invited to attend!  If I can help with any specific questions that I haven’t answered here, feel free to ask!

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Birthday Treats – Linking Up

What’s your favorite birthday party treat?

I’m so excited about this special post because I was invited to “link up” with my friends, Tami and Lauren, the creators of Side By Side Design, who are celebrating their 1-year blogging “birthday” this week!  The theme for the link-up is “favorite birthday party treats” so here’s a few ideas based on my favorite party treat: LOLLIPOPS!


Since I attend/plan mostly kid parties and baby showers at this point in my life, the choice of lollipops should be no surprise.  But, I have noticed that even the adults that attend these shindigs seem to really enjoy the lollipops so I’m going with the idea that they are a universal treat.

My goal when I use the lollipops at parties is to incorporate them in a fun way, fitting of the theme of the party.  For example, at my daughter’s recent Alice In Wonderland Party, we made a lollipop mushroom (for the “who are you?” caterpillar/butterfly themed table) out of styrofoam and dumdums.  We used it as a centerpiece for one of the tables and for a party favor for the kids to add to their stash as the party ended – a win, win because Lord knows I didn’t want to bring 100 dumdums back home with me for my kids to fight over!

lollipop mushroom – you could tell the shape better in person, but you get the idea

As I said earlier, I have planned and have been asked to help with the planning of numerous baby showers over the last few years.  As a mom of three, with ages ranging from 1-6, I know what new moms need and don’t need, based purely on trial and error experience, so I like to go the practical route.

I started by making trusty old diaper cakes in an attempt to make practical baby gifts more exciting, but after a while, the diaper cake ran its course so I tried to get a little more creative with my gifts by making sandwiches, sushi, cupcakes, and, you guessed it, LOLLIPOPS, all out of baby supplies!  They’re fun gifts and very useful once unwrapped.

sadly, I’m not a great photographer, but here’s a glimpse at some of my early washcloth lollipops

Usually these types of crafts are reserved for the baby shower or a hospital gift once the baby is born, but a few years ago, a long-distance friend of mine was hosting a “Splish-Splash” (bath/pool) themed 1st birthday party for her son.  Since the majority of children attending were young babies, WAY too little to enjoy a real lollipop, she asked me to make the washcloth lollipops to display on the tables.  When the party was over, each child got to pick a washcloth “lollipop” and a rubber duck filled with child-friendly bubble bath, which he/she could then use at home!

**SIDENOTE, I also made a diaper/swim diaper cake with the duck theme as a present for the birthday boy (which she also displayed) and she said it REALLY came in handy as several of the babies soiled themselves immediately upon arriving at the party so she had plenty of backups and thus no pool contamination! :)**

who knew she would need the contents of this “cake” before the party even got started?!

Anyhow, the point to my ramblings about cute baby parties and practical necessities is that the lollipops (or cakes, sandwiches, sushi, etc.) don’t always have to be edible to be a treat and a way to incorporate fun into a party!  You can even make faux lollipops for adults as a housewarming gift or bridal shower gift by using dish towels and mixing spoons.  So much more fun than just wrapping them up!

Here are a few other easy lollipop ideas that I like for the future:

Another example of a fun, non-edible lollipop idea for a candy-land themed party!

alien spaceship lollipops, perhaps for my son’s upcoming space-themed party?

homemade flower bouquet with lollipop centers, perhaps for valentines?

There are so many ideas out there and these are just a few.  I hope you are inspired or at least amused and I hope you will check out the other ideas submitted to the Side By Side Design blog on their feature Friday!  I am all always interested to hear about exciting party planning ideas from others so please feel free to share your favorite treat ideas with me, too!

Special thanks to Tami and Lauren for inviting me to be a part of their link-up!

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P.S. I Love You

A few weeks ago, my husband’s family threw an engagement party for my sister-in-law, who will be getting married next year.  Unfortunately, we live  entirely across the country and with 3 kids, it gets really expensive and difficult to travel so we were unable to attend the party.  As such, we wanted to make sure that we sent a gift that would represent us well in our absence.

I pride myself on personalizing gifts when I give them to people because I like to put thought into the gift.  Sometimes this becomes difficult because I certainly don’t have an unlimited budget, so I am forced to come up with homemade alternatives.  And, as I have mentioned in the past, my creative side and my artistic side don’t always mesh up so the projects rarely turn out the way I plan.  Even so, I keep trying and this gift-giving time was no exception.

Once again, I found myself scouring Pinterest with my kids, getting all kinds of ideas and then realizing there was no way I could do any of them in a useful way.  CURSE YOU, PINTEREST!  However, we did see a cute, vintage mailbox that was used to hold wedding cards at an outdoor wedding.  My older son loved this idea and it seemed like an easy enough project to do with 3 little kids.  It also fit the outdoor picnic theme of the party so we decided to go with it.

Here’s the idea we started with

I searched several old shops to try to find a cute, vintage mailbox, but couldn’t find any in good shape, so we just went and bought a new one, which I put together with my mad building skills, along with yellow and purple paint to match the party colors.

I liked the “P.S. I love you” written on the side so we definitely wanted to keep that, but I also wanted to be able to have each of my kids add a personal element to the other parts of the box without overwhelming the whole thing (which can happen very quickly when all 3 start “helping” at once).

My older son’s contribution

Granted, our PS I love you portion was not quite as pretty as our inspiration mailbox, but it made it on there so I was happy.   Even though my son had originally shown the most enthusiasm as we chose this idea, once it came time to actually participate, he decided he just wanted to add his initials (which happen to also be the first initials of the betrothed couple – yeah for that coincidence) and his fingerprints in between them, which we turned into little smiley faces.

Next, we did my daughter’s side of the box.  She  wanted to make flowers and butterflies because that’s what she is into these days, so we used her fingerprints to make those.  They were a little lopsided, but she insisted on positioning everything herself so it’s authentic! (I am very grateful that craft paint mistakes wipe away easily from mailboxes, allowing for quick fixes when necessary)

my daughter’s contribution

Now, my youngest is 20 months old so there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do with him without messing the rest up, so we just used his fingerprints to add a small 4-leaf clover to the back for good luck.  I’m Irish, so I try to add those “lucky” kinds of details when I can and it worked perfectly for a toddler’s attention span!

baby prints

After all of the sides dried, we decided to break out the trusty old chalkboard paint to add a few small spots for the couple to write their own notes to each other.

A spot for future messages!

an inside spot for “secret” messages 🙂

The fun part about this gift is that after you use it to hold cards or notes for the couple at the party/wedding, the couple can then take it home and use it in their house; whether for containing actual mail, or leaving notes for each other, or for anything else, it is a reminder of a day that was just for them.

I hope they liked the idea as much as we did and I’m glad we could participate in the party happenings, even if it had to be from 3,000 miles away this time.

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Teacher “Sushi”

Well, the end of the school year has finally arrived and I was still down one gift for my daughter’s preschool teacher.  All year I have been hearing from my daughter about how much “Mrs. R” loves sushi.  Now, although my daughter can sometimes get details wrong, I trusted her with this information since I had been hearing the same thing over and over again, and we decided to get her a small gift certificate to a local sushi place.

Of course I just hate to give gift cards by themselves because usually they’re not for too much as we are on a budget, so I always want to dress them up a little to make it more exciting.   Therefore, we went to the store and purchased a few tiny supplies to add with the gift card so that it would look like we were giving her real sushi.  I think we succeeded but I made sure to add a card that said exactly what each thing was meant to be, just in case she didn’t get where we were going with this idea.

Sushi anyone?

We wrapped up a pink sleep mask in white tissue paper and black “seaweed” made from a plastic tablecloth to make a sushi roll, added a green bath sponge as “wasabi”, some “fresh salmon” (swedish fish), brown shredded paper “noodles,” the gift card, and a pair of chopsticks and put them all in this take out box.

My daughter was so excited to give this gift to her teacher!  Luckily this project was easy and my daughter was right about her teacher loving sushi.  Hopefully it made her teacher smile as much as it made us smile!

I’m always on the lookout for inventive ways to give small presents and this ended up being the perfect idea!  I do thank God that the end of the year gift giving is finally over, though!  Now we’re looking for things for next year….

Teacher Appreciation Week

This is the first year I have had a child in “real school” and for that reason, I am fairly new to the whole process of teacher appreciation week (TAW).  I didn’t know if I was expected to do something for TAW and for the end of the year or if you choose one or the other.  After some input from my more experienced mommy friends, I decided to go with tiny gifts for all of the teachers in my children’s lives with an additional bigger gift for the 3 main teachers at the end of the year (which happens to fall just 2 1/2 weeks after TAW, go figure).

I am an inherently generous spirit who derives great pleasure out of giving gifts to others, but since Publisher’s Clearing House has yet to show up with my check, I am on an extremely limited budget when it comes to these teacher gifts.  So, what to do?  Head back to Pinterest (just can’t get away from there!).

I knew the gifts had to be at least ‘semi-homemade’ so I kept my search to simple things that seemed genuinely sweet (even if a little bit corny) and things that wouldn’t break the bank.  Here’s a few ideas that worked for me and the websites that have the amazing FREE printables to go along with the ideas!  Hopefully they will help inspire someone else who is searching for ideas for their kids too!

  • “Tea-riffic Teacher” water bottle – I kind of combined 2 ideas here (printables from Domesticated Lady and DIY instructions for a powdered drink package holder from Crystal & Co.) because I liked them both but you can actually just use one or the other if you prefer.  This idea involves printing a cute bottle label that says “for a TEA-riffic teacher” and adding a powdered package of Snapple to the package, either via the easy DIY holder or by simply tying it to the mouth of the bottle.

    water bottle label

    ok, this didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I hoped, but I ran out of time. It was easy to do by hand, though!

  • “Fortunate to Have You As a Teacher” Box – I happened to have some tiny, colorful Chinese takeout boxes that I got at a clearance sale at Michael’s a long time ago that I thought would be cute containers for gifts and this idea seemed like the perfect match!  I just printed out the lovely free printable from eighteen25 (via a guest post on How Does She)and purchased a bag of fortune cookies from the grocery store.  It’s a silly little gift, but it still says we took the time to think about you!

    fortune cookies

    little tag inside

    finished take out box with initial letter and thank you tag

  • “A&Wesome Teacher”drink gift –  This idea came from a blog on Nothing But Country originally intended for a Father’s Day gift, but the author was brilliant enough to realize that this would work for teachers too and she provided FREE printable labels!  I tweaked it a little because I used a box of freezable root beer pops instead of the actual soda bottles, but it can go with anything A & W themed!  We will be giving this one to my son’s PE teacher, who spends a lot of time outside!

    perfect for a man teacher!

  • “We Need S’more Teachers Like You” – One day each month I am asked to bring a small snack for my son’s class to enjoy.  I have done granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, pretzels, etc., but when I saw this idea for s’mores on the glue sticks and tape website, I knew I had to make it for his class, especially since my day to bring snack falls on Teacher Appreciation Day! (The great thing about this site/gift is that she also provides tags for other people who you might need to give a little gift to every now and then and it’s so simple!)  I used a tag from Me and My Insanity for the snacks because they were smaller and easier to print.  I added some cute “owl miss you” labels from Lisa Storms to the chocolate in the bag.

    little packs for the kids and a bigger pack for the teachers

    “owl miss you” chocolate wrappers

I’m still working on the end of the year gifts for a few more teachers, but these turned out to be just what we were looking for and very easy to put together!  As always, Pinterest came through for me, even if it still made me feel inadequate because I was once again just stealing borrowing ideas from other, more creative people (we still have that love/hate relationship).