Updated: Feb 23
Christmas can be an expensive time of year for us all. I’ve always struggled to come up with gift ideas for my students that won’t break the bank but will also teach them that Christmas isn’t just about ‘getting things’.
I’ve tried giving books, Christmas decorations, novelty stationery items such as mini erasers and the list goes on... But it wasn’t until I started thinking outside the box and getting creative that I discovered the best Christmas gifts were those from the heart (and they didn’t even cost a lot).
Here are 8 creative Christmas gift ideas that come from the heart:
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1. Kindness Ornaments
You can do this one of 2 ways. First, purchase some clear ornaments from kmart or a craft store. Then:
Ask each student to write something kind about their classmates. Type it up and place inside the bauble OR
You can write the kind messages for your students, focusing on their strengths and successes over the year.
We add the names with sticker letters that you find in the scrapbooking section at your local craft shop.
Click here to watch a quick video on how we make these.
2. Personalised Playdough
Kids throughout time have always loved playdough. I made a batch of my favourite playdough recipe (find it here) last Christmas and gave it to my niece. I added glitter and these free personalised name tags and she was in heaven. Playdough is super cheap to make, you can do it in large batches and the only other cost is small containers to store it in (I found these in packs of 2 from Big W – for all you Aussies out there). This is the perfect gift if you teach early childhood, Kindergarten or Year 1.
3. Gift Jars
In this image I have filled the jar with sweet treats but you could fill it with whatever your heart desires. Labels are ready to print-and-go (you can add names if you want to go the extra mile), fillings can be found in the grocery store and jars a cheaply purchased from Kmart or your local dollar store. Find the gift tags here.
4. Photo memories
Over the years, this has been my go-to Christmas gift. The students love it and so do their parents. I simply collate photos I have taken throughout the year (it has never been easier with an iPhone) into a montage with music. I used to create the montage and then burn to a DVD (I know, so old school!) These days, you could simply save to a USB for students and parents to view at home. It is also a great end of the year time filler. Whenever you have 5 minutes to fill in, pull up the photos for students to watch, I’ve always found this activity to be a winner.
What happens if you have left it to the last minute and you can't get your hand on any affordable USB sticks? Well, I have a solution for you! I am that teacher who comes up with a grand idea the weekend before school ends, which led to this creation. Thankfully, there is Dropbox which allows you to upload files and share them with multiple people. All you need to do is upload the movie file and share the link by attaching it to a QR code.
Find yourself a cute little poem, write a letter or create a bookmark. I used these search computers from Erintergration which I absolutely love. Find them here! Laminate and accompany with a small gift and you've got yourself a super cheap end of year present.
5. Customised Pencils
Last year I was teaching specialised groups throughout the school. This meant I had a LOT of students to give to and they were all of different age groups. I went to Kmart (another Aussie store, similar to Target) and picked up a sharpie, pencils and mini candy canes. I wrote personal messages to each student on the pencils and teamed them with candy. I was actually shocked by how loved these gifts were. Students wanted to use their pencils right away and loved sharing their special messages with each other. The sweetest thing of all was it promoted many of the students to share things they loved about me too (I even received a special pencil of my own from a student the next day).
However, if you are short on time or want something with a little more of a professional look, Frame This makes personalised laser engraved pencils that come in a pack of 30. There are a range of colours to choose from and work out to be less than $1.30 per pencil! Check them out here.
Image from @loveframethis
6. Novelty Chalk
I don't know about you, but I love gifts that encourage creativity and get kids playing outside. I have used this sidewalk chalk with my own children and they love the different shapes and colours. They come in little packs, with personalised cards attached and are ready to go. Better still, they are very affordable! Have a closer look here.
Images from @yoursinchalk
7. Personalised Chocolates
These chocolate wrappers are an adorable way to add a personal touch to a sweet gift for your students. Wild and Ivy design and send it digitally so you can print as many time as needed. Team with a card and... voila! A little gift from the heart that certainly won't get wasted or break the bank!
8. Special words
This idea reminds students just how much they are loved by you and really doesn't cost anything but a little time. You could create a generic list for the whole class, a few generic ideas plus some personalised ones, or a personalised list for everyone if you have a little more time on your hands. All options are going to make an impact and a special keepsake for students.
We have this template for FREE here.
If you plan on purchasing clear baubles for your students, you could also create a little parent Christmas gift at the same time. Inside there is a piece of red string that is the same height as their child. I got these from my own children a few years ago and I love them.
These ideas are all simple, cheap and most importantly, from the heart. If we model to students that Christmas time is about more than just giving, they are more likely to start seeing this holiday for the true meaning.
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