Does the idea of giving gifts to all of your students, staff, or colleagues feel overwhelming? As winter break approaches, many teachers think about gifting their students a small present as a reminder of how much they care. It can feel daunting for teachers who have hundreds of students. Just the thought of buying or making gifts for every student seems impossible. But don’t let the long list stop you! There are many ways to simplify the gift-making process and reduce costs.
Here are six easy ways to make gifts in bulk, plus eighteen gifting ideas.
Stamps cut down time by allowing you to quickly repeat the same designs. You can buy stamps or create your own. An easy way to create your own stamps is by carving rubber erasers with linoleum cutters. Whether you buy or handcraft your stamps, use them to create these three presents for your students.
1. Stamped Salt Dough Ornaments
One of the cheapest and easiest options is to make salt dough ornaments. Although they take a while to bake, they don’t take a lot of hands-on time to prepare. Alternatively, you could make keychains, magnets, or jewelry using salt dough!
Follow these instructions to make roughly 24 salt dough ornaments:
- Stir together 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1½ cups of water.
- Roll out the dough until it’s about ¼ inch thick.
- Use a cup or circle-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the ornaments.
- Use a straw to puncture a hole for the ornament string.
- Place the ornaments on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Use stamps to decorate the ornaments.
- Bake at 250° Fahrenheit for 1½–2 hours.
You can paint the ornaments or send your students home with small portions of paint as an activity to do over the break. Or simply leave the natural color of the dough. Use a can of spray sealer to preserve the ornaments if they will stay unpainted.
2. Stamped Wrapping Paper
If you prefer to find small, pre-made gifts for your students, you can still add a homemade flair by making wrapping paper. Buy a roll of craft paper and stamp your designs on the surface.
3. Stamped Wooden Tags
Use stamps to decorate the surface of the wood, then personalize with alphabet stamps to spell out students’ names. Students can use their personalized tags and tie them to their luggage as they travel over break or attach them to their school backpacks.
Plastic Snow Globes
There are endless gift possibilities with clear, plastic snow globes. You can buy them in bulk online or find them at your local dollar store. Keep reading for two ways you can transform clear snow globes into gifts for your students.
1. Small Art Supplies
Some students don’t have access to art supplies at home. Keep them making art outside of school by filling snow globes with small supplies like crayons, erasers, or blending stumps.
2. Hot Cocoa Mixes
Provide your students with a way to warm up over winter break by filling the snow globes with hot cocoa mix. As with any food item, ensure you adhere to your district and school’s food and allergy guidelines.
Pre-made molds expedite and simplify the gift-making process. You can even vary the medium you use with the molds. Try out the following materials with your favorite mold.
Make jewelry using molds and resin. Apply the same idea to make other gifts like keychains.
While it’s a more involved process than the others on this list, it’s possible to make tiny soaps in bulk using molds. Learn the soap-making basics.
Polymer clay or air-dry clay makes for easy keychains or charms. Punch a hole to hang the accessories before baking or drying the clay. If you are new to polymer clay, read The Art Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Working with Polymer Clay.
4. Candy or Chocolate
Many grocery stores and craft stores carry candy melts in various colors. This allows you to give your students pretty and tasty treats. Again, make sure giving your students food complies with district and school guidelines.
5. Melted Crayons
Put all of those broken crayon pieces to use by melting them down into gifts! You can buy alphabet molds and make new crayons in the shape of your students’ initials. You could also use a generic mold so you don’t have to worry about personalizing each piece.
Magnets allow students to display their artwork on the fridge at home for their families to see. This makes them as much a gift for the parents as they are for the students. Send the magnets home along with the printable found in this article for guardians to reference when talking to children about their art. Check out two DIY magnet gifts below you could make for your students.
1. Clothespin Magnets
Buy cute clothespins in bulk and then glue a magnet to the back. Now you have a simple, effective way for students to display their art on their fridges at home.
2. Student Art Magnets
If you already use Artsonia, magnets with student art on them are available for purchase. To make your own magnets, take pictures of students’ artwork and glue them to a magnet. Either way, students can use them to display their artwork on their fridges at home.
Tiny jars are perfect for filling with tiny gifts! Buy them in bulk or get them for free by asking for donations of baby food jars and removing the labels. Captivating the senses with tactile items like playdough or slime engages students in whole-brain learning. Fill your jars with these three homemade products.
While it may be the carpet’s ultimate foe, slime is too trendy to ignore. It’s also incredibly easy to make in large batches. Add texture by incorporating glitter or tiny foam balls. Here’s a simple slime recipe to consider.
2. Fluffy Slime
The only way to make slime even more fun—make it fluffy.
3. Glitter Playdough
Even older students—and co-workers—love to play with playdough. It makes for a great stress reliever. While it’s not expensive to buy pre-made, making your own still saves money when you have a whole lot of gift recipients. Whip up a batch when you’re ready to make your own playdough.
Paper is inexpensive to buy in bulk, making it a wonderful option for producing a large number of gifts. Utilize these three ideas to elevate paper into the perfect gifts for your students.
1. Origami Cards
Use stationary paper to easily make personalized cards in bulk. Fold the paper into an envelope and write a note on the inside. It’s a quick way to let your students know you appreciate their unique characteristics. To save even more time, print a generic message on the blank side of the paper and personalize it after you print it. If you’re up for it, fold the cards into a more ornate design, like an origami star or animal.
2. Candy Cards
This simple technique takes hardly any time at all. First, print a cute winter image on cardstock. Make a couple of slits in the paper and slide in a sucker—you’ve got yourself an adorable candy card.
3. Die Cuts
It’s not a cheap option if you don’t already have access to a die-cut machine, but die-cutting does make it easy to make cute, original cards in bulk. You can even use free color swatch cards from the hardware store to vary the colors and cut the cost of the project even further.
It’s a tall task to craft presents for every single student or coworker. But even small gifts remind them how much you care. There are ways to make bulk gift-making easier without losing your time (or sanity). Stamps, snow globes, paper, molds, jars, and magnets simplify the process while still making large quantities of unique gifts. No matter how small the present, the recipient will know it means you are thinking of them. Try one of the gift-making ideas above to make a world of difference in your classroom climate and student relationships or staff morale!
What gifts have you made for your students or colleagues?
What other tips, tricks, or hacks do you have to make gifts in bulk?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.