Teacher Gifts from the Heart

May 20, 2011 by Amy Clark

The school year is coming to an end and with it comes the opportunity to show gratitude and thanks for all that our teachers have done throughout the year. Each year, I try to pull together unique gifts that give us the opportunity to shower our teachers with love, while honoring our family’s budget.  Over the years I have done everything from baking granola to knitting scarves.  What I lack in my budget, I make up for with heartfelt notes of praise for all that they do, along with offering my time in the classroom to help make their job easier.

Here are two fun ways to say thank you this year!

Granola is a special gift to share with your child’s teacher. I love that I can stick a bag of this granola in my son’s backpack and not worry about it getting smashed during delivery.  I love to package the granola in clear treat bags that I pick up from the craft store. Fill the bag to the top and then tie with a little ribbon from your craft supplies. Another cute way to package this fun gift is to put in a jar, a tin, or even an oatmeal canister that you can cover with gift wrap.  However you package it, be sure to include a note of thanks from you or your child.

The cost is minimal due to the inexpensive ingredients.  The delicious sweet-and-salty combination of honey with salted peanuts is a fantastic treat on top of yogurt or just by the handful.  To get a bite of nut in every handful of granola, pulse your food processor to chop up the nuts for this delicious granola.

Honey Nut Granola

3 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking variety)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine oats, peanuts, and wheat germ. In a separate bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, vegetable oil, water, salt, and vanilla. Stir well; pour into the oat mixture and stir. Spread out on a cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool before serving.

Our new favorite gift to share with people we love is a batch of homemade baked donuts. While not as decadent as the fried variety, baking donuts can be a fun activity for you and your kids. It yields a sweet and satisfying treat that your teachers will surely love.

Donut pans can be found almost everywhere and the batter can be mixed with a mixer or wooden spoon. Baking donuts is as easy as baking a cake… but without the hassle of decorating and frosting.

These chocolate donuts look rich and decadent, but are surprisingly light in texture. My secret ingredient — leftover coffee from my morning brew — heightens the chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder. A light dusting of confectioners’ sugar finishes this delicious treat. Package them in a gift box lined with tissue paper and a fresh dusting of confectioners’ sugar inside. Tie your box with a little raffia, yarn, or baker’s twine for that special finishing touch.

Baked Chocolate Donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

4 teaspoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze (optional):

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla, butter, or almond extract

Colored sprinkles

Heat oven to 325.  Coat donut pan with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In small bowl, whisk milk, sugar, egg, butter, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture; whisk until blended and smooth. Fill each doughnut cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake at 325 degrees for thirteen minutes or until doughnuts spring back when touched. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Optional: To make glaze, blend confectioners’ sugar, hot water and extract in a small bowl. Dip doughnuts in the glaze and then dip them in sprinkles.

This year, our gifts include personalized notes of thanks for our amazing teachers. Look through pictures that you have of your child and see if you can find a picture where you can add a little text to your photo.

  • Upload your photo to Picnik.
  • Under the CREATE tab, select EFFECTS, then select the BLACK & WHITE option to change your picture to a black & white image.
  • While still under the CREATE tab, select the option for TEXT. Once you are in text, add the message for your teacher. Make sure not to put text all of the way to the edge of the photo because it may cut it off when you print it. It’s better to get it a little further in to assure that you don’t waste ink, paper, or time!

If baking is not your thing, there are many other wonderful ways to say thank you. Consider a magazine subscription, a gift certificate to their favorite bookstore, classroom supplies, something fun to decorate their classroom, a photo album or photos of the class, or just a simple note of thanks for all they do.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.