Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homemade Teacher (or Hostess) Gift Ideas

My kitchen was the center of activity this morning. Not that it isn't every morning...and afternoon...and evening. But this morning our kitchen table was taken over assembling holiday gifts for my little one's preschool teachers. Last year, we made large jars of bean soup mix. This year, both of my boys wanted to make bookmarks for their teachers. Now, I love a homemade bookmark as much as the next parent...but that's because it was made by my kid. While they treat them like their own 9am-noon, I have to assume (achem) that a laminated bookmark of my child's drawing and photo isn't really what every teacher is dreaming of at Christmastime. And so, we came up with "an afternoon of reading by the fire" gift that incorporated the kid's handmade bookmarks, and a few more things. Since both kids are currently digging this very same thing, both were excited to give this "reading by the fire" gift to their teachers.

The gift is made up of a packet of hot cocoa + a Barnes & Noble gift certificate so they can pick out a new book + the homemade bookmark (which we laminated at Kinko's) + a bag of homemade cookies. Hopefully it'll be a hit!

Here are some other teacher & hostess gift ideas for those of you looking to make your presents this holiday season:

Eating Well magazine had a fabulous homemade whole grain garlic mustard recipe that looked simple. That's Eating Well's photo above, but I can't wait to whip up a batch of this to give as hostess gifts this winter.

Then there was that delicious looking homemade vanilla recipe I told you all about from Food in Jars (as seen in a photo from the Food in Jars site).

The bean soup mixes we made last year graced many a snowy gathering. Here's that recipe. If you're thinking of going this route, you might also like to check out Eating Well's recipe for a soup mix gift, plus they have a link to various tags you can put on homemade gifts, including a tag for their Southwestern Bean & Barley Soup.

Another idea that I know is well received is giving your teacher or hostess a "night off" by making a homemade meal that they can simply heat up on a busy night. Here are a few of my favorite recipes that can be made ahead, and doubled or tripled (or more!) depending upon how many teacher gifts you are making. Each of these meals reheats beautifully: Lasagna, Polenta and Soy Chorizo Lasagna (vegetarian), Enchiladas (you can make them with chicken, turkey, beef, or vegetarian), or our ever-popular Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Cream Sauce. How excited would you be if someone unexpectedly gave you a night off of cooking!

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