This year’s handmade teacher gifts

Yesterday after school, the girls and I made some mini terrariums to give to their school and kinder teachers as Christmas gifts.  Making a handmade gift for the children’s teachers has become a little tradition here at FGB.  I purchased the jars from ‘Provincial Living’ for a few dollars and got the succulents, succulent potting mix, activated charcoal and pebbles from my local nursery.*  You can find a full tutorial here in the FGB archives.
Bear decided that he didn’t want to give a terrarium to his teachers, so he and I made some of our cheat’s chocolate Christmas puddings today to package up for his teachers as well as quite a few more to bring along to Christmas parties and to give to neighbours/friends.

I know handmade gifts are not for all, but I also know there are many who read this blog who share my love of handmade who may be looking for ideas so, along with the terrariums and chocolate puddings, here is a collection of handmade gifts that we’ve made in the past that would be perfect for Christmas gifts for teachers, neighbours or friends.  They are all simple enough for the kids to help with, inexpensive, can be made in bulk and more importantly, can be made last minute!  

Clay Decorations with their name imprinted

this tutorial is for Easter chocolates, but just switch the mould to a Christmas one and it is perfectly transferrable!
Other cool handmade teacher gift ideas that I’ve seen around the traps are these clay necklaces or teacup candles or bookmarks and to be honest I also think that a hand written card from your child letting the teacher know how much they have been appreciated could possibly be one of the best handmade gifts of all.

From a slightly different angle, a fabulous gift that I know a few friends have done is to give a charity gift card like this one for $10 which goes toward teacher training in a developing country or this one for $5 for education supplies.

Do your children give gifts to their teachers?
Am I the only crazy one who does handmade?

* I now have lots of soil, charcoal, pebbles and succulents left, so for those of you who know me in the off-blog world, if you would like to make some of these – feel free to pop over!

How to make a mini paper wreath

I was at a friends house last week and she was making lots of adorable little paper wreaths to give to friends for Christmas.  They looked gorgeous all packaged up ready to give.  I had my camera with me, so I asked her to show me how she made them …

1.  Cut 8 pieces of paper into 4cm x 8cm rectangles.

 2. Fold the rectangle in half lengthways.

3. Fold it in half the other way.

4. Open it out again and fold the corners up.

You are folding from the open end up toward the folded end.

5. Fold it back in half again.

6.  Do the same with each of your eight pieces of paper.

7.  One by one you’ll need to fit the pieces of paper inside each other until you have a complete circle.

8.  Now you can attach a piece of ribbon and hang it on your tree.  

Below are some more handmade Christmas decoration ideas from the Frog Goose and Bear archives that you might like to try …

Do you have a Christmas tree up yet at your house?

Make your own Bon Bons

We have been making our own bon bons (aka Christmas crackers) for as long as I can remember.  It has become a firmly planted tradition which I have carried on with my children.  We put different things in every year.  You can have a squiz at what we did last year and the year before.  This year I made bon bons for a few different Christmas functions.  I’ve put different things in each lot to suit the occasion.

BON BONS # 1: For “Christmas with Dad” there were only 12 of us so it was easy enough to just purchase an individual gift to pop inside to suit each person.  That way you don’t need to find gifts that suit all ages and genders.  Mini lego figurine packs for the 5 kids, lip balm for the 3 ladies and fake moustaches & eyebrows for the 4 men along with a lindt choc ball, a conversation starter and a snap.  Of course, I had to name each one then which quite frankly is probably not worth the bother.

BON BONS #2: For “Christmas with Mum” I found a pack of plasticine at the supermarket for $1 that happened to have 12 sticks of different coloured plasticine.  I popped one in each, along with a tissue paper hat*, a hershey’s kiss**, a bad Christmas joke and a snap.

The kids (and adults) had lots of fun creating plasticine masterpieces at the table.

BON BONS #3: Then for Christmas Day, when we’ll be having a lovely traditional lunch with Mr FGB’s family, I purchased a mixture of small gifts (that I hope will suit all ages, but if not they can always swap!) along with the usual chocolate, hat and snap and some conversation starters.

This year I’m reusing some conversation starters that I used last year.  Sometimes you need a bit of help to get some life into the party and other times it’s just a great time to promote reflection and unity around the table. 

It’s not Christmas unless…..
In 10 years’ time, at Christmas…………………
The smell that reminds me of Christmas is………….
Christmas shopping is………….
Christmas carols make me……..
At Christmas I………….
My favourite Christmas tradition is………
The strangest Christmas gift I have ever received was………..
The best Christmas gift I have ever received was………
Since last Christmas I have………
My earliest Christmas memory……..
The day after Christmas I………….
The best place to buy Christmas gifts is…………….
My Mum always told me………..
In the coming year, I’d love to………
Christmas is………
Would you like a full tutorial (for next year) on how to make your own bonbons FGB style?  Or do you think it is self explanatory enough?  

Do you make your own bonbons?  What do you put inside?

*’coz there had been complaints the previous week that they had not been included! – apparently it’s “just not Christmas without them” ;)  xo

**leftover from the recent princess party where we gave chocolate kisses and lolly frogs for the party favours.  Speaking of Hershey’s kisses.  If you like to go the extra mile – I did see some Christmas printables that you can stick on the bottom of a hershey’s kiss… over here.

Fun & Healthy Party Food

A few weeks ago the kids kinder teacher asked me to compile a list of healthy party food options and creative ways to display them to make it fun for the kids.  As this is the time of year that we are often required to “bring a plate” to end of year functions and as my waistline expands with the season, I thought I’d share…  

fruit platter
fruit cups
fruit skewers
plain popcorn (perhaps in cups or cones)
dip and vegetable sticks ie carrot, celery, cucumber, capsicum
dip and biscuits or turkish/pita bread
vegetable platter
mini sandwiches (perhaps in fun shapes or pinwheels)
mini wraps
corn chips
cheese and biscuits
savoury muffins
fruit muffins
fruit scones
mini pizzas
mini quiches (unless egg allergies)
dried fruit or cereal (in cups)
cheese, cabana, olives on toothpicks

If there are lollies and chocolates, the kids are always going to go for those first, so it helps to make the healthy food look a little more exciting!  So, along with my list, I created a healthy party food board on pinterest that I am adding things to all of the time.  I’ve pinned lots and lots of really fun and simple, yet creative, ways to display healthy party food, but things that are still manageable.  It’s worth a quick look just to see how clever some people are!

I printed out these images for the kinder teacher and then of course I realised (too late) that I now had the pressure of coming up with a fun way to serve the fruit platter I’d put my name down to bring to the kinder Christmas party!  

I can attest to the fact that this fruit platter can be made with very minimal time or planning! With 30 minutes to rush home between kinder concerts* and no prior planning, I totally stole the idea from my sister’s salad, and chopped up whatever fruit I had on hand into small pieces and quickly placed them in lines in a triangle shape.  One of the kinder kids thought it was a rocket, but it was still eaten, after the chocolates and lollies were demolished of course.
What Christmas creativeness have you been getting up to?

Head over here for more FGB party ideas

*having one child in three yr old kinder and the other in 4 yr old kinder has it’s drawbacks!  The concerts were adorable though and will admit to tears in eyes.

Clare’s Christmas Parfait

My sister Clare made the most deliciously simple dessert for our (early) Christmas dinner at Mum’s on the weekend and it was so scrumptious that I had to share! 


Layer 1: 
Raspberry jelly
Layer 2: 
Strawberry jelly
Layer 3: 
Jalna Vanilla Yoghurt
Layer 4: 
Raspberries & chopped strawberries
Layer 5: 
Layer 6: 
Another dollop of yoghurt
Layer 7: 
Toasted almond flakes
Layer 8: 
Red currants to decorate

She also made a fun Christmas salad the next day that I just had to share with you as well!  She’s a clever cookie that one.

How creative do you get with your food at Christmas time?

For more easy Christmas (and rest of the year) recipes from FGB you can head over here.

For the Blokes – Mugstaches & Reinbeer

Goose has a male teacher this year.  A cool young one that she loves and who plays Beatles songs on his guitar at the end of every day.  

We didn’t think that the Cookies in a Jar that her siblings gave their female kinder teachers would quite be his style, so drawing on inspiration from father’s day, she decided to make him a mo mug with a little note on the back from her.  I know that mugs are probably the most common ‘teacher gift’ on the planet, but apparently he loved the personal touch!  We also whipped up some more for some KK gifts for this weekend.

We filled our mugs with some timtam balls for something new.  I got nothing but thumbs up from my taste testers, but I still think that my chocolate truffles are even better.  I’d recommend either recipe for a failsafe, ‘no-cook’ treat that the kids can pretty much do on their own.* 

Sticking with our current reindeer obsession, for one of our Christmas parties this weekend, inspired by some seen on pinterest and the fact that we already had the supplies, we made some reinbeer!

I purchased a beer with a red label to ‘match’ the reindeer, but you could purchase any drink you desired, non alcoholic or otherwise, remove the label and replace it with your own labels.  I made the labels below in about 5 minutes using this awesome and free beer label site to go with the next batch.  You just change the wording on their predesigned labels, et voila!

I find shopping for gifts for men extremely difficult.  Finding a handmade gift for men, even harder!  I managed to draw the male straw in almost every kriskringle this year.  

Do you have the same difficulty?  
What are you giving the men in your life this year for Christmas?

*when I say ‘pretty much’, i really mean that they could ‘easily’ do it themselves, unless like mine they didn’t want to get their fingers messy and really couldn’t be bothered, but were quite happy to partake in the eating once Mum had finished making them all!

Snow Globes…

I love snow globes.  I find it mesmerising to sit and watch the flakes fall.  We usually make our snow globes with glitter, but this time we tried using eggshells for the snow.  If you’d like to make your own – head over to my tutorial over at Village Voices.  It’s much easier than you’d think!  Something I love to do at this time of year is to pop a credit card style gift card inside a handmade snow globe for a bit of fun to brighten up a potentially boring gift.  

Do you give gift cards at Christmas?  What do you think of them?  
Cop out or best present ever as you get to choose something that you actually want?

Reindeers & the Class Gift

In Prep, Goose made her own Christmas cards for her class mates at school and really enjoyed making them.  She loves that kind of thing.  But getting her to write ‘Merry Christmas love Goose’ 24 times was like drawing blood from a stone, so in the years since we have tried something different…that didn’t involve writing!  

In Grade 1 she made reindeer food for her friends, in Grade 2 she made reindeer noses and this year she made candy cane reindeers.  We may have a theme…

To make a candy cane reindeer you will need some mini red pom poms, some mini googly eyes, some brown pipecleaners and some candy canes.  Spotlight has red pom poms and googly eyes in a whole range of sizes as well as brown pipecleaners.  I’m sure they could be purchased at your craft supply store.

She glued on the eyes and nose with craft glue and then twisted the pipecleaners around a pencil to get the curly effect, before twisting them around the top of the candy cane.
 Bear, not to miss out, has been following suit and last year made reindeer food for his friends at kinder.  This year we made 50 bags of reindeer food, because now that she is a kinder kid too, Frog had to do the same!  

It is simply rolled oats, mixed with glitter, bagged with a free printable on the top.  
These gorgeous reindeer food printables came from Anders Ruff design.

I’d been planning on waiting to give out the reindeer food in the last week of kinder, but unfortunately one of her kinder friends pipped her at the post and handed out reindeer food on Monday.  I’m sure the reindeers will appreciate 2 lots of food right?!

And because I loved the reindeer noses so much last yearI had to make lots of them just to have on hand to give to friends over the Christmas period.  8 maltesers and a jaffa with a cool tag on the top.  

These ones were designed by my very clever friend Caroline, a fellow ‘kinder’ Mum,  who very kindly let me use her design.  They even have the names of the reindeers on the back – gorgeous – thanks Caroline Caroline is talented in many ways and also has her very own store on madeit where she sells beautiful dolls & accessories, called ‘Madebyme’.  She is also selling her reindeer nose printables at the moment.  I highly recommend a look!

While we’re on the topic of reindeers, how cute are these reindeer biscuits that someone brought to a Christmas party we were at last week?

Do your kids make a class gift, give a cards or candy canes?   or do you just think I am a little mad* and merely adding to the pressure at this already busy time?!

* I probably am, but this is the stuff that the kids and I love about Christmas time and we just want to share the fun!  

Christmas Cookies in a Jar

Cookies in a jar are very popular here at Frog Goose & Bear.  

We made Anna’s Emergency Cookies in a Jar earlier last year and they were such a hit and they were sooooo yummy that we made 25 of them as party favours for Ebony’s farm party in June.  

Frog and Bear are giving Christmas Cookies in a jar to their kinder teachers this year and we made a few more to give to some lovely friends & neighbours to show how very grateful we are for their friendship and support over the year. 

 This is a great activity to do in bulk and great for all ages to be involved. It’s also great to whip up really quickly if needed in a hurry as you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. 

I took the easy road and purchased the Christmas Cookies label pdf from Katrina at the Organised Housewife for only a couple of dollars.  I used Anna’s recipe because it’s tried and true here at FGB and fitted into my small jars and thankfully required the same instructions, but I’m sure Katrina’s recipe is just as delicious. 

I purchase my jars at a kitchen supply store, Costante Imports in Melbourne.  They have a fantastic supply of jars in bulk in all shapes and sizes and I purchase the 720ml jar and squish it in really hard when I put in the oats layer so it all fits.
The Christmas M&M’s can be purchased in the Christmas section (and not in the confectionary aisle) at most supermarkets.

We also made these for our last MOPS of the year last week and it was probably the most popular craft for the year!

 What are you giving your kids teachers this year?

Do you do a bulk run of something to give to neighbours and friends at Christmas?

Are you sorted for Christmas or flying by the seat of your pants like me?  

I may look organised, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.  The beauty of all the things we do here at FGB is that they are easy peasy and require little effort for a big effect!

For more Christmas crafts from Frog, Goose and Bear, you can click here.

Christmas Past

As last year I ran out of time to post our Christmas crafts and posted them far too late to be useful for anyone.  I’m not always the most organised of people despite the very best of intentions so all of these things can be done very quickly and very last minute.  That’s how we roll over at Frog Goose & Bear.  As last year’s Christmas posts have been getting a good viewing with almost a thousand hits a day on my blog at the moment (that’s double the usual!) I thought it might be handy to combine all of last year’s Christmas posts into one….


the one on the left being the Christmas one with crushed candy canes.  
This post, although an Easter post, contains the link to the recipes for each of them or you can go 
straight here for the recipe we used 2 years ago for Christmas cocoa in a jar.

These are all fun activities to do with your kids.

Stay tuned for even more Christmas crafting this year!

What Christmas creativeness have you been up to?

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