10 Cheap and Easy Holiday Gifts (for students!)

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Spoiler alert: I actually didn't hand out gifts my first years teaching. Didn't the school get enough of my time and money?? If you're reading this and feel the same--that's ok! You don't HAVE to give gifts to be a good teacher. But after some time, I realized how special and community building the small gesture can be. Student holiday gifts are now one of my favorite *extra* things to prepare for my students. 

That's why I compiled a list of 10 gifts with your teacher budget in mind. The first 6 ideas I've personally used with great success. The last 4 are ideas I've seen and think would work wonderfully! Also keep your eye out for pictures and links  to tie it all together!

1. Books + Reading Challenge Bookmarks

Image of The One and Only Ivan and reading challenges bookmarks by Fifth in the Forest

This is always my #1 gift. What better way to share a love for reading? Each year I look for cheap but quality books. This typically looks like a $1 scholastic book.

I've recently been pairing a book with my winter break reading challenge. I ask students to read 10 things over break that fit into my categories (can be a novel, picture book, article, etc.). If they fill out their bookmarks and return after break, they get a treat! I've found this to be a super motivational, but not pushy since it isn't required/graded. I've had lots of positive parent feedback too!

2. Personalized Card + Classroom Coupon

This option can be very inexpensive but very meaningful! Take the time to encourage each student in their card, put it in a real envelope, and they will feel so special! 

BONUS: Add a coupon for a homework pass, hat day, lunch with the teacher, etc. This option keeps it free but adds to the gift.  

3. Picture Ornament

My mom STILL has our elementary school ornaments on her tree. It's such a special way to remember the class and teacher year after year. You can have students make the ornaments with you or make them a surprise.

I especially love when the ornaments feature a student picture, handprint, finger prints, etc. This makes it so special as the years go on. 

4. Hot Chocolate "Snowman Soup"

Image of inexpensive student holiday gifts by Fifth in the Forest

I made baggies of "snowman soup" for my class several years ago and some of them are still talking about it! :) It's both cheap and simple:

  1. Fill a clear bag with instant hot chocolate mix (enough for one serving)
  2. Add mini marshmallows and a peppermint stick for stirring.
  3. Attach directions to heat water/milk, add the mix, stir, and enjoy.

**Disclaimer--make sure you double check your school's requirements and student allergies before sending consumables home.**

5. Lip Balm + Downloadable Gift Tag

Image of lip balm and free holiday gift tag by Fifth in the Forest

This gift is great for students, coworkers, neighbors, etc. I made these gift tags several years ago which are available for download. Simply print the cards, punch 2 holes, attach a lip balm with a ribbon, and you're all set!

6. Hand Sanitizer + Downloadable Gift Tag

Image of soap and free holiday gift tag by Fifth in the Forest

Hand sanitizer--the gift that keeps on giving! You can find inexpensive, small hand sanitizers just about anywhere (even ones that can attach to your student's bags!). Then print my downloadable gift tag and attach with a ribbon. 

7. Classroom Supplies

Lots of teachers love to give classroom supplies. Consider giving pencils, erasers, small notebooks, coloring bookscrayons, etc. The great thing about this gift is students will start the new year off with fresh pencils! These gifts can be inexpensive when purchased on sale and in bulk. 

8. Playdough

The quintessential teacher gifts: play dough and bubbles :) These gifts are always fun--even for older students. This allows them to go home with something that doesn't break the bank and they can enjoy with their families. 

9. Class Gift

Consider giving a classroom gift--one that stays at school for their whole class to enjoy. For example: you could purchase a few new board games and have a "board game party" to try them out. Then you could use the games throughout the year for indoor recess or special occasions. 

You can always find used games at yard sales and second hand stores. Classic games are often quite expensive as well (like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Checkers).

10. Class Party

Instead of sending students home with a gift, you could have a pre-winter break party! You don't have to go all out--maybe just hot chocolate and popcorn. But it will send students home with positive school memories and they'll be excited to return. 

If you have other student gift ideas, I'd love to hear them! Leave feedback and comments below!

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