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Easy Parent Holiday Gifts

By Tiffani Mugurussa on December 4, 2012
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

This is the time of year when teachers are thinking about the upcoming holidays. Yes, we might be thinking about our winter break vacation, but we are also thinking about what crafts and gifts we will be making with our students. During my years as a teacher, I have made many, and almost all include a picture of the student as the focal point.  As a parent I’ve also received some great class-made gifts that I cherish. This week I wanted to share with you several easy and inexpensive gifts to make with your class. Because teachers tend to collect craft supplies, you probably have many of the needed materials already.



Tile Coasters


  • 4x4 or 6x6 ceramic tile
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Photo
  • Ribbon
  • Hot-glue gun


  1. Depending upon the size of tile you choose, cut decorative scrapbook paper into 3 3/4 inch or 5 3/4 inch squares.
  2. Using the foam brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the tile. 
  3. Lay the decorative paper on top of the Mod Podge, then apply another thin coat to cover the paper. 
  4. While the Mod Podge is still wet, position the photograph on top and let dry for at least three hours. 
  5. Apply one more layer of Mod Podge over the entire tile. 
  6. Make sure to smooth out overlapping lines. 
  7. To finish, hot glue a decorative ribbon to the backside to use in hanging the tile. 

NOTE: these are decorative tiles and are not meant to be used as trivets or coasters.


Clear Glass Ball Ornaments

Clear glass balls can be used to create a variety of ornaments. You can find these during the holidays at most craft stores. With a little adult assistance and some imagination, students can create beautiful keepsake ornaments.

Glass Photo Ornaments 

  • Clear glass ball
  • Snowflake dust
  • Picture circle punch
  • Ribbon
  • Tweezers
  • Funnel
  1. Remove hanger and insert the snowflake dust.
  2. Use the circle punch to cut out the desired photo.  Make sure the photo diameter is smaller than the ornament. 
  3. Gently roll the photo to insert into the ornament. 
  4. Use the tweezers to unroll and set the photo in the center.
  5. Replace hanger and string with decorative ribbon. 

Swirled Paint Ornaments

  • Clear glass ball
  • Acrylic paint — I like the metallic ones, but Christmas colors work, too
  1. Add several drops of acrylic paint to the inside of the clear glass ornament and swirl around. A very small marble can also be used to distribute the paint. 
  2. Turn upside down to drain excess paint. 
  3. Attach the hanger and a decorative ribbon for hanging.



Glitter Balls Ornaments

I’m not sure what would compel someone to even wonder what would happen if they combined glitter and floor wax together, but I’m glad they did — the results are stunning.

  • Liquid floor wax
  • Glitter (fine)
  • Glass ball ornaments
  • Funnel
  1. Pour about a tablespoon of floor wax into an ornament.
  2. Gently swirl around. Do not shake, or you will get bubbles.
  3. Slowly rotate the ornament and pour the excess liquid back into the bottle. Use a funnel to pour glitter into the ornament.
  4. Hold your thumb over the hole as you shake the ornament so that the glitter covers the entire surface.
  5. Tap the ornament and pour the excess glitter back into the bottle. Continue tapping and pouring until all excess glitter comes out.
  6. Let dry before inserting the hanger.

Other ideas include filling the clear glass balls with either beads in colors such as red, white, and green or with sparkly pom-poms


Pony Beads

Candy Canes

  • Red and white pony beads
  • Pipe cleaners
  1. Cut pipe cleaner to desired length. I used about eight inches for the one pictured here. 
  2. Thread a bead onto the pipe cleaner and loop the pipe cleaner around to secure the bead.
  3. Continue adding beads to create the desired pattern. 
  4. To finish it, loop the pipe cleaner around the last bead to secure. 
  5. Bend into shape and either use the leftover pipe cleaner pieces to create a hanger or attach a ribbon.



  • 3 pipe cleaner pieces
  • Beads
  1. Twist three pipe cleaners together in the center to create a snowflake shape. 
  2. Add beads to each stem.
  3. Attach ribbon or jute for hanging.

Other ideas: Using green beads you can make wreaths.



Craft Sticks and Tongue Depressors

For all of the ornaments using craft sticks, you will need to hot glue the sticks together ahead of time to create the frames.


  • Craft sticks
  • Glue
  • Glitter, pom-poms, or jewels
  1. Using a foam brush, brush the entire surface with glue. 
  2. Sprinkle glitter over the glued areas and tap gently to remove extra glitter. 
  3. Set aside to dry before attaching a ribbon to the back. I prefer attaching the ribbon with hot glue to make sure it is secure.


Christmas Tree

  1. Glue the craft sticks into place. 
  2. If you are using plain sticks, you will want students to paint them before adding embellishments.  Colored sticks were used in the project shown in the picture.
  3. Set aside to dry before attaching a ribbon to the back. I prefer attaching the ribbon with hot glue to make sure it is secure.





  • Wide craft sticks, also known as tongue depressors
  • White paint
  • Felt or ribbon
  • Black craft foam or craft paper
  • Orange craft foam or craft paper
  • Buttons
  • Black permanent fine-point marker
  1. Paint craft sticks white and leave to dry.
  2. Cut a hat shape out of black craft foam or paper and attach to the top. 
  3. Using the black fine-point marker, draw eyes and mouth. Make sure to leave room for the carrot-shaped nose.
  4. Cut nose shape from orange craft foam or paper and attach. 
  5. Use felt or ribbon to make a scarf. I fringed the ends.
  6. Add buttons and a ribbon to the back for hanging, and the cute snowman is complete.

Plaster of Paris Handprint 

  • Plaster of Paris — follow directions for mixing
  • Styrofoam plate
  • Ribbon
  1. After mixing plaster of Paris, fill a Styrofoam plate.
  2. Press the child’s hand into the mold for about 20 seconds. 
  3. Wash hands immediately after, as the plaster can irritate or even burn the skin if left on too long.
  4. To create the hanger, press the ends of a ribbon into the top edges of the mold so they're covered with plaster.
  5. Once the plaster has dried, it can be removed from the mold.

Craft Foam Ornaments 

If your school has a die cut machine, making craft foam ornaments is another option. I made this star using white craft foam and our star die cut. In the past I have also used our mitten die-cut and the Christmas tree. The shapes can be decorated with glitter glue, colored pasta, or sparkly jewels and sequins before adding a photo to the center.

I hope you have found a class craft to make this year. I know I’ll be making the beaded candy canes and the craft stick snowflakes, but I’m not sure what else we will make just yet. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and making holiday crafts with my class makes the season feel so special.

Comments (3)

Thanks Chris for the great idea. I do like to make magnets as gifts too.

My classes make the popsicle stick snowman every year, and one other thing you can do is stick magnets to the back side so that it can be used to display the child's projects on the refrigerator. They're very child friendly and easy to make. They're also so sooooooo cute!

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