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December 17, 2014 Last-Minute Holiday Student Gift Ideas By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    The countdown to winter break is in the final stretch, and amidst the mounds of chaos, last minute to-do items at school, personal holiday tasks, and more, you remember you need to make, buy, or find-by-magic some sort of holiday gifts for your students! OOPS! 1) You need something quick. 2) You need something inexpensive. 3) You need something that the kiddos will love!

    Since I’m usually rushing around right before break, and I love a good bargain, I’ve been collecting as many winter WONDERFUL ideas for student gifts as I can find! I’ve created a Pinterest board titled, Student Holiday Gifts. Check it out for the ideas listed in this post and much, much more. If you wish to contribute to the board, comment on this post or email me at


    The Gift That Keeps on Giving: BOOKS

    I have to start with the gift that I’ve been giving students for at least the past five years. A lot of teachers purchase books for their students at holiday time. I have discovered however, you can purchase FREE BOOK COUPONS for student gifts. I love giving them the choice and power over what they order! I pair the coupon with a festive pencil and eraser, and the kids go wild over getting to peruse the latest Reading Club flyer, scouring it thoroughly for what they’ll use their holiday coupon to buy. It’s priceless to see them so excited to get a new book, and they feel a sense of ownership over their gift since they get to select the title themselves.




    These are a Few of my Favorite Things

    While I love all of the quick and inexpensive student gift ideas I’ve pinned on my board, the ones highlighted below make me absolutely giddy! I can’t wait to try out some of these to pair with my book coupons this year.


    STEMulate Their Brains This Holiday:

    These two gift ideas rock my world because I’m a big time STEM gal and love the chance to not only give my students endless STEM opportunities, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to show them how simple and easy STEM can be. This is one of many student gifts that is non-holiday-specific. Best of all, parents will love you for sending home something to keep their kids from going crazy over the break!

    The mini-building kit is great for intermediate students (WARNING: some small parts), is super simple to assemble, and almost all of the needed items can most likely be found in your classroom. The others are available at your local dollar store.

    This winter science experiment pack is perfect for instant science at home. With kits for the entire class costing roughly $8 total, making science from home to school seamless and fun has never been so easy! You’ll get to see what your students did with the kits over break by including a little science journal, or having them record their experiments and findings digitally.


    Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

    With the popularity of Disney’s Frozen, snowmen seem to be all the rage right now. If you live in a cold climate, your students are probably building snowmen as a favorite free time activity over break, and if you live somewhere warm, these gifts will be a perfect way for them to pretend they’re building one. Sending home a snowman-building kit is a great way to give your students an experience over their break this holiday. This, too, is one of many student gifts that is non-holiday-specific, and just like the STEM kits above, parents will appreciate being able to pull these kits out when they’re desperate for some relief over break!

    From fake snow, to play dough kits, and even items to add to snow to make a real snowman, students will love these gifts regardless of age, gender, or which holiday they celebrate.


    Trim the Tree

    I can remember bringing out ornaments every year to hang on our family Christmas tree that were from past school years. Every time, we recounted the stories behind the ornaments and tales of the teacher from that grade — we had lots of laughs. As old-fashioned as it may be, giving ornaments made by either the teacher or students at holiday time is an oldie but goodie. Below is a collection of my favorite ornament gifts, both teacher- and student-made.

    One of these ornaments really stood out in my mind as an amazing gift: the I SPY ornament. How absolutely simple and awesome would this be to give to your students? Using clear glass ornaments and filling them with fake snow, glitter, and small random objects, you attach an I SPY message to the ornament. Not only are these pretty on the tree and a nice memory of you year together, but they’re also interactive for the students! Every year when they unpack this ornament, they could try to see how fast they can find each of the I SPY items on the tag! (LOVE!)


    “Canvas” the Class for Great Gift Ideas

    Student-created art is inexpensive to make, but priceless to both parents and students alike. Recently I was at my local craft supply store (because I practically live there, especially as the holidays draw near) and noticed they were having a mega sale on canvases. Multi-packs were super cheap and would create really nice looking gifts. Below are a few ideas for using student hands and feet to make the canvases personal treasures for years to come. This one may not win the parents over as an SOS activity, but they are sure to melt their hearts and maybe even result in some tears!



    Simple and Sweet

    These last two ideas are simple and sweet, but great gifts nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of old, broken, unused crayons in my room. In fact, I save them for projects just like this. Using silicon (or other material) molds in holiday shapes, melt down old crayons and upcycle them into new ones in festive shapes for students to use over the break. Put a few in a cellophane bag, tie it with a ribbon and maybe even pair it with a printed booklet of coloring pages, and VOILA! You have a great gift made from items you have at school, and you’ve been eco-friendly in the process by upcycling existing materials.

    Kids love drinking cocoa in the winter, and winter break is the perfect time for them to indulge. Using dollar store white mugs and Sharpie permanent markers, you can create personalized mugs with quotes, names, initials, or even cute but simple snowmen on them. After you’ve added all of the decorations with markers that you need, put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. You could give the mugs themselves or pack them full of cocoa mix and toppings. This is a fun, useful, non-holiday-specific, personalized, YUMMY gift that all kiddos will enjoy!

    What have been your favorite holiday gifts to make for your students? I’m always looking for new ideas and I know other readers are, too! Please share, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!




    Remember, you can still use the Readers, Friends, and Family discount. Just click on the coupon below.



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Susan Cheyney