I don't know about you, but between homework, library trips, laundry, dinner, lessons, shopping, doctor appointments, working, and everything else, the end of the school year always sneaks up on us here at moogly headquarters. School ends a bit earlier here than it does in many other parts of the country - it's our last week already! But it's not too late to come up with handcrafted gifts for the kids' teachers.
Whether I've got one teacher to gift or seven (last year was a doozy!), I like to give them something hand made. For me that always means knit or crocheted, but often it includes a baked good or something made by one of the other amazing crafters I know. One rule - no apples or mugs! As the daughter and daughter-in-law of teachers, I know for a fact they have more of that stuff than they know what to do with.
Here are some of the gifts I've given over the past few years, as well as ideas I'm keeping in mind for all the years ahead. And with the oldest in 4th grade and the youngest in preschool, I've got a lot of years to plan for.
- Inga's Häkelbeutel - There's nothing like sitting back to ponder that your oldest child is just two days away from finishing Kindergarten, and suddenly realizing that A. you need a gift for the teacher, and B. you have no money to spare... time to get those hooks flying! If I'd had more than one teacher to gift that year it wouldn't have worked, but I managed to make this bag in just a couple days, using just the bits and ends of cotton yarn I had left over from other projects! With a batch of homemade cookies inside, this bag was finished just in time and definitely within budget. Update: You could also make the Wrapped Ombre Tote Bag, found HERE!
- How to Impress the Muggles Crochet Coffee Cup Cozy - If you've got lots of teachers or very little time, this is the perfect project. Although I did these for a Christmas gift rather than an end of year gift, I promise that coffee drinkers don't stop when it's summer. I actually managed to make all of these while sitting in the car waiting to pick the kids up from school - so you can't say you don't have time. Pair it with a coffee shop gift card you'll be all set in minutes. After all, Starbucks even sells their gift cards at the drive-through!
- That Pouch Thing - This free pattern was perfect. I made 2 pouches using just 2 skeins of kitchen cotton in just 2 days! Filled with homemade cookies (hey, who doesn't love cookies?), they were ready to go. I did bump up the size a bit, to make sure they were big enough, but the pattern is easy to follow and very customizable.
- Ballband Dishcloth - This one was knitted, but if you prefer to crochet there's a look-alike available as Brick Wall Dishcloth. Or really, any large washcloth or dishcloth pattern works for this idea! Made up in school colors, I wrapped these around a small (⅓ size) loaf of homemade banana bread and tied the corners together in a bow using a length of leftover yarn. Add a card from the child and all done. Pretty, practical, and delicious. I'll even share my banana bread recipe if you ask nicely. 😉 Update: Another fun idea is to attach the Rainbow Flower Scrubby Cloth with a pretty ribbon - free pattern HERE!
- Textured Soap Saver - This year, with three kids in school, work, out of town guests (I really should be cleaning... as soon as this post is done, honest!), and general business, I knew I needed something fast but luxurious. So I took this pattern, added my own twists, got the softest cotton yarn I could find, and whipped these up. To fill them I ordered some of the amazing soaps from Bean Tree Soap. I know I've talked about her stuff before, but it's Just That Good. If you've still got time before the end of your school year, you should order from her, but if you're down to the wire, any specialty bars (or even good ole Ivory) should fit in these bags. Update: Get the Moogly Soap Saver pattern HERE!
- Crocheted Gift Card Holders and Knitted Gift Card-igans - If sticking a gift card in an envelope isn't enough, consider either of these free patterns, or use them as inspiration and the building blocks for making your own. Once the teacher has used up the gift card she can always reuse the pouch for business cards or one of the other little stack of papers teachers always seem to have to deal with. Of course, my Chinese Waves Pouch pattern works well too.
Penché, a Wine Bottle Cozy (knit) or Dressed Up Wine Bottle (crochet) - One of my favorite things about Ravelry isn't even yarn related - it's the opportunity to learn about other cultures from around the world, from regular citizens. And one interesting thing I've learned is that in many countries it's acceptable, and indeed quite common, to give a nice bottle of wine as an end of year teacher gift. While kids here in the States aren't supposed to be bringing alcohol on school grounds, why not give a nice bottle in a beautiful bag to the piano teacher or coach, where you can hand it over adult-to-adult? Bet it'll go over a bit better than another "World's Best Teacher" mug! Update: For a super fast bag, try the Girls Night Out Wine Cozy, found HERE!
- Book Thong - Here's an idea for the thread lovers and bibliophiles. Teachers spend so much of their own money on things for the classroom, so a gift card to the local bookstore is an excellent gift. Pair it with a custom handmade bookmark and you've got a hit! This one features lovely beads, but there are lots of patterns out there for flat ones and more complex ones as well. Even some featuring apples... but I think this one is just gorgeous.
- Amikomo 13 - Lunch Bag - I don't know about you, but if I were a teacher, I don't think I'd be getting the hot lunch every day. A pretty lunch bag would make cold lunches a lot more fun! This one looks like it'll take some time - definitely not a last minute project. If this one is too twee for the teacher you've got in mind, then almost any small solid sided tote that closes would work. Or just leave the flowers off this one.
- Lacy V Shopping Bag - For that very special, one of a kind teacher that you truly want to show your appreciation for. Make this big bag in gorgeous colors and if you really want to go the extra mile, fill it with all the things your teacher loves. What about a soft fluffy towel, sunglasses, flip flops and some light reading for those you know are planning a sunny getaway this summer? Or lemons, a pretty plastic pitcher and fancy plastic glasses for those staying closer to home?
Teachers have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. They deserve our thanks, so when you're done crafting for the special people in your kids' lives, don't forget to include a handwritten note letting them know just how much their hard work means to you and your children. It only takes a few minutes, and odds are it's the best gift of all.
What are you gifting to your kids' teachers this year? If you're a teacher, what are your favorite kinds of gifts to receive? More ideas please.... we've got a lot of years and teachers to go!
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