Okay, I have to admit it. I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to giving gifts! I jump at every chance I get to show my crafty side, and what a better opportunity to do this than when the holidays roll around and kids need to hand out gifts to their teachers. I’m a teacher. I know how flattered I am when students (i.e. their parents) remember to thank me for the work I do throughout the year. At the high school level it doesn’t happen much, but when it does it is usually an impersonal gift card. Don’t get me wrong…I love the gift cards. I truly do. However, I think I would be head over heels getting something that I knew took time and energy to put together rather than simply sliding some plastic through a credit card reader. I know not everyone feels that way, but I’m hopeful that the general gift receiving population appreciates thought and effort over dollars spent.
Which brings me to this year’s holiday gifts from our house — hot cocoa kits and peppermint puppy chow in a decorated brown bag. These turned out to be so lovely, easy to make, and very affordable.
To make these cuties, you will need some of the following (depending on how many you are making):
brown lunch sacks
glitter paper (I have green and white here for a tree)
button stickers for ornaments on the trees
red and white baker’s twine (I found this at Michael’s)
small treat bags (I actually bought bags that I think are too small, so watch the dimensions on the package)
a color printer
a hot glue gun
cardstock for the tree and snow templates
To make the bags, you first need to draw a Xmas tree template that you will use to make sure all your trees are equal in size. I eye-balled it, but I’m sure if you are not artistically inclined, you can find some templates through a Google search (Don’t hold me to it though). You will also need to make templates for the two layers of snow on the trees.
Trace the number needed on the back sides of the green and white paper and meticulously cut these suckers out. This is, by far, the most difficult part because of its mind-numbing repetitiveness. It’s all worth it in the end though, right? Just look at the photo above of that finished product!
Okay, so you have things cut out. Now, one by one, get that gun out and glue on the trees to each bag and the snow on each tree. I enlisted the help from Miss 6-year-old to decorate the trees with the button stickers. She had a blast doing this! The bags at this point should look like this, except you should still have them laying flat:
Now you will want to type up the recipients’ names and maybe print a cute tag like the ones on this site, which I found on Pinterest:
I also typed up a recipe for the hot cocoa, which basically consisted of instructing the lucky giftee to scald one cup of milk per one package of hot cocoa mix and add in one bag of marshmallows after the mix is incorporated. Advise that more milk could be added per bag depending on desired richness of the hot chocolate.
Glue on the names and the tags wherever it looks good to you on your bags (which should still be laying flat — ignore the earlier picture. I thought I was done, but added more after the bags were filled and it wasn’t as easy).
To make the hot cocoa mix:
Mix equal parts cocoa and granulated sugar. After mixing these two together thoroughly, I added about 1 tsp of salt per cup of mixed cocoa and sugar. You may be asking, why add salt? Well, I find that adding salt to sweet ingredients enhances the overall flavor and cuts the super sweet taste that a sugary treat can have.
After making the mixture, I measured about 2 Tbs of the cocoa mix into each small treat baggie and used a twist tie to seal them. I also filled treat baggies with mini marshmallows. Each brown paper gift bag was filled with two mini baggies of marshmallows and cocoa mix, along with a recipe for how to make the cocoa. Each bag also contained a zip lock of this next lovely…
Peppermint Bark Puppy Chow:
To put the finishing touches to your gift bags:
After you have assembled and filled your bags, fold them over twice at the top, tie your baker’s twine around the top and tie in a bow, then seal the lunch sacks with hot glue.
Now…send your little gift givers to school to deliver these sweet treats! We received such heartfelt thank yous from all the teachers and support staff we gave these bags to!
Enjoy and Happy Holidays
P.S. Don’t forget to make a little extra hot cocoa for yourself when it gets chilly this winter!