DIY Appreciation Gifts for School, Work, or Friends


My kids start school on Monday. ~takes a deep breath~ and while it will be a big day for them (and me!) it is also a big day for their teacher’s as well. Did you realize that when our kids are in school, their teachers spend more time with them during their waking hours than we do? I know we all appreciate the love and dedication they put into their jobs. I really like to bake things, but with a lot of schools no longer allowing that, I thought I’d bring you a few inexpensive thank you gifts just to show your appreciation.

These gifts are great year round, for a holiday, teacher appreciation week, first day of school, or my favorite : the no-special-reason gift. They are also great for coworkers, friends, or just anytime someone you know could use a little perking up.

Lets start with the easiest, and the only printable I’m offering that is teacher specific:

This is an updated spin on the apple (but apples are still great!). I think this one is my new favorite and of course, the least expensive. While you’re out shopping for school supplies, pick up a box of breakfast bars and print out this sheet to be ready with thoughtful little gifts to make that first day a little easier for your child’s teacher. This wrapper fits perfectly on a breakfast, granola, or snack bar. Just print the label, trim the ends a bit, and tape around your bar. See the end of this post to print these wrapper labels.

Jar Gifts

In this post I’m doing two different things with pint jars but you are limited only by your own imagination! I also have two labels to print that will work with a multitude of jar fillings and are great to use for any recipient.

Survival Kit

I asked the teachers on the Southern Plate Facebook page what they’d like to have for a welcome back gift and many of them said things like breakfast bars, drink mixes, etc, because they get so busy with the kids that they forget or simply don’t have time to eat. This is an all in one survival kit that you can easily customize.

My jar includes a granola type bar, breakfast bar, two drink mixes for bottled water, and a few peppermints. I’ve got two sets of labels to choose from below, if you’d like to print the ones I am using.

Who doesn’t need chocolate?

This is another cute little idea. Fill a jar with chocolates and attach one of the labels  below to the inside of the lid. You can use any type of chocolate you like, or even their favorite candy. This is also a great “Thinking of you” gift for co-workers, moms, anyone you can think of!

For the fabric, I just traced a saucer onto some fabric and then cut out the circle.

Print my labels by clicking below. Place the jar ring around the label and trace a circle as a cutting guide.

Click here for “Sanity Preserves” Labels

Click here for “In Case Of Emergency” Labels

Click here for Teacher Bar Wrapper Labels

No matter what you decide to do or who you decide to give a “thinking of you” gift to, give it with a warm heart and it will be well received!

“What we do for ourselves dies with us.

What we do for others and the world remains.”

~Albert Pine. Submit your quote here.

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  1. Tammy says

    What GREAT ideas!! Love them, Thank you! I’ll be thinking about you on Monday!
    Up in NY we still have another month for school to start…so I’m enjoying every moment with them.

  2. says

    Sorry to be a ‘dummy’, but please explain what “DIY” stands for. I’ve read through the post several times for a reference but find none. I’m usually fairly good at figuring out acronyms, but this has me stumped. I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed at the simplicity or obviousness of it but right now, I’m brain dead. I find the idea such a clever one. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Teesa in NC says

    I have been a childcare provider for 21 years and I would greatly appreciate a unique and thoughtful gift such as these. What a great idea! I like the “no-special-reason” gift suggestion. There are endless giving opportunities to use your gift jar ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  4. maggie says

    Thanks Chrissy, You are so clever in your gift giving idea’s. I appreciate them so much. Hope all goes good on the first day. I always say if something is gonna go wrong it will happen on the first day. god Bless you guys

  5. Mary says

    Such a cute idea! thanks so much for sharing. My kids start school in a few weeks. I am in a way dreading it so much because I miss them, I miss hearing them laugh and play during the day. Summer has went quick but this cute project we can do together and let them give to their teacher.

    Thanks again, have a wonderful weekend and God Bless!!

  6. Leah says

    Hi Christy!

    I was one of the teachers who suggested “drink mixes, candies, etc”and seeing your home-made spin on it is amazing as always! We begin classes in about a week down here in Baldwin County and this would be an awesome way to begin the year with the kids! Thanks so much for your creativity, generosity and hard work!

  7. ShariP says

    For the first time since 1976 I have no children going back to school!! I “think” I’m happy about that! lol! But, the stories about your children going back to school brings back so many memories for me……….It gets easier Christy! Promise!!

  8. says

    If you aren’t just full of cute ideas! The jars are just the perfect little gift for someone that needs to be shown some love and told that they are special.I think that on Monday morning my postman will discover one of these when my mail is placed in my mailbox.You are terrific.

  9. Julia says

    Christy, this is a great idea. I especially like filling it with healthier choices. I AM a teacher in Texas and can tell you from first hand experience this gift would be deeply appreciated by teachers. I would keep it on my desk all year and refill it with “mental vacation treats.”

  10. Hattie Ligon says

    I have no children in school. That was long ago for me. But these ideas are the best! Good to give anyone that needs a little love and cheering up. (Does that not include everyone?)

    Thanks for all your inspiration, Christy.

  11. says

    Does Katie starts kindergarten on Monday???? Our daugher, Anna Jane, started yesterday….I’m still a little misty. I was one of “those Moms” who cried! Only 1/2 of the class was there on Friday and the other half go on Monday with everyone on Tuesday–staggered entry, they call it. Anyway, here’s a cute idea I did for AJ. She picked out a Hello Kitty metal lunch box. I taped photos of her with her friends, pets, Daddy, etc. When she opened it at lunchtime, she had a great surprise and an easy ice-breaker to make conversation with her new classmates! I thought I was pretty clever!! : ) I think I’ll make a batch of these jars to give out to the office staff on Tuesday–never too early to make “brownie points!!”

    • Michele says

      Love the lunchbox idea, Nancy. My oldest is starting 3rd grade this year and it seems like yesterday that she was a Kindergartener. She just looked so small at that big ol’ school. I have a little one that will be starting school in two more years so I am definitly stealing your idea for that one.

  12. Michele says

    Wow your kiddos are going back early. We still have three weeks until we start back. I love these ideas and will use them. It is always important to get off to a good start with your kids teachers. I was shocked last year at the number of parents in my daughter’s second grade class that never got involved in anything going on up there. I work too but I think it is still important to show your kids and the teachers that you want to be part of the process. So even if you can only volunteer at a couple of events throughout the year… it is so worth it.

  13. Kristi says

    As a teacher, I would love to get one of these little gifts. So much nicer than another pen or coffe mug! I wil be using this for my girls’ teachers as well. Thanks for all that you put into this site. I LOVE Southern Plate!!!!

  14. Amy says

    What a great idea…my church gives trays of cookies and brownies to each school in the county on the first day the teachers are back…the response from the church ladies was so overwhelming that we were able add some out of county schools where church members worked…this would work for smaller groups….I’ll be using this for Christmas gifts

  15. dragongirl says

    Awwww where were you when I was teaching?? Only thing I’m concerned with is the glass jars. I know you love them, but how about saving plastic ones like from peanut butter for these gifts? Better safety for the child carrying them and teacher can keep it in the classroom without worry too! Still tho- YAY, Christy for being so sweet and thoughtful! Love it.

  16. elaineraye says

    The little gifts are sweet but dragongirl beat me to the punch with the safety comment. Our school district prohibits the glass on a school bus. The peanut butter jar tip is a great alternative. Another fiiler idea would be little erasers, personal pencil sharpeners, paper clips, thumb tacks, tiny post it notes etc. To often teachers have to buy their own supplies.

    • says

      Very true and love the pb jar idea!!
      I plan on walking these in myself the first day. We always go walk the kids in as a family the first day of class.

      I’m also being a mean mama this year and not letting my kids ride the bus. Katy Rose is just too young. I told them I’ll pick them up and they can ride next year.

      Makes me feel better and I need that piece of mind. :)

  17. Jane P from Asheville, NC says

    Thanks so much for thinking of teachers! I have one thing to add— please don’t forget your “special” teachers like art, music, PE, library, etc. As one of these special teachers we also like to be remembered since many of us see every child in the school and in my case, 2 schools. We are thankful for any token of appreciation, even a card is cherished and makes us feel special. You are awesome, Christy!!

  18. wendi says

    These are all great ideas. My daughter starts student teaching tomorrow, and i know it is a big day for her. also we saw you at the mall yesterday. didnt want to bother you . i know tomorrow will be a very big day for you.

  19. DeltaJoy says

    My will you never fail to inspire me!~! I just love giving ‘Jar Gifts” but mine are usually filled with preserves but this gives me one of those “Why didn’t I thinkof that??” moment and add this as a 2nd idea for giving. What I do now is buy pretty little dessert dishes from garage sales or recycle stores and decorate them up with pretty different types of food or candy things then wrap in clear wrap etc.

  20. says

    OOH I love it school starts tomorrow here also and my big kid is gonna be a 3rd grader I can not believe it! I just got some jelly jars the other day I may go see what I can fit in one. thanks for the idea

  21. mtrztg says

    These are adorable! I did something similar with these plastic index card holders I found on sale. It’s not as cute but they made handy emergency kits that fit into a purse or backpack nicely.

  22. Joann Drye says

    Wonderful idea thanks,, my granddaughter is going to start her student teaching next month and then graduate in Dec. with her Masters in teaching for Special Ed. students.. I am so proud of her… I have printed these out and can surprise her and some others with them..

    Thanks for all the help you give us all1
    hugs jo in Oklahoma

  23. Judy T says

    Thanks Christy! It’s an old trick, but new ideas for new moms are always great. I did this for all the holidays, and filled them with holiday-appropriate candy and if I had time, hot-glued matching ribbon around the jar lid. Candy kisses and M&Ms or small wrapped hard candies were always appreciated – teachers can get awfully dry-mouthed during the day, and most always love to have a small hard candy to pop in their mouth!

    I would also cut out the material circles with pinking shears, for an added “fluff”

  24. says

    so as soon as I read this I was off to the pantry:) I only had small jelly jar sized ones, but I did find a cute reusable coffee cup that had come with a cooler I got I had never used it so the wheels started turning:)

    I printing the bar quote and used it on a nature valley bar, I also had some Yummy Lindor chocolates like you showed so I put them in there also, and since I had stocked up on Crystal light mixes I threw a few in there also. I then wrote her a note saying how excited I was for the new year and hoped she would enjoy the back to school pick me ups:)

  25. Laura says

    Great idea! I’m a teacher and would have loved a sweet little gift like these.

    I’m going to use it for my room moms and fellow teachers this year. What a cute, inexpensive way to say Thank you. :)

  26. says

    I am a retired teacher and I so appreciated my thoughtful parents. Folks that don’t teach seldom realize that a teacher’s day is more than the school day. There are papers to grade, phone calls to make each night to parents, lesson plans, plus making bulletins boards and gathering needed supplies for student projects.

    Like you Christy, I am also interested in keeping families together. I have a small project. I work with folk to document their family stories. I help individuals research their genealogy, write down the family stories that have been passed to them and the events they remember.

    I have published my own genealogy by creating a “blog book” on the internet. It includes my maternal grandmother’s recipes:

  27. Cindy Hauer says

    What great ideas! And I love the added one about tacks, post-its, and clips for the teachers, too. We always struggle with what to give to teachers at Christmas, and this idea works great! I’ll be cutting out the supplies, and the grandchildren will love doing this, when they come over next time to visit!
    Thanks, Christy!

  28. Cindy Hauer says

    Christy needs a big hug – she inspires us all with her kindness, thoughtful ideas, and reminders about what life’s really all about. Thanks, Christy .. and {{{{{{ChristyHugs}}}}}} coming your way!

  29. Carolyn says

    Christy, I’m a retired teacher/administrator and understand the concerns about the glass jars. I do however love glass jars and have them in many sizes in my kitchen for storage. It’s wonderful that you will be with your children their first day. I applaud you for that. Even if children know their classmates it’s a transition back to school and can be intimidating at times. If anyone wants to send the gifts to teachers/staff etc. and want their children to be able to take them on their own (because giving to others is a wonderful lesson) why not visit the dollar store and take a couple of different sized canning lids with you and see if they fit and just buy the plastic. I agree the peanut butter jars are a great idea but if you need several it would take a while to collect them. These are also a great idea for Valentines Day for giving to fellow students…just fill the jar with the treat you want to give.. make your Valentine the size that will fit on a jar lid (on top of some appropriate material. Pop the ring on the lid and tighten. The little squatty looking jars would be plenty good for a size for Valentine Treats. Actually Halloween is just around the corner… anyway…It’s a wonderful idea Christy!!

  30. MARSHA G. says

    Christy I know this is an older post but on teacher appreciation week i do simple things each day like 1. I attach a dumdum sucker and a roll of smarties to an index card with a note that says’ “Because of you i am a smartie and not a dumdum” 2, i put graham crackers, chocolate bars, and a couple of marshmallows in a zip bag with a note that says The world needs “s’more” teachers like you, 3. I attached a packet of drink mix to a bottle of water with a note that says “thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge! 4. a box of mints with a note that says, “You were “MINT” to teach” 5.A snack size zip with Hersheys hugs and kisses 6. a package of lifesavers with the note ” that says in our children lives you are a lifesaver”’ 7.package of sunflower seeds with a note that says ” You plant the seeds of knowledge in our children. 8. an eraser with a note that says “Make no mistake you are an amazing teacher” 9. a take 5 candy bar with a note that says “take 5 you deserve the break.” 10. extra gum with a note that says “Thank you for going the extra mile to teach our children. This is just a few I hope it helps some one. the teachers have always loved the little thank you’s each thing is nothing very expensive

  31. Neecie Selby says

    I was lucky enough to come across an Apple shaped coffee / cocoa mug at the beginning of the school year, so I filled it with a bagful of caramels. She loved it! When recently a little note came home with the childs class requesting tissues and hand sanitizer, there was (in 1st graders’ printing) “car a mells , pleeze”. I laughed, but sent them along with my grandson.


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