Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Giving Presents to Teachers can also Teach Budgeting Skills

Many kids love to give their teachers a present for the holiday season.  When my daughter was in elementary school, she wanted to give presents to practically every teacher and adult in her school.  It was very sweet, but not the most budget friendly attitude to have! 

At the beginning of December, I would ask Brittany to make a list of all the teachers that she wanted to give a gift to.  Then we would talk about the total amount of money we were willing to spend on teacher presents and do the math to determine how much she could spend on each present.  I honestly did not realize it at the time, but this process was modeling budgeting skills for her.  It was age appropriate and was relevant to her, both of which are key to making the concept of budgeting less abstract to kids.

When Brittany wanted to hand out 15 – 20 presents, we had to come up with gifts that would still fit our budget.  Here are some of our more creative, frugal ideas:
  •  Handwritten Note and Candy Bar:  We would write a note to the teacher and tell her why she was special to us or what Brittany really liked about her class.  We would attach the note to a king-size candy bar.  (I still have notes that I was given from way back when I was teaching.  These can often be the most memorable, special gifts that a student can give a teacher.)
  • Small loaves of homemade bread:  I bought three mini-loaf pans.  One standard quick bread recipe will usually make three mini loaves.  For several years in a row, Brittany and I would make loaf after loaf of banana bread or pumpkin bread.  We would wrap them in plastic wrap and put them inside decorative holiday goody bags.  She would jazz them up with ribbons and gift tags. 
  • Coffee Lovers gift:  A friend of mine was giving away a set of 12 coffee mugs that she no longer liked.  Brittany and I made chocolate stirring spoons by dipping plastic spoons in melted, flavored chocolate.  Once they cooled, she wrapped them in colored plastic wrap and tied a ribbon around them.  We placed one spoon inside a mug along with a Ziploc bag of coffee beans.

What are the budgeting skills and money concepts that a kid can learn from gift planning?

  1. They are introduced to basic budgeting and money management.
  2. There is not an endless source of money to buy an elaborate gift for every person.
  3. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be appreciated.
  4. Having a financial plan prevents impulse over-spending.
Photo taken by Brittany Whitlock


  1. Love this post! On our way now to candy bar/ stationary isle!

  2. @Courtney Loquasto --- glad you like it! Have fun in the candy aisle. Might as well pick up a little something for yourself while you are there!