Secret Pal Ideas from Author Chelly Wood

Need an idea for your secret pal's next gift? Here you go!

New Year’s Gift for Your Secret Pal

why are black eyed peas associated with the new year ?

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Most people can give their secret pal a mini-bottle of wine, but if your secret pal works at a school with you, there’s a no-alcohol rule, of course. So what do you give your secret pal to bring in the new year, once you get back from Christmas break? Try a re-gift. You know that pair of mittens that Grandma knitted out of wool (and you’re allergic to wool)? How about those? Or the DVD  you already owned–but Aunt Bonnie bought you another copy of it, because she knew you loved that movie… How about that?

Of course there are some no-nos. Never–and I mean NEVER–re-gift fruitcake. That’s just mean. Don’t give away things that might have your name on it either–that one’s a no-brainer (i.e. hand towels with your initials embroidered on them).

And because your secret pal is supposed to remain a secret, be sure you don’t re-gift something that might give away your identity. Here’s what I mean–your spouse works at the animal shelter, and every year as a Christmas bonus, the employees at the animal shelter get some sort of cheesy item with the name of the animal shelter emblazoned on it–like coasters or ball point pens or key chains.  Yeah. That’s going to be a dead give-away, if your secret pal knows which of his/her co-workers has a spouse who works at the animal shelter.

Third, don’t re-gift anything too Christmassy, like snow globes or ornaments or candy canes. I mean, heck, Christmas is over, right? How tacky is that?

But these are a few things you should be able to re-gift without too much trouble:

  • scarves/mittens/hats
  • lotions/bath salts/bubble bath
  • books you’ll never read in a million years
  • kitchen towels/dishes/coffee cups (as long as they aren’t decorated with Christmas themes)
  • art kits/craft projects (as long as your secret pal likes that sort of thing)
  • garlic press/kitchen utensil organizer/can opener
  • a mousepad/a pencil cup/a paperweight/sticky notes
  • movies you’re not interested in watching or already own (keep them unopened)
  • alarm clocks/kitchen clocks/egg timers

Avoid re-gifting items that are too expensive to buy for your secret pal though. So don’t re-gift an iPod or stereo or software. Remember, most secret pal programs suggest you keep your gifts in the five- to ten-dollar range. So go online and figure out what your item most likely cost the original gift giver, and don’t re-gift it if you discover it was worth $30 or more brand new.

In closing, let me state that I’ll be making posts about once a week from now on, since Christmas is over. That’s the new schedule at my work, for our secret pal program. I’ll be giving my secret pal his gift once a week on Fridays. So I’ll probably post once a week from now on. Hopefully my ideas will help. If you come up with something better, feel free to add comments. I’d love that!

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The Big Reveal–A Silly Poem for My Secret Santa Teacher Pal on the Final Day

Okay, so I said yesterday’s post would be my last for a while. I lied.

I came up with a silly poem to give my secret Santa teacher pal on our final day, and I just thought I’d share that with you before I go on my holiday vacation:

teacher secret pal last day gift or present

Image: iClipart

I’m sure you’re thinking daily

Who sent this stuff to you?

She’s poetic and she’s crafty

Or at least she thinks that’s true

 

Perhaps you’d like a hint

Perhaps you want a clue

Well brace yourself, it’s coming

That’s what I’m about to do

 

The first time that I met you

I thought you were a farce

“No one’s that nice,” I said to myself

“She’s faking it, of course.”

 

How foolish was I, how stupid

To think it wasn’t you

With your sweet smile and clever eyes

And all the kind things you do

 

You had a secret. I didn’t know

That Jesus was in your heart

Your kindness is a reflection

Of those who stand apart

 

So now I understand

Your goodness is genuine

I can’t believe I thought you fake

The error is definitely mine

 

And someday when we’re old and gray

And ready to leave this place

I’ll see you up in heaven

With a genuine smile on your face

 

Unless they only let Catholics in

In which case I’m outta luck

I’ll wave to you from hell I guess

But that will really suck!

 

Now, of course, you’ll want to alter some of the words to fit your secret Santa pal. For example, you might want to change “Catholics” to “Baptists” (or whatever religion applies to your secret Pal belongs to). You could even change it to “Unless they only let science teachers in” if the person’s religion is unknown. Also, if the person is not a Christian, just eliminate the “Jesus was in your heart” stanza from the poem, and you’re good to go.

And remember, my sister site is a lot of fun too: English Emporium. It offers free journal topics for teachers.

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The big REVEAL for secret Santa…

creative secret santa present ideas cheap and easy

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Today’s the day I’ll be doing my big REVEAL to my secret Santa person at work. What does this mean to you, my reading audience? Well, for one thing, I’ll be taking a break from my posts until we get back from our holiday vacation. At that point, we’ll be drawing names for a new secret pal project, which may only require participation every Friday. (It depends on what the other teachers vote for.) If we go to a weekly secret pal gift, then I’ll be posting my ideas once a week instead of every weekday. Sorry! I hope that doesn’t disappoint my faithful readers.

What am I giving my secret Santa at the big REVEAL? I’ve got a gift bag with a few goodies inside…

My secret Santa person is an avid reader, so I bought her Debbie Macomber‘s holiday paperback, The Perfect Christmas. When buying a gift for an avid reader, I figured it’s best to choose a book that has positive public appeal, and Macomber is a New York Times bestselling author. It’s also a good idea to buy a book that’s not a classic. My secret Santa person probably already has a copy of Pride and Prejudice, for example, whereas The Perfect Christmas was published in 2009, only three years ago; the paperback came out just this year. (Something newer than 2009 might be an even safer bet though.)

I’ve also purchased a DVD of Christmas music, which is accompanied by peaceful video images of winter scenes. It’s called Winter Serenity, and it’s published by Somerset Entertainment Ltd. I found it in my local grocery/buy-all store, at one of those music kiosks. Watch for these. When they’re ready to rotate their stock, you can buy the CDs for a cheaper price. The cool thing about this “Christmas music” is that you can tootle around your house preparing for Christmas, but in addition to the holiday music that’s playing in the background, you can also see festive winter scenes on your TV screen as you work.

Finally, I’ll be stuffing my secret Santa person’s gift bag with all the leftover goodies I’ve given her throughout the weeks: cookies, chocolates, and even an extra recipe card that didn’t fit in the box with the other recipe cards. If you’d like to see those secret Santa ideas that I came up with earlier in December, just click on the ones that interest you.

Also, if you’re a teacher, remember to visit my educational blog, englishemporium.wordpress.com, where I post my journal questions for langauge arts.

See ya in January!

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Christmas cookies for your secret Santa office pal

home-made gifts for secret santa office gift pal secret friends exchangeRunning out of money for your secret Santa office pal? Bake him/her some cookies!

If you’re not much of a bake chef, try some of these options:

  • buy a Betty Crocker instant cookie mix and follow the directions on the box
  • buy the tube-o-cookies from Pilsbury; cut and bake according to the easy directions
  • buy a cookie tin at your local dollar store and fill it with bakery cookies
  • or do the same with a red or green wicker basket

The container for your cookies can be as decorative as you wish without being too expensive. Party stores sell simple lunch sacks in various colors (sometimes red-and-green or candy cane striped for the holidays). Or like I said above, you can buy a cookie tin at the dollar store this time of year, without any problem. Line it with festive crepe paper or a Christmas kitchen towel.

I’ll be giving my secret Santa pal cookies this week (today most likely), and I plan to put just four small home-made cookies in the same Christmas card boxes that I made for her two weeks ago. Here’s the link to see the instructions for that.

If you want to stretch your cookie-giving gifts for a week, offer a theme:

  1. on day one, offer your secret Santa only one shaker of red candy sprinkles
  2. on day two, give your secret Santa another shaker of green candy sprinkles
  3. on  day three, wrap up a container of Betty Crocker pre-made frosting
  4. on day four, surprise your secret Santa with a box of food coloring
  5. on day five, offer up a basket of Christmas-tree shaped (or star-shaped, or Santa-shaped) pre-baked holiday cookies, ready for decorating

Who doesn’t love to decorate cookies?

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Give your secret Santa a caffeine high: order him or her an espresso drink!

last minute present for office secret pal

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Why not? As long as they’re not on a strictly caffeine-free diet, everyone loves a mocha latte.

Okay, except maybe people who are lactose intolerant (like me), but even for those people, they have yummy soy milk lattes.

Experiment with flavors and extras:

  • There’s vanilla latte with a little whipped cream and cinnamon on top.
  • There’s an Irish mocha with extra foam and chocolate sprinkles.
  • Try a peppermint mocha with a candy cane sticking out.
  • Or ask the clerk at the espresso shop, “What’s your favorite?”
  • You could even order four different flavors, and let your secret Santa try them all (if you’re feeling rich).

Before you buy, though, consider this. Do you ever see your secret Santa person hovering around the coffee pot at work? That will let you know whether or not he/she is a coffee drinker. (Some people don’t drink coffee for health reasons; others have religious reasons for laying off the caffeine; so be careful not to offend.) If your secret Santa person is definitely into coffee, how much would he/she appreciate a special coffee from the espresso shop down the road? I mean, unless he/she regularly brings his/her own espresso to work, you’re bound to impress your secret Santa with a cup of special Joe.

If you want to spice it up a bit, buy him/her a festive travel mug as well. But let’s face it, we all hate getting those holiday-themed coffee cups that you seem to get every single year, from someone who can’t think of something better. So only go there as a last resort, if you’re feeling guilty about getting your secret Santa person something every-day-ish.

But honestly, for those of us who only treat ourselves to espresso on our birthdays and the day before lent begins, this one’s a real treat! I suppose it just depends on the person…

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Recipes with school spirit: a great Christmas gift for a coach or school sports fan!

how do i give an original gift to for a guy male secret santa pal ?

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Whether your secret Santa teacher pal coaches or not, most people have school spirit. Want an easy-to-make gift that shows your school spirit? Create your own recipe cards with school themes.

What’s your school’s mascot? A pirate? A raider? A tiger?

Whatever letter of the alphabet your mascot begins with (i.e. pirate = P, raider = R, tiger = T), choose recipes that begin with that letter. How do you do this? Just look in the index of a Betty Crocker or other cookbook. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • P = paintbrush cookies, palace court salad, pan biscuits, etc..
  • R = radish canapes, raised doughnuts, raisin bread, etc…
  • T = taffy, tamales, tangerine jelly, etc…

Now combine your school mascot with the name of the recipe to create an alliterative title for your recipe cards:

  • Pete the Pirate’s Paintbrush Cookies
  • Rough and Ready Raider Raisin Bread
  • Tasty Tiger Tamales

You can make a whole stack of recipe cards with alliterative titles like this. Print them in Microsoft Word with a picture of your school’s mascot in the corner (use “insert picture”). I recommend using card stock paper, whether you’re making your recipe cards on the computer or by hand. Regular computer paper is too flimsy.

You can wrap them in a festive ribbon or put them in the Christmas-card-box I gave instructions for two weeks ago. Here’s the link to that.

If your secret pal isn’t a coach or sports fan, you can do the same with the word Santa:

  • Santa’s Caesar Salad
  • Reindeer Rye Bread
  • North Pole Nut Bread
  • Snowman Stroganoff

In this case, of course, you’ll want to decorate your Christmas-themed recipe cards with holiday graphics instead of school mascot images. If you want to steal my pre-made holiday recipe cards, here are two links to download those. You’ve got to print them–like I said–on card stock (heavy) paper on both sides. So print page one first, flip it over, then print page two. Or try this: print page one and two on regular paper, cut out the cards, and glue them front-to-back on a piece of card stock that you’ve cut out with zig-zag scissors. That looks nice too.

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Secret Santa Becomes Politically Correct

This week I’ve been following a theme with my Secret Santa gifts. Every day this week, I stuck two foil-wrapped chocolate reindeer in a home-made gift bag. Well the recipient of these chocolate reindeer has most likely eaten all of these gifts, so who’s going to pull Santa’s sleigh? That’s the theme of the poem for today. (Scroll down for that.)

The gift bags I used for my reindeer were absolutely free, because I made them. Click here for the pattern. To make one, you just trace the pattern onto the back of the picture-part of your old Christmas card, cut, fold, and tape the tiny little bag together. Here are all the things you’ll need:

  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors
  • The pattern
  • Marker or pencil for tracing
  • Old Christmas cards
  • An exacto knife or craft knife (for cutting out the center of the handles)
  • Lindt Chocolate Santa Sleigh x 2
  • Cutting boardinstructions for making your own gift bags

If you need detailed instructions, please look back at Monday’s post. I wrote out the instructions there in detail.

Once I’ve stuffed my little gift bag with one of the two Santas in my Lindt chocolates, I’m going to insert a poem. (I did this all week long, so you’ll want to look back at previous posts to access the poems that came before this one.) Today’s poem will be:

Secret Santa

Is a politically correct elf

When you finally meet me

You’ll surprise yourself!

I can’t drive my sleigh

‘Cause you’ve eaten my deer…

What were you thinking?

Oh well. Be of good cheer!

I’ll round up new reindeer

To replace the old

Named Juan and Enrique

And Alfonso the Bold.

There’ll be Jaqueline and Tina

And Elizabeth too

Because Santa must have

A few women on the crew

Fluffy and Cojo

From Frisco CA

Will ensure equal rights

And that’s all I’m gonna say…

Elmo will light the way

With his big red nose.

Ah heck, at Christmas

Ain’t that always how it goes?

Since today’s gift bag only contains one of the two Santas that came with my Lindt chocolates, I have good news for you… You’ve got to EAT that last chocolate Santa! Bon appetit!

One more thing, if you’re an English or reading teacher, you should visit my sister site, English Emporium, where I offer journal writing prompts.

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A Fun Theme for Secret Santa Gifts

Have you seen these adorable chocolates from Lindt? For this week’s creative and super-inexpensive Secret Santa gift, I bought two of these chocolate sleigh sets from Lindt. I’m going to pack two reindeer in a gift bag at a time along with a clever poem I’ve written.

The gift bags were absolutely free, because I made them. Click here for the pattern. To make one, you just trace the pattern onto the back of the picture-part of your old Christmas card, cut, fold, and tape the tiny little bag together. Here are all the things you’ll need:

  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors
  • The pattern
  • Marker or pencil for tracing
  • Old Christmas cards
  • An exacto knife or craft knife (for cutting out the center of the handles)
  • Lindt Chocolate Santa Sleigh x 2
  • Cutting boardinstructions for making your own gift bags

If you need detailed instructions, please look back at Monday’s post. I wrote out the instructions there in detail.

Once I’ve stuffed my little gift bag with foil-wrapped reindeer, I’m going to insert a poem. (I did this yesterday too, so you’ll want to look back at previous posts to access the poems that came before this one.) Today’s poem will be:

Donder and Blitzen

Are tasty you’ll see

But who will drive

The sleigh for me?

Since tomorrow is Friday (and the last day of this theme), I’ll be putting one of the Santas in my miniature gift bag with a much longer, conclusive poem. Check back for that one!

One more thing, if you’re an English or reading teacher, you should visit my sister site, English Emporium, where I offer journal writing prompts.

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An Inexpensive but Fun Gift for Silly Santa

Have you seen these adorable chocolates from Lindt? For this week’s creative and super-inexpensive Secret Santa gift, I bought two of these chocolate sleigh sets from Lindt. I’m going to pack two reindeer in a gift bag at a time along with a clever poem I’ve written.

The gift bags were absolutely free, because I made them. Click here for the pattern. To make one, you just trace the pattern onto the back of the picture-part of your old Christmas card, cut, fold, and tape the tiny little bag together. Here are all the things you’ll need:

  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors
  • The pattern
  • Marker or pencil for tracing
  • Old Christmas cards
  • An exacto knife or craft knife (for cutting out the center of the handles)
  • Lindt Chocolate Santa Sleigh x 2
  • Cutting boardinstructions for making your own gift bags

If you need detailed instructions, please look back at Monday’s post. I wrote out the instructions there in detail.

Once I’ve stuffed my little gift bag with foil-wrapped reindeer, I’m going to insert a poem. (I did this yesterday too, so you’ll want to look back at previous posts to access the poems that came before this one.) Today’s poem will be:

Comet and Cupid

Make a party of six

Tiny gold reindeer

For your chocolate fix

I’ve written a brief snippet for each reindeer plus Santa. So on Monday my Secret Santa was given a chocolate Dasher and Dancer; on Tuesday, she got a chocolate Prancer and Vixen, etc… On Friday I’ll be putting one of the Santas in my miniature gift box with a much longer, conclusive poem.

If my scanned pattern is too small to fit your reindeer, try enlarging it on a photocopy machine, but don’t go too big; otherwise, it won’t fit on the inside of the Christmas cards.

One more thing, if you’re an English or reading teacher, you should visit my sister site, English Emporium, where I offer journal writing prompts.

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A Cheap but Fun Gift for Secret Santa

Have you seen these adorable chocolates from Lindt? For this week’s creative and super-inexpensive Secret Santa gift, I bought two of these chocolate sleigh sets from Lindt. I’m going to pack two reindeer in a gift bag at a time along with a clever poem I’ve written.

The gift bags were absolutely free, because I made them. Click here for the pattern. To make one, you just trace the pattern onto the back of the picture-part of your old Christmas card, cut, fold, and tape the tiny little bag together. Here are all the things you’ll need:

  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors
  • The pattern
  • Marker or pencil for tracing
  • Old Christmas cards
  • An exacto knife or craft knife (for cutting out the center of the handles)
  • Lindt Chocolate Santa Sleigh x 2
  • Cutting boardinstructions for making your own gift bags

If you need detailed instructions, please look back at Monday’s post. I wrote out the instructions there in detail.

Once I’ve stuffed my little gift bag with foil-wrapped reindeer, I’m going to insert a poem. (I did this yesterday too, so you’ll want to look back at previous posts to access that.) Today’s poem will be:

Now you’ve got

Two reindeer more

Prancer and Vixen

Make a total of four

I’ve written a brief snippet for each reindeer plus Santa. So on Monday my Secret Santa was given a chocolate Dasher and Dancer; on Tuesday, she’ll get a chocolate Prancer and Vixen, etc… On Friday I’ll be putting one of the Santas in my miniature gift box with a much longer, conclusive poem.

If my scanned pattern is too small to fit your reindeer, try enlarging it on a photocopy machine, but don’t go too big; otherwise, it won’t fit on the inside of the Christmas cards.

One more thing, if you’re an English or reading teacher, you should visit my sister site, English Emporium, where I offer journal writing prompts.

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