2014 Military Special Needs Network Holiday Guide Winter 2014 - Page 29

Every year I am faced with

the daunting task of

gifting all of the professionals who teach, assist and play such important roles in the lives of our children, and the betterment of our family. And every year, I wonder how I am going to be able to afford to do this - and I wonder where to draw the line.

If your children are anything like mine, you have a plethora of supporting cast members to consider this time of year: teacher, one-on-one aides, classroom aides, school OT/PT/SLPT, BCBA, tutor, respite provider, private OT/PT/SLPT...times two, as I have TWO special needs children. For our family, we are looking at 15 school staff and 2 tutors.

Every year the prospect of spending an extra hundred dollars or two stresses me out beyond belief. These are people who play pretty important roles in my children's lives. In fact, during the school year, the teacher and one-on-one spend as much time with them during the day as I do. I know how challenging it can be to work with my children, and I know how much they mean to us. What I don't know is how to show them our appreciation without breaking the bank!

But this year will be different! This year, the MSNN Publishing Staff has put together a wonderful list of inexpensive, handmade gifts for the supporting professionals in your children's lives.

COST | $0~$3 per person

* Hand-drawn Card from Child - Using construction paper or scraps of wrapping paper, have your child construct a beautiful card, include a holiday wish written by your child, or a handprint. Tape a candy cane Rudolf or other handmade treat to the card for a personal and tasty treat.

* Cookie Gun Assortment - If you have a cookie gun, they are a lovely and inexpensive (and time saving!) way to make oodles of cookies for very little green. Make a batch of sugar cookie dough, separate it into quarters. Dye one quarter a light green for the tree cookies & sprinkle with your favorite, um...sprinkles; take the second quarter and add a pinch of powdered chocolate & drizzle with powdered sugar frosting after baking; the third quarter could be flavored with almond flavoring; and the last quarter could perhaps be dusted with colored sugar. Gift each professional with a small variety in a plastic baggie, decorated with ribbon and a tag.

* Assortment of Muffins/Breads - For end of the year gifts, I've put together a jar of preserves (see below) and either a mini loaf of poundcake or three mini muffins. My mix of choice? Tastefully Simple Almond Pound Cake $6.49, plus you need to add butter. You can get several "batches" of three or four muffins out of each mix.

continued...

breakdown for pricing: pectin - 50 cents per jar, I use organic sugar so $1.00 per jar cost for that, roughly a dollar per jar for the cost of the actual jar, and roughly $2 per jar for strawberries. This is a net cost of $4.50 per jar, excluding electricity/gas costs; and any decorations you may add to the half-pint jar.

Salt or Sugar Scrub - Simply visit one of a million Pinterest options to find a salt or sugar scrub that appeals to you. Your most expensive part of this gift is going to be the mason jar or other container. You'll also need an oil base, salt or sugar, a scent (make sure you use a skin safe essential oil - not all of them are, you know - or fragrance oil), and perhaps a colorant. You'll also need to decorate the jar and make a tag.

Class-sized Goodie Platter - disposable large platter tray, various assortment of homemade baked goods, sprinkled liberally with Hershey's Kisses or Dove Chocolates. Wrap in celo and bring along individual sized bags for teacher(s) and aides to help themselves and take home their favorites. *Please remember with all baked goods to respect school and classroom allergy guidelines, if applicable.

COST | $5-$7 person

$5 Starbucks Gift Card - or local favorite!

Godiva - you can get a chocolate bar or four piece sampler for between $4-$8.

E

TO Gift or

Not to Gift?

Kelly Hafer

muffins out of each mix.

COST | $3~5 per person

Homemade Jam or Preserves - Here is my breakdown for pricing: pectin - 50 cents per jar, I use organic sugar so $1.00 per jar cost for that, roughly a dollar per jar for the cost of the actual jar, and roughly $2 per jar for strawberries. This is a net cost of $4.50 per jar, excluding electricity/gas costs; and any decorations you may add to the half-pint jar.

Salt or Sugar Scrub - Simply visit one of a million Pinterest options to find a salt or sugar scrub that appeals to you. Your most expensive part of this gift is going to be the mason jar or other container. You'll also need an oil base, salt or sugar, a scent (make sure you use a skin safe essential oil - not all of them are, you know - or fragrance oil), and perhaps a colorant. You'll also need to decorate the jar and make a tag.

Class-sized Goodie Platter - disposable large platter tray, various assortment of homemade baked goods, sprinkled liberally with Hershey's Kisses or Dove Chocolates. Wrap in celo and bring along individual sized bags for teacher(s) and aides to help themselves and take home their favorites. *Please remember with all baked goods to respect school and classroom allergy guidelines, if applicable.

COST | $5-$7 person

$5 Starbucks Gift Card - or local favorite!

Godiva - you can get a chocolate bar or four piece sampler for between $4-$8.