5 Parent Christmas Gift Ideas for Upper Elementary Classrooms!

Every year when Thanksgiving break is over and we return to school,  I look forward to creating Christmas gifts with my students that they can take home to their parents.  This is especially fun for the students at my school as many of them come from low-income families, and they are just thrilled to be able to take something home to give as a gift to their families.  There are a few challenges though when it comes to choosing a gift idea!

1. I teach 5th graders. There are so many adorable parent gift ideas on Pinterest, but many of them are more appropriate for a primary student. I need a project that my 5th graders will be proud to give.

2. The materials must cost less than $1-2 per student.  I have over 30 students in my classroom, and we do not have much in our school supply closet beyond basic construction paper, glue, and paint.  I look for projects that we can create either with the supplies we have on hand, or with things that students can bring in from home (like family pictures). Any other needed supplies I will have to purchase myself, so I like to keep the cost low.

I decided to search the web to find some fantastic parent gift ideas that fill these two requirements: inexpensive and perfect for upper elementary aged students.  I will start with what I normally do with my students, but this year I’m planning to switch it up with one of the fantastic other ideas found below. I just haven’t decided which one yet!


{1.}Family Calendars:

The last few years in my classroom, we have created an upper elementary version (think: NO handprints 😉 of family calendars as our parent gift.  They are nice because they can be created entirely with resources I have at school (construction paper for cover, printed pages for months of the year, and spiral binding). The students create the cover in PowerPoint and print it in black and white, then color it. Then they either draw pictures for each month, or bring in family pictures to glue into the calendar. Another option is to pair this with a poetry unit and have your students create a different type of poem for each month! After all of the pages are complete, I laminate the covers (again, something we already have at school) and bind them with our school’s spiral binding machine (<– is there an official name for those?). This picture is not from my classroom, but it is very similar. Click the picture to view the tutorial and to check it out for ready-to-go calendar printables!

FAmily Calendar gifts for parents {via Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations}

{2.}DIY Snow Globes:

I.Love.These.  They are so easy to make, and so neat.  I know my 5th graders would have a ball coming up with poses for their pictures and almost everything can be found at school (glitter and laminator), around the house (empty jars, tree figurines, baby oil) or at the dollar store. If you want to, you can use glycerine instead of baby oil to make the water and glitter have the “slow” affect.  If we make them, I would probably also add a coat of silver or gold spray paint to the lid. Click the link below the image to view the tutorial.

Jar snow globe{via Our Best Bites}

{3.}52 Things I…

I can see all kinds of possibilities here!  Instead of “52 Things I Love About You” students could change it to “52 Reasons I’m Thankful for my Family”.  Or, it could be used as a deck of ‘coupon cards’ and be titled “52 Weeks of a Free Chore” and parents could choose 1 card a week for a year!  The decks of cards can be purchased at the dollar store, and hole punched at school.  Binder rings, which are used to attach the cards, can be found in a box of 100 for about $7.  Pictures, stickers, or printed clip art could be used to dress up the back of the cards and add some pizazz!

52 things cards{via Crafter.org}

 {4.}The Exploding Box

Out of the 5 ideas I’m featuring here, this one would probably require the most time, and the most money (if your school does not provide card stock). But they are just so cool! I do a twist on this for mother’s day by making an ‘exploding’ card.  It is a great project to pair with a measurement unit because the measurements and cuts need to be ‘just so’ in order for it to work.  When I did this for mother’s day, I was able to found tons of YouTube videos that I played for my students, and they took it and ran with it.  Some of them did very basic projects, and some created elaborate fold-outs and designs.  They all turned out incredibly unique. Here is a link to a YouTube video showing how to make these.  You can also click on the link below the picture for a written tutorial.

YouTube Tutorial

exploding box{via Amazing Interior Design}

{5.}Monogram “Wreath”

These cute “wreaths” are made of yard, and cardboard. That’s it!   I would probably have my students do the letter of their family’s last name.  Students could really personalize these by mixing all sorts of different yarn colors and adding whatever ’embellishments’ that they’d like.  You can buy pre-made paper mache letters at the craft store, but this can get pricy (anywhere from $1-$5 a letter depending where you purchase).  For a cheaper option, simply gather some cardboard and have students draws their own letters and cut them out using a craft knife (with supervision!). Click the link below the images for a tutorial.monogram wreath

ombre letter {via Catch My Party}

Which of these ideas do you think will work best in your upper elementary or middle school classroom?  I still can’t decide which one I’m going to use with my students this year, but luckily I still have a few weeks to think about it and gather supplies.  I’ll be back with some pictures when my students are done!



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