Holiday Gifts for Teachers: Cocoa Snowmen Jars & Footprint Reindeer Cards

Sweet Boy is in a new preschool this year, one with one teacher and two teacher assistants in his class, plus a school administrator who comes in regularly to provide music class. So when I started thinking about holiday gifts for his teachers, I wanted something cute, creative and fun — and also affordable and scale-able.

Cue Pinterest (as always).


I loved the snowmen hot cocoa kits here and here, but while I found a few sites with photos, there weren’t many step-by-step instructions. I also wasn’t a fan of the felt hats, because I wasn’t sure how to make them look good — so, of course, I did my own thing.

Each snowman is made of a stack of three small jars. I ended up making four snowmen.

I started with a package of small Bell jars from Bi-Mart. They were cheaper than the decorative jars I could find elsewhere, but they did have the downside of two-piece lids. So, I started with what I’m sure is an extra step: hot gluing the lids to the lid rings. I’m not 100 percent sure this was necessary, but it seemed like a helpful step to ensure that the jars would be easy to open.

Next, I hot glued the lid of the bottom jar to the bottom of the middle jar, and the lid of the middle jar to the bottom of the top jar. You don’t want to glue the jars closed — you’re going to fill them — but you want the snowman to eventually stand up on its own.

Glue top of jar lid to bottom of next jar

Once the hot gluing was done, I brought Sweet Boy into the project to help. We filled the bottom of each jar with wrapped peppermint candies. The middle jar was filled with hot cocoa mix (I could have made my own, but again, simplicity: we did Swiss Miss from a can). Sweet Boy especially enjoyed this potentially messy part — have you ever noticed how powdered cocoa spreads everywhere — and I tried to mitigate the disaster with a funnel. Last, the top jar was filled with mini-marshmallows, which I put in a bowl and let Sweet Boy spoon into the jars, hoping to avoid him handling, or stealing, every one.

Sweet Boy, scooping cocoa too fast to capture
Sweet Boy, scooping cocoa too fast to capture

When the jars were filled, we assembled, and I used a paint pen to draw faces and buttons on the snowmen.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t a fan of the felt top hats, but I did see a picture where someone had put small stocking hats on each snowman. Super cute! I don’t crochet or knit, so I went online to figure out how to make mini-stocking caps without sewing. I found this tutorial (a little tricky to follow), which offered instructions on making tiny hats with a toilet paper roll base. I scaled it up by cutting strips of cardboard just long enough to wrap around my jar lids and stapling them into a circle. I also cut the red yarn a bit longer (it took some trial and error to find a length that worked), and spent about an hour making the hats in front of the TV). But they looked awesome when Sweet Boy pulled them onto the snowmen heads — and asked for a matching one for himself.

Do snowmen need to keep their heads warm?
Do snowmen need to keep their heads warm?

Finally, we finished the snowmen together by choosing some fabric scraps from my collection of leftovers and tying scarves onto the guys.


I wanted cards to accompany the gifts, and I also wanted something that Sweet Boy could make a little more independently. I didn’t find time at Halloween to make these monsters and ghosts, but then I saw footprint reindeer (like this and this) and couldn’t resist.

We set up in the kitchen, because that’s our only carpet-less room. I spread newspaper all over the floor, and poured washable paint onto some paper plates — brown for the bodies and green for the antlers.

Sweet Boy removed his socks and rolled his old pajama bottoms way up. We also made sure that we had the white cardstock we were using handy, plus lots of paper towels nearby for cleanup.

Then, he stamped one footprint on each page, followed by two handprints for antlers.

Reindeer bodies and antlers
Reindeer bodies and antlers
Gooey green hands
Gooey green hands

While this part dried, Sweet Boy got an early bath with Daddy.

Later, we came back with a little red paint to add thumbprint noses. Last, we drew in some eyes. We also considered gluing on some googly eyes, but we were out after making Halloween bats a couple months ago.

Rudolph, the Green-Antlered Reindeer
Rudolph, the Green-Antlered Reindeer

We’ll let the cards dry a night or two, then I’ll have Sweet Boy sign his name on the back for his teachers before giving both gifts later this month before school is out for the year.

This was our family Advent project for Dec. 1. Check out our other activities for the month in this post.


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