Ask Design Mom: Teacher Gift

May 24, 2010

Ask Design Mom Question:
Hello Design Mom. I’m looking for inexpensive but useful teacher gift ideas. Got anything up your sleeve? Thanks in advance. Courtney C.

Design Mom Answer:
Great question, Courtney. And you’re in luck. Just yesterday, Jill Means sent me a terrific idea for a teacher gift. It’s something every school teacher uses in their classroom. She sent photos, a full tutorial, and a free pdf template. Take a look at what Jill created.

“This upcoming week is the last week of school for my kids. We usually do a little appreciation gift for each of their teachers. This year they wanted to give something to ALL their teachers, not just their homeroom teacher. And my daughter Sydney is now in middle school with 7 teachers. That’s 15 teacher gifts! I saw this idea of putting a personal message inside a soap bottle at my mother-in-law’s house and decided to see if it would work. (I’m not sure where the original idea came from.) Teachers do lots of hand washing in their classrooms, so at least it’s useful.

-I bought the soap at Target… on sale for $1 per bottle.
-We removed the labels with “Goo Gone”.
-I created the new label template using my kids’ personal silhouettes, but you could also have each child draw a little picture with pencil in that space and trace it with black marker.
-Take your print to a copy shop and have them print it on transparency. Mine was $1 per sheet that included 8 labels.
-Next, cut the squares — cut INSIDE the black guide lines of each label so you don’t see the edges of the transparency in the soap.
pen the soap, slightly roll the square and put it in. Use the tube of the spout to guide it into place.
-Screw the top back on and it’s done.”

Click here to download the free label template — just add the name and a simple illustration. Also. If you want a custom silhouette, Jill can create one for you for a small design fee — you’ll find lot’s of uses for them. Contact Jill here.

What about you, Clever Readers? What are you doing for the teachers in your life this spring?

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele May 24, 2010 at 7:10 am

We have a lot of teachers in our family. As much as they love little gifts from the kids, it’s the useful ones that they appreciate the most. I’ve given colored sharpies nad dry erase marker sets to my daughter’s teachers. The markers are things that the teachers love and use, but never splurge on for themselves.


2 Dede May 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I am also the mom of 6 (5 boys , 1 girl). I have 4 teachers to shop for.
I adore this idea! thanks!


3 Marisa May 24, 2010 at 7:54 am

This is a fabulous idea!


4 Heather Carson May 24, 2010 at 8:20 am

How about custom book plates with the teachers name for their classroom library with a disk including the design so they can print more as needed? You can get all the ingredients to make your own here:


5 kimberly May 24, 2010 at 9:56 am

married to a teacher: no gifts are necessary or expected, really. but if you are inclined to make a kind gesture, go with non-sweets. Each year (and at christmas) my husband comes home with a laundry basket full of giant candy bars, soda pop, popcorn, mystery sweets. The soap, school supplies, book labels are great ideas. The favorite gifts though, are simply sincere notes from students and/or parents.


6 Deborah May 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

We usually give gift cards to the book store or a place to go out to eat. This year, my daughter’s preschool teachers were exceptional, so I am giving them collapsible baskets, with note cards (Target clearance) and a potted flower. I’m splitting the cost with another mom so it’s not too much. My mom used to teach preschool and always had frames, candles, etc that were very pretty but not exactly her taste. I figured that the teacher could use these totes to carry things to school, go on a picnic, etc.


7 Rebecca Grace May 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Oh how COOL is that?! A monogram design would be pretty for this soap project, too, and with a pretty ribbon it would even make a nice hostess gift.


8 Ashlea Walter May 25, 2010 at 3:54 am

What a fantastic idea. Something a teacher can actually use! Who needs another mug, right?


9 Mama Holli May 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

How STINKIN CUTE is this teacher gift! Very clever and oh so smart! I am so stealing this idea!


10 Rebecca May 26, 2010 at 7:51 am

Super cute idea! I don’t have kids yet, but i will hold onto this idea!


11 Mary-- The Yellow Door Paperie May 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

These are great!

My friend made two awesome show and share bags for the preschool. They were using black bags from a promotional products outlet, so now they have two hand made cotton totes. The kids can fill the cute bags with their loved items and bring them back for show and share with the class!


12 Bettina Ferrando May 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I hope you don’t mind me telling you about a new product I just created but I was using it the other day at a coffee shop and a teacher was there and told me how much she loved it and how great it would be for teachers because they all drink so much coffee and tea to get through their exhausting days. It’s a reusable coffee sleeve called a snuggmugg. Lots of different designs and you can even personalize it.
Love the soap idea though!!!!


13 Anneliese May 27, 2010 at 11:51 am

Thank you so much for sharing this great idea and free template! I love Jill’s work–thanks to your recommendation last year I hired her to create our Christmas cards and have never received so many compliments on them. Wish I’d seen this idea a few days ago–would have made for much cuter, and usable teacher gifts. Next year!


14 Erin Rippy May 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Thank you for sharing this! I was about to buy a plant for my girls’ teachers, when I saw this post. I immediately set to work. Grabbed the camera, snapped some profile pics of the girls, cut out and colored the silhouettes in Photoshop, printed out a page of tags, headed to Staples and made 1 copy on transparency film, swung by Target to buy soap, then back home. I already had Goo Gone in the house, so cleaning the sticker residue from the bottles was a breeze. I tied some pretty ribbon we already had around the bottles with some handmade gift tags, and dropped each one into a brown paper bag the girls decorated with stickers.

This was SO FAST AND EASY and creative and fun, and AFFORDABLE! They were a big hit with the teachers today.


15 Chickything May 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Hi this is awesome by the way. I have a printer that would print on transparency but were do I get the transparency sheets? And do they have adhesive on the back? Thanks so much! I just saw your blog today via modern kiddo. Thanks!


16 LLH Designs May 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I made stationery for teachers since that’s second nature for me, but I love this idea.

Feeling like a dingbat, but I have to ask: how does the transparency stick into place? Static cling effect or with help from the soap? And is it hard to get it into perfect position/centered nicely?

Has anyone tried it with hand sanitizer? That would be practical, too…especially for classrooms with no sinks.

Thanks for sharing…Linsey


17 Kris December 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I love this template!! It is beautiful! I am wondering if it’s possible to get it where I can change the wording. My daughter is in a spanish immersion class, and I would love to have the words be in spanish. I’m not sure how to do this?
Thanks for the wonderful idea!


18 Jessica Wilcox-Modern Moments Designs May 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I am totally going to make these and blog about them too! Thank you guys for the awesome ideas!!!



19 Jenae {I Can Teach My Child!} August 27, 2011 at 7:11 am

I guess I’m a little confused…how does the transparency stick to the soap bottle?


20 sarah p August 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

The “label” goes inside the bottle. There are more detailed instructions in the post. I was thinking the same thing!


21 Karen January 23, 2014 at 12:56 am

I was wondering the same thing how does label stick? Dont fall down as soap goes down?


22 Michelle September 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

I LOVE this idea. One question though — the free downloadable template is a PDF…how am I supposed to customize it? Am I missing something? Thanks!


23 Liz September 2, 2011 at 7:44 am

YOu should do this for money-I would totally buy them from you!!!


24 Ara September 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Loooove this idea! I’ve been trying to add my daughter’s name plus a picture but I can’t :( this pdf file won’t let me…HELP!!!!!!!!!!


25 rachael October 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Am I the only one that had the ink come right off the transparency sheet once I put it in the soap?????


26 Lisa July 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I love this idea, however, the same thing happened to me. I created my own template and printed it on transparency film for ink jet printers and as soon as I placed it in the bottle the ink began to come off. I’m curious to know if using transparency film for a laser printer would make a difference. Any comments???


27 C Fraser November 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

“If you do not have a laser printer you will need to print it out and then copy it onto your transparency film. If you do not do this your ink will end up running and falling off into the soap or the hand sanitizer. You can take it and have it printed at your local copy store as well.”


28 Brittany October 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Hey… I would love to do this for a friend og mine monogrammed with her initials for Christmas…. How could I design a template?


29 Kristina November 2, 2011 at 7:41 am

I LOVE this idea, but I can’t figure out how to add the name & illustration.


30 michelle November 16, 2011 at 9:27 am

you can’t modify a PDF. Once the template was saved as a PDF from its native program it is now a “picture” and not a document.


31 Teri Young November 20, 2011 at 7:22 am

This is really cute! I like the idea of the hand sanitizor too.
As a teacher, my favorite gift of all time was a cookbook in a basket with the ingredients to make one of the soup recipes. The mom even included little bundles of the herbs needed! YUMMY


32 Peg December 17, 2011 at 8:55 am

As a teacher I think it is wonderful that all of you are giving gifts to your teachers. In elementary school, I would come home with ons of presents from the students. Now that I am in middle school, I might get one card.
Suggestion: teachers are always spending money on school supplies for the classrrom. I put a crate together each year for my children’s teachers including paper towels, hand sanitizer, kleenex, copy paper, construction paper, pens, dry erase markers, colors, glue sticks, etc. Any one of those supplies would be a welcome gift from one of my students.


33 Art-mania January 28, 2012 at 3:14 am

Please send me printables or pattern for boxes,


34 Christine Rosas April 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Just wanted to say thanks! Using the template to make Easter gifts for my daughter’s teachers! I scanned in her name in her writing and had her draw a picture which I scanned in as well. Great idea! Thanks so much for sharing!


35 kristie May 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

I LOVE this! I pinned it and will be making it next week! Thank you for sharing your talents!


36 Joules May 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I love this idea so much. I went out and got everything to make it before realizing the template is a pdf file. Is there a way to get it in a different format?


37 Linda May 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

Great idea. I used to teach preschool and useful gifts were always appreciated, oh and editable ones too LOL.


38 Carrie May 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

Love it! Can you post it as a picture and not a PDF? I’d love to be able to add my daughter’s name.


39 lindsay May 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm

LOVE this idea but can’t figure out how to personalize it with my boys names. Any suggestions?


40 Heather May 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

I’m wondering if you use an ink jet printer would it smear once you put it in the soap? Do you have to use a laser printer? What’s the importance of taking it to a print shop?


41 Shannon June 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

This is the cutest! I so would love to do this, but I am not computer savy, and need help or directions on how to edit to add my childrens name.

Thank You!


42 Mary July 12, 2012 at 4:30 am

It warms my heart to know there are people who actually think of their child’s teacher(s). When my children were younger, I always remembered their teachers with little gifts throughout the year, and personally wrote a letter at the end of the year. As a teacher myself though, it is rare that many of us where I work are thanked for the rewarding and tough job we do. To all of you mothers who make the time to thank your child’s teacher……bless you and keep spreading the love! What a BIG difference it makes in a teacher’s day!!!


43 meagan August 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Great idea! You have to use a laser printer or the ink will come off in the soap or sanitizer.


44 Lauren May 2, 2013 at 3:46 am

This idea is genius. I never would have thought to insert the design into the bottle. I kept trying things that you paint or stick on the outside. Thanks!


45 Lauren May 2, 2013 at 3:47 am

Also, I would love to see what the design looks like from the other side of the bottle. Can you still see it? So cute!


46 Rebecca May 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Our school PTA really does a big deal for Teachers Appreciation Week (gifts all week long, events every day like potluck lunch, waffle bar, etc.). They also suggest that every kid bring a small gift each day, stuff that teachers need/want:

Monday – Bring your teacher a needed school supply (Post-it Notes, Sharpie markers, pencils, etc.)
Tuesday – Bring a note or card for your teacher saying what you appreciate about them
Wednesday – Bring a sweet treat for your sweet teacher
Thursday – Bring a ream of paper for your teacher
Friday – Bring a $5.00 Target gift card for your teacher


47 Katie May 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

Fabulous idea!!!
Here are some tips- I tried editing and could not do it either. A friend suggested using adobe photoshop. They have a free 30 day trial. I was able to do it all with photoshop, although it took a long time. The hardest part for me was changing Teacher to paraprofessional on some. Another way to do this would be cut and paste with real scissors….
Only problem I have now is that it sank to the bottom of the bottle…


48 Emily June 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Since I don’t have Photoshop to type in my child’s name, I opened up the pdf file and did a print screen of the PDF and pasted it into word. I formated the design and cropped all the parts I didn’t need. Then I inserted text boxes and wrote my child’s name in a font I liked. Rather than use my child’s profile I opted for and inserted a pretty image of an apple. I printed it off and brought it to my local print store and they copied it onto transparency. I put a ribbon to match the apple and voila – so pretty


49 Emily June 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Since I don’t have Photoshop I opened up the pdf file and did a print screen of the PDF and pasted it into word. I formated the design and cropped all the parts I didn’t need. Then I inserted text boxes and wrote my child’s name in a font I liked. Rather than use my child’s profile I opted for and inserted a pretty image of an apple. I printed it off and brought it to my local print store and they copied it onto transparency. I put a ribbon to match the apple and voila – so pretty


50 Ayda April 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

I tried getting the instructions on how to get the labels printed for the soap or sanitizer bottles but neither instructions or contact number are available. I would love to learn how to do this or get then done.


51 TARA April 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

I tried getting the instructions and free printable but was unsuccessful. Can someone send me the PDF file for the free printable or direct me to where I can access it? Thanks!


52 violet May 13, 2016 at 4:24 pm

This free template URL is expired … Or something like that. When I click it, it says it’s no longer available! I love this template. Please help!


53 Amy May 15, 2016 at 11:35 am

The link is broken I am unable to print and I love this idea:( Of the soap template… Can anyone help?


54 Isabel August 13, 2016 at 6:25 am

The link is inaccessible. I absolutely loved this idea but can’t print. Does anyone still have the original PDF to download?


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