I have seen some pretty amazing Teacher Appreciation gifts on Pinterest, but I have to be honest. I am much better at pinning ideas than actually MAKING the projects I have pinned. Are you with me on this? And really, who doesn’t love a gift card?!
I created this gift card holder to coordinate with the Space themed Staff Appreciation Week at my daughter’s school. Please enjoy this free 5×7 printable with my compliments! It can be used for teacher appreciation, birthdays… anything, really! Visit my sister site, Simply Styled Home to download the file.
This is my third year planning Staff Appreciation Week for my daughter’s school. It took me some time to decide on a fun theme, but I present to you… Space Themed Staff Appreciation Week!
All of the Space Themed Printables for this event will be available in the Simply Styled Home shop in the next week or so. (For those of you wondering, Simply Styled Home is my creative counterpart.) Step-by-step instructions to recreate this event will be posted on SSH as soon as I get caught up on my orders. The nitty gritty details are really only interesting to those of us who actually have to plan the events.
For the past few years, the Hospitality Committee and Room Parents were the only ones who really had any clue what was happening during Staff Appreciation Week. It makes sense. If you don’t go to the staff lounge, why would you know anything was happening? I wanted to increase awareness in our school community and generate some excitement before the big event (and hopefully more volunteers). One month before Staff Appreciation Week I put these posters up all around the school. I absolutely recommend posters beforehand. I have never heard so much Staff Appreciation Week chatter. It was great!
Now that the groundwork was laid, I focused on the activities for the week, each one being space themed. I used SignUp Genius to coordinate sign ups with the Hospitality Committee and Room Parents for the activities. This year, the PTSA also added a Staff Appreciation page to the new website where parents could sign up as well. We also added information about the event with a link to the webpage in our weekly school newsletter. I made everything look pretty, but I couldn’t have pulled off an event like this without the wonderfully supportive parents at our school.
A week before Superhero Staff Appreciation Week, all of the teachers and staff received this invitation in their mailbox, along with a a drink order form (more about those down below). Instead of including a printed lunch questionnaire I emailed the teachers and staff a Survey Gizmo survey link.
What is a Supernova Surprise you ask? I will be writing a post on the Simply Styled Home website for with details about the Supernova Surprise. I won’t bore you with the specifics here, but I began procuring donations three months before Staff Appreciation Week.
This year, I created rockets with the staff members peeking out the window to decorate the classroom doors. Instead of hassling with a photographer (who would have to schedule time to take pictures of the entire staff) I used our 2013-2014 school pictures. Honestly, it took longer to cut the rockets out than it did to create them in Photoshop. In addition to the rockets, we had posters up around the school letting the students know extra rockets were available in the office. The front office also had a “Mission Control” sign on the outer doors, and on the secretary’s and front office manager’s desks. The principal had a “Shuttle Commander” sign on her door. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of them with their signs!
Before I go any further, I again want to give a shout out to the Lake Washington School District print shop. Helen and Lana are two of my favorite people. They print posters, sheets of stickers, labels, color copies, you name it… And all of it is gorgeous, fast, and extremely affordable. Between Staff Appreciation Week and the auction for my younger daughter’s school, I see Helen and Lana more than any of my other friends. If you are planning a school event, be sure to utilize your school district’s print shop.
The Friday before SAW, the students were sent home with “I Think You Are Out of This World Because…” pictures to color for their teacher. In addition to the coloring pages being sent home, I included a link in the school newsletter where parents could download and print additional copies. On Monday, the students presented the pictures and notes to their teachers, and the room moms came in and put them on the classroom doors.
Monday: Space Capsule Lunches
Coordinating personalized lunches for every staff member is hands down the most work of the entire week, but it is their very favorite event. (I know this because I sent out a survey after SAW last year.) To streamline the process this year I created a Survey Gizmo lunch survey instead of a printed questionnaire. I asked the following questions: What is your favorite sandwich? Favorite bread? What do you like on your sandwich? Favorite chips? Favorite salad? Favorite dessert? Favorite drink? Favorite dessert? Any allergies? The day I handed out Staff Appreciation Week invitations, I also sent an email with the survey link and asked everyone to complete it by the Wednesday before SAW. Once I received a response, I took a screen shot of their answers and emailed it to the appropriate parent volunteer.
The feedback I heard from parents was that they didn’t mind making lunches, but decorating the lunches was very intimidating. You’ve seen our past lunches. Some parents go all out. WOW. To alleviate their concerns and encourage volunteers, I designed a Space Capsule Lunch Decoration Kit that parents could purchase if they so chose.
About half the parents used the decoration kit, the other half did their own thing. Once again, everyone blew me away with their creativity!
Tuesday: Supersonic Snacks and Supernova Surprise
Some people don’t like popcorn. Did you know this? It had honestly never crossed my mind until I heard a teacher mention it last year. They didn’t have any snacks and that simply would not do! This year we had six different varieties of gourmet popcorn for the staff to enjoy throughout the day (1/2 sweet and 1/2 savory), in addition to two varieties of Chex Mix, nuts, Starbursts, and Milky Ways. I created “Sweet” and “Savory” 2″ circle labels for the serving cups because I could not imagine anything more disgusting than mixing Fudge Mint popcorn with Herbs & Spices. Bleck.
You can find all sorts of fabulous popcorn recipes on my Simply Pop! Pinterest board.
The highlight of the day was not the snacks (although they were delish) it was the Supernova Surprise. I was able to procure over $8,000 worth of prizes from my favorite Etsy shops and local business. How amazing is that?! I have never had such an outpouring of support from the community. I was completely blown away by their generosity.
I hung balloons from the staff room ceiling filled with star confetti (the janitors, bless their hearts, gave me the go-ahead) and a slip of paper with their prize typed on it. Every single staff member (45 in all) made a BIG BANG in the staff lounge during lunch and discovered which prize they had won. It made my heart happy to watch them. Mr. Rick and Mr. Brian, if you are reading this, I apologize for the confetti you will inevitably be vacuuming up for years.
THANK YOU to these amazing business. They are truly OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!
Pacific Northwest Float Trips, Bellevue Center for Health, Simply Clean, Myers Chiropractic, Linda Kahle Fine Art Imagery, Unique Dry Carpet Service, Bella Photography, Mantra Bands, Maid 2 Please, Flawless Beauty Bar, Clear Solutions, Snapshot Sandy, Cork & Click (Get Off Auto), Covington Cellars, Northwest Aesthetics, Redmond School of Glass, Murder Mystery Company, Jo Totes, Rivaage Salon, Cork & Canvases, Ambrosia Med Spa, eMeals, Erin Condren, Big Picture Classes, Laura Ashton Cellars, No More ‘To Go’, Brown Bear Car Wash, Pepper Bridge Winery, Entropy Trading Company, Expressions Bracelets, Staples, Costco, Better Life, Ben Franklin Crafts, Smug Mug, Vol25, Letter Girl, Nifty Swank, Home Studios, Swirling Scarves, Agave Restaurant, Eclisse Creazioni, Paper & Oats, Coho Cafe, Canyons Restaurant, Tasty Suite.
Wednesday: Interstellar Lunch at the Chef Lynn Food Truck
I was trying to come up with something new and different for Staff Appreciation Week this year. We’ve done soup, I suppose we could have done salads, but I thought a food truck would be fun! The Chef Lynn Food Truck offers a variety of soups, sandwiches, sliders, salads, and has gluten free options, which is important to me. The staff shuttled out to the food truck for their lunch and thankfully the serious rain held off until after lunch. I heard rave reviews about the meatloaf sliders. (I had the GF vegetarian tacos, which were delicious.)
The staff also enjoyed an assortment drinks and desserts from the Hospitality Committee inside.
Thursday: Blast Off Breakfast
I included drink orders with the Blast Off Breakfast invitation, and asked that the teachers and staff return them the Thursday before Staff Appreciation Week. They had the choice of Rocket Fuel from Starbucks or a Stellar Smoothie. The drink orders were printed on 8.5×11 label paper and cut to size. (This is SO much easier than trying to line them up on shipping labels!)
Purchasing lattes for the entire staff is a huge portion of the Hospitality Committee budget each year. A few months before SAW, Starbucks offered a $5 for $10 Gift Card Groupon. Each person was limited to one Groupon, so I sent an email to the entire Hospitality Committee and asked them to please purchase a Groupon and email me the certificate. (I reimbursed them out of my budget.) I was able to reduce my expenses by about $100 this year using Groupons!
I took 1/2 the orders to the Starbucks about a mile away, 1/2 to the other Starbucks a mile the other way, and the smoothie orders to Jamba Juice. (Remember, I live in Seattle. We’re surrounded.) I pre-paid for all of the drinks to make pick up easy for the 6 parents picking up the 30 lattes and 15 smoothies the next morning. The baristas (and smoothie-istas?) loved the sticker labels. They quickly and easily made the pre-ordered drinks and attached the labels. The drinks and breakfast were waiting for the teachers/staff at 7:30am. I wanted them to have time to enjoy their breakfast before school started.
As I mentioned before, I sent out a survey to the staff last year after SAW to collect feedback while everything was fresh in their minds. One thing that was consistently mentioned was hot dishes. Done and done! Instead of the normal pastries, fruit, Kind Bars, and drinks, we added hot dishes. Bless those sweet parents who got up at the crack of dawn to prepare casseroles. I can barely “cook” toaster waffles and get my girls out the door on time for school, let alone at 7:30am.
Friday: Galactic Goodies Dessert Bar
I have a school of very health conscious teachers and staff. Last year, I scaled down the desserts and featured smaller desserts from some of my favorite boutique shops. Would you believe we still had leftovers? This year, I created a dessert table with delicious (mostly) bite sized treats from Luly’s Sweets & Treats (Planet Pops), Sweet Tweets (Rocket Cookies), Wickedly Whipped (Rice Krispies Planets), and Three Monkey’s Cakery (Triple Star Cupcake Toppers) in addition to chocolate bars in a variety of sizes.
Isn’t it amazing? The rocket cookies from Sweet Tweets look just like the rockets on the invitation! I don’t think I could even bring myself to eat one! Ever year I stealthily listen to comments and improve little details of the events. (It’s all in the details, my friends.) The finishing touch to the Galactic Goodies dessert bar was the take-home gable boxes. The teachers and staff were able to fill their boxes with any and all treats they’d like to enjoy later or share with family over the weekend. They loved it! (I think the gable boxes would also be cute for Space Capsule Lunches.)
I had so much fun planning the Staff Appreciation Week for my daughter’s school last year that I immediately starting mulling ideas around in my head for this year’s celebration. I think that I may like this theme even better. I present to you… Superhero Staff Appreciation Week!
All of the Superhero Printables for this event are available at Simply Styled Home on Etsy. (For those of you wondering, Simply Styled Home is my creative counterpart. Step-by-step instructions to recreate this event will be posted on SSH later in the week.)
A week and a half before Superhero Staff Appreciation Week, all of the teachers and staff received this invitation in their mailbox, along with a lunch preferences questionnaire and drink order form (more about those down below).
Superhero posters were our main decoration this year. John Wolfe, a local photographer and fellow parent, took pictures of everyone decked out in a customized superhero cape and mask from Kid Kapers. I have been eyeing those capes for months and was thrilled that she had time to make a Superman style cape with an “M” for Mann Elementary. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Did you know you could have capes customized? How fun is that?! I love Etsy.
Originally I had planned on using the pictures John took as is, but then I got the great idea (if I do say so myself) to turn them into comic book style posters with advice from each staff member to students. John transformed each photo into a comic book style poster which I used to decorate the hallways, and an 8×10 photo for the classroom doors.
Before I go any further, I want to give a shout out to the Lake Washington School District print shop. I mistakenly assumed they only made black and white copies, but oh no! They print posters, sheets of stickers, labels, color copies, you name it… And all of it is gorgeous, fast, and extremely affordable. The posters were a HUGE hit with the students. In fact, when I was taking them down at the end of the week (while wearing my awesome Supergirl shirt) a little boy said to me, “Why are you taking the posters down? You aren’t a superhero! You are a villan!” For me that was the ultimate compliment. I am so happy everyone enjoyed the superhero theme as much as I did. The moral of the story: If you are planning a school event, be sure to utilize your school district’s print shop.
The Friday before SAW, the students were sent home with “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures to color for their teacher. On Monday, the students presented the pictures and notes to their teachers, and the room moms came in and put them on the classroom doors along with the 8×10 superhero photo.
We had extra “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures in the office for students to color. Many of them wanted to make pictures for past teachers, the music teacher, librarians, etc. There was a poster in the stairway letting them know where extra pictures were located.
Now that the groundwork was laid, I focused on the activities for the week, each one being Superhero themed, of course. I used SignUp Genius to coordinate sign ups with the Hospitality Committee and Room Parents for these activities. I made everything look pretty, but I couldn’t have pulled off an event like this without the wonderfully supportive parents at our school.
Monday: POP! Popcorn Bar
We had eight different varieties of gourmet popcorn for the staff to enjoy throughout the day. After listening to feedback from last year’s gourmet popcorn bar, we made half of the flavors sweet, and the other savory. If you have never made gourmet popcorn, don’t be intimidated! You can find all sorts of fabulous popcorn recipes on my Simply Pop! Pinterest board.
Tuesday: Hero Sandwich Lunches
The parents made “boxed” lunches for every staff member at the school. I included a questionnaire with the invitations asking the following questions: What is your favorite sandwich? Favorite bread? What do you like on your sandwich? Favorite chips? Favorite salad? Favorite dessert? Favorite drink? Favorite dessert? Any allergies? I asked that the questionnaires be returned by the Thursday prior to Staff Appreciation Week. Once I received them, I forwarded the answers to the parents who signed up to make lunches. Once again, the parents blew me away with their creativity!
TIP: The lunches at our school are staggered from 11:15-12:30 so this year I sorted the lunches by time on six foot tables at the back of the room. Sorting the lunches by time made it a snap to find the lunches, and having them on a table in the back (instead of the lunch tables) gave the teachers and staff plenty of space to eat their lunch.
Wednesday: ZAP! Super Charged Breakfast
I included drink orders with the ZAP! Breakfast Invitation, and asked that the teachers and staff return them the Thursday before Staff Appreciation Week. They had the choice of a Super Charged Smoothie (berry smoothie) or a drink from Starbucks. The drink orders were printed on 8.5×11 sticker page and cut to size. (This is SO much easier than trying to line them up on shipping labels!)
Purchasing lattes for the entire staff is a huge portion of the Hospitality Committee budget each year. The week before SAW, Starbucks offered a $5 for $10 Gift Card Groupon. I couldn’t have timed it better if I’d tried! Each person was limited to one Groupon, so I sent an email to the entire Hospitality Committee and asked them to please purchase a Groupon and email me the certificate. (I reimbursed them out of my budget.) I also did this earlier in the year with an Everything Party Groupon, knowing that I would be buying decorations, silverware, plates, etc. for Staff Appreciation Week. I was able to reduce my expenses by about $150 this year using Groupons!
I took 1/2 the orders to the Starbucks about a mile away, and 1/2 to the other Starbucks a mile the other way. (Remember, I live in Seattle. We’re surrounded.) I pre-paid for all of the drinks to make pick up easy for the 4 parents picking up the 40 lattes the next morning. The baristas loved the sticker labels. They quickly and easily made the pre-ordered drinks and attached the labels. The drinks and breakfast were waiting for the teachers/staff at 7:50am. I wanted them to have time to enjoy their breakfast before school started.
Thursday: “Soup”er Luncheon
March in Seattle is typically grey and rainy, perfect soup weather. I couldn’t resist having a SOUPer luncheon. Despite the fact that it was gorgeous and sunny (the complete opposite of soup weather) the lunch was a success. We had a wonderful variety of soups (6 varieties for 46 staff members was plenty) in addition to fresh fruit, veggies, and a few treats. I especially liked the “I Think You Are SOUPer” stickers which served as napkin rings, and the “Emergency Hydration” drinks. You can’t read the back of the water bottles, but they say, “Super powers will activate within 10 minutes of drinking.”
Friday: Dangerous Dessert Bar
I have paid close attention to what the teachers and staff eat at our Hospitality Committee events over the last year. The overwhelming majority are very healthy eaters and eat very few sweets. In fact, at the Super Charged Breakfast this year, the majority of the food I asked for was fresh fruit and Kind Bars. Yes, there were a few dozen muffins and bagels, but those were eaten much more slowly.
The Hospitality Committee outdid itself last year with the desserts. They were Seuss-y and colorful and fabulous. There was also a lot leftover. This year, I thought less would be more. I created a dessert table with a mix of bite sized treats and traditional favorites provided by some amazing dessert vendors!
A party is not a party without cupcakes, and Three Monkey’s Cakery made some super fondant toppers for the cupcakes that I purchased at our local grocery store. I added superhero printable party circles for an extra pop of color.
For those that didn’t want a cupcake (say what?!) we had gorgeous macaroons (or macarons) from The Splendid Sweet Shoppe. I have the utmost admiration for anyone who can make a beautiful macaroon. These were amazing and so colorful!
Sweet Tweets made AWESOME super cookies with an M instead of S. I was seriously impressed. I used some of them for the dessert table, but the majority of the cookies were wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a “Thank You!” tag to take home along with their “Superhero Award” to enjoy later. (More on the Superhero Award down below.)
The highlight of the dessert table was definitely the cake pops from Decadent Cake Pops. The owner, Jaime, and I met at our children’s preschool a few years ago. I have ordered cake pops from her in the past and my girls love them. Last year I discovered that both of my girls are highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, and eggs which excludes them from all of the fun birthday treats children have at parties and/or bring to school. I asked Jaimie if she could make me gluten free/vegan cake pops, and she did! I now keep a stash of GF/Vegan cake pops in my freezer at all times. When anyone in my daughter’s classes bring in a birthday treat, I pull out a cake pop and send it with them to school. Cake pops are my new favorite thing. These superhero cake pops were the normal variety, but it’s nice to know there are delicious and fun options for those of us dealing with food allergies.
Speaking of food allergies, Wickedly Whipped made Wonder Woman Rice Krispy pops (yes, those are real!) for everyone, but especially for those staff members that cannot eat gluten. Who am I to deprive someone of treats? Who doesn’t love Rice Krispy treats?! Unfortunately the mail man didn’t deliver them in time for lunch on Friday but they did arrive before school got out for the day so I whipped up (get it? ha!) a quick display of take home treats for the staff.
The teachers and staff also took home a Superhero Award at the end of the week. They are after all, the most amazing superheros I know.
There you have it! Superhero themed Staff Appreciation Week. It was epic. I have no idea what I am going to do next year. LOL!
I have loved Valentine’s Day my entire life. I distinctly remember choosing the perfect valentine for each of my classmates, the joy of decorating the giant heart shaped envelope for my desk, and the excitement of opening my valentines. It is safe to say that my girls enjoy Valentine’s Day every bit as much as I do, and now I get to make them too!
Today, I wanted to share three quick, easy, and adorable valentines. The good news is, you still have time to whip one of these up before the big day, should you be so motivated. All you need is a camera and some candy. It really is that easy.
Ready? Let’s go!
These are the valentines for my girls this year. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden each holding a blank heart chalkboard. I added “Happy Valentine’s Day!” in Photoshop and sized the photos to fit on a box of conversation hearts. (Two photos fit on one 4×6.) I also typed custom messages for each of the grandparents and had 5×7 prints made.
I’m sure I saw this idea on Pinterest, but for the life of me I can’t find the original source. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden holding a piece of white PVC pipe. (A kind man from Home Depot was kind enough to cut it down for me.) I added a border and text to each valentine in Photoshop. I left Zoë’s blank and had her sign each one, but Eden was only three at the time and hadn’t yet mastered her name. Using an exacto knife, I cut a slit at the top of the PVC pipe and inserted the lollipop. The finished valentine looks like they are holding giant lollipops! TIP: Tape the sucker to the back of the valentine or they will fall out.
Finally, take a picture of your child holding their hand out. Add a cute message in Photoshop and print as a 4×6. Using an exacto knife, cut a slit at the top of their hand. As above, insert a lollipop. Voila! It looks like your child is holding a lollipop. Isn’t Valentine’s Day fun?!
Happy Valentine’s Day!