I ran into a friend this week, another mommy getting ready for Christmas, and I asked her how her week was going. "Oh, it's going great. I guess I'm all ready for Christmas!" she replied.
Knowing that Friday was the last day of school before the holidays, I asked about teacher gifts, not to make her panic, but because I'm always looking for ideas. She panicked. Her pretty blue eyes opened wide and she said, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe I forgot! I've got to get teacher gifts!" We talked through a few options, from candles and hand lotion to gift cards and baked goods. I've done them all, to recognize the hard work of my daughters' teachers.
This year, I baked. The teachers' bags were loaded with an assortment from my table of baked goodies: sweet stuff like pound cakes, espresso chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped marshmallows and mint Oreos, peppermint white chocolate bark, and shortbread. All that sugar requires a balancing element. I like to add something salty to the assortment, so I make a double batch of my special snack mix and add a bag to each package.
This is one version of the snack mix. It's different each time I make it because snack crackers seem to come and go. The backbone of the mix is oyster crackers, embellished with a pretzel type like Hanover's Buttery Waffles - these are the best. A cheesy cracker works well, and a sesame one, if you can find it. Peanuts, mixed nuts, cashews, are all excellent choices to round out the mix.
1 (10 oz.) package oyster crackers
1 (9 oz.) package Snyder's of Hanover Butter Snaps Pretzels
1 (12 oz.) package cheese crackers or sticks
1 (12 oz.) can mixed nuts
1 (1 oz.) envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Original Ranch Salad Dressing
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Heat oven to 300. In a large, shallow pan, mix together all snack ingredients. Stir together the salad dressing and oil and pour over the snacks. Evenly distribute the seasoning throughout the mixture. Bake in oven, stirring frequently, for about a half hour. This is absolutely irrestisible warm from the oven. You can store it at room temp in sealed containers, but it won't last long. Actually, the untouched mix could probably last for a week or more, but my point is, it won't be around your house for very long if the munch monsters know where to find it.
Do you make teacher's gifts? What were your favorites to give or, if you're a teacher, to receive? I'd love to know.
Text and images copyright 2010, Lucy Mercer.