Monday, December 21, 2009

DIY: School Party Treats

My classroom (affectionately called the Crayon Box) is in a very poor barrio. This year things are especially tight for everyone and I made the executive decision to scale back our holiday party. LAUSD has a rule that parents have to buy baked goods and treats for school. With 30 kids in a class this adds up quickly.

I explained to the kids that we are in a serious recession and with the holidays coming, their parents were under even more pressure to make ends meet. They all nodded with a knowing look. I explained that their parents could put the money they would spend on treats to better use and that they would most likely use that money for Christmas anyway. I told them that this year they were forbidden to ask their parents for junk food for our class party. That I  would provide one special treat and that they would have to trust me that it would be enough.

This is what I have made in the past and it has always been a big hit. You can find the recipe here.
However, this year I was super tired.Cutting the brownies like this for 30 students requires extra batches of brownies. While Cliff enjoys eating the scraps, I wanted to save time.
Improvised Reindeer Brownies
 What do you think? Will I end up on Cake Wrecks?

I baked the brownies in mini muffin tins.  I had this dream of going to bed early, so I skipped frosting all together and just pushed the pretzels and mini M&Ms into the still warm brownies.

Just as I was finishing, I dropped the last pan on the floor. Too hot! I could have cried. I lost a dozen brownies and now I was three short! Cliff suggested that 7:30 wasn't too late to go to the store and buy another mix, but I was just too tired. When I get tired, I get stubborn . So I improvised taking the three regular sized brownies I had made for him and using them as well.

The next morning, before the rooster crows, off to school I went with this sad box of less than perfect, mismatched brownies.  Bah humbug!

And, at the first traffic light the box  slid right off the front seat of my car onto the floor.

Fortunately, it had a lid. However, the formerly sad looking reindeer now looked truly war torn.

At party time, I told the Crayons my woes. About how I was about to cry when the pan fell, about the car wreckage, and that I hoped they would understand that their special treat was pretty wonky.

I quickly replaced eyes, noses and antlers as I passed them out, but they had no staying power. I was pretty disappointed. This is a doctored up picture, but you get the idea. It was sad.
Smell no evil, See no evil

But then I heard the Crayons' reactions,
"Look! Mine's Stevie Wonder Reindeer!"
"Mine's a pirate!"
"Mine's winking!"
"I can't smell you!"
"Ouch my antler! It's been chopped off!"

They actually were enjoying the mishap!

Willa Cather was quoted saying, "Where there is love there are always miracles."

Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Not perfection, but joy in the moment.

As for the three big brownies, those went to the three students who improved their fluency the most. Everyone cheered for those students who glowed at the idea of getting rewarded for their success. As it turned out those three students were three of my special education students! Hoooooray!

Merry Christmas dear blog friends! I hope that you are able to ditch perfection and embrace joy in the moment this Christmas and in the coming year!

Linking to Kimba's DIY Day!



Maureen said...

Love these! I need to remember this for next year.

Sandy said...

I almost skipped reading this, since Friday was our party day, but as a Special Ed. teacher,and as a Mom, just a person who likes "joy in the moment" and "ditching perfection", I am very glad I chose to read this post!
Thank you for sharing!
Merry Christmas!

Meg said...

What a wonderful story--I'm so sorry for all your mishaps, but it turned out great in the end.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

laterg8r said...

aren't kids wonderful :D so glad they appreciated your effort and saw past the imperfection :D

Heidi said...

I LOVE that story! I miss hearing about your Crayons. What sweeties! The Stevie Wonder reindeer cracks me up. :)

Thanks for the reminder of focusing on the moment and not perfection--I really need it this year!

Jill said...

I learned to ditch perfection a while back--IT'S FREEING!!!!! Merry Christmas to you!!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Your DIY is DE liciously lovely!

Have a merry and bright Christmas.

Laura Horne said...

Those are so cute! A little adventure along the way keeps things interesting, right? Thanks for sharing.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Now I am hungry. ;) Love the reindeer!!!

Cha Cha said...

My girls are begging to make these. MERRY CHRISTMAS

Tubo Family said...

What a sweet story and I know my boys would LOVE to have those, I am printing the recipe to put in my box of cmas wrap and cds so I will remember next year.

How kind of you to realize the struggles parents would have especially this year. My son's school is in a neighborhood that is probably 75% affluent, 25% not. We are the "not" though we are blessed to neither be poor. But I cringed when teacher announced "instead of snacks, please have your child bring 25 gifts." She suggested the dollar store but even that would add up too quickly for us. My son was a good sport and went with my < $5 idea: "candy cane bath salts" with a Crayola fizzy color tablet, both in a snack size plastic bag which we tucked into foldovers made the front pages of old Christmas cards. This was affordable because I used peppermint and sweet orange essential oils from my aromatherapy stash; $1.75 of color tablets; $0.80 of plastic bags; $2 of table & sea salts; scotch tape and labels from my stash. (I bought a set of holiday themed address labels on clearance 6 or 7 years ago and have gotten so much use out of that $2!) None of it was difficult but it did take a while; if I was not a SAHM I don't know if I could have done it.

Jane said...

Tubo Family- While a sweet idea, does any child need another 25 gifts? That's what Valentines Day is about. Glad you were able to come up with a fun/thrifty solution. Maybe you also set a good example for other parents so that next year other's wont feel obliged to spend more than they want. There is so much "keeping up with the Jones" in PTA.

Anonymous said...

That's wonderful. I still remember my 4th grade teacher making us fortune cookies for the class. We were all looking forward to them, and of course they all fell flat. She brought them anyway, called them "dead fortune cookies," and we loved them. I still laugh about that today, and think about her positive, silly attitude whenever something goes wrong in my life as a third grade teacher.