Thinking back through the years and the stuff we did for gifts when the kids were small and needed teacher presents and such has brought back good memories. The Chex mix was always a hit as a gift, and the kids had such fun picking out the "right" packaging for it every year. We've used painted and "stained glass" (colored tissue and white glue) jars, painted tins, decorated lunch bags, small cookie jars, baskets, pretty much anything that either had a lid or would hold a plastic bag. And of course they always decorated it, whatever it was.
We've baked banana nut bread in terra cotta flower pots (decorated, of course) and stuck suckers in the top like flowers. That was a really big hit with the teachers. And at 20 cents each for the pots and the bread mix that I could get 4 loaves out of for a dollar, it was a big hit with me too. Just remember to bake in one set of pots and decorate the other, then transfer the loaves to the decorated ones. Oil the inside of the baking pots and line with wax paper or something to cover the hole in the bottom.
And the "fruitcakes." We can't forget the "fruitcakes." I had a request for one the other day and it's been at least 10 years since I made the first one. It's a truly easy recipe too.
Grandma's Heirloom "Fruitcake"
1 brick (the tan one if possible) with no holes
craft acrylics - red, green, yellow, etc
plastic wrap or cellophane
Sponge paint the brick to look like a fruitcake, or just sponge paint it to kindasorta look like one.
Print an adhesive label on the computer with whatever sort of weird gibberish you want. Seems to me like we put something about the Ice Age on the original one, but it's morphed over the years and I'm not sure I even still have a copy of it. Wrap it with the plastic or cellophane and stick the label on it. The closer you can get the label to look like the real thing (ingredients: marble, iron ore, dinosaur dung, etc) the better it is, regardless of how much or little the thing actually LOOKS like a fruitcake.
People have used these for doorstops, bookends, whatever you would normally use a brick for, and I have a couple of friends who bring theirs out each year with the Christmas decorations. For whatever reason, adults really seem to get a kick out of them and they're great for those stupid parties where you have to bring something cheap. I had one woman who wanted 10 of them for bunko prizes too.
And of course we did innumerable theme baskets from the Dollar Tree too. Cooking stuff, with a few hand-written recipes included. Bath salts the kids made that were wrapped in loofah mitts. One year they did a whole raft of different types of spice mixes and then got stuck when it came time to pack them. We wound up with those old fashioned salt and pepper shakers, which by good fortune happened to fit 4 perfectly in a wire mesh napkin holder. We made 5 different mixes and it was interesting to watch the kids try to decide which 4 flavors each recipient got. The ensuing conversations as they justified their choice about why the math teacher got the Cajun instead of the poultry was hilarious.
And for our own friends and 'special' teachers, we've made Kahlua and Bailey's on occasion too.
DH's dad swears we tried to poison him one year with it. My bright idea was to pack it in Grolsch beer bottles with those locking caps. DH drank the beer and I made the Kahlua then we labeled it and packed it up and shipped it off to him. Apparently, when it got there it no longer had the label attached and for some reason he assumed we had sent him a single bottle of beer for Christmas. So off it goes to the fridge to chill for a week or so. He settles into his recliner one night to watch tv with a bottle of beer, opens it and takes a big slug of ice cold Kahlua. He swears he spewed it 20 feet. We still giggle uncontrollably at that mental image.