A Christmas Gift My Volunteers LOVED For Under $5 Each

I’m sure you’ve wrestled with this – how do you get a Christmas gift for your volunteers that shows how much you appreciate them, while staying within your children’s ministry budget?

This year, my volunteer mystery shopper came up with an idea that turned out so well, I just had to share it with other children’s ministry leaders.

She saw something like this in a local store, for about $30!!!, and challenged herself to create her own for under $5.

Volunteer Gift Inspiration

If you’re not familiar with air plants, they’re low-maintenance houseplants that grow without soil and with minimal watering.

And she did find a way to make them for under $5 each.  See the links and instructions below.

Then I put one for each volunteer in the room they serve in, and sent each volunteer an email like this ahead of time:

Hi Kristy,

See this little plant in the picture here?

He’s a leaping venomous gillyweed.

Of course, that’s the traditional plant given as a thank-you gift for outstanding service to the best volunteers in the world.

Thank You Gift Picture

Yours is waiting in your classroom.

Gilly only needs to be watered once a week, but when you water him, remember how much God values your love for the kids here at Northwest Hills!



Just giving it a silly name prompted a lot of fun conversation among my volunteers, discussions of whether it’s an invasive species or not, etc.

(And just so you know, the name comes from mashing together the names of three plants in the Harry Potter books.  If that’s a problem for you or not acceptable at your church, maybe give it the fake Latin name plantus volunteeris amazus, or something like that.)

If you want to use this idea, here’s what they’ll look like when you present them to your volunteers:

Volunteer Appreciation Gift - Closed Box    Volunteer Appreciation Gift -

And here’s the materials you need to make these, and where to buy them to keep the cost under $5:

  1. Order the air plant here for $1.70 each. It’s called Tillandsia Ionantha. 
  2. Order the glass terrariums here for $1.75 each. Note: they’re fragile, so I would order about 10% more than you need. A few of mine came broken in the mail. The company replaced them, but it would have been easier to have just ordered a few more and not had to deal with it. They’re called “Hanging Glass Terrarium Globe Votive Holder Large.”
  3. Order the gift boxes here for $1.29 each. It’s called the “Celebrate It Mug Box” and is 4″ x 4″ x 4″. You can usually get 20% off orders at Michael’s by looking for an online coupon code.
  4. Add a little decorative sand and a few decorative rocks to the terrarium – you can get these at Michaels too. Just head to your local store and ask them for help finding it. You probably don’t want to pay shipping on these items.
  5. Then add a nice card, an instructions sheet inside the box (“Water once per week with a light mist from a spray bottle. Do not overwater.”), and you’re good to go!

If you have any questions about this, I’d love to help you out.

Just send me a little note here.

Published by

Curt Nelson

I love making fun videos that help kids get to know God better. I've been a full-time Children's Pastor in Corvallis, Oregon for the last 6 1/2 years. (Best job ever!) Before that, I was a public-school Science Teacher, Walt Disney Imagineer, and School Assembly Presenter with Bob the Dragon. What I've learned from hundreds and hundreds of school presentations is that when you teach in the form of a story - kids get excited about learning! And we want kids to get excited about learning the Greatest Story Ever Told, don't we?