DIY “You’re One Smart Cookie” Student gift and feedback card in one package [Printables]

Cookie season comes but once a year! When it does, it’s time to share a little sweetness with our students!

Many piano teachers love giving little festive gifts to students. We like giving presents that are:

  • Affordable
  • Fun and easy to make
  • Seasonal, yet appropriate for all students regardless of what holiday they celebrate
  • And a real bonus, but one we can’t always wrap up in a gift, is the ability to give or receive feedback that will make lessons better!

This cookie gift will give all the ‘feels’, especially when given with the printable card. Keep reading to find out how!

Each student has their own special kind of intelligence, just like a smart cookie. The card says, “You’re One Smart Cookie!” And with the card you can give a cookie that reminds the student that you’ve recognized their intelligence.

Four ways to give this gift

This is a gift and feedback all in one! You can choose one of four ways to give it to your piano students!

  1. You can give each student a cookie they can eat! Include the card with encouraging words.
  2. You can give each student a gingerbread clay cookie ornament with their card. Each student can display their little ornament for the season or for the winter. It may even be hung on their Christmas tree, if they like!
  3. Worried you won’t have time to bake or get crafty? No problem! You can buy cookies and give them out with the cards.
  4. Are you worried you won’t have time to write student feedback? Depending on the number of students you teach, your feedback can simply say something short and sweet like, “You’ve improved on reading!” (Or, insert any word, like “dynamics,” “expression,” or anything you like!

Gift option #1: Give a cookie students can eat!

A fun and affordable (not to mention tasty) gift is a cookie students can eat. There are two ways to do this, depending on how much time you have.

One option is to buy cookies. President’s Choice Concerto cookies are the best kind of music gift cookie. If you can’t get these where you live, you may find a similar one.

There are so many reasons to love these cookies!

  • They’re very tasty, luxurious and definitely gift-worthy–even just one!
  • The chocolate is molded with imprints of musical instruments! Sometimes musical instruments on ‘gifty’ things don’t look accurate–but amazingly, these do! Instruments include: grand pianos, trumpets, French horns, euphoniums and violins. A short tune on a music staff runs behind them.
  • They’re available in dark and milk chocolate. This is good because some kids prefer milk chocolate.
  • As far as cookies go, they run on the expensive side. But if you give only one to each student, they’re very affordable.
  • [Not gluten-free.]

Another option for giving students cookies they can eat is to bake them. If you have the time, this may be the most affordable gift of all. Many people appreciate tasty homemade gifts!

Personally, the reason I love giving and receiving gifts that can be eaten (note: chocolate), is because these gifts make you feel special and they’re also consumable. Once eaten, you get to keep a lovely memory–travelling lightly through life without accumulating a lot of extra stuff. This is why I also like giving consumable gifts–allowing others the same.

Here’s my go-to cookie recipe. Below you’ll find gluten-free and nut-free options.

Mix wet ingredients, mix dry, then combine.


In a small bowl, combine:
  • 2 – 1/3 cups all-purpose flour — OR
  • (Nut-free and gluten-free alternative measurements: 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose baking mix, 1 cup coconut flour, 1/3 cup arrowroot flour, plus 1/2 tsp guar gum)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
In a mixing bowl, cream together:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
Add one at a time, beating well after each addition:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients into wet a little at a time until combined and smooth.

Stir in:
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans [To make part of your batch nut-free, bake a dozen cookies before adding nuts. You may want to add about 1 TB of flour to the nut-free portion.]

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 3 in. apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire racks too cool. Yield: 3 dozen.

Gift option #2: Give with a gingerbread clay ornament

If you want to give a keepsake cookie, a gingerbread clay ornament is a great choice! This avoids any food sensitivities students may have and gives them something they can keep.

You’ll need the following:

  • Ingredients and cooking and mixing utensils, listed below
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Drinking straw
  • Paint pens -or- paint and paint brush with a fine tip
  • Festive floss or string


In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (Gluten-free: 1 cup all purpose baking mix)
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Once combined, add water slowly in increments:

  • Add up to 3/4 cup warm water

Set aside the last third of the water and mix the ingredients until they resemble a dough. If it’s crumbly and dry, add in a little more of the water.

Kneed clay dough on a floured surface until it forms a ball and feels smooth, soft and pliable. It will feel firmer than play dough.

If you’ve added too much water and it’s sticky, add 1 spoon of flour and 1 spoon of salt and knead again until it reaches the consistency you want.

Recipe source: The Imagination Tree.

Create your clay cookie shapes

With a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is a consistent thickness.

Press cookie cutters, peel away the extra clay between them and remove the cookie cutters.

Gently lift the clay shapes up with a metal spatula. Place on a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet pictured is covered with a silicon baking mat.

With a drinking straw, create holes near the tops. Once hardened, this is where you’ll put the string through with which to hang up the cookie shapes.

Hint: If you don’t want to waste the dough from the holes, blow out the straw after each removal. Add the little pellets back into the clay!

Oven time!

Place cookie sheets into a preheated oven, set at 250 degrees F.

Set your timer for 3 to 4 hours. The goal is to harden the clay cookies, not to bake them.

With my batch, they were in the oven for 3 hours. I then turned my oven off and left the clay cookies inside to dry further for an additional hour.

The time it takes will depend on the thickness.


Some ideas on how to decorate your gingerbread clay cookies.

  • Art paint (shown)
  • Posca Paint pens
  • 3D puffy paint

As I was painting mine, I found that less is more. I wanted the paint to look like icing, so I used it to highlight smaller details of the shapes.

Add floss

The finishing touch for your ornamental cookies is festive floss!

I love how these turned out! They sparkle!

And smell so good!

Give with a card

Give your cookies with this card, available as a FREE printable from my Piano at Play blog.

Rather than a formal mid-year report card, this gives you a chance to wrap up a little feedback in a seasonal gift, with a message about how smart your student is.

On the front of the card it says, “You’re One Smart Cookie!” and when the student opens the card, there’s space for you to write a personal note of something smart you’ve noticed about them.

There’s also a space where students can give you a little feedback in return, to help you know how piano lessons are going for them.

How to get your printable card FREE!

Get this card design for FREE!

Most of my printables are free to all visitors to my blog, because I appreciate all of my readers!

But some printables like this one are reserved as a special exclusive perk for my newsletter subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to become one! Here’s the page to subscribe to my newsletter!

Simulate icing on gingerbread cookies by decorating your clay creations. Some ideas:

It’s a joy to give!

Current subscribers can use our ‘Subscriber Exclusives’ password to the FREE printable in your inboxes!

P.S. If you can, put on tunes and make these with a friend. My cookie helper this year was my sister, Judy!

Do you like this post and want more? In the side menu click “follow” to get notifications of my posts in your inbox.

I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching! ❤

Rebekah Maxner, composer, blogger, piano teacher. Follow my blog for great tips!

Video of the Week

Jingle Bell Swing (Early Intermediate, Level 3). Oh what fun it is to play…a jazz version of Jingle Bells! This swinging piece has repeated patterns, fun rhythmic surprises and jazzy chords. From the print and eBook Old MacDonald had the Blues, or check out the studio-licensed Jingle Bell Swing eSheet!

Listen to Jingle Bell Swing on YouTube!

Listen to a sound clip of Imagine a Prelude!

6 thoughts on “DIY “You’re One Smart Cookie” Student gift and feedback card in one package [Printables]

Add yours

  1. Another great idea, Rebekah. I loved last year’s snowflake card and ornament idea….so did my students. Looking forward to this weekend’s Canada Music festival ! 😊

    Marilyn Loosemore

    Sent from my iPad



  2. I am not finding the link to get the you’re one smart cookie cards. Thank you for sharing with us! Tami Easterday


    1. Tami, you’re welcome! I see that you’re a newsletter subscriber. Each newsletter comes with the link to exclusive printables but if you don’t have any on hand, let me send you the link! No problem at all!


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