Monday, December 15, 2008

'Tis the season for giving

Making gifts for family members and friends is great fun, but what about the kids in your life? Here are a few ideas of little things that you can make for your kids that would make fun, inexpensive gifts.

Jingle bell instruments:

We made jingle bell wreaths for our friends, but both of my older kids enjoyed them so much that they would probably love these as stocking stuffers. Use bigger bells and heavier wire and you could make great instruments for the holidays. Sort of like a tambourine. You could trail some ribbon in your childs favorite color and personalize it!

Cardboard tube candy surprise:

supplies: empty toilet paper roll, candy, and wrapping paper. Embellishments if you prefer.

Fill the tube with candy or crayons or whatever small items your child likes. Wrap the tube with the wrapping paper and secure the ends. We twisted them and knotted ribbon around the ends. We re-used candy from Halloween for these. That way, whatever holiday candy didn't get used got tossed and our kids get a last candy hurrah. We're putting these tubes in their stockings.

Personalized pillow cases and pajama pants:

supplies: sewing machine, fabric, a sample pillow case and pajama pants. Elastic for the pants.

If you have a sewing machine then this is the perfect present for your children! Get fabric in their favorite character and whip up a pair of pillowcases or jammy pants! You can use a pillowcase you already have for a measurement sample. Or turn a pair of pants inside out and use this as a template for cutting out a "pants pattern". You know you'll have the right measurements since you're using pants that already fit him/her, but remember to cut them long so you have room to hem them. Sew the front and back together and hem the bottom. For the top, you hem it like normal but leave about two inches of opening and make sure it's wide enough for the elastic. Put a safety pin on one end of the elastic and run it through your hem. Make sure you don't lose the other end of the elastic! Once you've ran it all the way through then sew the ends together. Close the opening and ta-da! Quick and easy pants!

Recycled crayons:

Supplies: broken crayons, candy molds, heavy paper cups, microwave

We always have a ton of broken crayons laying around and this is a great way to get more use out of them. It makes them pretty and usable again and will be great as stocking stuffers.

Remove all paper from the crayons and sort by color. Put them in the cups and microwave until melted. Then pour them into the candy molds. You can freeze them to make them set faster or let them hang out on the counter.

You could also use cookie cutters as molds. Just don't remove the cookie cutters until the crayons are set.


Supplies: glycerin soaps, soap dyes, soap or candy molds, microwave safe bowl/cup, stirrer.

Cut the soaps in manageable pieces and melt in the microwave. Once they're all melted, add the dyes of choice. You can add more or less of the dye for desired effect. Try using your childs favorite colors or sports team colors. Pour the liquid into the molds and let harden. This can take 45 minutes to an hour. If they don't pop out of the molds easily then toss them in the freezer for a couple of minutes and try again.

Coloring books:

Most TV networks have places online where you can print off coloring pages. Print several from your most watched programs and staple together to make a quick and easy coloring book.

Food items:

My kids love cookies, but I only make them occasionally. Try making a little gift package of your childrens favorite cookies or compromise and make a healthy cookie that you don't mind them gorging on. Or you could make them their favorite breads. Like zucchini or banana breads. We made a honest-to-goodness fruit bread this year that is overloaded with every kind of dried fruit you can think of and my kids went ga-ga over it. I feel great about all of us eating it because it literally has about 4 cups of fruit in the recipe. Special treats like that are always great gifts for my kids...maybe yours will love them too!

Last but not least are personalized Christmas ornaments:

Supplies: Clear ornaments (you can get these from craft stores like Michaels or Joanns), double sided tape, glitter, embellishments.

Use the double sided tape to make stripes or designs on the ornaments and roll them in a plate full of glitter. Use a glitter pen to write your childs name and the year on it. You could use stickers or other types of embellishments to personalize them even more. Add a bit of ribbon or thread for hanging. You could even hand paint the ornaments if you're adventurous enough. How fun for your children to come out Christmas morning and see that "Santa" had left special ornaments just for them!

You could also do little gift baskets by going to the dollar store and stocking up on crayons, photo frames, etc and putting everything together in a basket. If your child likes to cook then put everything in a mixing bowl and add a spatula or mixing spoon. You could even put in a cookie mix and make a date to make them. If you guys like to garden then give them a trowel and some gardening gloves.

Personalized touches are what make even the smallest gifts so special. My children get so excited when something is made just for them. They feel special and making them feel special makes my day. These are all just little gifts, but I'm sure you will get big hugs from them.

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