easy christmas gifts you can make {for kids}

November 24, 2009

I like gifts you can make yourself for 2 reasons:

1. They are usually more affordable than store-bought gifts.
2. It's fun to make them!

I especially enjoy making homemade gifts for Juliet for 2 reasons as well:

1. She thinks ANYTHING I make is wonderfully amazing ("Thank you so much for this beautiful sock puppet, Mama!) even though my skills are really not that great.
2. If I make a toy for Juliet, I feel less guilty about getting rid of it later when she has grown tired of it, especially if it was made out of stuff I found in my recycle box.

With that in mind, I decided to do today's top ten list about easy homemade Christmas gifts you can make for your kid. These are all ideas for toys that I think Juliet would really enjoy playing with, are made mostly from materials and supplies I already have on hand, and fit within my craft-skill level. (On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being Martha Stewart, I would rank myself a 4.)

I also tried to pair a favorite book of ours to go along with it. book+ homemade toy= the perfect gift. I hope you find some inspiration here!

This is so simple--click through to find directions. I already have several clipboards that could easily be converted into portable chalkboards. These are great for long car or plane trips!

Pair it with any of our favorite art books like The Dot or Ish by Stephen Reynolds, The Magical Drawings of Mooney B. Finch by David McPhail, or Draw Me A Star by Eric Carle.

Okay, so this one is a little more work than the first. But it's still do-able and made out of a cereal box, three pine cones, yarn, metal fasteners, tape, and paper! I think we have all those things except for the pine cones in our craft cabinet. Click through for detailed instructions.

We just checked out a really, fun book called Bridget Fidget and the Most Perfect Pet by Joe Berger about a little girl who gets a cuckoo clock from her parents and it made me think, "Hey, I would love to hang a tiny cuckoo clock in Juliet's room." But, then I thought I probably didn't want to spend a lot of money on a real one...finding this homemade one solves my problems! I might not get it done by Christmas, but I will definitely be attempting it sometime soon.

I subscribe to this magazine and saw this project several months ago. It's a tote bag made out of an old t-shirt. It only requires sewing a straight line, so I can handle it!

Depending on what kind of shirt you use, the book pairing possibilities are endless. This frog in the picture makes me think of Frog and Toad are Friends by Andrew Lobel (one of Juliet and Ben's favorites to read together.)

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn is another good option--the story of a little girl who goes to the library every week with her mother. She carries all here library books in her own bag--if you use a large t-shirt, this toe could easily become a library book bag!

We can never have too many cute hair clips. These are REALLY simple and REALLY cute. The perfect combo. We have stray buttons and stray hair clips galore--this would even be fun to make with Juliet one afternoon.

Pair this sweet gift with No Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke--a story of little girl who knows who she is and what she likes.

I recently babysat my friend's 11 month old daughter and have her 3/4 eaten jar of baby food still sitting in my fridge! I'm thinking she won't be wanting that back, so I am going to use it to make Juliet a little snow globe just like this one. Every time we see snow globes in stores, Juliet wants to hold them, but they are usually so large I am afraid she will drop them. This is the perfect size for her little hands.

I'm going to warn you about the book pick--it's a little weird until you get to the end, but Juliet really loved it. Snow Moon by Nicholas Brunelle is the story of a boy searching for an owl. In the end, he finds them and you see he is inside of a snow globe. Juliet let out an audible gasp when we came to the final page the first time we read this book. It's magical to kids.

Juliet is getting a dollhouse from her grandparents for Christmas this year. I think that this little wheelbarrow would be the perfect accessory for the little critters living in the home. I can see her pushing the wheelbarrow around the "yard" as she gathers up the leaves.

I would pair this with It's Fall by Linda Glaser or Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.

We recently discovered Jan Brett's Gingerbread Friends and Juliet has been in love with the whole gingerbread man/woman/baby/house thing ever since. We are going to make a real gingerbread house, but I think either of these would be great to play with and bring out year after year. The one from craft ideas is my favorite, although it looks like a little more work than the Family Fun one.

After the If You Give a Moose a Muffin puppet success, I will definitely be making more sock puppets for Juliet to play with. She thinks they are amazing. This giraffe is especially cute and would go well with any zoo or jungle-themed book or with a book like Dandelion by Don Freeman that has a giraffe as a main character. Add a string of pearls and we would have the perfect Jennifer the Giraffe puppet!

(photo courtesy of FunIntheMaking.net)

This is idea that started it all! I saw a similar one on another blog a few days ago and got really excited. Today, I stumbled across a beautiful and amazingly creative blog called Fun in the Making "a 'green' crafting website with sustainable living tips". Hester Jane has so many creative projects and crafts made from recycled materials. Go check it out--I think it might become your new favorite blog! Thank you again, Hester Jane, for letting me use your photo for this post.

As for what book I would pair it with, I think any book would be fun to read around the campfire, but three books we like that feature campfires in them are We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen, This is the Sea that Feeds Us by Robert F. Baldwin, and Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies.

I saw this cute felt mailbox several months ago and thought it would be the perfect gift for Juliet. Jackie has several wonderful blogs including Cook Allergy Free and Pockeful of Posies. She used a tutorial from Giver's Log to make this project and she details how she made the letters in her post. She also has several other "homemade Christmas" ideas featured on her blog this month.

Any book that features mail or letter writing would be great with this toy. One we have been reading recently is Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James.

Lastly, I had to link to this amazing felt playhouse at homemade by jill--it is definitely does NOT fall into the "easy" category and is probably ranked an 11 on the craftiness scale, but it is so beautiful and wonderful I wanted to share it anyways.

Do you have any great homemade Christmas gift ideas to share? Any links to your posts? I'd love to see what you are crafting up. Leave a comment and let me know!

If you have any other good book suggestions for the crafts I've listed, let me know about those, too!

Sorry this post is so long--thanks for sticking with it--For more great top ten lists visit OhAmanda.com!

{Here's a link to the books mentioned in this post if you want to see the covers!}


oh amanda said...

GOOD GRIEF, Vanessa! How crafty are you?!! I love it!!!

Blondie said...

Great list! I had no idea about chalkboard contact paper! What a find!

Our Cozy Little Book and Art Corner said...

great stuff I love making homemade gifts too :)

Mark and Christine said...

Those are great ideas!! But, are you sure you rate at a level 4? lol!

The Activity Mom said...

Great list! Thanks!

Cassie said...

Great ideas! I love the felt mailbox, though I think that might be a bit above my level LOL. I am going to try the snowglobe though. I've made a few things for my son...


Jackie said...

Thanks for linking to my blogs, Vanessa! The felt mailbox was really fun to make and not as hard as it looks. I am going to look at the links you provided. I did make the T-shirt bags last year for Christmas. Lots of fun ideas. Thanks!

Zoe said...

This is a *brilliant* post and full of so many lovely ideas I just want to get going on one straight away! I'm meant to be spending this evening working a little more on the quilt I've been making for ages for M... so I mustn't get distracted - but wow - a really great list :-) I hope someone is making *you* some lovely things (and pairing them up with great books!)

Mandi @ It's come to this said...

What awesome ideas!! I love all these!! Thanks for sharing:)

Kristen said...

Wow, what great gift ideas! Fun to play with and to make! Perfect combination!

Debra said...

Great site for gifts.
This christmas.. get something magnificent for your female counterpart..

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