First, we collected some empty water bottles. Ben is always flying for his job, so he brings home a lot of these mini-water bottles from the plane. I bought a big bag of white rice and collected some "treasures" in a muffin tin.
Here's a close-up of what we had: buttons, pennies, and various tiny charms like christmas lights, bumblebees, and bells.
Anything tiny enough to fit into the bottle would work--you probably have a lot of things like this laying around the house. I did end up going to Jo-Anns and picking up a few bags of tiny specialty buttons just because I thought that most of our stuff was a little bit plain and I wanted the treasure to be fun for the girls to look for.
Juliet had fun sorting the items into the muffin tins and then we set to work filling the jars. It turns out that using a funnel to transfer the rice into the bottle was the most fun part! She was really, really into this. We did spill quite a bit along the way, but it was easy to clean up and part of the fun. I liked that Juliet was able to "make" this gift almost entirely on her own! She felt very proud of her effort.
We poured a little bit of rice, added some treasures, filled more rice, added more treasure, until we got almost to the top. You don't want to fill them up completely because the treasures need some space to move around in.
After, we filled all the bottles, I glued the tops on (to prevent future rice disasters) and thought we were done. But then Ben said, "Um, is there anything you can do to make them not look so much like old water bottles?"
"But they ARE old water bottles!" I explained. "And they are homemade gifts made by a 2 year old, what do you expect?!" But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed that they looked a bit sad, so I glued some green ribbon around the caps and I glued round letter stickers representing each girls' name on the top.
There. Credit where credit is due: Ben gets the credit for the cute tops! (I hope you are reading this today!)
At this point, Juliet was done with her portion of the craft. I set about to finish it by making the "finder card"--which is a list of the treasures to be found inside the bottle. Pink and Green Mama took photographs of her treasures, laminated them, and included them with the gift. I LOVE this idea, but didn't see it until it was too late. I went the cavewoman route and decided to hand draw all the treasures...this seemed simple enough as I completed the FIRST card, but as I got to the second, I realized I had gotten into something I didn't really care to finish, but now had no choice.
So, YES. I did hand draw 4 cards, but I don't necessarily recommend it. (Unless you are a fabulous artist and this sort of thing is no big deal to you. For me, (whose drawing skills topped out at grade 2) it ended up being quite tedious.) I think I should have drawn one and then photocopied it...but again, did not occur to me until it was too late. I glued the card onto some scrapbooking paper, covered it with contact paper and thought I was done.
So now I had the jar and the card, but I thought, "these kids are going to lose these almost immediately...I need a way to keep these together!" I thought of a string, but then thought that would be awkward and potentially dangerous, so I settled on velcro.
You know those little round velcro strips with adhesive already on the backs? They were easy to use, just peel and stick. One on the bottom of the card and one on the bottom of the bottle. Now the bottle and card can stick together.
This ended up being a really fun project to do with Juliet and like I said earlier, the bulk of it was done by Juliet herself and that made it really special, especially when it came time to present the gifts to her friends. She still talks about the presents she made for "her girls" as she calls them.
Even though, we did this for Christmas gifts, they would be perfect for any occasion or even just as a fun project to do with your child on a rainy afternoon.
Do you have any fun preschool friendly homemade gift ideas to share?