Christmas is supposed to be a season filled with love, togetherness, and gifts galore. My kiddos will no doubt receive an obscene amount of toys, games and clothes this year from both sides of my family. Both sets of grandparents will shower them with a multitude of presents that would shock even the most seasoned Christmas parent.
Being that this is Little Bud’s first Christmas, we will probably end up having to rent a U-Haul to get everything back home with us. I have been blessed with in-laws whose “generosity” knows no bounds. In other words, my children are spoiled rotten. Big Bud has been so lavished with gifts every year that I am certain that he has come to expect hitting the toy jackpot. Does he even realize what the season is all about?
I have made it my mission this holiday season to teach both of my boys the ever-important lesson…..tis better to give than to receive. I set about trying to think up ways to help them understand that it’s not about the gift, but the spirit in which it is given that counts. While pondering this idea, I had an epiphany. Why not have them make their own gifts? What better way to get my point across?
As a mother, the gifts I always treasure the most are the ones that are from the heart. I inevitably get teary eyed each year as I trim the tree with an array of my sons’ lopsided, hand-made ornaments and decorations. I can never remember just when or where I bought those beautiful, expensive ornaments, but I can sure tell you the exact date I received my last cotton-ball Santa and even the age my little Picasso was when he made it.
In this day and age where money-saving has become the new chic, the hand-made present has finally started to make a come back. Check out my list of tried and true Christmas crafts that make excellent gifts for family and friends. I hope you have a much fun making them with your little ones as I did!
1. Cookies in a jar
Have a favorite cookie recipe that you are famous for? Why not let you children in on the fun? This is an excellent gift that is easy enough for even your littlest ones to get in on the fun. Pre-measure the dry ingredients needed to make a batch and let the kids pour them into clean mason jars, one layer at a time. You can print out the mixing and baking directions on holiday cardstock and attach it to the lid. Have your little guys and gals go to town with the jar decorations and you have a very simple, cute gift they will be proud to hand out!
No idea what to do with the multitude of Christmas cards that are overflowing the kitchen table? Neither does anyone else! Just help your kiddos make this fun present and the problem is solved. Take regular yard sticks and paint them in festive colors. Once the paint has dried, help them glue on clothespins every 2-3 inches. Have them embellish their creations with any decorations they like. Voila…instant greeting card holder. You can even personalize the holder with the recipient’s name. We made these and they were a hit with everyone!
Are your children not really the crafty type? I have never met a child who didn’t love making sweets! These little Frosties are super cute and yummy too. Take 3 large sized marshmallows and place them end to end on a pretzel stick. Melt down some white baker’s chocolate and have the kids dip the mallows until they are completely covered and lay them on waxed paper (you can also just use the chocolate to “glue” the marshmallows together instead of a pretzel stick). Decorate them with a candy face and colorful sprinkles while the chocolate is still gooey (Hershey kisses makes great snowmen hats). Once they have fully hardened, package them up in colored saran wrap. This is sure to be a quick, simple present the kids will enjoy making just as much as they will eating!
Have the little ones dip the end of plastic spoons in dark, milk, or white chocolate. Add colored sugar sprinkles for a festive look. Once the spoons have fully dried, you can drizzle on a contrasting colored chocolate for added pizzazz. Wrap them in colored cellophane and tie them up with a pretty ribbon and a gift tag. An assortment of all 3 flavors makes a fantastic gift for any coffee lover. The heat of their favorite brew melts the chocolate, adding the chocolaty goodness to the mix!
Combine the desired amount of Epsom salts with food coloring (mix well). Have your child add a few drops of perfume or essence oils. Spread the mixture on waxed paper to dry for a couple of hours. Once fully dry, pour the salts into a small jar or container and let the tiny artists showcase their decorating skills! These salts make a fun, unique gift for bubble bath lovers everywhere.
6. Box of Kisses
This craft is possibly one of the simplest ways for a child to show someone how much they are loved, and is easy enough for even the youngest children to make. First, take a small box (ring box, matchbox, etc.) and have the child “blow kisses” into the box. Make sure to close it quickly so none of those precious kisses escape! Have your little love bug decorate the container any way they choose and tie it up with a pretty ribbon. Add a tag that says “Filled with Kisses by _____”. This would be the perfect gift for a grandparent or loved one who lives far away. They can open the box at any time and get a kiss!
7. IOU Certificate Booklet
My little buds love to help. Why not turn all of that helpfulness into a creative gift? This idea is sure to please any parent or grandparent! Take several pieces of cardstock or heavy printer paper and cut them all to the same size. Punch holes in the left side of the pages and tie them together with a festive ribbon of your child’s choosing. If your child is not yet old enough to write well, help them by spelling out the “IOU – Good For_____” on the top of the pages. Have the little helper think of ways they like to help around the house and then insert that into the blanks. This could be anything from sweeping and dusting for the older children to “Good for One Bear Hug” for the littlest ones. The recipient can turn in one of these certificates at any time when they need a little extra help or a great big ol’ hug.
8. Non-Slip Socks
Who doesn’t love a good pair of gripper socks to wear around the house? This craft is super easy and inexpensive to make! Buy a package of new, white ankle length socks. Have your children decorate the bottoms of the socks with craft paint. I have found that the best kind of craft paint to use for this is puffy paint. Allow the puffy paint to dry thoroughly (usually overnight) and you have instant gripper socks!
I can vividly remember making these every year when I was young. We hung these easy bird feeders outside our living room windows and had such fun watching the commotion as the birdies scrambled to get a taste! Take your children out on a family expedition to gather some large pinecones. Once you’re home, allow your children to liberally cover the collected pinecones with peanut butter (be prepared – this part gets MESSY!). Once fully drenched in peanut-y goop, roll them in birdseed until they are completely covered. Attach a long length of strong ribbon or twine to the pinecones to allow the feeder to be hung from a tree limb. Note; make sure to wrap the pinecone in waxed paper before handing out the gift!
10. Recipe Book
I still laugh every time I think about the recipe booklet Big Bud’s 3 year old preschool class made for the class moms one Christmas. This would be a fantastic idea for families with multiple children to make and give as gifts, or for teachers to make as a class gift. First, have each child tell you a few of their favorite things to eat or make with their mom and dad. Next, have the children explain in detail how to cook or fix these foods. It is often quite funny to see just what their little minds come up with! Type or print the instructions for each recipe along with the chef’s (child’s) name. Gather the pages together and use heavy cardstock for the front and back of the booklet. Use a hole punch and some ribbon for the book binding. Come up with a catchy title and allow the children to decorate the cover. You won’t believe how funny some of these recipe directions can be! Family members will get a kick out of this and treasure these books for years to come.