Throughout the holiday season, my children are forever drawing pictures and wrapping them up with twenty feet of tape and tucking them under the tree. They take such joy and delight in finding random things around the house and wrapping them up for their family. (Clearly on the pro side of the re-gifting ethics argument.)
So in an effort to kindly guide this behavior into something effective, I have found ways to use this handmade gifting to my advantage.
Handmade gift giving isn’t for everyone. It takes time and effort, supplies and patience, and lots of hope and fingers crossed that it goes over well with the receiver. The instant click into Amazon cart from that ultimate gift guide is definitely the easier way to go.
But what I have found is the perfect time for handmade gifting is with children. In hopes to guide my children towards an attitude of gratitude during this season, I love for them to be in on the gift giving at least for out immediate family. Children have such free spirits and imagination when it comes to handmade gifts. And they take so much pride in presenting their work. Some of the best gifts we have come up with to exchange have been handmade gifts.
Our immediate family exchanges gifts early in our own special family Christmas before the hubbub of holiday travel insues. This tradition was yesterday. It involves breakfast for dinner, hot chocolate and Christmas light viewing, and of course the exchange of gifts to one another, spouse to spouse, siblings to siblings, children to parents. It sounds like a lot but we keep it as small and thoughtful as we can. It’s so fun to watch them get just as excited about the giving as they are for the getting. Nearly. Let’s be honest. They are still children.
This year, it seemed we really got it right with the gifts each sibling wrapped up for the other. The joy on both the brother and sister (for now the baby was unamused) was just about the cutest thing you can hope for on Christmas. We don’t always get it right. But when we do, it feels magical.
I thought I might share some of our ideas in hopes this sparks some inspiration for you too. Obviously these are very specific to the interests of my children but I think many can be applied in different ways.
Paint will work for just about everything.
By far the best resource for handmade gift giving is paint, specifically all purpose acrylic paint. l found this set at Michaels one Christmas season and it has offered much love to gifts over the years.
Basically the idea is take anything useful or loved and add a pop of color to it with paint.
My favorite project we did this for were some of Elliott’s wooden train tracks. You can see them pictured at top. I set Caroline up with one color at a time and she went to town. We finished with about 10 different tracks that add fun color to his everyday play. The same idea can be applied to building blocks. Or maybe a little box a child can use for secret treasure. Children don’t care about “quality.” Usually the crazier the colors and patterns the better.
This year I had Elliott paint a magic wand for Caroline, a new fan of Harry Potter. I took a chop stick, added designs with hot glue. Then he chose three different colors to add to the wand. It’s beautiful. Probably for more lovely than I could have done stressing over the right design. Caroline was delighted by it.
Other ideas for adults could be a dish to hold jewelry or change on the dresser, a coffee mug, the front cover of a new notebook for the list maker, the handle of a set of wooden spoons. Really, anything that the receiver finds useful can only be enhanced by paint. And a charming smile from the little artist.
Design Personalized Stickers.
This was a new idea we tried this year and had so much fun with. I purchased a set of round sticker sheets from Avery, but other brands exist out there. From my phone, we were able to easily import photos onto the company’s website and print then directly onto the sticker. Caroline picked out her favorite photos of family members and we printed a sheet for each person on 1 1/2 inch stickers. Then she took a few of the stickers and made a picture using the faces to show Elliott what he could do with them. So much fun!
I think this idea could be used for more than just photos. Really you can take any picture from the internet (free available clip art of course,) save it into your phone, and design stickers for just what the receiver is into. Kids love stickers and getting a set of their favorite movie characters, or maybe their favorite snacks, is something you can’t buy off of Amazon. Well maybe you can, because that place is amazing, but it might take some serious digging. Make your own stickers and it’s a handmade gift they will love.
Commission art for a baby’s nursery.
Making gifts for little baby siblings is tricky. Something to put in a nursery is usually a safe bet. I commissioned Caroline to make a picture of our family to pop into a frame for Leo’s nursery which is sweet. This year, I took an idea that I used with Caroline when Elliott was born and that is creating a mobile. This definitely takes a little more parent help to attach the pieces. But just helping me count or choose which item to attach next was part of the creating process. When I finally get around to hanging this thing I’ll take a better picture. Our final design is definitely not something I could sell on Etsy. It’s lopsided and there are lots of glue gun strands. But it’s perfect to catch the attention of a baby laying in his crib, not sleeping.
Combine a handmade gift with a purchased gift.
We love to give books. In fact, we have been known to wipe out an entire gift list at one used book store. And I don’t remember anyone complaining about that.
One year, both Mike and I gave each other books for Christmas from the kids. And without discussing it (and magically without the kids spoiling the surprise) we also had the children handmade bookmarks. It was so sweet and simple and something we both still pull out nearly every day as we read our books. I used the same idea last year when gifting all of our family books and had the kids watercolor on big sheets of watercolor paper and then cut them into book marks. Easy, thoughtful, and something everyone was delighted to receive.
Which is really the point of handmade gift giving in general, right? It’s not about finding that one perfect gift to top all gifts. It’s about thinking thoughtfully about the person. It’s about using the easily available resource of your own creative hands in kindness for someone else. It’s about bringing delight to another person who can appreciate the effort you put into gifting.
So what are your winning handmade gift ideas for kids? I’m going to need more ideas for next year!
Happy Handmade Christmas to One and All!