Custom kits: These are fun ideas for kids and can be assembled from items that have been in the junk drawer for years. You can make a custom kit for your child to care for their stuffed animals (pet supplies, toys, biscuits), dolls (baby wipes, newborn diapers, pacifier) or aspiring chef (a mixing spoon, cookie cutters, measuring cups and apron). Think of what your child loves and get creative! Or go with an adult theme and make a romance kit (fake rose petals, Sparkling cider, candles) or stress buster kit (aspirin, earplugs, eye mask). Take the time to personalize your gift for extra credit! See example.
Jar Gifts/Recipes: You can buy mason jars or use recycled jars from home for a wide variety of gift ideas. Assemble an entire recipe (here are some recipe ideas, and here are even more recipes) or provide a sample treat along with the recipe to make it. For example, you could provide the recipe for homemade play dough along with a small sample in a baggie. This is my favorite play dough recipe - it lasts for months if kept in a Tupperware and has a great, rubbery consistency:
How to Make Basic Play Dough:
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Food coloring or Kool aid mix
Directions:Dog Bone Wreath: Make sure your pets are included in the fun this Xmas. Make a simple wreath from dog biscuits and chew toys to hang over their water bowl or dog house. You can use simple wire to tie it together or go more ornate by using an actual wreath frame and decorating it appropriately. See example.
Mix flour, water, salt, cream of tartar and oil in saucepan. Add food coloring/Koolaid to mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough forms a ball. Cool for five minutes before using. To make the playdough even more fun, mix in some small googley eyes, glitter, sand or sequins after the dough has cooled. You can also mix in a scent. Use any kind of extract (vanilla, banana, peppermint), nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. Here are some more tips for working with and making play dough/clay.
Plaster casts: Although this project may take a little more prep, once you have the supplies it's an easy, creative and unique gift. Find your favorite sea shells, use your baby's hand, a fruit, or any other interesting object in your home to create a custom molded dish. Dishes can be used for jewelery, soap, sewing supplies, etc. I love this idea because you can stay simple or go all out with painting and decorating your mold. See example.
Heat Saver Animals: These are a perfect gift for those in a cold climate. I remember these lining all the doorways of my home as a child. And with all the fun stockings and socks out there, you can make a fun, durable animal with almost no effort. See example.
Homemade Postcards: Another great way to include your child in holiday gift-giving. What are you going to do with all those art projects he brings home from school? Or are you an artist looking for some recognition? Scan your pictures and print them out on cardstock to create custom postcards for family and friends. You can copy and print the photos yourself or run to the copy shop and have them copy and cut the cards for you. See further instructions.
Gag Gifts: Make sure the recipient has a sense of humor before trying these!
Snowman Poop: Fill a bag with mini marshmallows, tie it up and attach the below poem with a ribbon. For extra effect, put the marshmallows in a brown paper bag, singe the edges of the bag with a match and leave it on their doorstep:
Santa looked at his list,
Even checked it twice.
And he has seen that you
have not been very nice.
Since coal's so expensive,
Here's the scoop,
Santa's filling your stocking
with SNOWMAN'S POOP!
Magic Reindeer Food: A jar of glittery goodness to sprinkle on the lawn for Rudolf and his crew. Great fun for kids. See recipe and example.
Box of Love: Cheesy though it is, this one is my absolute favorite! It's so simple and completely charming if it's given by a child. Trust me, the grandparents will melt. Use any small boxes you'd like and wrap them up (jewelry boxes work very well and are inexpensive at craft stores). Try and get your child to help decorating and coloring the box with ribbons, sequins, glitter, etc. Then print this poem on cardstock and attach to the present:
This is a very special gift
That you can never see.
The reason it's so special is,
It's just for you from me.
Whenever you are happy,
or even feeling blue.
You only have to hold
this gift and know
I think of you.
You never can unwrap it
Please leave the ribbon tied.
Just hold the box close
to your heart,
It's filled with love inside.
I'll update this list as I find more simple, inexpensive gift ideas. Merry Christmas, everyone! Remember that the real gift is in the giving. But that doesn't mean I don't want tons of presents from everyone...
Need some ideas for easy, homemade Christmas cards?
Here are some of my favorite ideas!
Here are some of my favorite ideas!