A few years ago, we got our son involved in the gift process of our family.  Each year he (and now his younger brother) creates gifts for family and close friends.  They involve little, if any, money.  However, they are some of the most treasured gifts that have been given and received in our circle.  Here are a few of our favorite (homemade) things that will hopefully spur a few activities of your own to try.

  1. Desk Accessories.  Our favorite is the tin can pencil holder.  My husband made one for his dad when he was little, and now my son has made one for my husband, sure to be a staple on his desk at the office.  Clean a tin can (those with the pop-top lids are good choices – some Campbell’s soup cans are like that now – or use a can opener that leaves a smooth edge to avoid injury) and allow to dry.  Then, cover the outside of the can.  You can either make a cover for it out of paper and draw a design on it, or you can take thick twine, cording, yarn or string and wind it tightly around the can.  Top off the gift with a few new pens and pencils and a note on the bottom of the can with the name of the creator and the year. 
  2. Ornaments.  We actually have quite a few homemade ornaments, but our favorite is the CD ornament.  We used a free CD that came in the mail and cut a circle out of a piece of paper smaller than the CD.  My son drew a holiday scene on it and we glued it to the CD.  To make a hanger, we hot-glued a bent paperclip to the back.  We have also made these ornaments with pictures of the boys cut into a circle and glued to the front of the CD.  The mirrored surface of the CD looks wonderful on a tree, reflecting the lights.  Another easy ornament is a popsicle stick snowflake.  Take three popsicle sticks and glue their centers together, fanning them into a snowflake.  Paint them white and sprinkle them with glitter.  The glitter also makes a good reflection of the lights on a tree.
  3. Plant markers.  My parents are avid gardeners, so my kids made them markers for their garden last year.  We took seed packets that we had planned on giving them as part of their gift and scanned them into the computer and printed them out on heavy card stock.  I took them to my local office supply store and had them laminated.  Then, my boys used rubber cement (under my supervision) and glued them to large craft sticks.  We lined them in a flower pot with the actual seed packets, a hand shovel and some work gloves, all picked up at our local dollar store.  The entire gift cost us under $6.
  4. Jewelry.  If you have a child who loves beads, this is a great way to teach him or her how to turn something they enjoy into a gift for someone else.  They can make something simple such as a bracelet or necklace, or they can create a beaded bookmark.  Place knots about 8 inches apart on a piece of nylon string to keep the beads at either end so that the mark will sit easily in between the pages of a book.  Give the bookmark along with a book for a unique and thoughtful gift.
  5. Photo frames.  What parent or grandparent doesn’t love a picture?  Find a favorite snapshot.  The options for creating a frame for the photo are endless.  Make a frame out of either of construction paper or heavy posterboard.  Then, the possibilities open up from there.  Cover the frame in fabric pieces, shells, twigs, stickers, torn construction paper for a mosaic look. colored sand, even glitter.  Complement the photo with the colors and medium chosen.
  6. Decorative trivets.  Go to your local hardware or home improvement store and purchase some simple, white tiles.  Paint handprints on the tiles, and use a paint pen to place the name and date of the child.  We even added “Grandma’s Little Helper” and “Aunt Lynn’s Best Buddy” to ours.  While they are not washable, they make a great keepsake and decoration for the kitchen.

Do you have any ideas for holiday gifts you’d like to add?  Please leave a comment and share it with us!

Wonderbrains has an excellent selection of craft kits for children that can be used for making gifts as well.  Check out their wide variety of ideas!