The first year that we home schooled in our family I thougth it would be great if we made ALL of our Christmas presents. I had two children at home who each had a grandma and grandpa, 6 siblings and a mom and dad. Whew, that was an undertaking.
We had set some guidelines for choosing gifts:
- They had to be usable and worth giving
- They couldn’t cost a lot of money
- The child had to be able to make it with minimal help
This was in the days long before every home had a computer! What I had instead was a butter colored, six drawer file which was filled with things I had collected over a lifetime of teaching children. We searched through files marked Christmas, gifts, sewing, patterns and so forth until we found the perfect items and then we went to work.
It took us all month to get them all made. My son who was eleven at the time choose to make foot stools for his grandparents and dad. I took him to the lumber yard and he asked for the correct scraps and they gave them to him. I took him to the local upholstery shop and he asked for scraps which they gave to him. In other words, I let my children choose the gifts, helped them gather the supplies for the gifts and then assisted when they needed me in making the gifts. But these gifts really did come from them.
If I was doing it again I don’t think I would have my children make ALL the gifts. That was a lot of concentrated effort! I would have them choose one or two special people and then help them to make those gifts. I thought I would help you out by giving you a list of great gift ideas that your children can make and where possible a link to the directions.
Gifts Kids Can Make for Christmas:
1. Make a book for a toddler. Just get a small photo album and have your older child cut pictures from magazines or they can even draw simple objects. Have them Glue the picture to a piece of heavy paper which has been cut to fit and then they can label the item or write a short sentence.
2. Write a story for a parent or grandparent. Buy a small notebook with unlined paper or put some plain paper into a folder. Have your child write a story and then illustrate it. If your child is new to writing you can write their story for them on the pages they have illustrated. Part of the fun with younger children is helping them come up with a story while you write. This can make for wonderfully funny and warm moments together. My Kate, when she was small, wrote two stories that I still have. One was called The Golden Tear and was a fantasy. The other was called “Glass Is Not Cement” an absolutely hilarious story of a real experience that she had. (She used an aquarium for a step stool!)
3. Another great gift idea that an older child can make is a Quiet Book. We have made these and they are just plain fun. This also works well as a project for a whole family. Each member of the family makes one page for a book for the youngest member or for a friend or other relative. Here is a wonderful site that has some darling free templates.
4. Bookmarks. Over the years we have made many, many book marks. If you google “bookmarks for kids to make and hit images, you will find more ideas than you can shake a stick at! Here is one easy idea.
Gosh you would really think that I love books!!!
5. Decorated Wooden Spoon. Here is a gift that I saw on TJEDMUSE, suggested by Debbie. I thought that it was a wonderful idea. When I was young, about 11 or 12, I got a wood burning kit for Christmas and I loved it. Choose a wooden kitchen implement such as a spoon or rolling pin. Use the wood burner to inscribe an inspirational word or picture. If you choose something like a spoon you can turn it into a great wall decoration by adding ribbon and silk flowers to the handle and then hot gluing a hanger on the back of the handle.
6. One year we made corn packs for our friends. I still have mine. I store it under the head of my bed for cold nights. I just pop it into the microwave for a minute and voila warmth. Because I had children making these they were very simple. We cut squares from flannel about 9”X9”. We sewed up three and ½ sides and then filled them with feed corn which I bought from a place that sells animal supplies. Hmmmm can’t think what they are called right now! Then we hand sewed the opening shut. I was able to teach my kids how to use the sewing machine and how to sew with a needle and thread.
Just a note – When I was teaching my 5 year old to use the machine I stood behind her and ran the pedal with my foot. I helped her push the material through the feed dog and keep it straight. It worked really well and as far as she was concerned she had done the sewing!
7. Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies. I know, I know, everyone get cookied to death at Christmas. However, my children just loved making them. This is a whole afternoon project. Kids make the cookie dough, roll it out, bake the cookies and then decorate them. The recipe that I am giving you is very old and uses far more flour than sugar so they are perfect for frosting. When kids are frosting cookies it is a messy business and never looks beautiful the way you would do it. But please, don’t help them too much or fix their cookies.
What we like to do id let the cookies sit for a couple of hours uncovered so the frosting crusts up a bit. Then we put them in freezer bags and write “A Christmas Gift for New Years Eve – please freeze” on the bag. Add a bow and maybe a couple of hot chocolate packets and what a great gift!
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
2 c sugar 7 c flour
1 c shortening ½ tsp salt
2 eggs 1 tsp soda
1 tsp vanilla ½ c canned milk (plain works but canned makes the flavor so yummy!)
Cream the sugar and shortening. Add eggs, vanilla, salt and soda. Mix well. Add flour and milk alternately. I always end up mixing with my hands. Works so much better! Dough must be just stiff enough to roll out and handle nicely. Flour your table before you roll it out. It also helps to dip your cutter into the flour before cutting the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. The longer baked, the crisper, the shorter baked, softer.
Merry Christmas and happy gift making. : ) By the way, what about making a village of small gingerbread houses as a family? Really fun!
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