Whether it’s for an upcoming birthday or visit to a relative’s house, homemade presents leave a lasting impression, especially when they come from children. We asked Sherri Osborn, Family Crafts Guide for About.com, to share her gift ideas and advice for crafting with kids. If your family has a special occasion coming up, try one or more of her suggestions.
Q: What kinds of gifts can kids make?
A: I usually try to think of something that the recipient can actually use rather than just display. Probably the best way to figure out what to make is to think of what some of the recipient’s hobbies or favorite things are. Let’s say it’s Grandpa’s birthday, and he is an avid golfer. You can make him something that might be useful when he is golfing. How about a personalized towel or golf club covers?
Some more homemade ideas include picture frames, magnets, T-shirts, personalized organizers, key chains.
Q: What materials around the house can kids use to make gifts? How can they use them?
A: You can use almost anything lying around your house to make fun gifts. All it takes is some imagination! You can decorate an old CD case or a piece of cardboard to be a unique picture frame. Or, you can make organizers of all shapes and sizes using jars, cans, and other containers. A timeless gift idea is to make a personalized pen/pencil holder using a tin can. You can even take this idea one step further and make a pen/pencil carrier with a lid using a cardboard potato chip tube, like Pringles cans.
Q: What kind of gifts can kids make using inexpensive, store-bought materials?
A: A favorite in this category has got to be personalized T-shirts! A few years ago, my kids gave their dad a special T-shirt. We painted the bottom of their feet using fabric paint and they stepped on the shirt to make footprints. I then wrote, “My kids walk all over me” on it.
Again, keep the recipient’s hobbies and interests in mind. For example, if he/she is an avid fisherman, why not make him/her a related shirt? You can make or buy fish-shaped stamps or sponges, dip them in fabric paint, and press a print on the shirt.
A few other ideas for craft store finds: You can make a beaded key chain; buy small wooden shapes, paint them or decorate them with other supplies, and glue a small magnet strip on the back; or how about making a unique tie using craft foam?
Q: What special ways can kids wrap gifts?
A: A great way to wrap a homemade gift is with homemade wrapping paper. It’s simple and very versatile. You should start out with a large piece of paper (butcher paper works well) and some paint. Make prints on the paper with handprints, footprints, cookie cutters, or sponge shapes.
You can also decorate large paper with pictures cut out of magazines; or you can “write” special messages by cutting words and letters out of magazines or newspapers. This also isn’t limited to large pieces of paper; you can decorate plain paper bags or boxes using these same techniques.
For something a little more creative, pick an unusual item to wrap the gift in. Of course, the item you pick will depend on the size of your gift. Wouldn’t someone be surprised to find his/her gift wrapped in a decorated oatmeal container, or a tissue wrapped toilet tissue roll? The possibilities are endless!
Q: How important is adult supervision while kids are making gifts?
A: The importance of adult supervision will not only depend on the age of the child making the crafts but also on the supplies that are being used. My suggestion is close adult supervision for all kids under 10 years old. For all ages of children, though, an adult should be nearby in case there is a problem or a child wants some help. Of course, it goes without saying that close supervision should always be used if more dangerous supplies are being used, such as a hot glue gun or utility knife.
Q: Do you have any tips for getting kids excited about making gifts?
A: Actually, I have yet to meet a kid who isn’t excited about making gifts for someone special! If the adults helping the kids are excited, odds are, the kids will be excited, too.