Is it just me, or is it really hard to find things that kids can make and give to others that aren't pre-fabricated and expensive, or completely dorky?
I've had a hard time coming up with things that kids can make and give, anyway.
Just in case you have too, Here's a few things we've done in the past, and many of the ideas I hope to try in the future. They aren't all stellar, and none of these ideas are original with me. But I hope you like them anyway. I'm providing links to the projects where appropriate.
Oh, and another disclaimer, I tend to like gifts that are at least a little bit useful. So most of these aren't of the "refrigerator art" variety. Except the first one.
A year of kid art. Have one, or a few, of the kids make a new art project every month and mail it to the recipient. We did this for and aunt a few years back. She loved it, and still has all the ones we sent. Moreover, it provided a nice way to try new art projects without inviting a lot of clutter. It's also a nice way to let far away family know that you're thinking of them. I think we'll probably do it again.
Have you tried finger knitting? It's fun! Even the kids think it's fun! I can finger-knit a scarf in about an hour, but my oldest is only six, and definitely won't be sitting for an hour finger knitting (even if he was that fast). Instead, he's made a finger-knitted necklace and bracelet out of fancy yarn for his aunt. And that was really cute. Here's a good tutorial on 1-finger knitting, and another on 4-finger knitting (which is really better for kids over about 6 or 7).
Another easy popular craft around here is bangles. Cut a strip of a round plastic bottle (something big enough to go over your hand), and wrap fancy yarn around and around it. This is easy for kids above about 4, and really turns out cute! Kid's Craft Weekly has a good tutorial for these. And on the bracelets thread, my kids love to string beads pipe cleaners.
Use apples, potatoes, carrots, sponges, cereal boxes folded into shapes, and whatever you can find as a stamp with acrylic paint to decorate hand towels, handkerchiefs, a tote bag, or just about anything. Might be kind of messy, but it's sure to be a big hit with both the kids and the lucky recipient, don't you think?
Kids love to plant seeds, water them and watch them grow. It's a science lesson and a gift in one. Why have I not done this before? If I can find those seeds we never got around to planting last spring, we'll have a potted spice garden to give away. Thyme is supposed to be particularly easy, and sprouts quickly. We have some miniature basil just begging to be grown in a pot, and I'm wanting to try wheat grass too. Maybe we'll even decorate the pots with stickers or paint.
I also love these nature texture prints made from polymer clay. Or twig stars like these (I'm working on a tutorial for them now).
And maybe you'd like to consider some garden art.
Don't forget the value of a good food gift. We often give away homemade jelly that the kids helped stir. Or give a Pie-in-a-jar, or a jar-mix for some favorite cookies. Or just make the cookies and give them away. Of mini-loaves of banana bread. These are school-lessons and gifts too -- all that measuring! Food is a great gift for men -- how could you go wrong?
And one last one -- another great gift for a man is a stress-ball or hackey sack. The link I had for this has been deleted, but you basically take a balloon, use a funnel to fill it (without stretching the balloon much) with sand or flour or split peas or rice, whatever you have.... Then you tie the balloon and stuff the knot inside. Cut the neck off of a second balloon, and stuff the first one inside of this (if you used flour, don't cut the neck off, I hear it makes a very big mess). Then you repeat this -- cutting the neck off of a third and fourth balloon to make a rather strong ball. You can cut many holes in another balloon if you wish for decoration. Here's another way to make one.
No, wait, one more. You can re-cover a pillow to make just about anything. (Your kid could even draw a design on the fabric!).
Speaking of gifts for adults. I have one for you. It's a Mikasa ceramic Nativity. Brand new in the box. Keep it, or give it to someone without young kids who will destroy it :)
Just leave me a comment to enter. Contest ends November 1st, just like the others. Don't forget to tell me your email address in it!
Oh, and don't forget to read part 1 of this series: Handmade gifts for teenage boys.