I love to make and give homemade presents! And, my kids love making and giving presents too! That is good, because this year, homemade gifts are 100% our plan!
I LOVE Christmas. I love the holidays. I love giving gifts. I love receiving gifts.
And I like giving gifts that are thoughtful and useful.
So when the kids and I are making gifts, they aren’t going to be throw-away paper collages (though we will make those as decorations for sure!). They will be thoughtful and classic gifts that people will enjoy receiving!
These gifts can be for Christmas, Hannukah, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any other holiday!
Christmas is Different During a Pandemic
This Christmas season there will be no preschool. There will be no church. There will be no parties. There will be no going to Target so the kids can pick our presents for others. There will be us. Alone. In Our House.
Welcome to Pandemic Christmas.
And I am determined to make it AMAZING.
I am also determined to teach my children the magic of gifting and making.
So, I’ve decided that this December we are going to be making gifts for other each and every day!
Why I love Making Gifts with Children
There is a WORLD of difference between having a small child pick out a gift at Target for daddy, and having them actually make a gift. A small child in Target is distracted, and attracted to what they want. I’m pretty sure even without Target my son always wants to get my husband a new hot wheels set for Christmas and birthdays. Without fail, they want to get the person a toy.
Which, I get. But it doesn’t allow them to really think about what the recipient wants.
For an older child it is easier. For a three year old? No way.
MAKING a gift is different. You have a chance to fill the process with intention. And you get to make it into an introspective activity.
What can *I* make?
What can I make that my dad/grandma/friend would like?
How can I put intention into making this gift?
I’m not a fan of throwaway crafts, or cheap kits bought at the store. I’m a fan of making beautiful or cherished things that can be used– and, gifted!
Thoughtful Gifts that Little Kids Can Make
When I googled “DIY gifts that kids can make for Christmas” I found a lot of gifts that were either cheap paper throwaway gifts (there is a place for those, but not what I was looking for!), or that were WAY to difficult for small children. I get bored of crafts that are really about toddlers watching mom use a glue gun (laaaaaame).
My kids are 2 and 5. And, my 5 year old doesn’t really like crafts.
So, my requirements for homemade kid-made gifts that toddlers or busy preschoolers can make are pretty stringent!
Here’s what I want in a christmas craft gift made by a little kid:
- The gift can actually be made by child
- The gift can be filled with personalized intention (i.e., what herb or essential oil does Grandma need? What is Daddy’s favorite color?)
- The kids can get their hands dirty (I LOVE a sensory experience mixed in with crafting!
Helping Kids Add Intention To Gift Giving
I try to add intention to almost everything in my day- brushing my teeth and washing my face is a mini-twice a day cleansing recipe. When I cook and when I eat I am thinking about purpose and nourishment. When I’m out in the sun, I’m sucking up Vitamin D. It might sound crazy, but all this intention is similar to mindfulness– and it helps keep me sane! I learned it when I was going through my fertility journey.
Since adding intention and mindfulness has been so important for my personal journey, I want to teach it to my children also!
We do this primarily when cooking, or playing in our mud kitchen.
This is how: We talk about different ingredients and what they are good for. For example, if we are in our mud kitchen, we might mix up a “spell in our cauldron” or make a “mud pie” for a specific intention. Maybe health if we’ve been sick. Maybe calm if we’ve been stressed. Or happy if we’ve been sad. Then we pick some herbs from the garden for that intention- Rosemary for health, Lavender for calming, and Lemon Balm for happiness, for example.
When we make our family veggie and fruit muffins (we do this usually once a week- it is one of the only ways I get spinach and zucchini into my kids!), we are very intentional with the purpose of each spice.
So, I want to make gifts where we can be just as intentional!
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Thoughts on Packaging and Wrapping Gifts from Children
Two years ago my husband and I, as part of our zero-waste ambitions, decided to never buy wrapping paper again. Never. We still haven’t run out of wrapping paper! But here is the plan- brown paper craft paper, decorated by our children with stamps, stickers, or crayons, and tied with a string bow.
Simple. Low-waste. Not killing our environment.
We also love gift bags that can be re-used, but I find that small children really love the joy of wrapping, unwrapping, and watching others unwrap. A gift bag can kind of take away from that fun!
Easy Christmas Craft Gift Ideas with Preschoolers
- Candles- We made our first rolled beeswax candles for the Autumn Equinox this year, and we LOVED making them. We’ve burned the candles we made all during the fall, and we gifted the other set to my parents. My son asked if we could make some for Christmas, and I said, HECK YES. In fact, we are going to make our own advent candles for Dec. 1-24, and our own Christmas candles for Dec. 25-Jan 6. And we are going to make more to gift! We are using this kit for advent candles (with plenty of leftovers for next year), and this kit for Christmas candles (plus extra colors for spring and summer!)
- Soap– Before kids, one of my many hobbies was making homemade soap with essential oils and herbs. If you get a ready to melt and pour soap base, this is an easy fun task. My kids love adding essential oils and herbs to mixes and we do it with intention. My son, who is 5, loves to whisper little prayers or spells as he adds a scent or herb. When we make muffins, every spice has a little incantation that goes with it :-). So I grabbed this simple soap mold, and this soap base– we already have the essential oils and herbs to add (we like to use organic essential oils when possible! Here are some great ones). These will make great, thoughtful gifts. I can ask the kids, for example, what they think dad or Grandma needs (happiness, health, relaxation), and we can find essential oils or herbs to match those needs.
- Salt Scrub- We made DIY salt scrubs for Arthur’s preschool teachers last year, and these will make a nice gift for the Grandmas, and the mom of the family we are in a pod with. We mix up Epsom Salts (1.5 cups), 2/3 liquid coconut oil, and 20 drops of essential oils of choice. This is a GREAT sensory experience if you can get the kids to mix it up really well with their hands (or with a short spoon for those who are nervous about new sensory experiences).
- Bath Salts– Similar idea, only no liquid coconut oil and we can add herbs. This is easier for the sensory-sensitive kids, because it is dry, instead of wet like the salt scrub.
- Herbal Sachets– I have more fabric than I could ever use, so I’ll plan to have the kids pick out some soothing, relaxing dried herbs like hops, lemon verbena and lavender from my collection, and we’ll make some sachets for gifting!
- Salt Dough Ornaments– These are easy and fun to make. We’ll probably do handprints for the grandparents :-). Possibly the least useful in the list, but certainly a classic craft!
- Jewelry and beaded ornaments- We’ll be working on our fine motor skills with some big, chunky Christmas colored beads! I grabbed some cheap red and green beads, and some Christmas charms. I also grabbed some natural wood beads that hopefully we can use to make some little elf decorations!
- Chocolate!! We make our own chocolates year round! I love crafting and getting a treat. And I’d rather my kids were eating organic dark chocolate than crummy chocolate from the store :-). Grab some Christmas molds and this is an easy and fun activity! We made these as gifts for Arthur’s preschool teachers last year and we got the sweetest thank you notes!
What DIY gifts do you do with your children? I’d love more ideas and more tips!