Quick gifts to make
There are five weeks, and then it’s Christmas. For any of you not celebrating Eid this week maybe it’s time to start getting your children’s lovely bits and bobs upcycled enough to be able to give as gifts? These ideas come from Nicola Baird’s new book, Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children (which is £8.49 on Amazon and has a great chapter on gifts…)
I like making stuff, I like that feeling of knowing the object from start to finish, the pride of using it, and even it lasting. I’m hopeless at decluttering though and as a result there are far too many useless, homemade objects in my home. And none shall be culled! That’s why if you are trying to think of quick gift ideas for you and your children to give at Christmas time it makes sense to ensure they are going to be beautiful and useful. Edible is often the quick win answer.
What can I give?
Here are some gift ideas to create with children that can also often be made from scraps, and unwanted items:
Frame an art work (find the frame in a charity shop)
Frame an old pair of your baby’s tiny shoes or gloves – cute and moth proof.
Get inspired by diarists like Gilbert White or Thoreau and try making a portfolio. “What I’d like to do is put together a nature diary, an old-fahsioned thing where the baby and I do a bit of drawing or we might look at different types of leaves or take some photos through the seasons and enjoy looking at them now and when he’s older.” Anne with Edgar, six months
Buy vanilla pods or cinnamom sticks to put into a jar of sugar. Find an empty glass jar with lid (or kilner jar, easy to get from charity shops or Lakeland) then tip some white fair trade caster sugar in about a third up. Get your baby to add a pod or stick. Then top up the sugar to the brim. Screw on tightly. You can decorate the jar with paints or add your own designed label. Flavoured sugars are lovely with coffee and on top of many winter puddings.
Chocolate truffles may need 24 hours to make/set but your child can help decorate a special box/tin and may even enjoy licking the bowl…
November is your last chance to make sloe gin or sloe vodka ready for Xmas drinking. Take the baby and buggy out for a sloe pick back home let them to help you drop them into the bottom third of a bottle, add a generous rush of sugar and then top up with alcohol. Put the bottle in a dark place and shake it once a week to help mix up the flavours.
For something less decadent than truffles or flavoured alcohol you could make a special breakfast museli. Find a big, clean jar (or kilner jar) or even a tupperware box with lid. Then add anything that tastes good in museli. Typical ingredients include oats (jumbo organic preferably), sultanas, raisins, cranberries, seeds (eg, toasted pumpkin/sesame or toasted linseed which is then ground into a powder) taste delicious. More tasty treats to add: blueberries, small bits of fig, date, apricot, coconut, flapjack crumbs etc.
Plants are great. You can plant up hyacinth and daffodil bulbs in old pots, pretty pots or simply special pots (I’ve used unwanted potties before!) for indoor or outdoor flowering. Outgrown wellies are fun to plant up too. But they need lots of weight at the bottom (try biggish rocks) else they tip over and, if they don’t have some holes put into them, can become waterlogged if left outside.
Can you sew? Learner sewers could help you create and decorate a sausage-shaped doorstop to keep out draughts. See the picture and instructions below for an example of a pencil case my nine and 12-year-old made one afternoon. Not only did the children create a potential handmade gift they also learnt how to thread needles and sew on different sorts of buttons (collected at a car boot sale).
How to make a felt pencil/make-up/glasses case
* At a craft shop buy a bright piece of rectangular felt. Add a lining by sewing cotton on to one side. The cotton is your inside.
* Fold into three with the felt on the outside. The top one-third can be decorated with mixmatch buttons.
* Add a tie by stitching a strong material ribbon in the centre of the middle third.
* Now fold back into thirds, and work out which is the bottom two-thirds. Then stitch this up to make a pocket. Picture coming soon!
You could even adapt this to make your own party bags…
“I didn’t want to give mine away so I decided to use it as a pencil case. At school my friends asked me to make more so they could all have one. I think I could sell them, maybe for £20.” Lola
What ideas have you found make great gifts? Do share in the comment box. Thanks.
ALSO Look out for my next post with ideas about what to suggest well-meaning and generous friends/relatives could give your child. Have a good week!