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photo of preschoolers making crafts at table

5 Easy Holiday Gifts for Kids to Make

By Melissa Summers

I’ve been trying to teach my kids that Christmas isn’t all about marking up the Target toy catalog and making lists of things they want, but I’m realizing that it’s hard for them to wrap their heads around the idea of giving (rather than getting) gifts. I mean, they don’t have any money to spend and even if they did, they can’t drive themselves to the mall to pick up gifts. So what’s a fourth grader to do?

When I was a kid, we had the Little Elves shop at school. Our parents would send us in with money — just a few dollars, nothing big — and we chose gifts for the special people in our life. My list always included my mother, my father and my grandfather. This is a lovely idea in theory except that each year I bought a crocheted snowflake ornament for my mother, some soap for my father and a box of golf tees for my grandfather. Those are fine gifts, once, but maybe not every single year your kid is in elementary school. Even worse, my sister bought the exact same things for the exact same people.

As an adult, I really want to avoid the well-mean but useless kids gifts. I really like the idea of my kids making their own holiday gifts — there’s something special about a gift that your child or grandchild has put together all by herself. Here are five simple craft ideas that will work for kids of all ages. All of them are better than soap and golf tees. Trust me.

Kid-Friendly DIY Holiday Gifts

Baby laying on changing table looking up at hanging paper christmas treeChristmas Tree Mobile
When I started researching DIY holiday gifts, I looked for pieces that were either really useful or just lovely. This minimalist Christmas tree mobile from Martha Stewart is the latter. It’s intended for babies but it makes a really nice decoration, and honestly who doesn’t like a mobile? The devil, that’s who. So unless you’re making a holiday gift for the devil, anyone would love to get this cute little tree as a present. It would look great hanging from a light fixture or over a decorated sideboard. Or even in a baby’s room. Younger kids will need help cutting out and assembling the pieces, but bigger kids can certainly manage this project without much help.

Pine Cone Bird Feeder
This is a classic winter kids’ craft. Pine cone bird feeders are easy, economical and consumable, so you don’t have to worry about your child’s gift cluttering someone’s guest room. Kids collect pine cones, slather them with peanut butter and roll them in delicious bird seed. Attach a piece of wire or twine so the feeder can be hung in a tree. My kids are planning to make these for their dad — we have a huge pine tree birds love to hang out in right outside our picture window, which makes our living room a perfect place for bird watching. Even the youngest kids can put these bird feeders together without much help.

No-Sew Fleece Scarf
If your kids are looking for a more personal gift — for cousins or close friends or a beloved babysitter — The Decorated Cookie’s no-sew fleece scarf is perfect. It literally just involves cutting the fleece and assembling the pieces — no gluing or sewing or complicated patterns to follow. Super easy, and totally kid-friendly. Older elementary school and middle school kids could manage this on their own. The video below has complete instructions. I suspect my daughter is going to want to make these for all of her friends.


Button Wreath
Once again, Martha Stewart comes through: This button wreath is very simple and would make a great ornament or general holiday decoration. Cut a piece of copper wire to the right length and make a loop in one end. Thread the buttons on the wire until it’s covered; wrap the exposed end around the looped end to close the wreath. Tie a ribbon through the loop in the wire to make a hanger.  You can turn these into Christmas tree ornaments or door hangars. They also make nice decorations for larger packages. This is an easy craft for kids of any age.

Shrinky Dinks
My absolute favorite kids craft is shrinky dinks, both because they are super fun to make and also because they burn a lot of daylight. There are so many shriky dink project options — kids can make ornaments, jewelry, I. D. tags or just about anything else they can think of. Special shrinky dink paper is available online or at local office supply places, or you can use #6 plastic containers for this craft – look on the bottom for the little triangle that says it’s recyclable and the number 6. Restaurants and grocery stores use #6 containers for takeout, and you can buy them in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club. The actual craft is simple: Draw on the plastic with a sharpie and then cut out the drawing — keep in mind that the final product will be somewhere between a third and half the size of the original. Punch a hole in the drawing for a ribbon (a hole punch is perfect for this). Line a thin cookie sheet with parchment and bake at 350 degrees for one to three minutes. This craft requires adult supervision for the baking part, but kids can handle the drawings on their own. (Need more help? This Craftster thread has some really great suggestions for creating successful shrinky dinks.)

What gifts are you making with your kids this season?

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Photo source: Martha Stewart; lead photo Depositphotos/textandphoto


About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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