Christmas On A Budget: From Kids & For Kids

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Today we’re talking about the small humans you may have in your life. My daughter is about to turn four, so keep in mind this list is geared toward the younger spectrum of kids, both in gift making and receiving. This post mostly focuses on handmade gifts. Personally, it is super important to me to instill making gifts for people in my daughter’s life.  I am really not a fan of opening up a gift marked as from a little/young child and finding something storebought. They didn’t buy it, and chances are they didn’t even pick it. So why bother saying it’s from them? Maybe it’s just because I grew up making presents for everyone, and my friends I have always made each other things, but I find making a gift for someone and then getting to watch them open it to be one of the best parts of the holiday season.

My biggest thing to keep in mind when giving gifts from young children is practicality. I know that drawings, cards, collages etc. are great, but usually the reality is it hangs on the fridge for awhile and then ends up in the trash. I like gifts, even those from little ones, to have a little more lasting value, and ideally a USE to them.

A go-to for very young children is ornaments. For my daughter’s second Christmas (she had just turned one) we gave hand print ornaments. Specifically, I embossed her hand prints on green and red paper, dated them on the back, and looped some ribbon through. However, a stamp pad is much cheaper than an embossing kit (mine was a gift – woo!) and a stamped hand print would work just as well. If you’re feeling like putting in a little more effort, make up a quick air dry clay and do hand/foot print ornaments that way! I love ornaments as an option for young, especially first Christmas, kiddos to give as it’s a practical item that will be used year after year, and it commemorates their first one! Need some inspiration? Search on Pinterest – you’ll be overloaded with ideas.

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My little’s first handmade gifts!

Picture frames/photo gifts are another great ‘from child’ option. You can buy plain photo frames at the dollar store, and then simply have your kiddo paint on it (after removing the glass! Don’t forget that step! I’ve done it!) and pop in a picture of your choice – voila! My other favorite option, especially for the 2 -3 year old age is the ‘interview’ photo. Write out a series of questions to ask your child about the recipient. For example, I made one of these for my mom last year and I asked my daughter, “What is Mimi’s favorite food?” “What is her favorite animal?” What is your favorite thing to do with Mimi?”, and so on. The answers you get at this age are hilarious, especially if you ask about age! As you can see below, I wrote out my daughter’s answer on a piece of watercolor paper she had painted, added a photo of my mum and daughter, framed it and called it a day. The whole thing cost me $3.15 (for the frame, and photo print) and my mum still says it’s her favorite present she’s gotten from my daughter! That’s a win. If you’re pressed for time, skip the interview and just have them paint on a picture. Once it’s dry, lay a photo over it and frame it. Done!

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Photo gifts from last year. So simple!

This year, we opted for bookmarks, another really great and practical option for little kids. Grab some thick paper (cardstock works fine, though my examples below were done with watercolor paper), cut it into bookmark size pieces, and have your child paint away! Once dry, laminate (you can buy a pack of laminating sheets for $6 – $10 depending on the kind – it comes with LOTS), and you’re done. We opted to add in some pressed leaves and flowers from our stash to give them some extra spunk. My daughter placed them, I did the gluing as the pressed pieces were so delicate, and that’s it! If you’re child is old enough to write (we are just starting, but she’s doing so well!) have them jot a quick message on the back just to give it the extra oomph of handmade love.

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My other most favorite simple, cheap, and practical gift from little ones: A painted flower pot + a seed packet. A medium size plain terra cotta pot is about $2 – $3, and plain acrylic paint works great on them! However, you will need to seal the paint if it’s going to be an outside planter. We’ve never done these for Christmas, but they are completely applicable, especially for an indoor plant or herb!

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Now it’s time to talk about ideas FOR kids. With all the commercials and advertising kids are exposed to I find that hand making gifts for kids can be intimidating. And yet, I think it’s so important to do to help instill with them the importance of handmaking gifts for people, themselves included! My daughter is only four, and we don’t have cable, so she isn’t exposed to a ton, but even she loves My Little Pony and many other ‘brand’ type things (Littlest Pet Shop anyone?). Luckily, most of my ideas can be adapted to incorporate their favorite things!

Plush stuffies. I know this sounds really scary, and complicated. The idea of making a stuffed animal of any sort always intimidated me. But I tried it this year, and it’s not that hard! I definitely recommend starting out with a purchased pattern if it’s your first time. Etsy has so many options, and most are only a few bucks each. Mine are all made out of felt because again, it’s super cheap. Can’t stitch to save your life? No problem! I’ve yet to make a stuffie that couldn’t be put together with hot glue instead. I use hot glue on some of mine that have really small details simply because I find it easier than stitching. I’ll be posting a tutorial on how I make plushies (from pattern making to finished product) very soon, so you can see my method. But hot glue would be a completely acceptable (and time saving!) substitute for hand stitching!

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Some examples of the plushies I’ve made as gifts this year!

In the same vein as stuffies, I think masks are another great option for a fun gift, and one that promotes imagination! These would be a bit more advanced as you’d probably need to make your own template/pattern, but still a great option. Etsy has some amazing shops that sell masks – browse for inspiration if you’re thinking of making one for a special kiddo in your life!

Jewelry is another great, and relatively simple thing to make for the late toddler/preschool age (just beware of choking hazards). My daughter loves to play dress up with her jewelry, so a new beaded bracelet, or bracelet/necklace set would be a most loved gift. I tend to scout for beads and things on clearance, as you can often such great deals that way. Especially at Joanns.

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As for non-homemade gifts, I love stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx to get great deals on toys and things. They tend to carry a pretty decent variety of brand toys and non-brand at a price that doesn’t kill your wallet. Often times too they have a pretty sweet arts and crafts section! My local Marshalls always has a great array of notebooks and journals (which my daughter loves to doodle in, and practice her letters!), along with really fun kits of crafts to do with the kiddos. It’s my go-to store for kiddo gifts!

 Next week is already the LAST POST before Christmas! I thought November went by fast, but good gravy December bumped it up to light speed. Anywho, tune in next Monday for the final post in the series Stocking Stuffers!

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4 thoughts on “Christmas On A Budget: From Kids & For Kids

  1. nerdinthebrain says:

    I love your gift ideas! A couple of years ago, Grace and I made really fun gifts for the little crowd in our lives….we dyed different shapes of pasta in bright colors, put the colored “beads” in little mason jars, included plastic cord and kid-safe attachment thingies, and put the whole sets in little boxes with handles. The kids loved them! 🙂

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