Welcome to my post for the Des Moines Area Frugal Blog Tour! Julia McGuire, who is leading this tour is a Homeschooling leader in my community and has gathered together some amazing local Bloggers for this tour. I’m the first stop 🙂
When someone says “My child made me a gift for the holidays” one might imagine something made from a recycled toilet-paper tube, some glue and paint. However, when given the proper guidance even a young child is able to create a quality gift that is not only beautiful, natural and affordable – but one that the gift recipient will truly cherish forever. There are a few rules to keep in mind when looking for these kinds of hand-made gift instructions:
1. If the craft is age-appropriate it will be beautiful. However, if you ask a child to create something that is too difficult it may turn out poorly.
2. If the craft is made from all-natural materials it has more of a chance of being treasured, appreciated and something the child can be proud of. For example, which would you be more likely to wear – a string of glass beads arranged with a pendant in the middle or a string of plastic beads? Both take the same amount of skill level. However, one will appear much more professional than the other. It may cost slightly more to purchase the glass beads instead of the plastic ones. However, you are investing in something that will be used instead of something that will be thrown away or packed away in a box. Part of being frugal is realizing that buying the cheapest is not always the best. Any time you purchase something that is not going to be used you are throwing away your money.
3. If a piece of artwork goes with the decor and is framed it will be more likely to be used by the recipient. Try to find out what colors the gift recipient has in their rooms. A beautiful abstract or child-created painting may look like “art for grandma’s fridge” if it is done in many colors and does not match the decor. However, the same piece of art can actually look like it was done by a professional if the colors are chosen according to the decor of the room, it is done on large paper (11 x 14″ or 20 x 30″), it is done with quality materials (beeswax crayons result in much more vibrant colors than crayola and high quality watercolor paints do the same) and is framed. Michael’s and other stores often run half-price ready-made frame sales. You can also purchase old artwork or posters from Goodwill, throw out the artwork and use the frame.
4. If the gift is useful it will always be appreciated. Think about things you need around the home. Ready-made soup or cake mixes are always useful when days are busy or guests stop in last minute. For some reason I always need hot-pads and guest towels and bags and holders of any kind are always appreciated. However, I have probably only really needed a paperweight once in my life and I don’t really need any more clay sculptures, bowls or vases. Everyone’s needs are different.
You might be surprised what kids can make that people will really appreciate – not simply because they love the child – but because they also admire the gift itself. Here are two sample gifts from my book “Natural Gifts that Kids Can Make“, “First Grade Crafts and Stories” and “Second Grade Crafts and Stories“:
Natural Gift Instructions
Cut these in a holiday shape (snowflake, leaf, acorn, snowman, tree, etc…) and fill them with loose tea for health or enjoyment. Put them in a handmade bag or recycled glass jar with a ribbon and a label. To make the muslin tea bag, you will need unbleached muslin, a hand sewing needle, heavy sewing thread, and heavy paper or card stock. It is important to wash and dry the fabric before using it as there could be residue on the fabric. Muslin is 100% cotton so it will also need to be lightly pressed after it has been washed. While it is washing print out the pattern for the leaf and cut your fabric in sets of two leaves each. You will need two of each leaf for each muslin tea bag. If you have pinking shears, use them because it gives a decorative edge to the muslin tea bag and will help prevent raveling of the fabric. If you don’t have pinking shears, cut the muslin with scissors being sure to cut as straight as possible. Pin two squares together and sew around three of the sides of the muslin tea bag, leaving one side open. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Place about one tablespoon of loose tea in the muslin tea bag, and sew the last side securely. Using card stock, cut out small “tags” to use on the muslin tea bag string. This is also a great time to cut up some of those water-color paintings and use those! On the tag, write the flavor of the tea and/or a nice message. Then, using your hand sewing needle and heavy thread, place a few stitches on one edge of the muslin tea bag, securely knotting the stitches. Leave about 4 inches for the tea bag string, and sew the tag on the other end, again securing the stitches with a knot.
This is a wonderful toddler gift that any child can make! Slice up a small log with a saw.
Hand-drill holes in the middle.
Sand these pieces and provide string and you can “lace beads”.
This can be made by older children and given as a gift to a younger toddler.
This can be made by older children and sanded by the younger children.
This can be cut by an adult and sanded by younger children.
Purchase one of the e-books above for more holiday gift-making ideas 😉