While I do enjoy making things for the kids, it’s not always something I’ve done for sheer pleasure. Sometimes it’s kind of a necessity. For example, a few years ago we were in a really rough financial spot. We had a new baby, and my husband’s income had suddenly been cut nearly in half. (He’s an independent contractor, so his pay had always fluctuated, but never dropped like that.) Christmas was coming, and we didn’t want to be irresponsible and spend money we didn’t have on gifts. In one of our finest moments, we figured out a way to give him an awesome Christmas, and we only spent $10 on him!
Max was almost 7 at the time, and very much into the Mario Brothers, especially Luigi. He had a stuffed Luigi doll already, but the big thing he really wanted was a “fire” Luigi doll. It was basically the same doll with a different outfit. So, I made him a fire outfit for his Luigi doll out of felt and hot glue that he could put on and take off whenever he pleased. That was his “big” gift that we saved for last, and he still remembers it as one of the best gifts he’s ever received. And it cost me about 35 cents.
That same year, I also made him a set of Mario items:
I like to make gifts for other people’s kids as well. When we get invited to a birthday party, or we exchange Christmas gifts, I often make something instead of buying something. It saves me money, and I can usually give them something way cooler than I would have been able to buy. Last year, I made this Pikachu hat for Charlie’s son, Eli. I bought a white hat from Michael’s, dyed it yellow, then painted the face on with acrylic paint.
You may be noticing a theme here. I usually make stuff with favorite tv or video game characters, ’cause kids get really into that stuff. Also, the trademark stuff is usually pretty pricey, and often cheaply made. For instance, Max is really into The Legend of Zelda. Do a search for a Link bag or satchel or coin purse (whatever it’s called) and see how much they cost. Max and I made this one in one of our homeschool craft classes for pennies on the dollar:
Way back when Max was 4 (in ’05 or ’06), my little brother made a shield for him out of cardboard. We’ve since made shields for other kids for their birthday parties and what not. For some reason, I can’t seem to find any good pics, but if you look below, you’ll see one of Max wearing his at the zoo. He went through a phase where he wouldn’t leave the house without his shield and sword. I’m working on a shield right now for my younger kid Oliver’s 4th birthday gift. I’ll blog about it when it’s done.
I think you get the theme here. Kids are pretty easy to please, especially when they are little. Just take their favorite things and run with it. I hope I’ve inspired you to think about easy ways to make things for your kids if you are so inclined. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just think about what they like. Once, I made this little worm (Slimey) for a kid who’s a huge Oscar the Grouch fan. He got so many gifts that year, and mine was one of his favorites, if not THE favorite. He slept with it every night for a while. It cost me pennies to make, and took maybe 20 minutes tops, counting searching for the supplies. I don’t have a pic, unfortunately, but it was just a little fleece worm, maybe 5 inches long, with knots for eyes. The important thing was that he loved it.
What sorts of things have you made for your kids?