Gifts Kids Can Make

Get creative with these handmade ideas that are fun (and inexpensive!) to craft and give

Everything in this slideshow

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Sock Monster Madness

All the materials needed for making quirky creatures are snugly tucked into this fuzzy-topped sewing set. Because the instructions are open-ended, the lucky recipient is free to make his monsters as whimsical as he likes.

Give It to: Cousins, siblings, or monster-minded friends

The Jar: You'll need a roomy one to fit the batting. Ours is about 7 inches square and 8 1/2 inches tall.

What's Inside: Batting, 2 long socks, embroidery floss, fabric glue, thread, needles, pins, buttons, felt, faux fur, child-size scissors, and instructions for making the monsters (download ours below)

Wrap It Up: Use double-sided tape to attach a faux fur circle to the lid, and embellish the rim with colored tape. Around the neck of the jar, hang a chain with a card stock tag that says "Make-Your-Own-Monster Lab." Attach a large googly eye to the other side of the tag with glue.

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

D.I.Y. Painted Desert

Retro sand art gets a modern botanical twist in this make-your-own terrarium. Even better, the unusual air plant found inside requires very little care -- no green thumb required!

Give It to: Kids, crafty grown-ups, or struggling gardeners

The Jar: Choose one with a mouth wide enough that the recipient can reach inside and create the desert scene. We used a 1-liter Weck Deco Jar (

What's Inside: Bags of colored sand, small trinkets, sea glass or small rocks, toothpicks, an air plant (find them at your local florist or garden center) loosely wrapped in colored tissue, and an instruction card for putting the terrarium together and caring for the plant (download ours below)

Wrap It Up: Use waxed cotton cord or twine to attach a card stock tag labeled "Painted Desert Terrarium."

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Treat-Yourself Spa

Bring a little sunshine to someone special with a honey-and-lemon-themed pampering kit. A small tub of handmade body scrub adds a personal touch.

Give It to: A grandmother, a mother, or an aunt feeling harried from the holidays

The Jar: Opt for one that has a wide mouth and is tall enough for bulkier items. Ours is about 10 inches tall and 5 1/2 inches square. If you're making the scrub, look for a small plastic tub in the travel-size toiletries section of your local drugstore.

What's Inside: Yellow, honey, or lemon personal care items and treats: washcloth or bath pouf; tissues; honey sticks; tea; lotion; nail polish; lip balm; and body scrub (For our recipe, mix 2 1/4 teaspoons each olive oil and honey, 1/2 cup sugar, and the juice of half a lemon. Pour the mixture into a small container.)

Wrap It Up: If you've made the scrub, adhere a small printed or handwritten label to the jar, as shown, and glue ribbon to the rim of the lid. Use double-sided tape to secure a ribbon to the neck of the gift jar or to the rim of its lid. On a lemon-shaped tag made out of card stock, write "Honey-Lemon Spa." Tie on the tag with twine.

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Constant Compliments

A collection of sweet sentiments -- each wrapped around a chocolate candy -- makes a delectable present for that someone your child just can't say enough good things about!

Give It to: A teacher, grandparent, or friend with a sweet tooth

The Jar: Any size. A quart-size canning jar will hold about 52 mini chocolate bars.

What's Inside: Chocolates wrapped with heartfelt notes. On the back of strips of decorative paper (ours are 2 3/4 by 1 3/8 inches), write a special message for the recipient, such as "I love your smile!" or "You make learning fun." Wrap the strips around mini candy bars (we used Hershey's Miniatures) and secure them with tape.

Wrap It Up: Embellish the lid with washi tape and decorative paper secured with glue, as shown. Use ribbon to attach a card stock tag labeled "Complimentary Chocolates."

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

New Year's Countdown Kit

Stocked with confetti, balloons, noisemakers, and other festive props, this New Year's Eve jar packs in an entire night of fun. The fold-up wrapping paper hats and a banner that doubles as a keepsake complete the fete.

Give It to: Party-loving neighbors, friends, or relatives

The Jar: You'll need a roomy one to hold all the supplies. Ours is about 6 inches in diameter and 5 1/4 inches tall.

What's Inside: Confetti, balloons, noisemakers, streamers, mini Magic 8 Ball, disposable camera, glow-in-the-dark jewelry, envelope, disco ball ornaments, decorative tape, party banner, and fold-up wrapping paper hats (download directions for the banner and hats below)

Wrap It Up: Use string to hang a glitter card stock tag labeled "Do Not Open Until December 31." If you like, tie one or two plastic bead necklaces around the lid for extra pizzazz.

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Gift Kids Can Make: Posy Sewing Kit

Posy Sewing Kit

Perfect for a mom or grandmother, this clever and handy gift in a jar is a cinch to put together.

Originally published in the May 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Dominic Perri

This Jar Runneth Over

Share good feelings and promote positive thinking with the help of a simple Smile Jar. Cut a piece of felt to fit the top of a canning jar and make a slit in the center as shown. Have each family member jot down a few happy thoughts, jokes, or silly notes on small slips of paper and place them in the jar. When someone's feeling down, she can pluck out a note for a quick pick-me-up. Refill with kindness as needed.

Originally published in the September 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Beaded Clay Necklaces

Surprise someone with a boho-inspired mosaic necklace your child can proudly say she made herself. Working on foil (so that the piece can be transferred to the oven), roll or press oven-bake polymer clay into a sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Use a dull knife to cut out a shape. Create a hole or two for the cord with a toothpick, wiggling it to widen. Press small glass beads firmly into the clay. Once the design is done, check the holes and reopen any, if needed. Bake the clay as directed. Coat the cooled piece with clear nail polish and add a cord.

Originally published in the December/January 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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Laura Moss

Hand-Painted Art Jars

A bit of glass paint transforms thrift-store and recycling-bin finds into one-of-a-kind treasures. First, collect glass jars, bottles, and vases. Draw designs on them with glass paint markers (we used Pebeo Vitrea 160 markers). Set the paint according to the package instructions. To add a knob, paint a wood cabinet knob with acrylic paint. When it's dry, glue it to the lid with an epoxy suitable for glass (an adult's job).

Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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Laura Moss


Here's a gift for a young cousin or friend who loves adventure. Fill it with everything needed to make a tent fort: a flat sheet, clothesline, clothespins, and a flashlight. Trim several inches from the open end of a pillowcase to form a pouch 19 inches tall. For the drawstring casing, turn the pouch inside out, fold down the cut edge 1/2 inch, iron it, then fold down the new edge 1 1/2 inches, and iron that. Using a wide-eye needle and embroidery floss, sew all around the fold to create a channel. Turn the pouch right side out.

Have your child paint a fort on the bag with fabric paint. (Or make the design shown here with a freezer-paper stencil, using the template and instructions, below.) To help prevent the fabric around the drawstring hole from fraying, paint a rectangle and snip an opening in the channel as described below.

Knot the ends of a 5-foot length of cotton cord. Attach a large safety pin to one end and use it to feed the cord through the channel. Fill the bag with fort-building supplies.

Originally published in the December/January 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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Laura Moss

Cozy Card Holders

These easy-to-sew wallets are sized just right for business cards, but you can also use them to present a gift card, jewelry, or even a heartfelt note.

Originally published in the December/January 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski


These pretty baubles have the look of glass enamel but are easily created by painting a metal washer with nail polish. Start with a base coat of white or yellow. Add colors, letting each coat dry before painting on top of it. Top the finished design with a protective coat of clear polish.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Checkers Mate

Duct tape turns a ziplock bag into a game board that holds handmade playing pieces.

Cover a gallon-size ziplock freezer bag with overlapping strips of a single color of duct tape. Fold a strip of tape lengthwise over each edge (just don't tape over the opening!). Adhere strips of a second color of tape to parchment paper. Measure and cut out 32 1 1/4-inch squares. Starting below the zipper, place the squares on the bag in an 8-by-8 grid. For checkers, cover 1-inch wood disks with two colors of duct tape, 12 of each color. (Or cut out corrugated cardboard circles, using a quarter as a template, and cover with duct tape.) Trim the tape with scissors.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Salad Days

Paint patterns on store- bought spoons for a present that's both useful and sentimental.

Lightly sand the handles of a pair of wood or bamboo salad servers, then rinse and dry them. Place a ring of masking tape midway down each handle. Pour a few colors of acrylic paint onto a disposable plate. Have your child dip a finger into the paint, then make dots on the handles. Let the paint dry before adding overlapping dots. Remove the tape. After the paint is completely dry, coat the handles with a nontoxic sealant, such as shellac.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Sporty Pillows

Give the sports fan in your life reason to cheer with a pair of soft pillows that'll make watching the game even more enjoyable.

For the baseball, cut two 18-inch circles from white fleece. For the football, cut two pointed ovals (about 16 by 21 inches) from brown fleece. Stack the matching shapes. With a marker, make dots 3 inches in from the edge and about 1 inch apart. Cut through both layers of fleece from the edge to the dots to make fringe. For the decorative stitching, make 3/8-inch slits in one piece of fleece (you can download our template and cutting instructions at Tie a knot in the end of a red or white shoelace. Stitch through the holes, then knot the lace and trim the excess. Restack the shapes and tie together the matching fringe pieces, leaving four untied. Stuff with batting, then tie the remaining fringe.

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Photo Finish

Turn a picture into an original work of art by having your child add her own colorful touch.

Start by using your computer to turn a digital photograph black-and-white. For the sharpest results, you may want to increase the contrast and brightness. Print the image on photo paper. Have your child color in selected elements of the image with wide-tipped markers.

Originally published in the December/January 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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