Gifts Kids Can Make

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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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