30 Cool & Crafty Gifts Kids Can Make

Attention, merry makers: Get creative with these handmade gift ideas that are fun (and inexpensive!) for kids to craft and give. 

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Egg-Cup Planters

Michael Piazza

Egg-Cup Planters

What You’ll Need: Craft paint, wooden egg cups, fine paintbrush, wooden skewer, fine-point paint pen, plants, soil

What To Do: 

1. Paint the bottom half of the egg cup. Once dry, paint on buttons, collars, or polka dots with the fine paintbrush. Use the skewer to add dots.

2. Use the pen to draw faces.

3. Add the plant!

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Stained Glasses

Michael Piazza

Stained Glasses

What You’ll Need: Dowel, books, newspaper, strong tape, strong twine or string, drinking glasses, disposable cups (large enough to fit juice glasses), DecoArt Glass Stain in Transparent

What To Do: 

1. The glasses will need to hang freely after staining, so set up a dowel on top of two stacks of books, with newspaper underneath.

2. Tape a length of twine to the lip of each glass. Tuck twine inside.

3. Fill a disposable cup with about 2 inches of glass stain. Repeat with additional cups and colors. Dip each glass in the stain, gently shaking off the excess as you remove the glass from the cup.

4. Tie the glasses to the dowel to hang and let dry overnight. 

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Mess-Free Tye-Dye Scarves

Michael Piazza

Mess-Free Tye-Dye Scarves

What You'll Need: Pushpins, plain silk or cotton scarf, piece of cardboard or foam board bigger than the scarf, Sharpies, paintbrush, rubbing alcohol

What To Do:

1. Pin the scarf to the cardboard so it’s stretched flat. (A parent may need to help iron the scarf first.)

2. Draw lines and patterns on the scarf with the Sharpies, tracing over lines multiple times so there’s more dye to bleed.

3. Use a paintbrush to lightly brush over the lines with rubbing alcohol. The colors will start to bleed and spread. Let dry, wrap, and give as a gift! 

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Desktop Cornhole

Michael Piazza

Desktop Cornhole

What You'll Need: Small 5 ¼ x 3 ¾- inch gift-box lid, washi tape in assorted colors, craft knife or scissors, craft glue or hot glue, 1- to 2-inch wooden blocks or beads, organza gift bags (or small plastic jewelry bags), small seed beads or dried lentils 

What To Do:

1. Cover the top and sides of the lid with tape.

2. Trace and cut out a 1 ½ to 2-inch circle (a hot-sauce bottle is usually the right size) in the top half.

3. Glue wooden blocks or beads to the corners underneath the circle opening.

4. Cut a 1-inch square out of both layers of the organza bag. Glue three sides shut and let dry. Add seed beads and seal with glue. Let dry completely.

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Fill-In-The-Drawing Calendar

Michael Piazza

Fill-In-The-Drawing Calendar

What You'll Need: Calendar template, white or cream paper or cardstock, markers, crayons, or paints, metal binder clips 

What To Do: 

1. Print out calendar; have your child complete illustrations for each month.

2. Secure pages together with two binder clips. Gift!

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Gem Soaps

Michael Piazza

Gem Soaps

What You'll Need: Clear and white soap base, mason jar, soap colorants, disposable cups, diamond-shaped soap mold

What To Do:

1. Cut soap bases into ½-inch chunks. Put a handful in a pint-size Mason jar and melt in 30-second intervals.

2. Add drops of dye to the melted soap, swirling the container gently to mix, until you like the color. Pour into a disposable cup. Make additional colors if desired using clear and white soap base.

3. Once the colored soaps have set, peel them out of the cups. Chop up.

4. Melt two or more colors of soap in separate containers. Pour into the diamond mold, alternating colors and letting each dry for about 30 seconds before adding the next so they swirl together. (You can also put solid chunks of soap in the mold before pouring in liquid soap.) Experiment with different colors!

5. Let harden overnight and wrap with plastic before giving away, to keep the glycerin from beading on the surface. 

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Splatter-Paint Barrette

Michael Piazza

Splatter-Paint Barrette

What You'll Need: 1-inch-wide (or wider) leather strips, bobby pins and/or hair clips, cardboard box, newspaper, craft paint, disposable bowl, disposable gloves, hot glue or craft glue

What To Do:

1. Cut leather strips 1 inch longer than the clips, or cut into small circles. Place leather right side up inside a cardboard box on top of newspaper.

2. Mix 5 parts craft paint with 1 part water in a disposable bowl.

3. Wearing disposable gloves, dip fingertips in the thinned paint and flick over the leather. Let dry.

4. Glue the leather onto the barrette or clip. 

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Galactic Puzzle Magnets

Michael Piazza

Galactic Puzzle Magnets

What You'll Need: Strong tape, 5x7-inch wooden puzzle blank, template, 8 ½x11-inch full-sheet labels, plastic bin or bucket with at least a 10-inch opening, plastic grocery bag, Magic Marble in gold, dark blue, and violet, wooden skewer, disposable gloves, index cards, newspaper, ½-inch magnets, craft glue or hot glue

What To Do:

1. Tape the back of the puzzle so it holds together tightly.

2. Print the rocketship template (or your favorite design) on label paper and cut out. Stick onto front of the puzzle, pressing firmly.

3. Place a disposable plastic bag in a bin or bucket. (FYI: The bin or bucket may not stay completely clean.)

4. Add roomtemperature water to the container so it’s a few inches deep.

5. Add 20 to 30 drops of the Magic Marble colors to the water. Swirl with a skewer.

6. Wearing gloves, dip index card into container—it should go in horizontally or flat to the surface. Slowly submerge it, then remove to make sure the marble pattern is working. If you don’t like the result, add more paint or try swirling in different ways. Between tests, clean water by dipping in a card, pulling the paint to one side, and lifting it out of the container. (The paint will stick to the card.)

7. Once you’re satisfied with the test, repeat the process with the wooden puzzle, adding more Magic Marble as needed. Lay the puzzle flat on newspaper and let dry completely.

8. Peel off the stickers. Glue a magnet to the back of each puzzle piece so the recipient can do the puzzle on the side of the fridge! 

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Pencil Roll

Michael Piazza

Pencil Roll

What You'll Need: 8 ½x10-inch suede sheet, 25 inches of 1-inch leather trim, hot glue, pencils, small bead, less than ½ inch diameter, craft knife, embroidery floss

What To

1. With suede placed lengthwise, place the leather trim in the center, making sure to line up one end with the edge of the suede. Glue end in place.

2. To create loops: Slide a pencil underneath the trim, and glue down both sides. The loop should hold the pencil snugly but allow it to slide in and out. Hold in place until it dries. Repeat for 12 loops.

3. Cut a small slit about ½ inch in from the end of the trim overhang. It should be large enough to fit over the bead. Round the corners of the trim if desired.

4. Roll up the suede and mark bead placement through the slit. Make a small hole and tie on the bead with embroidery floss. 

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Lavender-Scented Eye Pillow

Michael Piazza

Lavender-Scented Eye Pillow

What You'll Need: Fabric shears, knee-high socks, fabric glue, clothespins, uncooked rice, dried lavender, pinking shears, felt

What To Do:

1. Cut a 10-inch section from the leg of the sock.

2. Glue one end of the sock closed, leaving a ½-inch outer edge. Hold in place with clothespins until dry.

3. Fill the tube with 2 to 2 ½ cups of rice mixed with lavender. Close the other end, leaving a ½-inch outer edge. Glue, holding in place with clothespins.

4. Trim ends with pinking shears.

5. Cut out two closed eyelashes shapes from the felt and glue on the pillow. Let dry

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Name-Stamp Block

Emily Kate Roemer

Name-Stamp Block

Great for new spellers—or anyone who likes to make her mark!

What You’ll Need: Paper, craft foam, craft glue, 2-inch wooden block(s), stamp pad & notebooks (optional)

What To Do: 

1. Write your recipient’s name in 1¼-inch-high block letters on a piece of paper (you can also use a stencil or print out the letters in a font you like at 100 points). Cut out each letter. You can get six characters onto a block, so if she has a short name, fill in any blank spaces with a fun design like a heart or a star; if she has a long name, use two blocks.

2. Trace two of each letter onto craft foam; cut out.

3. Stack the letters and glue them together. Then glue each letter to a side of the block backwards. Repeat for all letters.

4. If desired, package your blocks with a stamp pad and notebooks.

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Mod Periscope

Emily Kate Roemer

Mod Periscope

The perfect tool to peek out of secret hideouts—and infinitely customizable!

What You’ll Need: 2 single-sleeve cracker boxes, two 2-inch-square mirrors (edges covered with tape), duct tape, glue, balsa wood (find it in the model department of the art supply store), construction paper.

What To Do: 

1. Using these instructions, cut up the cracker boxes, glue in the mirrors, and assemble them into a periscope.

2. Once you’re done, decorate your periscope: Trace each side of the periscope onto balsa wood and cut out corresponding pieces. Glue each piece onto the periscope; let dry.

3. Cover the seams with strips of duct tape and glue on construction-paper designs. Let dry.

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Mod Periscope

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Fish Friends

Emily Kate Roemer

Fish Friends

Your kids can make a whole school of these quirky stuffies for their crew!

What You’ll Need: Fish templates, fabric (about ¼ yard per fish), chalky colored pencil, kid-safe needle, embroidery thread, opaque white fabric-paint pen, beans or fiberfill.

What To Do:

1. Cut out the templates and trace onto your fabric with colored pencil (feel free to let kids draw their own fish bodies too!), then fold the fabric in half and pin. Cut through both layers about ½ inch outside the marking.

2. Starting at the bottom, stitch the fish together along the chalk line, leaving about 6 inches open along its belly.

3. Add the fish’s features with the paint pen, letting each side dry in between. Help your child iron to set the paint per manufacturer instructions.

4. Stuff the fish with beans or fiberfill, and then stitch it all the way closed.

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Travel Backgammon

Emily Kate Roemer

Travel Backgammon

Personalize this game in your buddy’s favorite colors.

What You’ll Need: 2 colors of felt 19x13-inch fabric place mat, fabric glue, 4 colors of oven-dry clay, glue stick cap, 2 pairs of dice, drawstring bag, poster or mailing tube.

What To Do:

1. Draw a triangle that’s 5 inches tall with a 1⅓-inch base onto a piece of felt. Use it to cut 12 felt triangles in each color.

2. Arrange your triangles onto the place mat as shown. Glue into place; let dry.

3. To make the game pieces: Twist together two colors of clay, then roll out to ¼ inch thick. Punch out 15 circles with the glue stick cap. Repeat with remaining clay. Bake according to package directions.

4. Place the game pieces and dice in the bag; roll up the board to store it all in the tube.

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Sock Monster Madness

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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D.I.Y. Painted Desert

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 (weckjars.com).

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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Treat-Yourself Spa

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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Constant Compliments

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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New Year's Countdown Kit

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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Posy Sewing Kit

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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This Jar Runneth Over

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

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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Hand-Painted Art Jars

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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Fort-in-a-Bag

Laura Moss

Fort-in-a-Bag

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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Cozy Card Holders

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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Ring-A-Lings

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Ring-A-Lings

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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Checkers Mate

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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Salad Days

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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Sporty Pillows

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 familyfunmag.com). 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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Photo Finish

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