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Gathering Great Ideas Together

There’s nothing better than getting together with your chlldren to plan the gifts you will make together and give to friends and family.

Every year, my daughter and I would saunter through the booths at the local art and wine festivals, exclaiming over hand-made objects, critiquing to each other the ideas and handiwork, and generally would come home with ideas for our own handmade holiday gifts for that coming season. 

Ever since the children were small, we always worked for months on projects to give as gifts to the family at Christmas.  In their early years, they made pictures and glued various items together.  Now that the kids are older, we’re able to make items that are lovely and that the family members actually can use. 

I can’t say that the grandmothers and aunts like these more mature gifts better because we all cherished the gifts the young children made from love, but these gifts are tasteful, useful, and quite often sophisticated enough to display or use with company.  What follows are some of our ideas. 

Glass painting: Chrissy and I bought a kit at Michael’s Arts & Crafts for glass painting, picked up a couple cases of wine glasses at Target (only about $9.99 for a dozen), and made personalized wine glasses for each family member (we used sturdy enough goblets that we made them for the cousins as well for them to use as fancy milk glasses). 

For Mother’s Day, Chrissy and a friend brought out the paints again and decorated flower vases for their mothers.  I’ve always used the type of paint that is baked in the oven after applying – I’ve washed my glasses dozens of times and the colors stay brilliant.

I offered this project as an enrichment class at Brewer Island Elementary school for children ages 6-10 and the children painted pet dishes, martini glasses, jars, plates and glasses – and the results were fantastic.

Fun hair decorations: We saw at the festival fun hair decorations made with feathers or strung beads.  These can be attached to a clip or a barrette.

Bracelets: One year we bought nice beads (not the plastic beads the kids used when they were little!) and made bracelets for all the women. 

Charms: You can get beads and charms and make napkin rings (using the same kind of string you would use for making bracelets or necklaces) or wine glass charms (you can use hoop earrings sold at Michael’s Arts and Crafts for the loop.)  The charms make them distinctive and more festive.

Aprons: Last year, we made aprons for Grandma.  She loves aprons made of terry cloth because she can use them to dry her hands as well.  We picked up different holiday prints for the pocket and waistband and ending up making her holiday aprons for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, happy birthday and cards (she loves her bridge group).  I think we may have gone a bit overboard with this idea!

Candles: One year we purchased chunky candles and decorated them by pushing fancy tacks into the wax and using fabric paints on the sides.

T-shirts: Fabric paints make decorating t-shirts fun and personal.  We saw some great designs and sayings at the festival this past weekend – search the Internet for ideas or come up with your own.

Award hanger: My daughter has many awards and ribbons she’s earned through her gymnastics competitions and a few from track meets.  We purchased a cup holder/hat rack wooden piece – it’s the kind with a wood background and 4-10 pegs on it for hanging things on.  We painted this, put hanging hooks on the back, and wrapped it along with a couple packages of stickers to go with her sports.  After she opened it, she decorated it to her liking, then I applied a coat of decoupage over the stickers to make them permanent.

Plaques: We loved the little plaques with the sayings painted on them.  You can start with a piece of thin, smooth wood (maybe 6” x 8”) with two holes drilled into the top edge, paint it a solid color, write or stencil your personalized saying on it, then lace a piece of ribbon through the two holes, leaving it plenty long to tie a bow at the top and hang it from the ribbon.  Some of the fun sayings we saw this weekend are:

  • Some of my greatest blessings call me Mom
  • I child-proofed my home and they still get in
  • Grandma’s sippy cup (with a picture of a wine glass)
  • I’m not 40 something, I’m $39.95 plus shipping and handling
  • I’ve entered the Snapdragon part of my life;  Part of me has snapped and the rest is draggin’
  • I don’t think of them as hot flashes. I think of them as momentary trips to the tropics.

I hope you find something that sounds fun to make and that you can share an idea of your own with ther rest of us.

Rebecca Rosen Lum September 13, 2011 at 11:33 PM
My kids and I used to make "leaf T-shirts" -- a great autumn activity. The winds would blow the leaves from the trees, and we would gather them up (as many varieties as possible). We would paint them with fabric paint, then press them onto a plain T-shirt. The multi-colored impressions would last as long as the shirt. I think eventually everyone in the extended family (both sides) had at least one leaf T-shirt.

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