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Ever since Elijah’s second Christmas, when he was old enough to “help” a little, we’ve made it a holiday tradition to have the boys make something special for their grandparents’ Christmas gifts each year. We want our children to take an active part in giving, using their own talents and creativity and thinking about ways to bless someone else during the holidays. (We do give our parents additional gifts. These homemade items are just part of their Christmas.)
Thankfully both our boys enjoy crafty things and drawing, so they are usually pretty excited to help out and work on their “projects.” Of course, since they are children, Mommy has to be ready for lots of supervising, some mess (or a lot), and stepping back to give them room to actually do it themselves (as much as they can). Their vision of the finished product might not always match mine, but if the Christmas gift is to be from THEM, it needs to be THEIRS. (And sometimes, younger kids, like Josiah, are more interested in the process than actually finishing the craft, which can try a parent’s patience.)
Over the last few years, we’ve made a number of different items, so I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite inexpensive, homemade Christmas gift ideas.
Our boys love all the decorations at Christmastime, so making keepsake ornaments is one of their favorite things. They love seeing the ones they’ve made in the past on their grandparents’ Christmas trees and ours each year.
Salt Dough Ornaments: These were one of our first DIY gifts from Elijah. It was a relatively easy dough to mix up, if I remember correctly (it HAS been about 5 or 6 years). We rolled it out, then used a portion of it to make a couple prints of Elijah’s hand (because baby handprints are always adorable). We also cut out circle shapes for smaller ornaments and gift tags. Once the ornaments were baked, I had Elijah paint his handprint and draw designs on the circle ornaments, too. Then we added a nice ribbon to hang them with. (Note: The bigger the ornament, the heavier they will be, so roll them out as thinly as possible and keep them small).
Popsicle Stick Snowmen: Elijah has always loved snowmen, especially Frosty, so this was a really fun Christmas gift for him to make, and they turned out so adorable. I had the boys paint the sticks and help me glue them together, as well as adding the googly eyes. Then I painted the rest of the faces, including the noses.
Wooden Ornaments with Photos: This Christmas gift project was a bit more tedious than I expected, so the boys didn’t get to help as much. However, I was really pleased with how they turned out. The idea is to take a picture printed out on a laser printer and after coating a small piece of wood with gel medium, you glue the picture onto the wood, smoothing out all the bubbles. Once it has dried overnight, you use a sponge and water to remove the paper (the TEDIOUS part), leaving behind the print. I had to do the sponge and water step several times to get all the paper off (you can see it as little white specs and lines when the project dries). For our ornaments, we used differently shaped pieces of wood – rectangular, round, and heart-shaped (maybe 2”x 3”). Two of the pictures were ones that I took of the boys playing with the Christmas lights, and then I used a photo editor on my phone to add fun word art. Also, I used some pictures of them in the snow. I did some in color and some in black and white, and they all turned out nicely. (By the way, the link above is only to the Pinterest pin because the site is no longer active.)
If we aren’t making ornaments, our projects tend to involve painting or drawing on something else. 🙂
Oven Gloves: Another “handprint” project was the “Grandma’s Helper” oven gloves that we did. I basically just bought some plain oven gloves, had the boys add their handprints on the front, and then wrote “Grandma’s Little Helper” or “Grandma’s Helping Hands” (something like that – haha.). They were really cute, though, and both grandmas were delighted with them.
Mugs: Since the grandmas got oven gloves, we wanted to do something for just the grandpas, too, so that year I had the boys paint on plain white mugs. There are tons of ways you do this, and I think the most popular seems to be to use Sharpie Markers. However, we didn’t. We did paint with a clear coat. I’m not sure how well they’ve held up through a dishwasher, but from what I’ve seen on other sites, there are ways to make them last a long time. (Note: We made sure to keep the paint and clear coat more toward the bottom half of the mugs. Also, the link above it NOT to the tutorial we used. Again, that tutorial is no longer available.)
Picture Frames: Another thing that the boys have painted as Christmas gifts was picture frames. We bought some plain black 4×6 frames, removed the glass, and let the boys paint designs on them. Then we put a nice family photo in it. Simple.
Blank Canvas: Elijah always wanted to do finger painting when he was little-little, so one Christmas, I simply bought a pack of blank canvases, and let him do his thing. They actually are quite neat. He made paintings for his grandparents and great-grandparents. He even had one left over for us, which is still hanging in our bedroom.
Okay, technically this isn’t a “craft,” but it’s always a good gift idea. I don’t know about your family, but my parents and in-laws always enjoy getting actual printed pictures of their grandchildren. While I try to get prints to them throughout the year, I know that many of the photo-printing sites offer coupons and great deals on not only prints, but other fun Christmas gifts around the holidays.
I always watch Shutterfly for their coupon codes for free 4×6 prints, but my two favorite coupon codes to get are either for free photo books or calendars. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten at least two calendars each season for just the price of shipping. 🙂 You can personalize the calendars with multiple photo layouts and add important family dates, such as birthdays and anniversaries. This way the grandparents get to spend the whole year adoring their grandbabies.
As of right now, I don’t know what project our boys will be working on for their grandparents’ Christmas gifts. Of course, even if I did, I couldn’t write about it, yet. 😉 With Baby #3 due mid-December, it will definitely have to be something simple that doesn’t require as much supervision from Mommy. Thankfully, they’ve had several years of practice at being crafty and creative for Christmas, and no matter what they do, as long as it’s from them, I’m pretty sure their grandparents will love it.