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Our hope is to provide a forum for mothers, fathers,and caregivers to discuss ideas, share insight and "pay it forward". Neither of us attended Medill school of journalism and we are not psychologists. We are just two women who have cared for aging grandparents and diapered littleones. We will share our experiences, tips and questions with you. Please share back. We need all the help we can get!

Kirsten and Katie
Co-founders ChicksWithKidz

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homemade Holiday

As we are all try to figure out what to give everyone for the holidays and try to save money, here are a few things that I have done with my boys over the year. Most years we have done our “crafts” over the summer and put it away for the holidays. My boys have been so proud of the gifts that they have made themselves and the gifts have lasted a long time.

-When my boys were really little, I would take them on a “collection” walk around the neighborhood. We collected rocks - big rocks, little rocks and pebbles.
Once home we washed the rocks, painted them and even glued things on the rocks – googley eyes, smaller rocks, feathers, and even cut up construction paper. 10+ years later, grandma still proudly displays her rocks on her kitchen window sill and in the garden.

-another year we purchased tiles in various sizes from the hardware store. We put handprints on the tile and gave them to grandparents and aunts and uncles to use as trivets. Again, they are still used today.

-Stepping stones are always nice in the garden and grandmas love their gardens. So one year we made stepping stones from a kit purchased from the craft store. We used our hands and feet to make imprints on the stones, then embellished them with small rocks and decorative pebbles.

-One year we went to the craft store and purchased small cardboard boxes and ornaments. (they were made from recycled materials). We painted them, put glitter on them, and even glued sequins on some of them. We gave the boxes to cousins and other relatives and we used the ornaments as gift tags on wrapped presents.

-When the boys were very young we made our own holiday wrapping paper. We took white tissue paper and used their hands in red or green paint to make handprint paper. We also took holiday cookie cutters, dipped them in paint and used them on the tissue paper as well.

-As the boys got older, we made more elaborate gifts. So one year we made soap. It was sooo easy and my boys loved it! We purchased everything needed from the craft store - molds, soap blocks, scents, colors, and a how to book. I did the melting of the soap and pouring it into the molds. My boys selected the mold, the color and the scent of the soap. It was so much fun and we had soap everywhere. (we were really clean that year!) The boys enjoyed selecting the mold and creating a unique soap for each family member – Cousins, peace symbols and happy faces in funky colors, grandpa doesn’t like spiders so they put a plastic spider in clear soap. Auntie likes turtles, so we made all different scents and shades of green turtles. A few teachers liked flowers so we made various colors of flowers with different scents. To accompany each gift we searched dollar stores, craft stores and other variety stores for different soap dishes. I think each gift cost about $7 and everyone loved it!

-Because we have sooo many girls in the family one year we made them all “magic wands”. We bought small dowel rods from the craft store, painted them and used feathers, gems, and glitter to decorate. The girls were so excited and thought they were truly magical!

-One year we thought we’d try to work with beads, so we made everyone beaded zipper pulls for backpacks, purses, and coats. The beads, pulls and sometimes a decorative charm were purchased from a craft store. The boys enjoyed making patterns with the beads and selecting various ending pieces (charm) for each pull – i.e. fish, phone, flip flop, sun, moon, cat, etc.. Some family members still have the pulls on their winter coats.

-For teacher gifts one year we made note and thank you cards. We purchased card stock from the craft store. My boys each selected 4 things that each teacher liked – coffee, dogs, golf, flowers, cats and so on. Using clip art and word, we chose different fonts and placed the teachers name with a picture of their favorite things on the page. The layout was 4 cards to 1 page of cardstock. We printed the cards out in a variety of colors, cut the page into 4 cards and tied with colorful ribbon. The teachers loved it and the boys were so proud of their computer skills.

-Other years we have gone to the Crate & Barrel outlet and purchased the following for teachers gifts --
-plain coffee mugs (about 1 ea) and put a $5 gift card to Starbucks in
-big popcorn bowls (under $10) and put packages of microwave
popcorn in it.
-clear candy dishes ($1 or so each) in a variety of shapes & sizes, and
filled them with homemade candied nuts or bagged candy.
-holiday dish towels and pot holders all under $2

Have a wonderful Holiday Season

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