Monday, October 19, 2009

Holiday Gifts That Kids Can Create

A hand-painted pencil holder made from a soup can will keep its place of honor on a busy executive's desk for decades. A sewing box made from a shoebox and covered in decoupage will get a smile every time it is used over a lifetime. Handmade gifts from children are creative, inexpensive and show them that giving can be fun.

While decorated tin cans, shoeboxes and oatmeal containers have been the beginnings of countless homemade gifts over the years, arts and crafts gifts are only limited by your child's imagination. Kits or gift baskets are fun to make and receive -- and the possibilities are endless. For example, a hand painted terra cotta flowerpot with a few packets of seeds and a pair of bright cotton gloves tucked inside is an inexpensive gift for someone in the family with a green thumb, while a "Movie Night Kit" can include a favorite film, a package of microwave popcorn and assorted sweets and snacks. Your child can also create colorful movie passes for admittance to the show. If you can find one, a theater popcorn tub would be the perfect package to hold all the items.

Another favorite is a coupon or gift certificate, usually redeemable for a service to be performed by the child. It can be as simple as "Good for 2 Hours of Weeding" or "Good for 1 Car Wash" for a parent or other family member. For a sibling, a coupon that reads "I'll Do Your Chores for One Full Day" is sure to be appreciated. And, of course, there's no better gift than love: "Free Hugs All Day Long."

Encouraging children to consider recipients' interests when creating personalized coupons not only makes for welcome gifts, but can be a great lesson in caring and compassion. Giving homemade gift certificates can also be a great opportunity for your child to explore their interests and interact with adults in new settings. For instance, an offer to serve as a parent's or grandparent's "Personal Assistant for a Day" can create opportunities for family members to share quality one-on-one time.

Once your children have produced a treasure trove of future family heirlooms, they can put the final touches on their gifts by creating handcrafted wrapping paper, gift bags and gift tags. Start with a roll of white butcher paper and paper bags (handles optional). Break out the paints, colored paper, beads, ribbons, buttons and bows and let the creativity flow. Last year's holiday and greeting cards are perfect for cutting into gift tags and can also be used to create holiday collages on gift bags. Your newspaper's Sunday comics can be used whole as a fun wrapping paper or cut up and used for decorating the gift packages.

The bottom line on homemade gifts? By encouraging kids to give of themselves through creative and thoughtful holiday gifts for others, they will not only learn the joys of giving, but have a blast in the process.

CAPTION: Kids can have fun and learn the joy of giving by creating handmade gifts for loved ones this holiday season.

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