Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last-minute homemade holiday gifts for kids

Need a few Christmas-is-almost-here gifts for little ones? Here's a selection of options you crafty wizzes (et al.) can whip up on the quick. Bonus points that they'll be handmade with love (also speed!).

Some require sewing skills, some do not, and some require no crafting abilities whatsoever! Hooray!

Simply click on the title for a link to the full tutorial. (Some of the ones toward the end don't have their own tutorial if they're really easy to figure out!)

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Make your own baby leg warmers

All you need are appropriately festive or fashionably forward adult knee socks! You might already have some (I've repurposed ones that had worn through on the sole before), or you can easily find some cheap and bright ones at any clothing store. The sewing is seriously minimal, so you could even do this by hand if needed.

Sew an easy superhero cape

Superkids will love a shiny, shimmery cape to race around in, saving the world! This design's reversible, so you can grab two colors they'll love.

Felt easy-roll wool balls

Grab a skein (or two, for color swirling) of 100% wool yarn, roll it up, and then treat it the way you're not supposed to treat wool to felt it on up into durable wool balls. All you'll need is time to wind, plus a hot dryer or hot water and soap, or both. If your kids (or pets) get bored with throwing them around, toss them into your clothes dryer for good as an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners.

Sew a cozy baby blanket

We love these soft and snuggly throws for keeping warm in carseats and strollers and cuddling on the couch. One side is whatever flannel suits your style, the interior is warm batting, and the reverse side is fluffy minky.

Knot a nursing necklace

Make jewelry for a nursing mama to wear that's safe for a baby to tug. These easy bead-and-fabric necklaces also work well as a gift for little kids in child-appropriate fabrics.

Design some doll clothes

Here's a simple idea for a halter and wrap skirt that you can make with fabric scraps. Fun!

Make a baby carrier for a doll

Use a sturdy fleece for a practically-no-sew mini mei tai.

If you want to carry your baby yourself instead, use this no-sew fleece mei tai tutorial, or this tutorial for sewing a fabulous mei tai that you'll use and love for years.

Help a homeless family

Get your kids in the giving spirit by putting together bags of essentials to bring to a homeless shelter or distribute to people you see who are in need of one.

Make beanbags to toss

You can sew up beanbags for a special little one right quick. All you need is any fabric, preferably something heavy-duty, such as leftover fleece. For filling, I chose poly pellets (from Michael's), but you can use actual dried beans, rice, lentils, beads, pebbles, etc. Sew two layers of squares (right sides together) almost all the way, turn right side out, fill with your "beans," then sew up the opening. If you want your beanbags to be prettier, sew a design on one of the squares first.


For extra credit, make a target for throwing.

Be very sure about sewing thoroughly, or use an inner bag for the beans for extra certainty. Don't give beanbags to any children under three without constant supervision, in case one bursts unexpectedly.

Create some sensory tar pits

Make some flubber and pop it into an air-tight container. Include some mini animals (Party City or the thrift shop will have cheapies), vehicles, or tools to play with it. If you go for a dinosaur theme, you can call them Tar Pits. The kids will figure out the rest.

Play hide-and-seek with a memory game

Put together some memory cards with stickers or your own drawings. You can skip the laminating if you're in a hurry!

Put together sorting cups

Choose little cups or containers plus a variety of colorful objects for sorting activities: by color, by size, by shape, by kind. Remember, these tiny pieces are appropriate only for children over three or whenever they stop putting things in their mouths.

Make a magnifying bag

Magnifying glass + small, detailed objects (coins, shells, beads) = easy and fun lesson in observation. (Only for children over three.)

Encourage your beginner sewer with a sewing kit

Embroidery hoop, holed non-adhesive shelf liner, yarn, darning needle, placed into a sweet little bag

Assemble a crafting kit

Stickers + crayons + paper = transportable crafting.

Sew a travel marble game

Serving Pink Lemonade's marble game is an easy sew-up project.

Make a necklace kit

Cut up colorful straws or gather some beads or pasta, and pop in some yarn for necklace stringing. You can tape the ends of the yarn to make it easier for little hands to thread the beads.

Create texture cards

Toddlers and preschoolers (beyond the gumming phase) will love running their fingers over textured cards. You can use them in sorting games, memory games, guess-the-card-blindfolded games, or to talk about similarities and differences. It could even be used in a language game if you're learning vocabulary words in a new language (such as for textures and colors).

Brush some glue on your cards and materials.

Fuzzy fabrics work well.

As do yarn and feathers, textured stickers, and pop-up paint.

Craft stores also sell special textured papers that are really fun!

Make shapes with popsicle sticks

Place Velcro dots at the ends of jumbo popsicle sticks.

Then connect them to make shapes and letters!

 Collect a bean sensory kit

Ok, I'll grant you that there's nothing to "make" for this and it's so easy it's sort of ridiculous, but this is a really good time for the toddler and preschool set. Please closely supervise children under three to make sure nothing goes in the mouth or up the nose! Discontinue play if your child is not developmentally ready to leave the beans outside the body. Go to the store and buy a big bag of dried beans. You can also use rice or pasta, but I like that you can still use the dried beans for cooking after your kids are done playing if you rinse & soak. Pick out a sheet or tarp to contain the nonsense, or even a kiddie wading pool. Gather some measuring cups, plastic containers that were bound for the recycling bin (yogurt and cottage cheese containers and the like), and serving spoons. Bonus points for mini dump trucks and bulldozers!

Parents need presents, too!

If you need something special for a mama in your life, I'd also like to ever so humbly recommend one of my books: Poetry of a Hobo Mama and The Natural Parent's Guide to Babywearing. Both are available as ebooks, so it's easy-ship!

What are your favorite go-to holiday gifts? Any fabulous crafts you're scurrying to complete by Christmas Eve? (Good luck!)


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