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Handmade Gifts to Make with Your Children

Written by contributor Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy.

It’s true that summer has not quite officially come to a close yet in our part of the world (while our friends Down Under are welcoming spring!), and so it may seem a bit premature to be talking about gifts for the holiday season. However, if you have ever created handmade gifts for holiday giving before, then you know it’s really never too early to start!

In years past, I have procrastinated on my handmade gifts until the last minute. Unfortunately, this meant I had to hurry through them to be able to finish on time. When my children asked to be able to help with the gifts, I was too frazzled and pressed for time to let them help. That’s probably not the best way to make happy holiday memories!

This year, I am determined to get a head start on the gift-making process, and I really want to make sure that my children can join in the creative process, too. As I’ve been brainstorming ideas, I thought of a few that I could share with you to help jump start any handmade holiday plans you are making.


Whenever it is possible, we try to incorporate upcycled and/or repurposed materials in our gift-making. It’s an important principle in our family, and it has been rewarding to see how my six year old has begun to do this on her own. It’s tempting to think that when you are giving a gift, everything has to be brand new, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true! Why not share inspiration to imagine new life for these materials in the form of a gift?

Some materials you might start collecting include:

  • glass jars
  • tins
  • canvas bags
  • fun fabrics
  • embroidery hoops
  • hardcover books
  • magazines
  • dried herbs and/or essential oils


1. Food

Photo by <a href=”Nicola since 1972

Kids love to help in the kitchen! Whether you are mixing up a batch of granola or loaves of your favorite holiday bread, children can be part of the process. My children are always so thrilled when someone they love enjoys the food they have created.

Food gifts are great eco-friendly gifts because they are consumable. No clutter left behind for the recipient of these yummy treats!

2. Candles and Bath and Body Products

Earlier this year, I bought the Paper and Beeswax Action Pack from Whip Up, and my girls and I discovered that making candles, lip balm, and lotion from beeswax is surprisingly easy! It’s quite a treat to be able to give gifts that we know to be safe, healthy, and nourishing to the recipient. We are planning to make many lip balms for gifts this year.

Of course, working with hot beeswax necessitates grown-up help, but there is still plenty in these projects that can be done by little hands. My girls and I also had fun choosing a variety of containers for our beeswax creations – mint tins, tiny glass jars, and even mini tea cups all worked wonderfully.

3.  Reusable Shopping Bags

Wouldn’t it be sweet to send Grandma or Grandpa to the grocery store with shopping bags personalized by their grandchildren? Canvas bags are easily decorated with fabric paint, and this video provides great instructions.

Last weekend, my girls and I tried out Cindy Hopper’s sandpaper printed t-shirt idea and our t-shirts turned out fabulously. I don’t see any reason why  this same technique couldn’t be used on canvas bags, and it might be a lot less messy for younger artists in the family than fabric painting.

4. Hoop Art

Photo by ohmeagan

Fans of Pinterest and Etsy are familiar with hoop art – embroidery hoops that serve as stand-alone art. Kids will have fun choosing fabrics to go into the hoop, and children as young as preschool could sew on buttons or other embellishments. Toddlers could use fabric glue to add ribbons, beads, and sequins. Older children could practice emerging embroidery skills.

5. Altered Books

Have you ever altered a book? This is a fun experience in mixed media artwork for children from toddlerhood to teenage years.

Scout your local thrift stores for hardcover books that are cheap, worn, and thin. Older children and adults may need to take on the cover (this article has helpful instructions on how to do it), but even little hands can help with the inside pages. Fill the pages with pictures from the previous years along with words and phrases clipped from magazines and old calendars to create a fun twist on the family photo album.

Those are just a few of the projects my children and I are looking forward to tackling in the coming weeks. Maybe you can hold me accountable to starting earlier than December 20th this year?

Other resources to inspire your projects:

Editor’s note: Handmade gifts are definitely a way to go green, and also to save money! Don’t forget about the Go Green & Save Green series– I had a great time writing a post for it– and this weekend I’ll have a wrap-up with links to all the posts for you.

What are your family’s favorite handmade gift projects? Which have been the easiest for your children to help create?

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Thanks for this. My kids looooove to make gifts for their loved ones for special occasions or no occasion at all. But the projects don’t always turn out so great.

    But my two girls would think making candles and lip balm is super fun (and we have tons of beeswax just waiting for projects), and I love the book idea!

    I appreciate this post now, while I still have time to think clearly about Christmas season!

  2. Heather

    What great ideas! And you are definitely not crazy for thinking holidays now…I wrote a post about Christmas a few weeks ago because I seem to get into the gift making frenzy closer to the actual day, and then freak out when I don’t have everything accomplished!

  3. Kara @Simple Kids

    Not too early in book! In fact, this is the time I start thinking about these kinds of things so that come December we can just relax and enjoy the holiday w/o any crafting deadlines 🙂

    Thanks for the mention of SK, too. Very kind of you!

  4. Kinda Crunchy Kate

    I love the hoop art idea! I hadn’t seen that one before. I also like the idea of including your kiddos. Mine are finally getting old enough that I can start including them on these types of things. And its definitely not too early to start thinking about Christmas. I found out the hard way last year that December 1st is too late to start thinking about it if you want to have a “handmade Christmas.” 🙂

  5. Mary MC.

    I adore handmade gifts for two reasons – they are unique and they express thoughtfulness. Here in the Mountains, we do doll dresses from dressmaker cutoffs for our neighbors’ daughters and they appreciate it. I believe firmly that they are delighted at how creative the gifts are and marvel that we made all those presents with our hands.

  6. Grady Pruitt

    I was thinking the other day that it might be fun to make some gifts this year. These are some great ideas to try. I look forward to trying one to see how it turns out! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Nicole

    I definitely don’t think it’s too early for thinking about handmade Christmas gifts! I’m hoping to get my act together soon and get started. 🙂 Great ideas on involving the kids, Megan!

  8. James Robinson

    My wife makes a homemade basket filled with treats… Her recipients love it!

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