Handmade Christmas

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas for kids. There are so many ideas I run across in crafty blogland that I’ve begun to think you really could do an entirely handmade Christmas for kiddies! Not that kids necessarily need plastic toys or technological gifts, but one of the problems I have with handmade gifts is thinking them up!

So I wanted to catalog the ideas I’ve seen and liked that I would love to make for my own kiddo, you know, if I ever found the time.

~ Stuffed kitty cat (a.k.a. Pointy Kitty). I made one of these recently for a little friend’s birthday party and the Boo would not stop playing with it. Must make one for him!

~ Frog Toss Game (a.k.a. Lilypad Toss). I have one frog for this cut out and that’s it. BUT I still think it’s a brilliant game and my boy will love it! Provided he doesn’t throw the frogs out the window. I was thinking about making the lilypads out of quilted felt or fleece with some weights inside.

~ Play food. There are a million sites out there with fantastic idea for making your own play food. There are knitted patterns, articles about needle felting, sewn fabric food, and loads of play food for sale for inspiration (check out Etsy!). A little googling will lead you far and wide in this department. Pick your poison, if you will.

~ Linked to the above, toy kitchen accessories would go over well too. Little oven mitts, pot holders, and aprons! The cuteness could kill you.

~ I really would love to have a doll house and make lots of stuff to go with it — needle felted sofas and chairs, homemade dolls and pets, miniature quilts and blankets, etc. Oh wait, this is supposed to be for the kids! Yah, all of that for them 🙂

~ If your kid likes hats/mittens/socks clearly there’s a lot to go on in this department as well! I know some little girls who go gaga over fancy dresses. My kiddo professes to love his hat/scarf/mittens (mittens new and yet to be blogged), although you wouldn’t know this from how little he wears them. He likes them in theory. But I suppose theory is part of the whole gift giving gig, no? He also spent an inordinate amount of time harassing me for pirate booties of his own. I’ll get around to it some day!

~ Hand-dyed play silks. You can buy white playsilks and dyes from Dharma Trading and custom dye them yourself!

~ Customized clothing. Dyeing, embroidery, fabric paint, iron-on designs, take your pick!

~ Gift boxes. I love these gift boxes by Amy at Angry Chicken. You can buy arts and crafts boxes at retailers, but you could also put one together yourself, tailored just for your kiddo. For a little one, just a treasure box full of random stuff would provide at least 10 minutes of entertainment 😉

~ Felted Hedgehog and Squirrel. I’ve made one hedgehog and he’s been a hit. A squirrel is in the works (but will probably not be done by Christmas). Incidently, the hedgehog also makes a great catching device! Sort of football/rugby shaped. School colors would be pretty funny. One other thought — how funny would it be to have the squirrel with a bowl full of wooden acorns?

~ Felt balls and beads are also great. I use the directions from the Art of Feltmaking book, but there are tutorials online as well. Beads can be turned into jewelry or strung into a garland for the Christmas tree. Balls are great for throwing indoors and look great piled in a bowl in a variety of colors.

~ I also plan on making a fabric or felt “quiet book” one of these days. Felt shapes on a blank background, or a fabric book with buttons, zippers, etc. Fun, especially for the car!

~ Handmade gifts don’t necessarily mean you have to make them yourself. Etsy, Hyena Cart, Ebay, and local crafts fairs could all be good sources for gift giving. For example, some friends (who are very into wooden toys) recently got a wooden ferry boat complete with little cars from an artist tour of Vashon Island here in western Washington. You won’t find that at Toys R Us! Perfect for their children and unique to boot. I’m very curious what the Boo will think of it at our next playgroup over there.

And that’s all I have at the moment! I know there are more. I seriously need to organize my chaotic (and often repeated, apparently) bookmark list.

For us, this Christmas, there are many, many purchased mass produced items, including lots made in China, I am sure. I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing and haven’t hopped on the “not made in China” wagon myself. My kid loves trains, for example, and while you can buy wooden trains and paint them yourself, they don’t have the same gauge and, well, they’re just not the same, you know what I mean?

We also have family spread throughout the world, and Amazon is a lifesaver for gift giving. Most of my family would be very hard to provide for in a purely handmade venue — most request books (will e-books ever become popular?), movies, or even things like china dinnerware or kitchen appliances. Gift certificates are often popular. All of which are fine, in my opinion, but quite obviously not handmade. So I didn’t take the “handmade pledge”, but I do try to do what I can when I can. Somebody gets handmade every year, that’s for sure!

Of course gifts don’t have to come in packages as we’ve received classes and memberships as gifts and these are fantastic — the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak! There’s also something to be said for not overdoing things. I’ve read recently about people limiting gifts to three per child, I suppose as homage to Jesus receiving three gifts from the wise men. While those sorts of limitations would made me sad, it IS easy to get carried away, particularly when it’s not just you providing the gifts.

To be honest, we haven’t really settled into our own Christmas patterns yet. Christmas also follows quick on the heels of all our birthdays and that provides its own challenges and raises expectations of constant gift giving! I’m sure we’ll sort out these dilemmas as time goes by.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to find such exemplary inspiration on the internet and look forward to providing lots of fun activities for me and the kiddo, made mostly from scraps in my craft space!

ETA: Since I’ve already added a few ideas to this since initially publishing it, I think I’ll just keep adding things willy nilly when the inspiration strikes! Please comment if you have additional ideas!

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