HELP! Advice Needed — Gift Ideas Kids Can Make

A few days ago, I received the following email from Sherry at A Little Fun with Me and Lu. I know Sherry is not alone in this dilemma, so I thought I would share her email with all of you, and together maybe we can come up with some options for the rest of us to enjoy too!
Hi Valerie,
I always bake for my family for their holiday gifts … between my husband and I, we have 6 brothers and sisters, 4 sets of living grandparents, and 4 sets of parents … I could never buy for all those people, so every year I have Lu make an ornament, then I get our pictures professionally done and include that in the gift. I get a regular tin from the dollar store, bake cookies, and voilá! Done! This year I want to do something better. I love them, but as always I am on a budget. Truly I am at a loss. Can you help at all? I always see great handmade items on your blog and if theres anyone that understands a budget you do 🙂
Thanks for your time,
Any good ideas for gifts kids can make that won’t break the budget? Leave a comment and share your ideas with us!


  1. EntertainingMom says

    My kids love to make ornaments. We paint glass ornaments by pouring small amounts of paint into clear glass ornaments, shaking until all the paint has covered the inside of the ornament and then tie a pretty bow on to it. We also like to decoupage ornaments. We use tissue paper, or pretty wrapping paper remnants and cover foam balls using Mod Podge as both a glue and a gloss. Our ornaments are amazing! We've given these in pretty containers to grandparents and have used them as place settings for family holiday meals.

  2. Sewing-Chick says

    Maybe you could crank out some potholders with kiddie handprints on them or something? I know it's kind of late for this year, but maybe for next year perhaps. Happy holidays!

  3. You can make things like bath salts and scrubs pretty cheaply, especially if you're making them in bulk. The most expensive part of making them are the essential oils to sent the salts, but one small jar can go a LONG way. They're also something young kids can help make!

    You can use craft felt to make pretty book covers for cheap notebooks. All of a sudden, a 10/$1 beginning-of-school sale notebook becomes a thoughtful handmade Christmas gift.

    You can make "days" or "nights" gifts. We did this a few years ago for members of our family and they liked it. And example: you can give a "relaxation night." Include a few herbal teabags, a cozy tea mug, a small pot of lavender "massage lotion" (just regular lotion with some dried lavender and lavender oil mixed in), and a cloth rice pack (the kind you pop in the microwave or freezer) scented with – yep, lavender. You could make a "date night" pack for a couple with a video rental coupon, your favorite recipe for home-popped popcorn, a bag of popcorn, a movie-theater box of candy, and, depending on the couple, a bottle of wine.

    And don't forget double-duty presents. We offered a "day of fun" for our young niece and nephew last year. We picked them up one Saturday, took them to a new park, let them help us make lunch and Popsicle, did a messy but fun art project, and sent them home exhausted. Of course, this doubled as a "day of fun" for my sister and her husband – they had a day to themselves!

  4. Stepping stones…quickcrete, mold and sea glass, shells, marbles, etc….We bought letters stamps especially for stepping stones to personalize them.

  5. Stepping stones are a neat and creative gift. You can buy a large sack of concrete from a hardware store for under $6 and it will make AT LEAST 10 -12 stepping stones. It is a lot of work, and rather messy, but makes a great gift! We make ours in inexpensive pie tins, and place decorative stones from The Dollar Tree, handprints, or we write Bible verses with some concrete stamps.

  6. Some great ideas 🙂 Thanks ya'll!
    Entertainingmom- I was actually thinking of doing that with glass ornaments, was at Michaels today looking at them!
    Sewingchick-my sister had her children do the handprint potholders last year and believe it or not, my fav gifts ever I use them all the time!
    Amy- I love the day and night gifts, never heard of those before!

    In the mean time between my email to Valerie and my frantic baking all week, I did find the PERFECT truffles to make and the cutest boxes for them to go in. Pictures will be in Monday and I am still working on the ornament thing .. haven't thought of one yet, but love the glass ball idea!
    ALSO–VALERIE just wanted to let you know … thanks to you, your blog and my ambitution to want to learn to sew, I made my very fisrt apron today! I will post a pic later, and it happens to be a "homemade gift" I've been a busy gal these few days!!!
    Keep the ideas coming!

  7. Dollar Store Crafts ( has a lot of kids and Christmas ideas and she estimates the cost of each project.\

    Frugal Family Blog ( has some kid friendly crafts that could be presents.

    Things my son has made in the past were (most have tutorials on my blog):
    -Ornaments out of CDs or old floppy discs
    -Decorative wreaths made of of hand prints or shapes, ornaments made out of salt dough or Fimo clay (can use a cookie cutter to make shapes and decorate or put a thumbprint or hand print in the center)
    -Decorate note books, small photo albums or journals (I made a "Pop Art Journal out out the cardboard that pop come in, felt, paper and glue and hot glue that older kids could easily make with supervision)
    -Bookmarks from junkmail or felt
    -Coin purse, Ipod holders or sunglass cases out of felt.
    -Tote bags from old tank tops and could decorate with fabric paint and/or fabric glue or iron on bonding, hot glue or hand sewing or machine sewing for older kids.

  8. Love to Craft by Chrissy says

    I have a rather large family. I am the youngest of 9. 30 niece and nephews… Thats just my side of the family. Well, for godparent gifts.. I am having my girls draw a picture. Transfer it on to a new, antique looking, dish towel, with transfer paper. Then I am going to embroider the colors, they used. I got this idea from.. ( Its in the embroidery category, under "your kid the accessory designer" Simone is such a talented lady! Check it out! It is so cute! It show cases your little ones work too! 🙂

    I hope this helps 🙂

  9. buy really cheap wooden picture frames (£1 for 3 in ikea here)and have your kids decorate them with patterned paper, sequins and glitter. we did this last year for all the girls aunties and uncles and grandparents and then put a photo of the two girls in the frame…. very inexpensive, very personal and lots of fun. the girls have also made card presentation boxes and filled them with homemade sweet… peppermint star seem to be a hit with everyone. cookies too presented nicely are good gifts too.
    have fun
    ginny x

  10. No sé si será mejor que lo que ella hace habitualmente, ops! pero estoy poniendo una serie sobre estas cosas en el blog, igual os sirve para dar una idea (sería fantástico que hicieras un post recopilación con todas las ideas)

    Besitos Valerie y mis deseos de felicidad para tu familia :*

  11. By December 25th I will have made over 25 gifts for a little over $75. But I did all the making myself… and almost all of them were sewn. I don't know if Sherry sews. Some of them were pretty simple (enough that I child could help or do them). Some of the simpler ones were: neck pillows (I have a very simple pattern that I got from a 4H sewing camp for beginning sewers actually, very easy), coasters, scarves (just sewed strips of fabric together and then backed with white flannel), fabric lunch bags (pattern from, and fabric covered bead necklaces (google a tutorial, they are everywhere), and superhero capes for my nieces and nephews (I think you've made one for your little girl that was similar). Don't get me wrong, I've been sewing since October… but managed to get it done on a budget!

  12. also has good ideas for kids to make. They are almost always economical, too.

  13. Infant Bibliophile says

    Such great ideas here. I'm looking forward to following the comments! Homemade certificates can be a lot of fun if you get creative, and depending on how much time you have to do things for other people (if they live close). You could give coupons for, for instance, 1 morning of shoveling or raking, 1 household chore of redeemer's choosing, 1 one-of-a-kind piece of art by your child with redeemer to choose the colors and/or medium used, etc.
    We made a lot of bookmarks this year – I just let my 2 year old paint, marker, and sticker them, and we're pairing then with gift books (homemade photo books for the grandparents, Childrens books for nieces and nephews).

  14. The woman I work for makes really cute napkins and table cloths with her kids- She buys white napkins from winners (some are quite pretty with the silk pattern on them) and she'll put out little plates of fabric paint, then using christmas cookie cutters, you dip them in the paint and stamp them on to the cloth, let them dry and they're very cute!

  15. I think homemade gifts are so special – especially if children are making things for their parents and grandparents to treasure. If you have any book fans how about handmade personalised bookmarks – easy, quick, unique
    here's how:

  16. Calendars are a great idea- your kids can make a picture of each month and you can print out months of the year from many on-line sites… just google "calendars to download".
    Also, take a look at this site- many neat ideas for calendars to print out and assemble-
    How about placemats, take a nice picture and cover it with contact paper. There are some amazingly easy techniques for simple lovely pictures here:

  17. Justin, Kira and Evan says

    decorate paint cans and fill them with Jello popcorn.

  18. You can check out some of the fun ideas on my site. A favorite are handprint crafts and hot rocks that can be used as paper weights.

  19. The Domestic Contessa says

    I posted about the idea for Snowmen Candy bars:

    These are super cute and super cheap and super easy – all things that are perfect for our Christmas gift list! I have 25 of these guys/gals to make and spent $18 on the chocolate by getting it on sale, got the fleece and buttons at Walmart for about $8. I already have a bunch of the eyes – this brings my grand total to $26 or just over $1 each!

  20. Jolene (South Africa) says

    Valerie has a great recipe for Mint Hot Cocoa on here, we made that and then spooned it into pretty bottles for all the uncles, aunts and grandparents. I then printed lables for the bottles with a photo of my children with the directions and viola, a cheap and easy prezzie for everyone. And it tastes great too.

    All you need is 1 qt sized canning jar, 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 cup chocolate chips
    Put ingredients into jar. Add baking instructions then tie with pretty ribbon and you're done! (Try different flavors, like chocolate cake mix & peanutbutter chips!)

    BAKING INSTRUCTIONS: Mix together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil and cookie mix. Form dough into 1/2 inch balls and set on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes.

    My kids decorated one side of an index card & I wrote the instructions on the back. We also made soup in a jar for everyone. They had fun taking turns layering the colorful beans! Check out the Gifts in a Jar Recipes at

  22. I think treasure soap is easy and fun. My 4 year old helps by adding grating soap, adding sparkles, adding scents, stirring and finally putting in the treasure. I do the melting and pouring. Also picking out the molds is fun.

  23. Valerie, did you check your PO Box? We sent you and Emily a little something 🙂

  24. An Almost Unschooling Mom says

    There's a handmade gift link up at Tater Tots and Jello – that might have some good ideas.

    About Once a month I post things that I am Making ..LOL And We are definaly on a frugal budget!

  26. As a grandma I would say anything my grandbabies make is much appreciated. They live far from me and I love to brag on anything they send (always displayed where anyone visiting can see). This year I'm hoping for fridge magnets (sent their moms instructions as a hint) of their sweet faces but a plain old rock painted with flower would be great. But a tin of cookies, decorate by them would be super! I would have to have the girls over immediately for coffee and cookies.

  27. Felt needle books. My daughter made me one, and I love it. Very inexpensive — just felt, a few buttons, thread, and needles.

    I learned of this craft at Pink and Green Mama (a blog you should follow if you don't).

  28. Coupon books! We were tring to encourage our Grandma to spend more time with us so we set a monthly date with her (1st Saturday for example) and gave her coupons. For Example:

    "July is jammin'! Come to our house and help us make jam."

    The coupons were for her to join us for our regular activities. It turned out to be a very fun gift!

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  30. I'm going to bake cheese cakes for my family and friends, which is a little better than cookies and very inexpensive and easier to make(1 can of condensed milk, 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 package of cream cheese, two eggs, vanilla and of course graham cracker pie crust.Blend, bake and voila! Makes two pies!) I'm also sewing fleece ugly dolls for my nieces and nephews this year, you can get pattern ideas from their website ( and you can even sew them by hand! Customized them with the kid's name on the back!

  31. Stacy of KSW says

    Hey Valerie,

    I don't have a corresponding post or pics yet but I am making a handmade pictionary & charades game for my sister in law this year. I'm using an empty pickle jar, spray painting the lid, and writing the prompts on tongue depressors {popsicle sticks would work too}. I'll add some pretty ribbon & call it a day.

    I saw a great post the other day about a serving platter with thumbprint snowmen from the whole family {Grandparents would love this} I'll see if I can find the link again.