Birthday season is upon our family in full swing. We will celebrate the birthdays of all five of our children between the end of this month and the middle of February, as well as add another little baby to the mix during that time.
Add to that Christmas; and yes, we enjoy giving our children gifts for Christmas as much as we enjoyed getting them as children.
That is a whole lot of gift ideas to come up with, and a lot of gifts to give! Finances can quickly become an issue, which is exactly what giving a gift should NOT be about.
The other factor is that, being a "large" family, the last thing we need is more toys, or stuff in general for that matter. Because our younger children have lots of older siblings, and because the toys we have bought in the past are all very high-quality and timeless (i.e. wooden train set, Duplos/Legos, etc.), they can be used again and again for each child without needing to be replaced or becoming outdated. Especially because 90% of the toys are stored out of sight in the shed, they keep their appeal when we do pull them out for a while. But that doesn't mean I'd want to "re-gift" them to child after child, or get rid of them just for the purpose of being able to buy them again as gifts.
That's where hand-made gifts come in. While to some they may just seem like a cheap excuse to get out of buying a ready-made gift, they truly are so much more unique and heart-felt than anything at a store could ever be. I mean, anyone can go down to Toys'RUs and buy the newest video game system on a credit card that they are later going to bankrupt. But few parents would have the motivation or skills to make a gift themselves. The time spent making the gift will often be spent thinking about the person we are making it for, which is always a good reminder to pray for them. Truly, a very special way to gift anyone in your life, especially the loved ones in your family.
Below are some of the ideas I have planned for our children for the upcoming birthday/Christmas season:
Solomon (late September)
- book sling: I am going to use fabric that has the various planets in our solar system printed on it, as Solomon loves anything to do with astronomy and space
- curtains: I will use the same fabric to make him matching curtains for his bedroom. The ones he has now are plain beige.
- coupons for things he enjoys: some ideas are a cooking class with Mom, getting to stay up later than usual, etc. Just a few is plenty, or else this idea quickly becomes a drudgery for me.
- chocolate playdough: Can't wait to try this!
- felt foods: This website has a great roundup of ideas for making felt foods. Simplicity and McCall's also offer various patterns for making play food from felt. Many times throughout the year, Jo-Ann's offers patterns from these publishers at $1/pattern, which is a great time to stock up on them.
For those with limited sewing skills and/or time, it doesn't have to be as sophisticated. When we were at the Phoenix children's museum, all the food in their pretend-play restaurant was made from felt, though much simpler. For instance, the only thing that was sewed in the pizzeria was the pizza crust, while the toppings were simply small scraps of all sizes and shapes of various interesting fabrics in a plethora of colors. The kids, even the oldest ones, LOVED playing with these.
Other gift ideas I am thinking about for Christmas and birthdays later on:
- Build-a-cake play set
- Felt heart cookies: I am thinking about making these for Miriam's birthday, since she was born on Valentine's day.
- doll clothes: These can be more trouble to make than to simply pass down outgrown newborn clothes. A special appeal, however, could be to sew clothes for your daughter and her doll from matching fabric.
- matching outfits: Miriam and Becky love dressing in matching outfits. Skirts are very quick and easy to make.
- costumes: A perennial favorite with our children. Again, buying patterns for $1 each when they are on sale will make this even more inexpensive.
- art/craft kits: Finding projects on sites like Family Fun, little kits that contain all the necessary instructions and supplies can quickly be assembled. If you have multiple children, you could make similar but personalized kits by using their favorite colors and/or themes. Similar kits could be made for gardening or science projects.
- Lookie Loos: I could totally see our boys loving these. We saw one at a specialty toy store once (for a mere $30...) that they were fascinated with. I have already dyed a bunch of rice and been collecting little items to put into theirs. Except, I am going to use a bottle that is perfectly round and has no ridges in it whatsoever, such as a "Smartwater" bottle.
- hair bows/clips: I think our daughters would love to get matching "pretties", although I yet have to find a website with simple instructions.
Once you get thinking, it's hard to stop. My biggest constraint is time, and I will have to make a point to work on these projects a little bit each day.
Many thanks to Lily of the Valley for her great post on gift ideas. I greatly appreciate and welcome any suggestions or links to other gift ideas you may want to leave in the comments below!