A fun tradition that has grown over the years in our family is exchanging homemade gifts on January 1.  A little something new for the new year.  So, each year the children pick names out of a hat and they have to make something out of items found around the house for the person they chose. I give each one of them an afternoon alone (well, as alone as we can be in this house) with me so I can help or give ideas. I love watching the creativity and thought that goes into these presents!

I also have found out how wonderful it is to have ideas available on other peoples’ blogs and on Pinterest so…. I hope some of these ideas may be helpful to someone else!

Here are some of the ideas children here have come up with over the years… Disclaimer: photos are really hard to take when children are too excited to sit still for Mom’s camera! 🙂

  1. Fleece Tie-blankets, Tie-pillows, scarves, hats, Breyer horse blankets, doll blankets, dollhouse people clothes and blankets, dolls, octopuses….

I keep a regular stash of fleece around, because every year someone decides to make something out of fleece. You can often find yards of it at thrift stores that someone had good intentions of using and ended up giving away!  It is such a soft, cozy fabric and the young ones especially like their blankies and pillows.


They also make all sorts of other accessories. There’s an octopus with a foam ball covered with fleece and braided arms that has been loved on for years around here.






2. Flower Pots make great…wind chimes, pen holders, herb gardens….
img_20161125_112000Here was one little flower pot made into a wind chime.  Beads, string, washers, permanent marker and one little old flower pot!

3. Shoe boxes


This one was made into a little felt play scene with felt pieces to move around and stick on the felt background.  They could be filled with just about anything though!



4. Yarn Dolls and Animals

On the left of the shoe box above you can see a miniature version of a “yarn doll”.  They are quite easy to make and can be made in various sizes, with added clothes and accessories made out of scraps.

5. Home Made Play Doh

This is often an idea we fall back on when we can’t think of anything 😀 😀 But to be more creative.. add different little toys and items with it. Here rocks, gravel, play doh and bulldozers made a fun little “construction set”.


6. Roads, towns, and farms

Duct tape with black dotted lines makes a great road.  This can be pasted down  on cardboard or onto other material.  We have then added pictures of places around town here or well-known landmarks for fun.  One year we made sections of road on all different 12×12 squares of cardboard.  They could be arranged in all different patterns.  Those cardboard squares were used over and over until they finally fell apart!  A thicker fabric would also work very well so that it can be folded or rolled up.

7. Doll House Bookcases

3 shelf bookcases make great little dollhouses!  Take an old bookcase and attach the shelves firmly.  This definitely works better with an older, solid bookcase that’s not going to tip over!  Wallpaper, flooring material, windows cut out from magazines and using different materials and imaginations will soar!

8. Fishing Game

A branch or a stick and a string with a magnet can “hook” fish with magnets attached. The fish? Cardboard, paper, felt… Whatever happens to be around.


9. Memory matching game

We have had memory matching games made of index cards cut down. You can make just about anything with them. We chose to put relatives and family members on them.

10. A coloring book, book of mazes, puzzles, dot to dots…

A little book of printables with a cute cover and personalized for the child is always appreciated.

11. “Board book” or picture book

Thick cardstock can be laminated or “home laminated” (covered with wide clear packing tape) to make a board book for a very small child.  For a fun touch make the story about the child themselves!  Sometimes a book of just all cutout tractors or cute kittens will make a nice picture book too!

12. Pallet shelves

There are several designs of pallet shelves out there that are pretty easy for a larger child to make and the children love having them to keep all their books and knickknacks in.

13. Jack in the Box

A little box with a lid…a figure to pop out… and a paper spring

14. Home made Lip Balm, Bath Salts, Body Scrubs….

These make great gifts for the older tween or teen girls. There are lots of recipes online!


15. Baby Rattles

A water bottle with split peas or beans taped firmly shut makes a great rattle for a baby and can be made by even the smallest child.


16. Wood scraps

The creative child can make tool boxes, dresser toiletry caddies, or decorations out of scraps of wood. This year we had a jewelry hanger with random hooks and screws 🙂


The end result…..