Homemade Gifts to Make with Preschoolers

Eliza Clark
December 20, 2013

There are so many good reasons to give homemade gifts this holiday season. Here are just a few:

We're all looking for ways to save a bit where we can.

Preschoolers enjoy making things to give to friends and family, and working on gifts is a great way to occupy winter afternoons and spend time together.

Thoughtful homemade gifts are especially touching to those who receive them.

Homemade gifts teach children that the holidays are not just about new toys but also coming together and gestures of affection.

Crafts from the Savvy Activities Encyclopedia are easily made with little ones. All they really take a bit of planning ahead and a few inexpensive or recycled craft supplies. Enjoy the process and your little one is sure to as well!

Playful Picture Frames

Proud grandparents, godparents, even doting aunts and uncles would love to receive a picture the scrumptious preschooler they adore in frame made by her hands.

DIY: Seashell Picture Frame Create a homemade seashell picture frame to remember your precious memories at the beach. Collect a variety of seashells from your summer vacation at the beach, and then glue them onto a simple frame for decoration. (For more detail, see here.)

Making a Picture Frame  Cut out one rectangle-shaped piece of cardboard to at least 5" by 7". Cut out another frame-shaped piece of cardboard to the same dimensions. Staple three of the outer edges together so that a 4" by 6" photo can fit inside. Get out the glue, glitter, and paints, and let your little one decorate it. Put in a photo of the artist. This project makes a great grandparent gift. (For more detail, see here.)

Frame It Up!  Using four popsicle sticks, glue the ends together to form a square. Using decorative craft items such as buttons, sequins, pom-poms, or self-adhesive foam stickers, your child can decorate all around the popsicle frame. Add your latest favorite picture and you have a customized frame! I've hung these frames with ribbon or added magnets to put them on the fridge. They make great, inexpensive gifts for the holidays. (For more detail, see here; and for a more elaborate version of a popsicle stick frame, see here.)

Bubbly Bath Gifts

Everyone needs soap, right? Especially silly soap. Your children will love the science experiment, and give these gifts with great pride.

Make Your Own Soap  Making your own soap is a fun activity with the kids and can also make for great gifts. Note: It's a good idea to rub any toys you put into the soap with rubbing alcohol beforehand. Melt glycerin soap (found at any craft store) in a microwave safe bowl. Put a few drops of food coloring into the melted glycerin, if you want to make colored soap. Pour the glycerin into molds -- the silicone cupcake molds are a great choice. Drop in any small toys, like little plastic dinosaurs or dolls. Let cool, and then take the soap out. (For more detail, see here.)

Homemade Bubble Bath  If you're looking for a great homemade gift you can make with the kids, try making bubble bath. You will probably have everything you need already in the house. To get started, pour 1/2 cup clear or light-colored shampoo and 3/4 cup water into a medium bowl and combine with a spoon. Then add 1/4 teaspoon salt and wait until the mixture thickens. Next, sprinkle a few drops of food coloring onto a plate. Take a toothpick and dip it into the food coloring, using it to slowly add food coloring to the shampoo mixture. Keep adding until you've achieved a color you like. Pour into a wide-mouthed jar and decorate by sticking on a pretty label. If you want to get really elaborate, you can cover the lid with a scrap of cloth and tie a ribbon around the top. (For more detail, see here.)

Desk Cheer

Here is just the thing for anyone whose desk needs livening up. There are lots of fanciful ways for a preschoolers to turn a tin can into a pencil holder. Here are two ideas:

Fun & Fancy Pencil Holder  Begin by covering a clean, empty soup can with felt; be sure that the felt goes over the top edge, if it's sharp. Next, help your child to cut out fun shapes from different colors of felt. Glue the shapes on the can in any design, and finish off the project with ribbon at the top and bottom of the can. This turns out to be a beautiful pencil holder. (For more detail, see here.)

Make a Pencil Holder  Cover your workspace with newspaper. Using paintbrushes, let your child help you to coat the outside of a clean, dry aluminum can with tacky craft glue, such as Aleene's. Have your child roll the can in small dry pasta noodles, or apply larger dry noodles one at a time. Allow this to dry completely, probably 1-2 hours or longer. Then paint! Makes a great and functional gift. (For more detail, see here.)

For a Reader

Give to your favorite bookworm, perhaps along with a new book! Perfect.

Creating Your Own Bookmarks  Make your own bookmarks using card stock. Cut a sheet of card stock into rectangles. Have your child color or paint them. You can also cut out shapes to glue to the bookmark or glue on small leaves. Then cover the bookmark with clear contact paper. The bookmarks make great gifts and also are great for kids who are starting to read chapter books. (For more detail, see here.)

From Kid to Kid

Preschoolers like doing puzzles. But did you know they also like creating puzzles? A great gift for your child to offer a cousin or friend.

Create Your Own Puzzle  Have your child draw or paint a picture. Once the picture is done, glue the picture onto a piece of cardboard and then cut it into 'puzzle' pieces. Your child will delight in seeing his or her work of art turned into a puzzle and will have a ton of fun putting it back together. Or, if you have two children, you can have them create puzzles for each other! (For more detail, see here.)

At the Table

New table linens are always a welcome gift. So laminated placemats should be a hit as well, right? If they are made by a dear preschooler, definitely.

Personalizing Placemats  With your child, cut out pictures from magazines of your child's favorite things - foods, toys, colors, etc. Give your child a glue stick and then help your child paste pictures onto a large sheet of construction paper, card stock, or poster board. Laminate your finished product and voila! - your very own customized placemat. A few other options: * Instead of using magazine pictures, use your favorite family photos from the past year. * Go with a theme: Use pictures of all foods, animals, letters, numbers, etc. * Make the placemat 2-sided: numbers on one side, letters on the other. You'll pay at least $5 for these kinds of placemats in most stores! (For more detail, see here.)

Art to Give

Don't forget the piles of your preschooler's artwork from the past year. Go through the collection together and pick out a few masterworks to give to deserving dear ones. Place in cheerful frames to make the best presents of all.

Wrap It All Up

No need to buy wrapping paper when there's a preschooler in the house...

Creative Gift-Wrapping  Have your little one help wrapping presents using their painted pictures as the gift wrap! (For more detail, see here.)

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    My daughter will dig the bubble bath.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    We love making place mats! they turn out to be so fun and colorful and lacking lovely vinyl or pvc!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 3

    Is there anything to be cautious of in what soap you use for the homemade bubble bath or using food coloring, I guess just normal baby soap would be best to use for kids. Will the food coloring stain the tub or if you have tile? It probably depends on how much coloring you use. My sis-in-law made soap for her daughters friends. For a personalized touch she printed a little graphic and quote on a transparency, rolled it up, and put it in the bottle as well. Cute idea!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 4

    Oh my goodness, I have made soap one thousand times and never thought to drop little toys inside for the kids! Awesome - Thanks!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 5

    Awesome crafty ideas. This year, my daughter is using fabric markers to decorate cloth place mats, cloth napkins, and pillowcases.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 6

    My email is r_avance at yahoo dot com (for some reason I can't post it in regular format)

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 7

    This article brought back a lot of memories of crafts we made as Christmas gifts as a child, especially the felt-covered soup can pencil holder. Times were tight back then too, and we learned how to be happy with just a little. Now those lessons are coming in handy. Thanks!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 8

    We've been gifting our artwork throughout the year with plans to share more of our treasures at Christmas. I love your homemade bubble bath idea! My 4 year old would really enjoy making this for her little friends and for herself as well! Thanks!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 9

    All this seems so cute, there are lots of great ideas. Thanks!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 10

    thank you for this article! some really great ideas here...I've been trying to think of them myself, but I'm glad you've done the thinking for me! :)

    over a year ago

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