Need a present for a kid’s birthday party?
Skip the mall, and let your kids make their own gifts to give to their friends. The hands-on problem-solving is good for them, and putting real time and effort into a gift (not just your money) is a good lesson on friendship.
And that’s not to mention: Make vs. Buy? No contest.
Now, we’re not talking cheezy gifts that no other kid would actually want–no handprint paintings here, or clay animals, or shoddily constructed bird houses. We’re talking about presents that your kids can make, all by themselves, that their friends are going to be flat-out THRILLED to receive–we’re talking catapults, and custom art supplies, and wands that absolutely quiver with magic, etc.
Check out the following list of 15 handmade birthday gifts suitable for a child’s skill set with your kid, and see if anything strikes their fancy, but be prepared: anything they make for their friend, they’re probably going to want to make double for themselves!
1. board game: Let your kid invent her very own board game using these printable board game templates (Here’s how to make printables eco-friendly).
2. chalk: Homemade chalk is unexpectedly vibrant. Kids can make giant chalk sticks using toilet paper tubes as molds, but novelty molds are also really fun to use.
3. crayon holder: All your kid needs is a chunk of wood and the correct drill bit to make these crayon and colored pencil holders. Whip out the wood burner to personalize them!
4. embellished building blocks: Kids can paint them, stain them, or turn them into game pieces.
5. fairy wands: This particular tute calls for a star made from melted pony beads, and you can totally do that if you’ve got them, but be warned that the process is kinda stenchy–probably not super excellent for the environment, you know? Other choices include clay, wood die cuts, or salt dough. Decorate lavishly, ideally with ribbons and LOTS of sparkles.
6. insect house: Think you don’t have time to let your kid make a handmade present? This Mason jar bug barn takes about a minute to create.
7. play dough: Play dough is something that even older kids enjoy, but we often forget to offer it to anyone older than a preschooler. Let the kids add glitter or colored sand for an even more tactile sensation.
8. PVC pipe sword: If you keep an eye out on Freecycle or at the Restore or garage sales, you should be able to collect a pretty good assortment of spare pipe fittings and odd bits of PVC pipe. Kids can use all of that to make these PVC pipe swords.
9. rock candy: What kid wouldn’t LOVE to get candy as a present?!?
10. stomp catapult: Assembling this stomp catapult from scrap lumber is an excellent way to learn some basic woodworking skills.
11. stuffed animal bed: This easy-to-assemble cardboard bed is a chance for your older kid to learn how to safely wield an x-acto knife.
12. toy necklace: Let your kid turn one of her small toy animals into a necklace while learning some basic jewelry-making skills.
13. twig gnomes: Do you think your kid might like to learn how to whittle (HINT: I let mine practice on soap)? These twig gnomes are an easy first project.
14. upcycled crayons: Don’t make these in the standard muffin tin–that’s not cool enough for a school-aged kid. Instead, score a set of novelty silicone molds from Freecycle or a garage sale, and let your kids make their friends crayons that look like butterflies, or cars, or LEGOs.
15. wands: Start with a chopstick and end up with the perfect wand for a witch or wizard. Working with hot glue can be fiddly, so this is a project for an older child.
Have your kids ever made a gift for a friend that turned out to be a big hit? Share it in the Comments below–the more ideas that we have, the better!
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