Applause Please, Kids Can Make Gifts!

by Leila Peltosaari

Do you have little kids in the house? They love creative crafts and then, of course, they want to give their creations to someone they love as a gift, eager for applause. With Christmas coming, start a craft box with a few basic supplies so they can make amazing little gifts for family, friends and teachers. A handmade gift is always special and unique. There is pleasure in the making and then more pleasure in the giving.

Here are a few simple ideas to get them started:

Dolls, Gnomes and Angels

Make adorable little dolls, gnomes and angels from wine bottle corks. Hollow out a cork top and glue a pressed-paper ball on top. Add a little bunch of doll hair on top and dress the cork body with scraps of fabrics, tissue paper, pipe cleaners etc., gluing all in place with tacky glue or craft glue. For an angel, add wings from stiff paper and a halo from golden pipe cleaner. Draw face with markers.

Magazine Bins

Large, sturdy plastic containers from cat litter, spring water or laundry detergents make useful magazine bins. Cut off and discard the top. Wash and dry the bottom part well. Tear or cut paper (from colorful tissue paper, telephone directory pages, cartoon strips, travel brochures etc.) into little pieces. Brush some decoupage paste on the outside of the container, a small section at a time, and paste the paper pieces all over. Continue until the surface is covered. Brush more paste on top. Let dry well.


Cut bookmarks from thin cardboard. Decorate them with old stamps or cutouts from travel brochures or your own drawings, gluing all securely in place. Punch a hole at top and add a ribbon. Write a message on back.


Find an empty glass jar and wash it well. Brush white liquid glue generously all over the outside of the jar. While the glue is still wet, sprinkle gold glitter on the jar until it is evenly coated. Hold the jar over a sheet of waxed paper to catch and reuse the falling glitter. Let dry thoroughly. Brush white liquid glue on top of the glitter to seal it. Let dry again until the glue becomes transparent. Tie a beautiful ribbon around the rim into a bow. Fill the finished jar with bath oil beads, smooth pebbles, seashells, potpourri, cotton balls or dried flowers.

Memo board

Make a mini memo board from Styrofoam trays that usually end in trash. Wash the trays well. Cut off and discard the raised edges. Stack three trays on top of one another. Crinkle a large sheet of foil slightly, then straighten it out and wrap it tightly and neatly around the stack of trays, hiding the edges at back. Crinkling makes the foil stronger and gives it an interesting texture. Punch two small holes in the upper edge with a nail or toothpick and push a cord through the holes for hanging, then tie cord ends together at the back. Add a few pushpins.

Scandinavian Spice Wreath

Make a fragrant Scandinavian spice wreath with white liquid glue and allspice berries. Spread a generous ring-shaped layer of white liquid glue on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drop allspice berries into the glue, side by side, until all the glue is covered. Let dry overnight so the glue dries into a shiny, transparent layer. Peel the wreath off and turn it upside down. Spread more glue generously on the back of the wreath and cover with allspice berries all over. Let dry well. The glue will become invisible and the wreath will be loose on the foil. Discard the foil. Tie a string around the top to make a loop. Tie a piece of ribbon into a bow on the top.

Cranberry Ring

Even the littlest kids can handle stringing wooden beads into chenille stem to make this cranberry ring. Push a chenille stem through small red wooden beads. Form a circle and twist chenille stem ends together at the top and then into a bow. Add a string loop around the top. Hang the ring on the Christmas tree.

When you start a simple craft box, it will spark child's creativity year round. In addition, if you add a simple craft book to get started, you will keep them and their friends happily busy for many, many hours on rainy days. Their craft box becomes a treasure chest, yielding much happiness and many memories.

Leila Peltosaari, author of "Hey Kids - Let's Make Gifts, grew up in rural Finland with her three sisters. Their parents were farmers. Now, with two children of her own, Leila lives in historic Chambly, near Montreal, Canada. She has written several user-friendly books on sewing, crafts, Halloween, and cooking. She also is a publisher. "Hey Kids," featuring 50 easy ideas to make keepsake treasures, is written for children 5-12 year old. More information is available on her website.

Copyright © Leila Peltosaari. Permission to republish granted to