by Jackie Hershwitz
Skip the trip to the Hallmark store this Mother's Day.
The best way to tug at mom's heartstrings still remains the perfectly "imperfect" creation lovingly presented by her offspring (or grand-offspring).
Handmade gifts shouldn't have to test anyone's crafting skill levels to their limits. Save the complicated projects for the Science Fair when the kids are older.
Here's a few of our easy-to-make kid-created favorites that produce the coveted "awwwww" factor.
Do-it-Yourself Gifts for Big Kids
Kids can find a big jar and clean it out. For example, an applesauce jar works well. They will decorate the outside however they want or leave it as is.
Next, the kids cut up little pieces of paper. On each piece, they will write a note for mom or draw a picture. Every time mom has a bad day, she can grab one of those loving notes to cheer her up.
Do the kids need ideas for the notes? How about, "You make the best pancakes," "I love to hear you sing," "Hugs make me smile," or "I love when we play games together." We're positive you can find just the right things to say! Mom will love this gift all year long. This works for us parents, too. We all have mothers!
A Helping Hand
This project is always a winner. The kids can trace a pattern of their hand and cut it out. They should pick tan, pink or brown construction paper and copy their hand print pattern at least five times. Once the hands are cut out and stacked together, they'll punch a hole in the bottom of all the hands and tie them together.
They'll label the top hand with "Helping Hands." On all the other hands the kids can write a way they can help mom. Might we suggest, "I will take out the trash every day," or "I will read my sister a book every day." It's a great way to show mom you love her. For kids who are all grown up, how about, "I'll try and call at least once a week."
Hands are also an easy way to create unique gifts. Make hand prints on a plain apron or on a t-shirt. Moms like to see how their kids grow each year, so add the date and your age.
Fingerprint Flower Vase
All you need is an empty jar, several colors of enamel paint and your fingers. Take all the labels off the jar and wash it well.
Once it's dry you can dip your fingertips into the paint and dot onto the jar to make flowers. Usually five or six petals makes a good flower. Leave a spot in the center of each. You'll come back and add a finger print center with another color.
Let the paint dry. Check the back of the paint bottle for instructions. It might take as long as three weeks or it might need to be heated in the oven.
As for getting the paint off your fingers, you'll wipe it off with a paper towel or rag while the paint is still wet with a bit of vegetable oil. Mom will appreciate the use of the rag over a sleeve or pants leg.
On Mother's Day, fill the vase with real flowers or some that you make.
Toddler and Preschoolers Gift Ideas
Tiny kids love to make gifts. Unfortunately their skills are limited on certain projects. These carefully picked crafts allow your wee ones to have fun and create a loving gift, with their own hands.
Muffin Flower for Mom
Color or paint two muffin cup papers. Set these aside to dry while you make the leaves. Draw two leaves and a stem on green construction paper or draw onto white paper for your child to color or scribble. Help get these cut out. Glue them onto your background piece of paper.
Glue the two muffin cups to the top of the stem, one on top of the other. Flatten the bottom cup slightly so you can see the petals.
Encourage your child to add grass, sky and clouds. These can be colored or made from crinkled tissue paper, cotton balls and other stuff around the house.
Change it up for Mother's Day. Maybe your child would like to glue a tiny picture in the center of the flower. You might put it in a pot or add "Grandma's (or mom's) love makes me grow" across the bottom.
Garden of Blossoms
Here's a great project for a kid just learning to use scissors. They'll also get to play with the glue. Talk about toddler appeal!
Draw a large flower shape onto a piece of paper. Take out a couple pieces of colored construction paper and have your child choose a color for the flowers. Then cut the construction paper into about 1" strips.
Show your child how to hold the scissors and let them snip off pieces from the strips. Once they have a pile, put glue onto the template. Preschoolers might enjoy using a Q-tip to move the glue from a lid to the template. Show them how to fill the flower shape with colorful pieces. Don't worry if it goes over the lines; once it's try you'll turn it over and cut along your template's line. Make one or several and glue onto a card or picture.
Sparkling Sun Catcher
With just the tiniest bit of help, even a baby can make a sparkly sun catcher as a gift.
Cut two hearts from contact paper, one slightly larger than the other. Peel the protective coating off the smaller heart and attach to your child's high chair or table, stick side up.
Remember those ribbons and glitter you couldn't stand to throw away after the last party? Snip those into pieces and set in a bowl by the contact paper. Now bring in the child! Show how the sparkly bits stick to the paper. Sidetrack with a snack once your artist has lost interest, is content with the layout or the scraps are gone.
Sandwich the ribbons and stuff between the two hearts. Don't worry about stragglers; they offer a bit of extra charm.
Have you received a gift from the kids that melted your heart? Tell us about it.