5 Cool DIY Christmas Gifts for the “Under 6” Crowd

By Linsey Knerl on 8 December 2007 (Updated 14 December 2011) 18 comments
Photo: kellyv

Handmade gifts are becoming cool again (even if you’re not talented enough to try.) Kids, however, don’t often appreciate the time and effort that goes into a gift crafted by the hands of the giver. Whether you do it because you’re frugal, or you do it because you care, here are five gifts for smaller children that will be loved long after the season is over. (See also: 5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids)

Play Dough

This 50-year old classic is a favorite toy at our house. New batches are made daily, and there is no end to the ways children can play with it! For a fun spin on the traditional recipe, here is a “Pumpkin Pie” variety that is perfect for the holidays!

Ingredients

  • 5 1\2 Cups Flour
  • 2 Cups Salt
  • 8 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 3\4 Cup Oil
  • 1 Container (1 1\2 ounces) Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Orange Food Coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
  • 4 Cups Water

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until lumps appear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth.

For more fantastic varieties (including an edible peanut butter dough, visit PreschoolEducation.com)

For a fabulous way to package the play dough for gift-giving, see what this Mom did. It’s a clever way to use a pie tin and cellophane to wrap your pumpkin pie dough like a “real” pie! (You may even want to include a mini rolling pin, a pretend knife, or other tools for working with you dough.)

Crayons

A plain box of crayons may not be a memorable gift for today’s kids. This recipe for recycling old broken crayons, however, can be modified to make brand new crayons in exciting shapes and colors that kids can really get excited about!

Directions: Simply take old crayon pieces (or new crayons in the colors of your choosing) and break them up into small chunks. Take a silicon baking pan with holiday-shaped molds, and fill each mold with the crayon pieces. Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for about 10-15 minutes (or until just melted.) Cool completely before removing.

Tips: Crayola brand crayons work the best. You can use different-shaped molds for every child. Dinosaurs are adorable!

Chalk

Making your own cleverly-shaped chalk can be just as easy as the crayons. Pick a mold and a color that will work well for the personality of your child.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Directions: Mix 1 cup Plaster of Paris and 1 cup water together. For colored chalk, add powdered tempera paint to achieve the color you want. Let stand for a few minutes and then pour into mold. Set side and let dry completely. This can take anywhere from several hours to a few days depending on the size of the mold you chose. Once dry, remove the chalk from the mold. If it is still moist, let air dry for another 24 hours.

Crazy Putty

Here is a great recipe for the classic brand-name favorite. (Be sure to use care when playing with this around carpeting and fabric. Like the original, it sticks!)

Directions: Mix 2 parts white glue (Elmer's) with 1 part Sta-Flor liquid starch. Mix well. Let it dry a bit before working with it. (It may not work as well on humid days). Store in an air-tight container.

Lacing Cards

Kids are always trying to tie things. Homemade lacing cards are easy and inexpensive gifts to keep idle hands busy.

Directions: Simple cut some different shapes from heavy cardstock (cereal boxes are fun to use, too!) and punch the edges with a one-hole punch. Lace shoestrings through each of the card and tie in a bow! You can choose shoestrings with favorite cartoon characters, sparkles, and funky patterns for a truly personalized gift.

These are just a few of the many open-ended and creative gifts you can make yourself this holiday. Because you have crafted them from your own hands, you can help to ensure that they are safe and that they might stand a better chance of not ending up in next year’s trash. (Did I also mention that they are just plain cool?)

[Note: Please use common sense with the gifts mentioned above, especially with children under age 3. Know the abilities of the child, and practice adult supervision at all times.]

 

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Guest's picture
Joel

I found an edible gingerbread train kit at Target for $8 a few days ago. My 3yo nephew is crazy for Thomas The Train and I've already been told by his mother that the gingerbread train will make me the favorite uncle. Now to see how good I am at decorating.

Myscha Theriault's picture

What I like the most about all of these homemade gift ideas is that they are interactive. And that pumpkin pie play dough idea in the pie tin is adorable!

Guest's picture
Tom

I think children like opening up the gifts. A lot of the times I think you could wrap up empty boxes and they would be excited, haha.

Julie Rains's picture

I've never heard of the crayon creation -- sounds great and I wish I had known that one when my kids were small, and breaking crayons regularly. You also reminded me of my candle-making venture with a childhood friend. We melted crayons to color candle wax and then sold the candles door to door (note, this is not necessarily a great business idea but we did have fun!).

Guest's picture
DivaJean

cut from scraps and sanded nicely. You can make tons from one or 2 two by fours. Cutting some squares, rectangles, arches in the rectangles and such make it more interesting.

Linsey Knerl's picture

My hubby did this for our boys.  4 years later it is still one of our FAVORITE toys!

Guest's picture
Bailey

This is a great article to help parents occupy children 6 and under years of age but most of these require supervision. There are often times during the holidays when parents need a half hour or hour of uninterrupted time to get things done and I have an excellent suggestion for parents in this situation. There is a wonderful CD item on the market now. It is called the Original This is a great article to help parents occupy children 6 and under years of age but most of these require supervision. There are often times during the holidays when parents need a half hour or hour of uninterrupted time to get things done and I have an excellent suggestion for parents in this situation. There is a wonderful gift item on the market now. It is called the Original Christmas Classics and it is a Limited Keepsake Edition. It contains all the wonderful Christmas Classics we parents grew up on during our Christmas’s like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town. There are 4 other movies included and a bonus music CD as well. This is a Great bargain for all ages. You can purchase it wherever DVD’s are sold or you can use the convenience of online shopping by going to http://www.christmasclassics.tv
This great gift is sure to delight everyone at your Holiday gathering and be sure to buy extras as emergency gifts to households with kids that you may have forgotten on your list. I work for them and I personally can’t wait to buy my own copy and wax nostalgia with my honey and a hot of cup cocoa. Enjoy your Seasonal festivities with the gift of warm fond Christmas memories with your family today.

Guest's picture
Bailey

This is a great article to help parents occupy children 6 and under years of age but most of these require supervision. There are often times during the holidays when parents need a half hour or hour of uninterrupted time to get things done and I have an excellent suggestion for parents in this situation. There is a wonderful gift item on the market now. It is called the Original Christmas Classics and it is a Limited Keepsake Edition. It contains all the wonderful Christmas Classics we parents grew up on during our Christmas’s like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town. There are 4 other movies included and a bonus music CD as well. This is a Great bargain for all ages. You can purchase it wherever DVD’s are sold or you can use the convenience of online shopping by going to http://www.christmasclassics.tv
This great gift is sure to delight everyone at your Holiday gathering and be sure to buy extras as emergency gifts to households with kids that you may have forgotten on your list. I work for them and I personally can’t wait to buy my own copy and wax nostalgia with my honey and a hot of cup cocoa. Enjoy your Seasonal festivities with the gift of warm fond Christmas memories with your family today.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a great article to help parents occupy children 6 and under years of age but most of these require supervision. There are often times during the holidays when parents need a half hour or hour of uninterrupted time to get things done and I have an excellent suggestion for parents in this situation. There is a wonderful gift item on the market now. It is called the Original Christmas Classics and it is a Limited Keepsake Edition. It contains all the wonderful Christmas Classics we parents grew up on during our Christmas’s like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town. There are 4 other movies included and a bonus music CD as well. This is a Great bargain for all ages. You can purchase it wherever DVD’s are sold or you can use the convenience of online shopping by going to http://www.christmasclassics.tv
This great gift is sure to delight everyone at your Holiday gathering and be sure to buy extras as emergency gifts to households with kids that you may have forgotten on your list. I work for them and I personally can’t wait to buy my own copy and wax nostalgia with my honey and a hot of cup cocoa. Enjoy your Seasonal festivities with the gift of warm fond Christmas memories with your family today.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a great article to help parents occupy children 6 and under years of age but most of these require supervision. There are often times during the holidays when parents need a half hour or hour of uninterrupted time to get things done and I have an excellent suggestion for parents in this situation. There is a wonderful gift item on the market now. It is called the Original Christmas Classics and it is a Limited Keepsake Edition. It contains all the wonderful Christmas Classics we parents grew up on during our Christmas’s like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town. There are 4 other movies included and a bonus music CD as well. This is a Great bargain for all ages. You can purchase it wherever DVD’s are sold or you can use the convenience of online shopping by going to http://www.christmasclassics.tv
This great gift is sure to delight everyone at your Holiday gathering and be sure to buy extras as emergency gifts to households with kids that you may have forgotten on your list. I work for them and I personally can’t wait to buy my own copy and wax nostalgia with my honey and a hot of cup cocoa. Enjoy your Seasonal festivities with the gift of warm fond Christmas memories with your family today.

Guest's picture
DivaJean

Another good one is a play mat. Just canvas either stitched around the edges or duct taped if you don't sew.

For the Hot Wheels/cars kid- paint roads, scenery, etc on the mat with acrylic paints (really inexpensive).

For dolly kids- paint images of a bed, a picnic area, etc. Your little one could pretend to put the dolly to bed with a blanket on top, sit at a picnic tea party, etc.

Lots of good ways to rework the play mat. And they roll up and store easy.

Guest's picture
vh

Wow! What neat ideas!

If you can thread a needle (or you have an inexpensive sewing machine that will run a straight seam), you can make cool stuffed animals from kits--or at least, back in the Dark Ages you could. Haven't looked on the Web, but it might be worth a quick search: you used to be able to get sock monkey kits, and also Raggedy Ann and Andy kits. The latter were fairly complicated because you had to make their clothes, but sock monkeys are easy to do.

Now that we have electricity, I STILL have those wonderful dolls my great-aunt made for me when I was a little girl.

Guest's picture
Mandi

These are all great ideas. Even with all the gagets and doo-dads out there most kids will love them. My mom made a baby doll (Andy) for my youngest (2) last year, and gave a game to my oldest(9). This year my oldest requested a homemade item as well.

I had to say that baby lookse just like both my boys when they were younger. awwww

Linsey Knerl's picture

That's my precious oldest son.. when he was a little younger, of course! thanks!

Guest's picture
Meredith

Thanks so much for the link! This was a great list.

Guest's picture
funfelt

Here are step by step instructions to make your own felt board - it's easy, inexpensive, and so open-ended! You can make all kinds of figures out of felt to go on it and kids LOVE it!
How to Make a Flannel Board
:)

Guest's picture
Kelly

Those gifts above are so nice. Thank you very much for author's work. It is very helpful. I once made digital aubum as gift, I think that a good idea. Make digital album for Christmas gift on http://www.softry.com/reviews/business/174-make-a-digital-album-as-chris... : it need help of a free software named Photo slideshow Builder. We clooect photos from computer and select a beautiful song, make them into video, and then burn it to DVD.

i think this may be a good idea, I learn so much form this article above, so i want to share my ideas with friends.

Best regards!

Guest's picture

Don't forget popcorn string and paper rings!

We recycle a lot of artwork (the girls 4 and 6 doodle a lot - so we have a lot of half-used paper) and we cut the clutter out by making paper chains for the tree...

I talk about it here in the fun eco-xmas song,
"Let's Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4vW7hxdGSM