Handmade Gifts for Kids: Tutorials and Ideas from My Holiday To Do List

The following post was written by editor Kara Fleck.

Okay, I’ll admit it:  I’m one of those people.  You know the ones.  The crazy people who start planning for Christmas … in January!  I can’t help it.  I love the holidays and I love to give our kids homemade gifts and so I do a little bit of crafting all year long in anticipation of December.

This year, though, things got away from me and Santa’s elves are getting a little nervous about the tasks still before them.

Now that November is here, I have to look at my list with a critical eye and be very realistic about what can actually, and joyfully, be accomplished between now and December.

I have found that if I don’t set a date to have my holiday projects completed by, I end up having a more stressful holiday.  I aim to finish as many gifts as I can during the month of November so that December can be about more meaningful things.

With that in mind, I’m looking for kid-pleasing gifts that can be completed quickly, with simple supplies.  I thought it might be fun to find out what Simple Kids readers are working on, too.  We can check back in with each other’s progress in a few weeks.

With less than 50 days until Christmas, and a goal of having the bulk of my crafting for the holidays finished before December arrives, here the gifts the elves and I are busily working on this November:

For My Nine Year Old

My oldest daughter, Jillian, will be nine at Christmas time.  She has asked me to knit her the Harry Potter vest, beret, and scarf from Charmed Knits.  Since she knows she is getting that, here are a few surprises that I’m working on:

  • Felt Covered Barrettes ::: Angry Chicken I made  Jillian some of these simple, but super cute, barrettes a few years ago and think it is time to rebuild her stash of hair ornaments.  This pattern is very easy to follow and a good way to use up any extra scraps you have.
  • Mermaiden ::: Hillary Lang A freebie pattern from her book Wee Wonderfuls, I have heard that this pattern is simple enough even for someone with my modest sewing skills and I love that it can be personalized.

For My Four Year Old

My son Max is four and I’m also knitting for him.  He is getting the  “Toddler Hat” by Astrid Schramm and the “Zoom” sweater from Knit Circus.

Other ideas for my preschooler:

For My Two Year Old

Lucy is my two year old and making things for her is proving to be fun for the whole family!  My oldest daughter and I knit Lucy some legwarmies and the two older kids are helping their Daddy make a set of wooden blocks for Lucy, too.  I am also knitting her a doll.

She’s getting a few other homemade presents, as well, including:

  • A felted fairy home
  • A painted wooden peg people family, modeled after our family (Daddy, Mommy, Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Nickey doggie)

Stocking Stuffers

My kids hang up their stockings and St. Nicholas brings them a special treat.   Usually it is an orange, some chocolate coins, and a special gift or two.  This year, each kid is  getting a large playsilk in their stockings.  I purchased the silks from Dharma Trading Company and I’m using flavored drink mix to dye them using this method from Make Baby Stuff.

Photo by Duo Fiberworks

Three More Resources

1. Duo Fiberworks – Handwork for the Holidays

I’m a fan of Duo Fiberworks and their patterns.  Sisters Katie Startzman and Laura Poulette have created the ebook Handwork for the Holidays and, after looking it over, I think it is going to be just what I need to help me knit and sew my way through the rest of my holiday gift list, not just for the kids. There are also three paper crafts included in the book.

2. Living Crafts magazine

Living Crafts is my favorite magazine.  I’ve been hooked on this publication ever since I saw the knitted farm yards everyone was making on a natural parenting forum I am a part of.  I’m now a happy subscriber and the back issues are worth their weight in crafting-inspiration gold!  Make sure you check out their free patterns, too.

3. Wee Folk Art

If you enjoy crafting in the Waldorf style for kids,and especially like working with wood and with felt, then  Wee Folk Art is the resource for you! A beautiful blog, as well as an extensive archive of crafts with well photographed, clearly written tutorials. There’s a lovely knit doll pattern there that I’m going to be making as part of a stocking stuffer swap this month, too.

It is going to be a busy November!

This post on homemade gifts for kids was brought to you by Oak Meadow.  Oak Meadow has been inspiring creative homeschooling and offering innovative learning materials since 1975.  You can see sample lessons and find out more about their curriculum and school at the Oak Meadow website.

How is your handmade holiday gift list shaping up? What are you working on for the big kids, preschoolers, toddlers, and babies in your life? Any great tutorials or craft ideas to recommend?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Looks like you are going to have a busy, but fun November! :)

    I’m planning to make a camera case for Natalie, since we just gave her a digital camera for her birthday (tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew: http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=740).

    I’m also planning to make some cute bicycle buckets for my girls and nieces (tutorial from Noodlehead: http://noodleheads.blogspot.com/2010/06/bicycle-bucket-tutorial.html).

    If time is on my side, maybe some fun pajama pants, too!
    Amy@Let’s Explore´s latest post: Gift Idea- Book Series Sampler

  2. You were so smart to start in January!

    I’m going very simple this year, making book plates for all the cousins. Throw in a book and an acid-free glue stick to attach the book plates and I am good to go!
    priest’s wife´s latest post: The Perfect Catholic Mom

  3. I am also trying to get the majority of my homemade gifts finished in November. That’s proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be, since the kids are home all the time. I’m planning the kool-aid dyed play silks, too. I bought the silks for last Christmas, but never got to the project, and still have them in the bag. I plan to make tote bags pencil pouches, and aprons for both the kids, as well as a play mat for my daughter and a messenger bag for my son. I thought about peg people, too. I have a few other ideas I am tossing around, like a custom plant-care booklet for my son with instructions for caring for all his houseplants, or a little scrapbook with photos and supplies that they can put together themselves with my help. The biggest hindrance for me right now is time when they are not around.
    Jennifer Johnson´s latest post: Rattles and Ramblings

    • I hear that, Jennifer! It is that time of year when kids start getting curious and crafting grown-ups have to get creative and sneaky, isn’t it? LOL

      I really like the idea of putting together a scrapbook kit that they can put together themselves. :-)

      (PS – our large playsilks? I bought them last year, too! It was a project I abandoned in early December last year when I knew I was going to have to get realistic about my list LOL)
      Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Creating a Family History Book and a Scrapblogcom giveaway- too!

  4. I clicked on all the links and everything looks so precious! I wish I knew how to sew!!! I would love a post of no-sew gifts I can make my children. Seriously, I can’t even fix a button! 😉
    Sofia’s Ideas´s latest post: this moment

  5. What a cool mama you are. Not only are you passing down handmade treasures, but you are instilling a love of creating to your little ones. Bravo, Kara!
    Aimee @ Simple Bites´s latest post: Holiday 2010 Gift Guide- My Top Ten Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen

  6. Absolutely LOVE this! We do handmade, too- last year I ended up getting a super hero cape, a secret compartment book (old vintage book that is really a secret box) for my boys and a felt tea set for Ivy.

    I think there’s instructions here on how to make the book/box yourself: http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/07/make-a-secret-compar.html

    This year we’re doing all musical instruments that we had and are either getting restrung or from freecycle, etc. So far it’s a guitar, ukulele and djimbe drums!

    I am putting that Wee Wonderfuls book on my wish list. Hoping the library maybe has it!

    Adventures In Babywearing´s latest post: Its been

  7. Last year, I was almost done with all of my Holiday crafting by this time. This year, however, I’m just getting started. Yikes!

    I’m making a Waldorf doll for my 6yo ds, various doll clothes for him and my 3yo dd, knitted winter hats for all, and pajama pants for my 9yo ds. Hoping to make some tree blocks for my 1yo. I’m planning on baking a couple loaves of bread and making some homemade apple butter with the kids for their great-grandmothers, and for the grandparents, we’re putting together a family history photo book (which is also part of our local history lessons for HS.)
    Pam´s latest post: Pumpkin Carving

    • I always love hearing what you are making, Pam. I remember how beautiful the doll you made last year turned out :-)

      I had that “yikes” moment a few weeks ago, and then started delegating things. It has been nice to have Chris and the bigger kids helping out. Like you, with your family history lesson, we’re calling Jillian measuring and planning and woodworking w/ the blocks for Lucy a math lesson 😉

      Homemade bread is always appreciated! That’s a good idea … I haven’t expanded my thinking much to include grandparents …. hmmmm ….

      thanks for the inspiration!
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Creating a Family History Book and a Scrapblogcom giveaway- too!

  8. You are so ambitious and talented! Makes me wish I could knit! I have already felt behind on my Christmas preparations! I usually start early, but haven’t so much this year. I’m feeling inspired by the book with hidden compartment comment earlier! That would be right up my boys’ alley! (Thanks for including the link, Steph!)
    Amanda Morgan´s latest post: Finland’s Finest- Why We Need to Take Note of Finland’s Approach to Early Education

    • Ah, well, remember, this is just the list … what the reality by the end of November is, may be a different story 😉

      I do what I can, but I won’t let myself stress about it. Been there, done that … not a good way to spend December!

      If a project isn’t finished up by early December, it can become an Easter present or a birthday present … no pressure.

      Always nice to see your face in the comments, my friend.
      Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Creating a Family History Book and a Scrapblogcom giveaway- too!

  9. I really love the play silks! I can just imagine the myriad of things my girls can do with those. Question- which ones did you order? I’m not sure which size to get. Thanks!
    Paula@Motherhood Outloud´s latest post: Being Thankful for the Struggle

  10. Once upon a time, I kept track of the different colors we achieved dying playsilks with drink mix. Here’s that page, from Rockin’ Granola, if anyone is interested:
    Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Creating a Family History Book and a Scrapblogcom giveaway- too!

  11. wow, this all looks so delicious, need to check out some more links you posted there!! felted toys are also something i’d like to dip into in the near future.

    can’t wait to hear all about your progress. love the tip about playsilks. it’s amazing how entertaining such a simple toy can be, isn’t it?
    Sylvia´s latest post: handmade gift idea- aspic-preserved hippos

  12. I love all of your ideas for your kiddos! On my list of things I need to create for Sammy for Christmas are tree blocks, a cape, a few pieces of felt food, pjs, and a felt game or two.. yikes thats quite a list.. I need to start creating like now.. hmm I think I will set aside at least 2 hours a day on the weekend and 30 minutes each day and should be able to get them all done before December. Other than sewing up some quick napkins for a friend thats all on my crafting agenda :-)
    Lindsay @ BytesOfMemory´s latest post: Preschool Corner – Fall- Halloween- etc

  13. Wow! Thanks for the great links.

    I am making a new scarf for my son and hopefully some new slippers. We keep gifts simple from us because the grandparents spoil him with lots of gifts at Christmas.

  14. We are plotting and planning gifts this weekend and brainstorming some new ideas for this year!!! My kids are making lists and we are planning on getting everything by the end of the month… We also sort all our gifting out in November – it’s just easier to keep December free for the fun stuff!!! Here’s our gift list so far… http://www.se7en.org.za/se7ens-gift-guide
    se7en´s latest post: Se7en’s November…

  15. Fabulous links! Kara…you Rock :) We have handmade gifts coming to the two littles but nothing so far that is actually made by my hands so this is great inspiration for me. Like you though, it has to be done by the first of December as December is a month for enjoying. (And I think you said it all when you said it has to be able to be done joyfully…)
    Love the mermaiden!! She’s sweet. My sewing skills are more modest even than yours I think so it might be a challenge. The other doll I’ve been considering is this one https://bamboletta.com/?p=828 as it is along the same lines :) Miss F would love it.

    Must head to bed soon….alone tomorrow as S in Vancouver. Take care!

  16. Thank you so much for a the links and inspiration. This is a fantastic post before the holidays. I’m just wondering if you have a good on-line source for good wool felt? If any of your readers have any suggestions I would really appreciate it.

  17. Thanks for sharing–I’m going to steal several of these ideas! I’m shamefully embarassed to reveal the progress of my handmade gifts…
    Two Chicks and a Hen´s latest post: Learning to Finger Knit- Finding Teachers in Your Community

  18. Kara, I just saw this, I am a bit behind on my blog reading and wanted to say thank you so much for including my felt food tutorials. Later on this week I should have tutorials for apricots and plums up. I hope you enjoy making felt food as much as I do. On a personal note, the doll I was inspired to knit for my daughter from your blog and Wee Folk Art is coming along quite nicely. Thanks!

  19. Lots of fun stuff! I love the shape of the doll body for Lucy – what pattern is it? It doesn’t look like the Wee Folk Art?

    • You’ve got a good eye, Kim :-) That doll pattern is from Lovely World (she has an etsy shop). It is an easy, clearly written pattern. Yet, while I love the shape and it is very cute, for some reason I’m losing momentum with it …. I was actually planning to do a doll for each kid, but now I think I may set that idea aside for Easter ??? Maybe?

      The Wee Folk Art doll pattern, the one w/ the adaptations to knit in the round, is one I’m making in a sport weight yarn on smaller needles for a stocking stuffer exchange I’m in.
      Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: A Simple Gift Giving Philosophy- Want- Need- Wear- Read

  20. Lucky kids. You are very resourceful Kara. I’ll be making one thing for each of my kids and since I haven’t started yet I suppose I better get goin’

  21. awww what wonderful ideas, especially the items for the two year old soo cute.

    Our friends have just had a baby and we might use some of your ideas


  22. Jordan Neal says:

    I LOVE the idea of large playsilks…could you tell me which kind of silk you purchased? I am starting to plan my first handmade Christmas for next year, and am not sure which kind of silk is the best to use.


  23. I love these ideas! I may still have time to crank out a stocking stuffer or two!
    Robbie @ Going Green Mama´s latest post: Fast food without the fast-food costs

  24. this blog is really very good i am happy to be here.


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