Simple Giving

This post is longer than normal. It doesn’t happen often so I hope you don’t mind. ☺
It’s that time of year when a lot of gifts are given and received. Our family even has three birthdays between the end of December and beginning of January. I really encourage our children to make as many of their gifts as possible. There really is nothing that can beat a handmade gift. I thought I would put together a list with a bit of instructions of some of our gifts this year. 
We’ll start with my soon-to-be-six year old. He made notebooks for all of his siblings. Well, I made the notebooks and he decorated them. First I cut paper in half and then trimmed off a quarter inch from the length and height. I sewed the pages together on my sewing machine. He could have helped with that part, but I was rushing. Then I cut a piece of cardstock in half for the cover and with a sharp needle and then cotton yarn sewed the cover to the pages. Now my little guy picked fabrics and decorations according to the tastes of each of his siblings and sewed them on.
My younger daughters made fleece pouches for each other. The idea came from here. We sewed ours on the sewing machine and made them more “finished”.
My youngest daughter made laundry bags for her two oldest brothers. She sewed a casing into the top of a pillowcase and we threaded cord through – easy peasy.
My middle daughter made a French cockade for her oldest sister which was the piece de resistance. When she first told me this is what she wanted to make for her sister I went online to research patterns. Nothing I found appealed to me so for weeks I pondered how to do it. Finally with one day to go I came up with a plan. Thankfully I had bought the ribbon in faith that I would figure something out. I overlapped the white ribbon onto the blue and using white thread sewed them together. Then I overlapped the red ribbon onto the white and using red thread sewed it. We then ran a basting stitch through the red ribbon and pulled it into a circle, tucked the ends under and sewed them down. Then my daughter sewed the circle onto a piece of felt and sewed a button onto the middle of the circle to hide the felt and stitching. I attached  a clip to the back and we were done. My oldest daughter was beyond thrilled. I think I can safely say that this was her favourite gift. Well, it could also have been the dvd about the French Revolution that her grandpa gave her. She’s our resident expert on all things Les Mis and the various revolutions the French have lived through.

My two oldest boys with some help from their dad made a lego table for their little brothers. They painted an old smallish end table black. Then they glued a couple of base plates on top. Simple and useful.
My oldest son made a fleece ear warmer for his sister. The idea came from here and is super easy to make. I’m thinking about making one for myself.

My oldest daughter made clothes peg dolls for her sisters which they love already. We found the idea here.
For our toddler his sisters made him a fishing game. We used old ties. We cut off a four to five inch length of tie (the skinny end) and turned it inside out and took out the lining. We sewed one end shut and serged the other end. They then turned the “fish” right side out and dropped a magnet in. They stuffed it about 80% and tied the end shut with string letting the fabric fan out like a tail. Then they glued eyes and felt fins on the outside. They made three of these. For the rod their oldest brother cut the sharp end off a bamboo skewer. We attached a piece of yarn for the line which had a knitted worm tied to it. The worm had a magnet glued to it, and now their little brother can go fishing. He loves this game and wants me to take his picture every time he catches a fish. ☺
We also did a set of “Sharpie” dishes for their grandparents. There are a lot of great tips here for doing this kind of craft. My five-year-old (with a lot of help because he didn’t like the mess) made a puzzle piece bracelet for his grandma. I saw the picture on Pinterest but no instructions. We cut a toilet paper tube lengthwise. Then we cut off a width and glued the pieces on. If I did another one I would modge podge the width before gluing the pieces on to give the base more stability. All in all it turned out quite nicely.

The two gifts that I’m most pleased with that I made were a mai tei carrier for her doll with a matching diaper bag for my youngest daughter and an embellished notebook cover for my slightly-notebook-obsessed oldest daughter. I thought a long time about the design for the mai tei carrier. I knew it didn’t need as many ties as mine. I finally made the back a shrunk-down version of mine and added straps to the waist that cross her chest and button to the shoulders. The diaper bag pattern came from here and was super easy to make. She was so happy and has been carrying her baby everywhere on her back.
For my oldest daughter I followed the pattern I did for sewing a cover for a binder but did it for a notebook instead. She’s not a frou-frou kind of girl so I just added some simple embellishments. She loves wearing denim so I used that for the fabric – it’s actually from a skirt that she wore out. I also added a button and elastic to close it.

Finally, I made something for myself – a shawl to wear over my coat and baby when we go for walks. I worry about him being warm enough because he’s not exercising (believe me, I am with him on my back). That’s one reason I made leg warmers for him. I wanted something more though and found this pattern. I made mine in red with a black serged edge. It was so simple to make and works great.
So we managed to get everything done and have fun at the same time. Check out my Pinterest boards where I store a lot of ideas of things I want to make.
What have you made lately that you’re pleased with?

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Jennifer Schonhaar

Jennifer Schonhaar

Jennifer is the happily married wife of a pastor and the somewhat-tired-but-oh-so happy mum to eight beautiful children. She loves to try new healthy recipes, sew, read to her children, garden and play the piano.
Jennifer Schonhaar

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  1. Julie Geoffrion

    Lots of great ideas and I want to see a picture, TOO, of Ethan every time he catches a fish 🙂

  2. What a great post! And such an inspiration! I have an almost 5-year-old and almost 2-year-old and we started facing our first “sense of entitlement” issues with toys this past Christmas. Next year, I’m planning to work with them on creating handmade gifts and I loved all the ideas in this post.

    Stopping by from our SITS challenge – we’re in the same tribe this week 🙂 Looking forward to getting to know you!

    • There are so many great ideas that even little ones can make. I look all year, but really start in earnest in the summer so we have lots of time.

  3. Jen, you are amazing! I love this post and all the things that your children made, as well as yourself. I would love to share it on my Thrifty Thursday. I am also going to share it with my daughter. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Thanks, Regina. I’m pretty passionate about homemade gifts. I’m trying to pass along the love to my children – by “force” if necessary. 🙂 For the most part they seem to enjoy it.

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