The holiday season is a time for family, fun, joy — and a lot of commercialization. In most U.S. states, people spend an average of $1,000 during the winter holidays. That money also represents plenty of time and stress spent on gifts, food, and trying to plan the perfect celebration.
Unfortunately, all the holidays’ hustle and bustle can take the focus away from gratitude, love, and quality time with family. This year, highlight what’s truly important by helping your children make holiday DIY gifts for their loved ones.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download the FREE Our Gratitude Tree. Take this opportunity to rethink gratitude and authentically teach children to appreciate what they have. Use this activity to jumpstart conversations and actions around appreciation for one another and how grateful you are to have each other as family.
5 reasons to give handmade gifts for the holidays
Show children the value of kind, thoughtful gestures
The best gifts aren’t necessarily the ones on which we spend the most money. By helping your children make handmade gifts, you’ll demonstrate that kindness and thoughtfulness are far more meaningful.
Give children a sense of achievement and pride in their work
Do you know the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when someone opens (and loves) a gift from you? That feeling is even more powerful when it’s a gift you lovingly made yourself. Your children will experience a burst of confidence-boosting pride in their handmade gifts.
Develop motor skills and creativity
Arts, crafts, and other DIY projects develop motor skills and enhance creativity. Your children are technically the ones giving a gift, but they’ll reap significant benefits too.
Provide an opportunity for quality bonding
If you help your children create their gifts, you’ll get to experience quality family bonding. Making handmade gifts is a quieter, less stressful, and more enjoyable bonding activity than running through the store holiday shopping.
Create personalized gifts that friends and family will treasure
Friends and family members who love your children will love their personalized gifts and treasure them for years to come. These gift ideas give your child the opportunity to express love and gratitude for their favorite people in a way that a store-bought gift can’t possibly convey.
9 Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas
Here are some ideas and inspiration for handmade gifts. Get creative and personalize however you’d like!1. Growth Mindset Challenge Jenga
Perfect for family game nights, Growth Mindset Challenge Jenga requires only two materials: Jenga blocks and a marker or pen.
On one side of each Jenga block, write an action — the player who pulls the block must complete that action. Include a mix of fun, silly ideas and topics related to growth mindset, gratitude, and positivity.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
Tell each player something you love about them.
Name one of your goals for the week.
Tell the group about a mistake you made this week and what you learned from it.
Name two things you love about yourself.
Silly ideas may include singing your favorite song, inventing a dance move, talking in a funny voice until your next turn, or hopping on one foot.
You and your child will have fun coming up with challenges to write on the Jenga blocks, and other families in your life will appreciate this fun and thoughtful gift. Your child can even choose to make this game as a gift to your own family.
2. Positive Affirmation Bookmarks
Does your child have a special reader in their life? Make positive affirmation bookmarks that are both useful and encouraging!
Simply cut the paper into strips and have your child write statements like, “I always do my best,” “I am strong,” or “I believe in myself.” You may want to laminate the bookmarks to keep them in good condition. Punch a hole near the top, then string yarn or ribbon through it. Your child can get creative and decorate the bookmarks however they’d like.
3. Picture Frames
Kids can make all kinds of creative picture frames to gift a photo of themselves (or themselves with a loved one) to family members and friends.
Use items like Popsicle sticks, colorful buttons, stickers, sequins, pom-poms, seashells, or anything else you and your child come up with.
And of course, feel free to decorate with messages of love, gratitude, and encouragement.
Don't forget to download the FREE Our Gratitude Tree to help authentically teach children to appreciate what they have and how grateful you are to have each other as family.
4. Paper Pulp Heart Pendants
Give a DIY holiday gift from the heart with a thoughtful paper pulp pendant. These pendants are made with either tissue paper or crepe paper and water. The Crafty Classroom has a recipe for paper pulp that’s easy to follow.
Mold the paper pulp into a heart, let it dry, and paint it. Then, make it into a necklace using a lanyard or cord.
Your child can make their heart necklace even more special by including a handwritten note about why they’re grateful for the recipient. Not only will the recipient cherish your child’s message, but your child will reap the benefits of reflecting on love and gratitude.
5. Painted Flowerpots
Does your child love someone who loves flowers and plants? Hand-painted flowerpots make a fun activity and a beautiful, thoughtful gift.
You’ll need clay pots, acrylic paint, letter stencils or paint pens, and paintbrushes. Add plant puns that double as growth mindset messages to decorate the flowerpots.
Angela from Projects with Kids suggests phrases like, “Don’t stop beleafing” and “Let it grow.”
6. Personalized Journals
Writers or anyone who likes to journal will love a personalized, handmade journal from your child for the holidays.
If you have a younger child, simplify this activity by purchasing a journal with a plain cover. Let your child decorate the front with markers, stickers, and other craft supplies.
Older children can make the journal themselves with materials like a brown paper bag, blank paper, a hole punch, rubber bands, and tape. You might also want to check out this cute unicorn notebook or these fingerprint art mini notebooks.
On the first page, have your child write (or dictate to you) a heartfelt message to the recipient.7. Beaded Bracelets
Beaded bracelets are a classic favorite when it comes to crafts for children. For the holidays, your child can make beaded bracelets with short, positive messages like “I’m loved,” “Dream big,” “I’m brave,” or “I can.”
You simply need scissors, assorted beads, alphabet beads, and elastic. Ask your child to help you brainstorm positive messages that will be especially meaningful to the recipient.
8. Mini Zen Gardens
Mini Zen gardens are great for sensory play, but they’re also a thoughtful gift idea for an adult to place on a table, a bookshelf, or an office desk.
Use a shallow tray, sand, and items like rocks, shells, and pieces of bark or driftwood. You can even find colorful sand at a craft store, and children can draw designs in the sand with tools like twigs or a wooden fork.
This activity is fun, peaceful, and calming, and it makes an adorable gift your friends or family will love.
9. Customized Storybooks
There are many ways to make a DIY storybook, so this project can be as straightforward or as complicated as you’d like.
For example, you can use a construction paper cover and copy paper pages bound together using a hole punch and some yarn. You can also use cardstock, scissors, and glue to make an accordion book.
Your child can write and illustrate a story for their loved ones. Any story idea works great, but you might encourage your child to fill the pages with everything they love about the recipient or a story about a favorite memory with the person who will receive the book.
What other DIY holiday gifts have you made with your children? Try any of these ideas—or some of your own—to create lasting holiday memories for your family and cherished gifts for your loved ones. Make family, love, gratitude, and joy the center of your holiday season once again.