Easy Gift Ideas

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by Michelle Donaghey

For most families, the lists seem to be getting longer and more expensive while wallets often are not as fat as we wish they would be. While many of us would like to shout, “Bah, Humbug!” and totally forget about gift exchanges with family, friends and teachers, there is an easy alternative that will not only keep your budget in the green, but also will be greener for our planet.

Pillows from old shirts
 This time of year, many of us are cleaning out our closets, looking for the clothes that our kids are outgrown. Before you throw them in the donation bin, look through and find those that may have special significance such as camp shirts or shirts from trips you have taken. Have your child help choose which ones would make good gifts. These shirts can make special pillows for family members near and far.
How to:
  1. First of all, mark cutting lines on the shirt with chalk or washable fabric pen. In order to decide the size you need, find the dimensions of the pillow and about 1/2" on each side for seam allowance, plus about 1/2" ease. (1-1.5  inches) Cut lines square with the design.
  2. Make sure the shirt is laying completely flat (iron if you need to!) and pin the back and front together, so you only have to cut once. 
  3. Stitch along the edge about ½ in in for each piece. Place the two pieces, print face in, and pin together. Stitch three and a half sides together. Place pillow form inside and hand stitch together. Now you have a great pillow

Picture frames (and magnets?) from CD boxes

  1. Take out paper inserts from old CD boxes.
  2. Measure cardboard, gift wrap, color paper or foam to fit inside box.
  3. Glue or double stick tape pictures or artwork on to the backing you made from paper, etc.
  4. Double stick tape the edge facing in the box and stick in. (The box will open for the frame to stand!)
  5. Now use glue or hot glue to attach picture frame decorations such as:
Glitter, sequins, foam shapes, small pinecones, ribbon, old jewelry pieces, small toys, etc. Let your imagination run wild!
For magnets, use magnetic tape and attach to back, making sure that your frame enhancements do not weigh the frame so it will not stick to the refrigerator!
Can Pencil Holder
Take an old soup can or other can and make sure edges are filed down and clean. (Use sandpaper if necessary!) Using the can, measure the height of the can on:
  1. Old pictures
  2. Pictures from magazines the recipient might like
  3. Old artwork the child has done.
Use a measuring tape and get dimension of can. Measure the circumference and cut paper, pictures, etc.

Cut a piece of foam or colored paper to fit can. 

Let child cut out pieces to make can:
  1. An animal face, such as a penguin or lion.
  2. Attach pieces with glue or a hot glue gun.
  3. Dress up can with sequins, fabric pieces, etc!
    Use your imaginations!
Make a silhouette!
2 pieces of White paper (at least 8 1/2×11")
Piece of black paper
Lamp or flashlight
Double stick tape
Tape the piece of white paper to the wall. Place your child standing sideways in front of the paper. Have someone hold the lamp or flashlight in front of the child where there is a clear shadow, tracing around the shadow. Cut out the silhouette and then trace it on the black paper and cut out. For best effect, mount the black silhouette on the full sheet of white paper.
Make a video or cassette tape of people the gift recipient loves
Get out your video camera and tape your children singing and dancing. Tape them for a full day if grandma and grandpa aren’t usually there to share the experiences. If your child loves to sing, tape them on a casette singing their favorite . Add a greeting for a special touch, noting the year and the person speaking!
Have your child make a book!
Let your child use his or her imagination to write stories on the past year‘s experiences. Help them to illustrate the book with photos, magazine pictures or your hand-drawn illustrations. Use staples, ribbon or punch holes in paper to put book in a standard colored folder.
CD coasters or magnets
Take several of your children’s photos and or artwork that you wish to give as a gift. Trace the shape of the CD on the art or photo(s). Cut a bit smaller than CD to leave an edge around the CD perimeter. Trace the CD on to clear shelf wrap. Place photos and adhere with double stick tape. Tear off backing of wrap and adhere over photos or art. For coasters, you are done. For magnets, cut double stick magnet tape and attach to back of CD.

Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including iparenting.com.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006

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