It's the thought that counts, and the love that goes into it. No need to spend a fortune on gifts, your kids will love making them for grandparents, cousins and teachers, and the recipients will treasure them. Remember that your goal is to have fun with your child and give a token of affection, not to exhaust yourself. Hopefully this list will get your creativity fired up; more explicit directions are easily available online.
1. Anything from your kitchen: Cookies, jams, fudge, quick breads, your famous spaghetti or barbecue sauce, your special trail mix, or a kit with the makings for something yummy, tied with a ribbon: your perfect pancakes or scrumptious seven bean soup.
2. Booklet of favorite memories: Have your child draw illustrations and write or type up his or her favorite memories of/with the recipient and put it into a binder to make a book.
3: Personalized cookbook: Your recipes, your child's comments and drawings, in a binder.
4. Personalized Mousepad: Let your child draw with markers on a white mousepad. Or use flexible adhesive with any fabric. Or choose a photo and use iron-on transfer paper. Instructions at: http://desktoppub.about.com/od/transfers/l/aa_mousepad.htm. Or just do it at a copy shop or cafepress.com.
5. Handmade bath salts
Mix Epsom salts with essential oils, fragrance, and food coloring in a decorative jar.
Add crayon chips to plain paraffin wax and dip wicks in to make hand-dipped. Or just decorate storebought candles.
7. Canvas bags with iron-on designs
8. Homemade calendars with photos of the kids
9. Painted picture frames
10. Tie-dyed teeshirts, sheets, etc.
11. Christmas ornaments with kids' photos
12. Art: For grandparents, a framed picture drawn by a grandchild is the perfect present.
13. For friends and cousins: homemade clay, fingerpaints, bubbles, puppets, a kit of dress-up items, a kit of cool art supplies.
14. Certificates for your services: A massage, babysitting, dog walking, painting a room, flying a kite together.
About the author:
Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of the parenting web site www.YourParentingSolutions.com, featuring a popular advice column and parent-tested solutions you can use every day to connect with your kids and create a richer family life. Her work appears regularly on a dozen parenting sites and in print. Dr. Markham specializes in helping families nurture the parent-child relationships that protect today's kids. She lives in New York with her husband, eleven year old daughter, and fifteen year old son.