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Christmas crafts for kids: 6 Easy homemade gifts

Tracy B. McGinnis is creator of www.caffeinatedpen.comHer work has appeared in dozens of magazines on variety of topics. For more diet and fitness articles, click here.

Made with love

If you still have a long list of loved ones to buy for, but a short amount of time and money left with which to do it, consider spending an afternoon with your kids and creating some memorable Christmas gifts that you'll be able to enjoy for many seasons to come.

Mother and Daughter Making Christmas Decorations

Not only do you save money with homemade gifts, but friends and family will appreciate the time and thought that went into each creation. Homemade gifts can make perfect additions under the tree for parents, grandparents, siblings and even pets!

You do not need to be an expert crafter to create something special and memorable with your kids. When you're thinking about what to create, consider hobbies that your loved one enjoys or a unique job they have. For example, a family trip to the beach over the summer might provide the inspiration you need to create a seashell picture ornament.

Most importantly, keep your gift making simple and fun. This is a time where imperfections or mistakes can make an item unique and truly personalized. It's also a great time to get creative and get your child brainstorming and being thoughtful with what they want to create.

1. Paper Gifts

Homemade cards can be as simple as writing down how much you appreciate someone, to adding stencils, cut outs, pictures, and poems. Depending on your comfort level, you can create your own images or use the hundreds of cut-outs found at local craft stores that provide step by step instruction.

There's an endless supply of crafts items you can use to create your cards, with everything from paint to stencils, stamps, to thumbprints. Add space for a photo or gift card, create 3-D cards, or if you're stuck with what to make, print off a template right off the Internet.

As opposed to other cards you may give or receive, homemade cards can be saved over the years and added to a scrapbook, laminated to preserve a certain time in your child's life, or displayed from year to year on a card holder or card box.

2. Ornaments

Ornaments can be made out of almost anything – from paper, to beads, felt, gingerbread, fun pasta shapes, cotton balls, Popsicle sticks, seashells, candy canes, clothespins, pinecones, and more. If you're looking for inspiration, visit sites like Michelle Jones's (Betterbudgeting.com/homemadechristmasornaments.htm), where you can view pictures of ornaments other crafters have made and get step by step instructions on how to create your own. Homemade ornaments give you the opportunity to add a personal touch to your tree and will bring back memories for many years to come.

3. Great gifts for grandparents

No doubt you've seen someone walking around with a handprint or footprint on a t-shirt or bag before. These personalized items make great gifts for close family members, like grandparents. And resources such as www.diylife.com, provide ideas on how to update this common theme without making it feel overdone, as well as provide step by step instructions on how to complete your project.

With a little fabric paint, you can add your child's image to anything from a t-shirt, to a bag, dishtowel, potholder, or apron to name a few. Plaster handprints that you can display, as well as garden stepping stones, have become such popular homemade gifts that most stores now sell kits that make it easier and faster to create. Find out how to make a plaster casting of your baby's handprint here.

4. Crafty in the kitchen

If glue sticks and scrap booking leave you a little intimidated, consider homemade gifts that you and your kids can create in the kitchen. Homemade cookies are an obvious favorite and an easy way to show someone you're thinking of them during the holidays.

If you have time, thinking about cooking or prepping an entire meal for a loved one. For example, if you can't afford to buy a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, make a meal that can be frozen and enjoyed at a later time. If you want to leave the cooking to them, create a themed basket that includes all the ingredients needed to make their favorite meal. For example, an Italian gift basket might include pasta, homemade sauce, olive oil, cheeses, pesto, and more.

5. Pictures

Technology has allowed us to take almost anything and put a picture on it. The opportunities are endless in terms of taking a favorite photo and creating everything from calendars, to photo books, apparel, DVD's, and accessories such as purses, key chains, aprons, and more. Photo sharing websites and local stores can supply the tools and idea you'll need to create this gift.

6. Wrap it up

If you're not sure you have the time or energy to make a gift, consider saving money and getting creative when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Kids can decorate gifts bags with paint, sponges, stamps, handprints, ribbons, and more. Go green and consider recycling some of those paper grocery bags or newspaper pages to make your own wrapping paper.

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