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Gifts from the kids: Bookmarks and magnets

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Fun with... a laminator?

One year, while trying to come up with gifts the kids could make for close family and friends, I wasn't feeling particularly inspired. I came up with a small project that was sweet and nice...and ended up being more used than any of us expected. We made simple, laminated bookmarks using the kids' art and magnets with pictures of the kids.
LaminatorHome crafting has become so much more sophisticated over the years - you can do almost anything at home now! There are vast choices and products for complex projects. Sometimes simple is best, however. And sometimes you still need to local office supply store - specifically, the laminator.

And another great thing about laminated gifts: sending them is so easy. Most fit into regular cards and envelopes for quick delivery by mail.

A very usable bookmark

To make some fun book you need the following:
  • Kids' artwork on paper, or photos
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher
  • Ribbon
  • A trip to the office supply store
Setting the kids down with some watercolor paints or markers and some heavy paper is a fun way to pass the afternoon. The kids can create whatever they like on the paper, but bright and fairly abstract is best. The paper will be cut down into strips.

After the kids are done and the artwork dry, cut the paper into even strips about 1 1/2" wide by about 7" long. They don't have to be this size exactly. Cut so that it's a pleasing size to you, and in consideration of the art on the paper.

Take the strips of paper to the office supply store to have them laminated in a heavy plastic sheet. AS you lay the paper strips between the plastic, consider enough space to cut them apart with about a 1/8" to 1/4" border around each of the strips. The staff at the shop will finish the laminating for you in their hot press and you will have a large sheet of plastic to take home and work with.

Note that air bubbles do occur in this kind of laminating. If you don't like them (I don't mind them), laminate enough extra strips so you can choose the ones you like the best with the least amount of imperfections.

At home, cut out each strip, leaving a bit of a border, and round the corners as best you can. Then punch a hole at one end and tie a piece of ribbon through the hole. And you're done!

Fun magnets

To make magnets, you need:
  • Kids' artwork on paper, or photos
  • Scissors
  • A trip to the office supply store
  • Sheets of adhesive magnets (available at craft supply stores)

The process for making magnets is very similar to making bookmarks - just smaller. I find that a great size for magnet is about 2" by 3". I also take into account this smaller size when I choose the art or photo. And because magnets are seen more often, like, every time someone opens a refrigerator door, I tend to go for photos of the kids in really happy moods. Nothing like bringing a smile to a loved one every day of the year.

After choosing content, taking everything to be laminated, and cutting out the magnets, carefully cut the sheets of magnet to slightly smaller than the photo/artwork and stick them onto the back.

Other ideas

Bookmarks and magnets aren't the only thing you can make using kids photos/artwork and a laminator. You can make things like coasters and place mats, too. You could go so far as to make up your own card game with very durable homemade cards. Regardless, a little fun with artwork, a trip to the office supply store and some brainstorming can result in some fun, fast, and inexpensive gifts from the kids.

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