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DIY gifts kids can make

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.

Put your crafty kids to work

The holiday season has arrived, and many of us are looking for the best deals. One way to trim your spending this season: Have your kids help you make these easy DIY gifts.

Children doing arts and crafts

Kids are known for their long wish lists, but the season is a great time to teach them about giving to others, too. Gifts from children do not need to be expensive and often just require some extra time and thought. Having kids make presents will reinforce the fact that time, thoughtfulness and effort are just as valuable as store-bought gifts. Here are suggestions for gifts kids can make this holiday season and throughout the year.

Paper gifts

The easiest way to get started on a DIY gift is to grab a couple blank pieces of paper and some crayons or markers. Paper gifts are easy to make and can range from simple homemade cards with a thoughtful message to more elaborate crafts like bookmarks and photo albums. For ideas on paper crafts for kids, look through your favorite craft magazine or search online for paper crafts appropriate for your kids' specific age group.

Photo gifts

Thanks to digital cameras, snap-happy moms capture every moment on "film." Turning these pictures into gifts by and about your kids is easy: Just send your photos to an online or local photo printing service, or print them at home; then, have your kids help you create a scrapbook. Kids can come up with witty captions. Think "assembly line" when it comes to these gifts: Because you'll likely give albums to a couple relatives on your list, assemble multiple pages at once.

Sweet Treats

Get your kids in the kitchen and make some sweet treats for loved ones, friends and teachers. Depending on the age and skill level of your child, these gifts can range from chocolate-covered spoons to cookies, homemade granola mix, candy, homemade sauces and spices. If you want to leave the cooking to someone else, combine all the ingredients needed for a specific dish in a decorative jar or bag and include a recipe for your loved one to follow.

Artful gifts

Depending on your level of comfort with crafts and the time you have available, you might help your kids with more elaborate art gifts such as magnets, painted pottery and framed canvas art.

Donations in honor of someone special

Often you'll find unwanted or forgotten books, toys and other items stuffed under beds or in closets. Encourage your child to go through her unwanted or forgotten books, toys and other items and choose some to donate to charities, shelters, places of worship, schools and libraries. Many of these organizations allow you to make a donation in honor of someone and will mail a certificate or letter to that person letting him know a donation has been made in his name.

Encourage an older child to donate a portion of her allowance to her favorite organization in honor of a family member, close friend or relative, or teacher. For example, a pet lover could donate money for food, blankets or other items that animal shelters may need in honor of someone in your family.

Non-profit organizations like Birthday Blessings allow children and their families to help homeless children celebrate their birthdays with the donation of new unwrapped gifts, party supplies, birthday cake and more.

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