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Homemade Gift Ideas

SPOILER!!!  Please do not read if you are family!!  You might spoil your surprise! 

This year we are making several gifts for our family and friends.  Here are some of our favorites.

*Question Jar: This is something we have done at our family dinner table and really have been enjoying.  I made each of my friends their own question jar filled with questions I got from this blog

* We made ornaments for the CBS leaders, awana teachers, and to attach to the some other gifts.  I bought clear ornaments at Michaels craft store for less than $1.  We opened the top and poured in our colors and swirled it around.

I think they turned out lovely!

* We also made the teachers bags for carrying around all their teaching supplies.  The kids wrote their teachers names on them and then decorated them with fabric markers.  We filled them with some of the teachers favorite things!

* For my husband we are making a sign that says LOVE with my kids pictures of their bodies!  We are spelling out this and then framing it for him.


Teacher Present

I saw this cute idea in the family fun magazine, it would make for a cute Christmas present for a favorite teacher.  Who doesn’t have old crayons laying around?  Here is a way to put them to use.

Unwrap the crayons and break them into 1/2 inch pieces.

Get a piece of paper and lightly draw the first letter of the teachers last name.

Hot glue the crayon on drawing of the last letter in a colorful order.

Add the teachers name at the bottom and place in a frame.

New kind of Coloring

Ayla is really into any kind of coloring these days, sidewalk chalk, crayons, markers, on boxes, on my feet (YES!) homemade stickers, etc., so I pulled out these paper dolls we’d given her for her birthday and I was quite impressed.  It is a whole book filled with paper dolls and then outfits that go with them.  The best part is you can color and design the outfits yourself!  She is loving it, and I am trying to encourage her to pace herself as she wants them all done right away.  These make great gifts and provide lots of entertainment.  I think we got ours from Barnes and Nobles.

Tattoo Rocks

Another easy and simple summer activity. You only need rocks and tattoos.  You put them on the rocks just like you would on your kids arm.  It was a fun outside activity.  The kids even gave them away to people as presents!

Our tattoos were cars, very fitting with the new movie!

Ideas for Father’s Day

Here are some ideas of things to make with the kids for Father’s day.  I am a huge fan of homemade gifts that are practical and fun.  This year I am sending my husband golfing with his Dad and brother, then hosting a BBQ after in honor of them.  Here are some other great ideas

1. Shrinky dink key chains: I confess my kids and I made these for the dads/grandpas in their lives but we made them too small!  We had to do it twice to get it right.  Have your kids make a picture (large) and color it in for that special person.  Maybe a heart with a message in it or a tennis ball!

2. Coupons: Make your own coupons for a day out with dad, baseball game, sleep in day, night with the guys, etc.

3. Card: Have a picture of the Dad face only.  Have the kids draw the body!

4.  Interview: Have your kids write down all the things they love about their Dad as you interview them.  Why do we have Dads? What is something Daddy always says?  What is your favorite thing about your Dad?

5. Nuts about you jars: Have your kids make some homemade nuts for dad or grandpa and put them into simple jars.  Here are some recipies.

Swedish Nuts

1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
dash salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup walnut halves

Spread almonds on a cookie sheet and roast at 325 degrees until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally; cool. Melt butter in oven in a 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Beat egg whites until foamy; add sugar and salt, and continue beating until stiff. Fold in all of nuts; spread mixture in baking pan over melted butter. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until mixture is browned and all the butter is absorbed, stirring and turning every 10 minutes to cook evenly. Makes about 4 cups.

Cinnamon Nut Mix

2 cups whole almonds
2 cups pecan halves
6 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large saucepan, cover almonds and pecans with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 minute. Drain well. In a large bowl combine the next 6 items. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add nuts and stir until nuts are well coated. Pour nuts into sugar mixture stirring until well coated. Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet. Stir occasionally, baking 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on baking sheet. Store in airtight container. Makes about 4 cups.

Mocha Walnuts

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups walnut halves

In a large saucepan, combine first 6 items, mixing well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage (238 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Add nuts, stirring to coat. Spread nuts on a buttered baking sheet. Cool and break into pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes about 4 1/2 cups nuts.

Sugared Peanuts

2 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups shelled raw peanuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Coarse Salt In a large heavy pan place peanuts, salt, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Watch carefully. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread nuts on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and bake 20 minutes longer. Cool. Store in airtight container. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.


Mother’s Day Ideas

Here are some ideas of things the kids can make for Moms, Grandma’s, etc. I really like to find things I myself would like too, not just things I will keep around but not use.  Feel free to leave this page open so your husband can see it and your kids can do one of these ideas!

* Scrapbook: One of my personal favorite.  Have the kids make a scrapbook about things they’ve done with mom.

* Video: My husband and kids did this for me last year and I loved it.  It was lots of pictures put to music and the kids saying sweet things about me, great for those who are good with video.

* Painting Pottery: Have the kids select a vase, mug, or some other fitting thing for their mom or grandma and have them hand paint something they’ll cherish forever.

* Garden stone: Have your kids design a garden stone complete with a hand print, maybe them writing their name, jewels, etc.

* Letter/Poem: Have the kids write a letter or poem for their mom.  This could be hilarious or super sweet.

* Coupons: A day to sleep in, hugs from kids, no clean up duty, etc.

Have fun making the ladies in your life feel special!

Teacher Appreciation

We are so blessed to have such wonderful teachers in the world!  This past week was teacher appreciation for our school.  Here is what we did.

Monday: Jumbo cupcakes for the teachers with a message saying, “When it comes to teaching, you take the cake.”

Tuesday: Homemade cards

Wednesday: The school organized meals for each teacher so they each got a night off of cooking.  We signed up to bring in a salad, bread, dessert, or main dish and left them in the coolers outside the rooms at drop off.

Thursday: Flowers.  Each student brought in a single flower and the teachers ended up with a beautiful arrangement.

Friday: Sent each teacher an e-mail of encouragement, praying and let them know how much we appreciate them.


Valentine Gifts for 2011

Here is what I am doing for various gifts this year:

My husband: I made him notes with candy bars attached to them, with words like, “I’d pay 100 grand (the candy bar) to be your wife!”  Cheesy, but very appreciated.  I also printed off lyrics to a song for him that fits our marriage and love and read them to him.

My Kids: They are waking to a trail of Hershey kisses to a small present in the living room.  I also made them coupons like in the past that include things like “extra Wii day” and “No clean up day”.  We are making chocolate chocolate chip waffles in the morning and their favorite spaghetti for dinner.

Teachers: Cake pops in a vase.  This is not a quick and easy task, but yummy and very worth it! This website has some great ideas on how to execute this.

Bake any kind of cake and then when it has cooled crumble it up. My kids loved doing this!

Add one can of icing of your choice and mix with your fingers...yummy!

After rolling them into balls and freezing them, add the stick and dip them in melted chocolate.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Easy Bake Oven

So Ayla got an easy back oven from her Grammy for Christmas and we finally found a light bulb that works in it.  I had to search and search since it had to be a regular light bulb, who knew that would be so hard to find?  I have to say I am not a huge fan of this toy…no offense to anyone who loves it.  I find that I bake and cook with my kids on a regular basis (actual good food), and this was not a good substitute.  Today to make the most disgusting yellow cake with chocolate icing ever…but the kids loved getting to do everything themselves, and even eating it.  I think the idea that it is specifically their oven is appealing to them.  I much prefer cooking with them since they actually get to add in many ingredients and it tastes much better.  Here is a look.

Gift Kids Can Make

SPOILER!!! Please, please DO NOT read this post if you are in our family…I would hate to give away the surprise!  Here are the gifts we are making for our family this year.

1. Memory Book: The kids are writing and drawing their favorite memory from the year on a piece of paper and we are putting it into a binder.  We will add a new memory each year.  This gift is a great gift for grandparents, a favorite Aunt or Uncle, Dad, etc.

2. Canvas Painting: This year the kids and I decided to make a picture for Daddy’s office.  I am really excited about this and hope it turns out well.  They are actually painting on real canvas!!!  The kids finger painted over the canvas.  Then Isaiah, was old enough to paint his words,  wrote the words of our family motto on his.  Then I made cardboard stencils for Ayla to paint inside so her letters would turn out. It is Daddy’s favorite Bible verse.

First we painted


Then we added the words


Here is what part of the stencil looked like that I made for Ayla to paint inside.

3. You and Me books:  We have made this in the past for my sister and the idea came from the family fun website.  You simply make a homemade book and then on the first page you might write “You have green eyes.” Next page across from it, “I have blue eyes.”  You fill the whole book with items about the special person they are giving it to.  It is fun to let the kids decide what to include in it.

4. All about You: These are other books that are fun.  My kids have made them about their Dad, simply writing something they love about that person on each page.

Here is the cover, "My Daddy."


Sample inside page

5. Ornaments: So many ways to do this.  Our favorite is the hand and footprint reindeer.  You could also do two hands as angel wings with white paint and their cut out face in the middle.  An upside down green handprint as a Christmas tree with colorful fingerprints as ornaments.

6. Picture Magnets: Either with pictures the kids have made or their pictures.  Simply cut in fun shapes, cover with contact paper and add magnetic tape on the back.

7. Candy Cane reindeer: These we made for the students in my kids class this year.  Wrap pipecleaner around the candy cane.  Add a nose and googly eyes by gluing them on.  Super cute and who doesn’t love candy canes?

8. Thank you cards: For all the great presents our kids are receiving, we made Christmas tree thank you cards.  We used some of my scrapbooking scalloped scissors and Christmas paper.  Cut into rectangles and glue into the shape of a tree.

9. Treats: No holiday is complete without some yummy homemade sweets!  This year we made: peanut butter balls, scotcharoos, pretzels with rolos and M&M’s, peanut butter kiss cookies, cut out cookies, and carmels.

Happy creating!