ftsInexpensive gifts that we can make ourselves are all the rage during this bumpy economic time. These gifts are easy to create and appropriate for a variety of ages, from children to grandparents.
DIY Play Dough
Kids can entertain themselves for hours with play dough, and when you make it yourself you know that it’s safe and nontoxic. Package the play dough in decorated plastic bags that can be sealed or store it in airtight containers. Look around your kitchen for spare utensils that you no longer use like cake decorating tips and plastic forks or knifes to include with this DIY gift!
This all natural version is specially flavored for the holidays.
Gingerbread Play Dough
Gather 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. veg. oil, and spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.
Mix the dry ingredients. Play with the spices till you achieve a gingerbread scent and color. Mix water and oil together and add them to the dry ingredients, mixing well. In a pot, cook the mixture for two to three minutes, stirring frequently.
The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and clump together. Take the dough out of the pan and knead it until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
Cookie Cutter Ornaments
These no-bake ornaments are simple to make, and come with an easy play dough recipe that doesn’t require any cooking . It’s important to remember to put a small hole at the top of each ornament so that it can be hung from the Christmas tree. After shaping the ornament, let it harden and then decorate as desired!
A Photo Ornament
The Cookie Cutter ornaments can easily be made into photo ornaments, but if you’re pressed for time you might want to try this Snowman Photo Ornament craft. Use this template (http://www.trcabc.com/wp-content/uploads/Snowman-Photo-Ornament.pdf) and a variety of craft materials like buttons, ribbons, glitter, glue and markers to create a fun and meaningful gift to be enjoyed year after year.
A wreath represents more than the festive holiday season. A wreath in its circular design represents unending love. This Handprint Wreath would be a great gift for a special family member, and it’s easy to make. Use this Handprint Wreath base template (http://www.trcabc.com/wp-content/uploads/ChristmasHandPrintWreath1.pdf) green construction paper, scissors and glue to make one of your own.
Chalk is as easy to make as the play dough mentioned above, and it encourages outdoor play. You can make this chalk in a variety of shapes depending on the kinds of molds you have. A simple muffin pan will work just fine, making thin round pieces of chalk.
To make your own chalk, mix 1 cup Plaster of Paris and 1 cup water, adding powdered tempera paint for color as desired. Let it stand in the bowl, and after a few minutes pour the mixture into your mold(s). Set the mold aside and let it dry completely – depending on the mold, drying time can be a few hours to a few days. Once completely dried, remove the chalk from the mold and package it up!
Use recycled or brown paper to wrap these frugal but heartwarming gifts to save even more during this holiday season. Decorate the outside of the packages with markers, stamps and ink, or stencils and paint for beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree.
Kelly Wilson is an editor with Teaching Resource Center, a teacher store providing a variety of free teacher lesson plans and craft ideas appropriate for any time of the year.