Perfect Presents

Personalized Gifts Kids Can Make and Give That Won't Break Their Piggy Banks

Tell a story with photos. Buy a frame and a colorful scrapbook sheet. Trim some favorite pictures and glue as a collage. Stickers or fun sayings can be added to personalize it even more. 

Service coupons. Offer a free evening of babysitting, a week of taking out the trash, making your sister's bed, pet sitting, lawn mowing, ironing, or another task kids can do.

Glitter chip clips. Paint wooden clothespins with acrylic paint, each one a different color and let dry. Use a flat paintbrush and brush top side with white glue. Immediately coat with glitter and tap off excess. Seal with a craft varnish. 

Shape decorative soaps. Grate bars of inexpensive white soap. Mix approximately ½ cup of warm water with a cup of shredded soap. Add food coloring to the water to create colored soap. Knead the mixture. Add additional warm water as necessary until it forms like dough. Next, fill cookie cutters with the mixture, or flatten it on a sheet of waxed paper and trim into shapes. Let the soap dry slightly. Then press with small leaves or other designs. Allow the soaps to dry for 24 hours, flipping them occasionally.

Make a placemat. Choose favorite photos or use a subject of interest to your gift recipient, such as model cars or pets. Clip pictures from magazines and catalogs, then glue them to an 11" x 17" sheet of paper. When you're done, laminate the design with self-adhesive laminating sheets, or have it laminated at an office supply store.

Create bookmarks. Cut 2" x 7" strips from a clean, dry plastic milk jug. Color strips with sharpie markers, completely covering the surface with blocks of color. Fill a medicine dropper with 99% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Squeeze tiny drops on the bookmark to make a tie-dye look. Keep flat until it is completely dry. Spray (don't brush) with a spray varnish to set the color. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the center top of the bookmark. Thread a fancy ribbon or cording through the hole and tie a button or charm at the bottom end.

Give magnetic photos. Cut a piece of cardboard from a cereal box to match the size of your photo and glue it to the back of your photo for support. Glue a small magnet to the cardboard. 

Handprint apron. Get a plain apron at a craft store. Have the kids paint the bottoms of their hands with acrylic paints and let them be creative. Carefully place their painted hands on the apron. Let them paint their name above or below their handprint.

Personalized golf balls. Use fine or medium point permanent markers and let the kids decorate white golf balls with designs, words or drawings. Their favorite golfer will hate to lose them!

Construct a puzzle or lego photo frame. Cut a piece of firm cardboard to your desired size of frame. Trim out the center with a razor knife, leaving a 1" to 2"-thick frame. Next, trace the outside edge of your frame onto another piece of thin cardboard, and cut it out. Place a sheet of colored paper between the two pieces of cardboard. Next, glue the paper and two pieces of cardboard together. Glue lego blocks or overlapping jigsaw puzzle pieces around the frame to cover the entire thickness of the frame. Let the frame dry. If using puzzle pieces, brush a layer of glue over the puzzle pieces to prevent them from falling off. Stick your photo in the opening of the frame with double-sided tape.

Compose a memory book. Buy a composition book and cover it with construction paper, then design and decorate the cover. Inside, have the kids write or draw their favorite memories of special times they've had with the person who will receive it. 

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