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Crafty Holiday Gift-Giving


by Katriena Knights

In these uncertain economic times, the holiday season might prove even more of a challenge than usual. With holiday gift-buying a strain on the budget even at the best of times, this year might be a good one to look into alternatives.

One way to reduce the holiday budget while spending more time with your kids is to make homemade gifts. If this idea brings visions of ugly ornaments made from construction paper, fear not. There are many things you can do with your kids to make gifts friends and relatives will appreciate.

Finding Holiday Craft Projects
Craft Kits--Your local hobby or craft store, or the craft section of your local discount store, offers a wide variety of craft kits, from easy jewelry to pillows or homemade soaps. Craft kits, though, can quickly become as expensive as purchasing pre-made gifts, so unless you happen on a great sale, this might not be the most budget-friendly option.

Do-It-Yourself--A trip to the library can provide a wide variety of books on various crafts. Browsing the craft section in either the adult or children's sections, you'll find kids crafts ideas you probably never thought of for making inexpensive, high-quality gifts with nary a piece of construction paper in sight.

The Internet also provides a plethora of options. If you know exactly what you want to make, a few passes with your search engine of choice should provide several informative sites with ideas, instructions and tutorials. If you're not sure what you'd like to try, a more general search for "holiday crafts" or "homemade holiday gifts" will get you started and help you decide what crafts or projects appeal most to you and your kids.

Some Sites to Investigate
Some handy websites with a wide variety of projects aimed at a range of age groups are:

Familyfun.go.com--a Disney site with a variety of family-friendly crafts options
Familycrafts.about.com--part of a family of about.com sites on crafts
Makingfriends.com--geared toward a slightly younger crowd, but with lots of ideas for multiple holidays crafts and gifts.
• Homemadesimple.com
--search for "holiday crafts" on the front page for an archive list
crafts.lovetoknow.com--a wide variety of crafts for all year around

Some Ideas to Start With
If you're not sure what you might like to tackle, here are some ideas to start from:

Household decorations--A yearly tradition of a homemade ornament can be a treat for grandparents and other relatives.
Layered cooking mixes--A popular choice at craft fairs. Ingredients for cookies, cocoa, or even soups can be layered in a glass jar. Careful layering creates an edible work of art, and the jar can be custom-decorated for the recipient. Don't forget to include the recipe.
Homemade soaps or candles--These aren't as difficult to make as it might seem at first. Glycerin soaps are made simply by melting the glycerin (available at natural groceries) and pouring it into molds along with optional color and fragrance. Easy candles are made by a similar process, and wicks and wax, along with colors and fragrances, are available (and inexpensive) at most hobby and craft stores. Be sure the intended recipient doesn't have perfume allergies before adding fragrances to either soap or candles.

With these ideas as a starting point, let your imagination guide you to other options your friends and family will love. Above all, have fun making these gifts and crafts with your children. It's a great way to bond during the often crazy, hectic holiday season.

Editor's note: You can find some craft ideas on MomTalk.com in our MomTalk.com activities section.

Find more articles about the holidays on MomTalk.com

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