Tag Archives: handmade gifts

Handmade Gifts on a budget

18 Jan


I couldn’t blog about this leading up to Christmas because some of these gifts were for lovely family members that read my blog! The children and I spent lots of time making gifts this year. It was probably October when we started. They have both really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of making these gifts and they were very proud to present them on Christmas Day.

Soap-making is very simple and you can read my previous post with instructions here. This year we added a few ingredients to make different types of soaps including Oats and Honey, Lemon and Poppy Seed and my favourite – Lavender Soaps using essential oils and dried Lavender flowers.


soaps 3

We also made some bath salts scented with Lavender essential oil. I think they look pretty lovely and I can vouch for the fact that they smell pretty good too. We used food colouring to make some in Christmas colours. We layered these to look a bit like a candy cane! Topped off with a Christmas ribbon I think these would make a nice gift all on their own.



It is very easy to make bath salts. The main ingredient is Epsom Salts which you can buy in large quantities online.  Whilst you can add other ingredients like Sea Salt and Baking Powder, this is really not necessary. We added some peppermint essential oil for an ‘invigorating and refreshing’ blend and Lavender oil and flowers for a more relaxing blend. They smell gorgeous and you just add a couple of tablespoons to your bath.

There are lots of benefits to bathing with Epsom Salts.  They relax the nervous system, relieve aching limbs, coughs and congestion and remove toxins from the body.

We made our gifts into hampers. I collected some suitable boxes that were due to go in the skip at our local garden centre. There’s no need to splash out on expensive wicker baskets. Just wrap your boxes in a nice wrapping paper and use clear cellophane to cover the top. I chose some other bits and pieces to go in the boxes. These included candles, hand cream and nail brushes.  We also included a little salt dough pot that Thomas made. He loved painting this and covering it in glitter and I think it is perfect for storing rings or earrings. Next year I think I may try to make our own hand cream and candles!





Hand print stepping stones for Father’s Day

10 Jun


I have recently developed a bit of an obsession for sea glass. We saw some jewellery made with it at a craft fayre recently and I just fell in love with it.  We love hunting for sea glass at the beach and seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when they find a good piece is just great! After a particularly successful trip to the beach, I decided to use this to decorate some hand-made stepping-stones.

This is not something I’ve done before and I didn’t have a clue where to start.  I didn’t even know the difference between cement, mortar or concrete! Luckily I found a very helpful chap in B & Q who suggested I use this.


You just need to add water to it and mix well which is the kind of instructions  I can cope with! You then need some kind of mould for your stone. I used this plastic tray from a plant pot which seemed to work well. I greased it first with vaseline to prevent any disasters getting the stone out!

plant tray

Once you have mixed your mortar just pour it into the mould and level it out to a nice smooth surface. It needs to begin to set before you add any decorations. I left it for 90 minutes before we did anything else. This would probably depend on how wet your mixture is. (Don’t make it too wet or you’ll have to wait weeks for it to dry!)

After around 90 minutes the children pushed their hand down into the mortar to make a lovely hand print. You need to get them to press down quite firmly for this. At this point they wrote their names in the mortar with the end of a small paintbrush. This wasn’t really that successful to be honest. Where they had pushed the end of the paintbrush in it just kind of collapsed in on it self and didn’t look great.  I think for any future stones we will paint their names on when the mortar has set.

We also pushed in the pieces of sea glass that we had collected earlier, along with some pretty clear blue glass nuggets that we bought from The Range. Now you need to leave it all to dry out completely. We left it for 2 days, again it could take longer depending your mixture.

At this point the children painted their handprints to make them stand out more. You can see in this image where the writing kind of fell in on itself.


Finally, we painted the background of the stone white.  By the way all the paint we used was acrylic as this is waterproof. Depending on the age of the child they can do an awful lot of this themselves. It is pretty tricky to paint in around the decorations on the stone so you might want to just paint the hand print and leave it at that.  Lily and Thomas were both very excited to give these to Grandad for his birthday but I think they would love make lovely Father’s Day gifts.


Handmade soaps for Christmas

4 Dec


This is an easy peasy homemade gift that children can make! My 6 and 3 year old loved making these and they will make lovely gifts for grandparents. You DO need to be careful which bits you let the children do as you are using hot soap but mine were happy to watch me do the actual pouring bit and it was their job to shout STOP when the soap got to the top of the mould.

You will need:

  • Melt and Pour soap – I bought 500g and we still have some left to make more. You can buy it online, I couldn’t find it in any local shops. We bought ours  from Bee Beautiful. They have a good selection and even have an organic option.
  • Chocolate moulds
  • Dried Flowers or glitter. We already had some dried flowers that we pressed in the summer but I understand not everyone is going to have these to hand! Glitter will work just as well.


Place your dried flowers (very small ones work best) into the bottom of your chocolate moulds.

Place around 100g of soap into a pyrex jug and pop them into the microwave for around 20 seconds at a time.  Watch the soap carefully and stir it occasionally.  You want the soap to be a nice melted liquid but you don’t want it to get to the point where it is bubbling. Ours took about 40 seconds but obviously it will depend on how much soap you are using and also on the power of your microwave.

When the soap has melted, pour it into your chocolate moulds (on top of the flowers or glitter)

Place your moulds into the fridge for about 30 minutes until they are set.

Remove them from the moulds. They pop out really easily.

We took this a step further and made our own little gift boxes to put these in. You can find lots of free printable templates on google. There are loads on the Don’t Eat the Paste website. Once you have found the design you want to use you can draw around this template onto white card giving your little one a blank canvas to draw on.

Lily came up with a lovely design on this box and we then attached a lovely Russian Doll gift tag which came free with a crafty magazine.



This is such a simple crafty gift and we loved doing this! Have you made any handmade gifts for Christmas? Do add a comment and a link, we would love to see them.

Garden Crafts for Children. Our favourite craft book ever!

28 Jun

Garden Crafts for Children by Dawn Issac

I have read many, many craft books. I usually order new ones from the library when they come out and most of the time I am disappointed by how repetitive they are. They always seem to include the same ideas and I’ve even seen the same photos!

So, it was with a HUGE amount of excitement that I came across Garden Crafts for Childrenby Dawn Issac.

The ideas in this book are original and exciting, the photos are excellent and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The book contains 35 different projects and the chapters include simple crafts, growing projects and container gardening.  I love that the crafts are all garden themed so that children can be encouraged to enjoy the outdoors and develop a love of nature. I can honestly say that this is the best craft book that I’ve come across. If you enjoy creating things with your children then you should definitely have this on your book shelf!

We’ve been trying out many of the projects in this book.  I loved the idea of growing seeds in clear containers so that you can see how the root system develops. The instructions for this are really clear and we loved how it turned out! I did have a bit of a problem with condensation when I took the photo but hopefully you get the general idea!

Another idea that I really loved was planting up the children’s wellies! We always seem to have a few pairs that no longer fit and sometimes they are just too cute not to keep! The children loved being able to fill their wellies with soil!

How cute do these look?

Other projects that we have tried include the Dinosaur Garden and the Cress Cards. Next on our list is the gorgeous ‘Cress Caterpillar’ made from empty egg cartons. I think this book is going to keep us busy for a long time! You can purchase Garden Crafts for Childrenon Amazon for £10.49.

Homemade, last minute Father’s Day gifts

14 Jun

We don’t really go in for commercial shop-bought gifts on Father’s Day. Lily and Thomas love making  gifts themselves so the tradition has just kind of stayed with us.  Here are some of the cards and gifts that we have been making for Father’s Day, along with a few other ideas that we didn’t quite get around to making but would love to try next year!

Hand print poem

We actually made this at playgroup earlier in the week. What toddler doesn’t love covering their hands in paint?! You can google ‘poems for Dad’ and find loads or perhaps your little one would like to make up their own?

Handprint poem for Daddy.

Another easy activity for pre-schoolers is to decorate a plant pot.  You can either fill it with a lovely plant or for something a little different you could fill it with some packets of sweets or chocolates and then cover the pot with a saucer and wrap in a ribbon.

Father’s Day plant pot for Grandad

Here is a great idea for a card that you can grow! This idea came from Garden Crafts for Children and can be adapted with different pictures or even text on the front of the card.

The card looks really sweet don’t you think?

Instructions for cress card:

Take a sheet of card and fold in half.

On the front of the card draw your cut out design, in the image we have used a heart shape.  You definitely need an adult to cut out the shape.

Stick another piece of card inside your card and staple this so that is sits behind your heart shape.

Make up a ‘glue’ using a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of flour. Add a few drops of water at a time until you get a nice smooth paste.

Apply the glue to your cut out shape (so you are putting the glue onto your backing card)

Sprinkle your seeds onto the ‘glue’ and leave to dry.

When you write your Father’s Day message, you might want to add something like “You can grow these seeds. Just place in a tray and cover with a very fine sprinkling of compost. Water regularly and watch them grow”

You could use many types of seed for this. We chose cress because they grow so quickly and we love cress in our sandwiches!

DAD Picture Frame

We love this DAD picture frame. You can get a template for this on Martha Stewart’s site here. We adjusted it slightly by sticking the template onto a larger backing card. This meant we had room to write a message on it. Lily is going to sign her name and put the year on the bottom.  You could attach a little hoop on the back with ribbon so that it can be hung on the wall.

Dad photo card

Just because I love you book

‘Just because I love you’ book

We are DEFINITELY going to be making one of these! They are so adorable and you can find all the instructions over on the Me and My Shadow blog

Gift Vouchers

You can make your own vouchers for Daddy or use a template like this one. You could give a gift voucher for all sorts of things, from breakfast in bed to an hour reading the paper without disruption! Pop your vouchers inside your card for a wonderful surprise on Father’s Day!

What have you been making this week?  Do share your posts here….

Pressed flower prints – a gift that will last

22 Mar

Preparing flowers to be pressed

Ok, I know Mother’s Day has been and gone but I couldn’t post this before the day as we were giving these as Mother’s Day presents.

A few weeks ago we picked some flowers from the garden and pressed them between some normal sheets of paper, in preparation for this craft idea.  You don’t need a flower press, just pop them between the pages of a heavy book.

Two weeks later and the flowers were ready to use.  I asked Lily to tell me what she loved about her Nanny and her Grandma and we started by writing this in the centre of our card.  Lily had lots of fun arranging the pressed flowers around the words and then decorating it with some flower stems.

She was very proud of the finished gift and Nanny and Grandma loved it too! You could use this idea for any special occasion – or just to say ‘I love you’

One for the mantlepiece!