The $0 Holiday Challenge - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone want to join me in a "make do with what you have" holiday challenge?

This doesnt necessarily mean spending absolutely no money, but as little as possible, definition to be decided by the individual.

We are really poor this Christmas. Heck, we are really poor every Christmas. DH is in the restaurant biz as a waiter. Sept, Oct and Nov are really slow, december is better, but we have a lot of make up to do, and jan and feb are awful. So, we have very little to work with.

So, some people make gifts, but you have to go out and buy supplies, and even that part isnt feasible. And then, okay you have the gift made, and now you have to decorate the house, provide a wonderful meal, cookies, and wrap and ship presents. Oh, wait, now every chairty in america is tugging on your heartstrings, making you feel horribly guilty and terrible about yourself since you cant even quite provide a good Christmas(good by media standards, anyway) for your family, let alone stuff for anyone else. And then "everyone" (which is ussually comprised of writers from their comfy homes where their holdiay is secure) tells you to remember that the holidays arent about giving they are about family, blah blah blah, and yet, they dont tend to give up their fab holiday.
rant ends

Anyway, I do intend to sign up on the holiday fairy swap here on mdc, but from my end, I want to really do the holiday well without feeling guilty, burntout, overextended, or like I didnt do "enough"

Anyone want to join me? We can post our successes, how we made gifts from dryer lint and wrapped them in a pumpkin shell dried in such a way that it was beautfiful enough to make Martha Stewart cry red and green tears!! We can hold each other accountable when we want to break down adn blow the rent money ona last minute trip to Goodwill and Toysrus. We can support each other when we are feeling poor bc of what others are doing. We can post reactions of recipients of our gifts.

Anyone up for it?
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#2 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 04:39 PM
 
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one year when I was a teen we cut down a huge vine that had been growing up the side of the house (can't remember what kind, but not poisenous).

As it was drying I started playing around with it and found it weaved REALLY well. I made everyone in the family wreaths (heart or round) for Christmas using ONLY that old dead vine. :LOL

money-free gifts are sometimes the best.

(my mom still has hers up on the wall)
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#3 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 05:08 PM
 
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I have been using leftover odds and ends of yarn to make hats and scarves for the family. I don't know what the kids will be getting from us- but it will certainly be cheap. I am completely in the throes of trying to provide Thanksgiving dinner for 15 people, none of which has offered to help in any way (except my mom who sent me a check because she won't be able to bake the desserts that she would normally bring due to the fact that they are on an RV trip ). I think I will make a coupon book for dh. Or maybe not lol
I have missed you boysrus!
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#4 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 05:18 PM
 
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I did buy some wool/angora yarn (not cheap) to make some scarves for my SIL and BIL back east. It does feel much better than buying a gift though I purchased the yarn. We shop for sales all year round so we always have other things to give to various people. So we rarely buy Christmas presents.

I will also make chocolate truffles and sending them to ppl. It was a hit last year so why not do it again?

I wish I got around to making soap, but maybe next year. I would to hear more cheap/money free ideas for holidays. I am all for a chic, cheap, streamlined, holiday. We have enough activities going to worry about shopping for gifts.
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#5 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 05:44 PM
 
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How do you make truffles? That's a GREAT idea!

Our immiediate family doesn't exchange gifts, but we have to cover grandparents & teachers, so I'm absolutely in for the challenge
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#6 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 05:53 PM
 
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Hey, I just wanted to share this story quickly:
I met a woman a while ago who had a very successful business making fudge out of her home. Her fudge was to DIE for. She started out because one year and her her hubby had no money to buy Xmas gifts for the family.
I am sooooo drooling just thinking about her fudge.
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#7 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 06:10 PM
 
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I've made truffles for gifts...sooo much fun but I end up eating a lot of chocolate. I think there's a basic recipe on Martha Stewart's website. I was thinking of personalized ginger bread houses. Or planting paper white bulbs now to give at christmas...this would cost money at least for the bulbs...but I have a ton of little planters that could be painted.

I think this is a fun thread. We have money for gift but honestly I think the homemade ones are much better. I like to use the money to donate in our friends and family's names. Otherwise the consumerism of Christmas just depresses me...and I hate shopping malls...

Another cheaper idea I had was afternoon tea in a basket. Buy tea cups in a thrift store and tea and make homemade scones, cookies, etc. I love going to tea.

Oh and the Martha stewart kids for fall (probably not in stores, but I bet you could find it on line or in a library) had this really cute idea for making little dolls. They look pretty cute, kind of like waldorf dolls. you could use tshirt material and yarn you had lying around the house for the hair. It also had some really cute crocheting projects, but I'm not much of a knitter and I have never crocheted...

For granparents, customized picture frames (you can get old ones at thrift store REALLY cheap) with a family pic in side. I don't like the protrait studio pics so dh takes a picture of us...plus then the dog can be in the pic and the cat if he's in agood mood.

K I'll stop now but I probably could think of more...

ETA: Links
Truffles:http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jh...rue&resultNo=4
I also melted chocolate chips and rolled the ganache in the melted chocolate and let it harden

I couldn't find the doll pattern online, but there is a different on out there. Otherwise check the library for a back issue. There's also some really cute ideas in the winter issue.
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#8 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 06:55 PM
 
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I will post when I have some time later, but just wanted to chime in and say that I love making things and especially for free. This Christmas is all about free gifts...with the exception of a tricycle for ds.

Mother to one wild and crazy boy 12/29/2002.
Midwife, Homeschool Educator and Crafter.
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#9 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 07:01 PM
 
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This is such a cool idea
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#10 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 07:15 PM
 
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I am so in on this boat- and Val, I know how you feel, we moved back to Michigan mostly because it was so spendy there.... But anyway, I had a wonderful day of post dating a check to my mortgage company for a grand!!! To save the house..... So I am floating in the poor boat with the rest of you- sending buckets and buckets of water over the side. Life is sweet!

So here is what I am thinking, if we talk food it must be accompanied by a recipe- girls you are making my mouth water with no way to bake something up to crave the urge- REMEMBER SOME OF US ARE PREGNANT! Heemmm... Back to what I was saying, o' yes recipes, and a bit more how you did what you did.

I am thinking for DD and my niece I am going to make them a doll out of fabric I have laying all over and then get some yarn and do the hair- I figure it will be pretty cheap, besides my time (now where did my time go.?.?.?. on the search for more time...)

My mom has a few gooood food recipes so when I talk to her I will have her get them out for me and then I will share them- I don't need your drool leaking over onto my desk right now! Thank you very much!!!

I hope this thread takes off, we need all the help we can get, we have my whole family and DP's whole family to buy for and ZERO can I please repeat ZERO money

[B][I]~Ang~ Mom to 2 sport-head crazy girls: Rainey and Breeze  and my little lost love- @18 weeks with gestational age of 7 weeks
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#11 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 08:26 PM
 
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I have several pieces of clothes in a stack to donate to Goodwill, but I keep thinking if I could figure out a way to use the fabric from them, I might be able to turn out some pretty cool beanbags, or little cloth bags. Maybe even bags to carry/store the beanbags in? I have an herb garden that I could snip from to add scents to the bean bags. I have a couple odd beads and leather scraps I could use to decorate the bags.

But here's my reservation. What would my friends and their kids do with the beanbags and little sack-purse thing after they were done oohing and ahhing over them? What shape and size beanbags and sack would be best? Would they just end up at Goodwill anyway? (Maybe I'm just procrastinating and calling it deciding and thinking)
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#12 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 08:37 PM
 
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If you have fabric and need to make stuff for kids, make those I SPY bags that are all the rage right now. I read somewhere you can make 3 for $10. I am supposed to make some tomorrow at a craft day for $2.50 apiece. Just google I Spy bags for directions. They are great for kids who have a long car ride or a boring line wait.

We are six: Me : Dh : Ds1('00) Dd('02) Ds2('05) Ds3('08) and, wow! Soon to be seven, Dd2 due 4/23.
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#13 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 08:54 PM
 
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Here's what I gave FIL one year:

I made a little card enrolling him in the "bread of the week" club. Every week, (for 6 weeks) I'd bake a loaf of bread and deliver it to his house while it was still warm. He loved it,--as soon as I walked in the door, he'd snatch it away and start buttering himself a slice-- and it cost almost nothing.
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#14 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 09:44 PM
 
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I'm so glad I found this thread....funds are REALLY low this year,so I am looking to make as much as I can instead of buying things. Looking forward to sharing ideas. will write more.NAK
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#15 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 10:08 PM
 
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Loving this thread! we have some obligated gifts to give and I'm trying to make as much as I can..but I'm far from spending $0!!!

I tried googling for I spy bag directions and this was the only site I found (for sale, not a pattern, but at least you can see what they look like)
http://www.austinmama.com/myspybag.htm

I think these are a great idea btw! do you think an almost 5yo would like something like this or is it more for a younger preschooler?

daylily- that's a great idea!

rubysmomjess-I think I will try that truffle recipe. I never know what to give DH grandparents and they would probably love a big box of those (both have sweet tooths) I have a ton of xmas tins/boxes collected throughout the years (and I buy them insanley cheap after the holidays )

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#16 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 10:21 PM
 
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Oh this is great! We are so tight financially lately, and I'm *so* tired of all this holiday hoopla crapola. Our plan this year is to get the kids something very small each, and then just bake cookies and other goodies for everyone else.

I like the idea of making beanbags out of old clothes. I have a pile of neices who would love that! I also thought of making personalized pillowcases for my nieces. They take very little fabric, and my machine can embroider so I can put their names on them.
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#17 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 10:22 PM
 
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Try eBay and type in I spy bag. So what do you do? Shake things around in the little window to try and find all the little pieces? OK, I just went to the austinmama link and that is the case. Sounds like a cute idea.

BTW, I love the fresh bread club idea.
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#18 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 10:54 PM
 
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The bean bags are a great idea- you can sew a "X" or an "O" on them and make them so you can play tick-tack-toe.....

and the I Spy bags- I like that idea, I think my nephews and my neice and my DD would love that. I think this thread is helping a ton!

ETA: what size would you sew a bean bag?

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#19 of 625 Old 11-12-2004, 11:19 PM
 
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i love those spy bags ... they are too cute ... i think i will make some of those ...
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#20 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 12:04 AM
 
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This year everyone local is getting chutney I canned in Sept.- I got free fruit from the neighbor's tree. Out of town relatives are getting handmade Christmas ornaments the kids made out of homemade dough we baked/painted. I'm going to try to knit for my nephews, but am running behind schedule (it's Nov already ).

Dd is knitting potholders for the grandparents but these may not get done since she is five and gets sidetracked. I'll finish the if she doesn't.

Growing up, we gave each other a lot of re-used gifts- we'd find something in our room that a sibling had been coveting all year and wrap it up for them.

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#21 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 12:16 AM
 
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Ok, so we are trying to cut back, I was thinking books and homemade book 'thongs' as gifts this year. I already pickup up DS's gift from a fellow freecycler the other day, so I've got that covered. Loving this thread, hoping to read more .
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#22 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 12:39 AM
 
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I love the I spy bag! Too cool, I wonder what you could use for the little ballls that the items slide around in? I was thinking about filling from an old bean bag chair?

The person who originallly posted the idea of bean bags was smart! My son (4yrold) received a bean bag last year for christmas from a friend - she made it about 5" by 5" and filled it with cherry pits she got from a source of the internet and he and my daughter love the bag! He heats it up and takes it to bed - it is his snuggly! Dd lkes to throw it, suck on it, etc.. He is rather territorial, so I need another for her. I love the idea of hmmade gifts or gifts from thrift/antique stores.
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#23 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 01:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Great!! I am glad to see an interest here.

Here are some of my ideas"


I am really into making books this year. I make a lot of kids books. I am making one for my
two year old friend. Each page has a simple sentence.
"This is Mary." "Mary is a Big Girl" "Mary loves her
Mama" "Mary goes camping" "Mary sleeps in a funny bed"
I put one sentence per page, and then write them on
blank 4 X 6 index cards. I draw little pictures( I am
no artist, but I do my best work) and then put them in
a 4 X 6 photo album. Michaels has them on sale this week for 50 cents each for hard backed, 100 page books. So, my total cost there was 50 cents, since I had gotten a bunch of plain white index cards free this summer when I bought on old filing box. I love this idea bc it is soo personal for each child. I am going to make my 6 year old a RObot Lego story, and my 8 yo a joke book. I will do stickers for their books instead of drawings.

I made up a cute little story for my niece too, who is
three. It was just a simple story about a kitten who
wanted to bark. I got some pictures online of a
kitten and a dog. I copied them onto heavy card
stock. I am going to laminate them(tip: for small
lamination, use packing tape) and glue felt on the
back. I am going to use stickers in the book for the
pictures. SO, she will have her own book and also the
felt peices to act it out. I am putting her book into
a 4 X 6 book also. My 3 yo liked the story so much that I am making the same one for him.



I make scrapbooks for kids. If there is an event that
happened that year, I will make a scrapbook about it.
It doesnt have to be long.

This is an idea I did a few years ago: For Grandma, I scrapped a page with the boys pictures,
and they all had a fun little saying by their picture,
kind of a "hi grandma" kind of thing. Then I
laminated it and sent it as a placemat.


For the older kids, I am making nonfiction books. For
my six yo nephew, I wrote a book about our journey
from New Mexico to Washington, and gave him some
interesting facts about each state. I drew funky
little pictures. That one in in a regular, pretty
spiral notbook, heavier duty than average notebok,
purchased at Big Lots.
Two years ago, when we were in New Mexico, I wrote him
a book about a traditional Mexican Christmas, the
pastorelas and posados. I figured since I knew so
little about it, he would too, since he lives in CT,
and I thought he would find it interesting.

For my 12 year old friend who lives in TX, I am
writing a book full of interesting facts anout
Washington: Bonneville Dam, Mount Saint Helens,
Olympic Rain Forest,etc. I went and got a bunch of
brochures, and will include pictures cut out of those,
and then write an interesting, user friendly fact page
for each thing.

These are ideas from Christmases past:

For my kids, I made puppets. I took cardboard juice
cans and panited them, added crazy yarn or fabric hair
and painted on faces. DId the same with toilet paper
tubes. I made those two years ago, and the still play
with them alot.

For my then 4 year old, I made a city. I painted all
kinds of different boxes: cracker boxe, cereal boxes,
etc. as buildings. Then, I cut roads and rivers out
of felt. Included was a big sheet to lie down on the
floor,and then the town would be built on top of it.


DH made them a wonderful workbench made out of scrap
wood.

He also made a tool box for my oldest, drilled
the holes, but left it apart. He drew up fancy
blueprints, and gave it to him as a kit. They had
quality time putting it together. This was all made
out of scrap wood and cost nothing. He made Derek a
step stool, painted it and painted his name on it. It
has been used daily for two years.

I made them felt gloves, scarves and hats.
Doing felt board stories is cool, easy and cheap!! You can get a square of felt for 20 cents, or cheaper by the yard. Cover a piece of heavy poster board(the kind the the foam in the middle) with a neutral color of felt(check the thrift shops for the felt, too, I have also found lots of goodies in the ends basket at the fabric shop at holiday time) staple on in the back and you have a felt board. Scrap plywood would do the trick, too. Then, you can cut out felt people, felt shapes, or what have you. There are books of templates at the library, you can trace out the story. or just make your own. ALso, they can be found online by searching for flannel story pieces. You can do stories, or do just shapes and what have you. At Halloween, I cut out orange circles, green rectangles(for the stems) and lots of different little shapes, then gave them to the kids and told them to decorate their jack o laterns. You can do the same idea with a kind of a Mr Potato Head of the felt board. Also, you can just print coloring pages onto cardstock, and then add sandpaper or felt to make them stick.
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#24 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, instead of doing a Christmas card this year, I am writing a short story. We had a wonderfully profund experience happen to us last year on Thanksgiving. I am going to print it up on festive paper, and mail it. I know that it isnt much money to buy a box of cards, but this will have a wonderful personal touch. And that will be the only gift I give to adults, except for maybe a few people who live nearby. I am either going to do bulk teas(very inexpensive) put into nice tissue paper in a pretty cup bought at the thrift shop, or layered bean soups. I have a lot of glass jars around, and dried beans and rice are really inexpensive
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#25 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 01:26 AM
 
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I want to second the painted salt dough ornaments idea. We made our last month and now ds and I will paint them this month.

Also, I am cutting out circles of pretty papers that I have from calendars. I will glue them together on some string and make my own garland to give to friends for their trees. This turns out really great and you can get pretty decorative and fancy if you make different shapes or one color on another for cute effects.

The last thing I am doing is hand prints on cloth that I will sew into pillows for the grandparents. I got this great book from the library once that showed how to decorate a handprint to make it look like a bee, flowers, dogs, dinosaurs etc. You will need the fabric if you don't already have the stash, but I am just using muslin and this is pretty cheap.

Great thread. Thanks.

Mother to one wild and crazy boy 12/29/2002.
Midwife, Homeschool Educator and Crafter.
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#26 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 01:33 AM
 
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I will likely do all homemade gifts this year. Here are some things I'm considering making and/or have made in the past.

-Felt puzzles. Use one sheet and draw shapes on there with black markers and place a piece of velcro in each one. Then cut out shapes to fit in contrasting colours, put the other end of velcro on those, and voila! instant puzzle. Also would be nice with letters and numbers.
-Felt books. Same idea as above, only in book format. Glue some pieces down and have others removable. For example, glue down the body of a lion and have a removable head.
-Stickers. Use the clip art on your computer for some fun pictures and print them on regular sheets of labels in different sizes.
-Journals. Buy basic journals from the dollar store and embellish the cover with fabric, glitter, paint, etc. Add a funky pen/pencil that you buy or embellish.
-Make your own kits. Include all the ingredients for making a particular craft along with instructions and give them as kits for people to do at home. Kits for felt puzzles (include stencils), wooden decorations or dough art with paints, fabric and instructions for making a Christmas stocking (easy pattern!), ingredients for making playdoh with cookie cutters and a cute storage container...
-Doll slings. I make kid sized pouches and they're quite easy to do.
-Doll blanket and pillow sets. Quick to sew up, and you could use any scraps lying around.
-Finger puppets. You could knit up a bunch and add different coloured hair, eyes, etc. Or you could sew them out of knit scraps.
-Pet rocks. Grab rocks from the garden and paint them to look like animals.
-Cookie mix in a jar. Get together all the ingredients for cookies and put them in a nice decorative jar with an instruction card. You could also do this with a cocoa mix, bean soup, etc. Anything that has a bunch of dry ingredients.
-Eye pillows. Fill with flax seed or rice and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Can be heated or frozen before use. Nice if you add a zipper so contents can be changed.
-Rag quilts. Lap quilts for adults or small ones for kids. Use up all your flannel or denim scraps.
-Fleece scarves (no sew!) and hats. Hat instructions on Martha Stewart site - very easy.
-Calendar. I printed one last year with a picture of my daughter from the year before for every month. I included my favourite parenting/child related quotes. Big hit!
-Match games. Gather a bunch of clip art and print two of each graphic on a heavier stock paper. (Or on a lighter paper and glue to bristol board or cardboard.) Laminate for durability.
-Get some iron on fabric transfers and transfer pictures to squares to make a picture quilt, gift bags, etc.
-Make a stocking and stuff it with various little other handmade goodies.
-Melt and pour glycerin soap. (Fast project!!) Lots of recipes online for various scents and other additives. Use clear soap and throw in some plastic snakes, erasers, etc. for cool kids soaps.
-Napkins and placemats. Easy to sew, and good use of small pieces of fabric.
-Pot scrubbies. Easy to knit with scraps.
-Felt dolls.
-Beaded necklaces/bracelets.
-Zen garden for kids. Get a little wooden box, fill it with rice, alphabet noodles, etc. and throw in a little wooden rake or scoop.
-Wind chimes. Make them out of anything laying around the house. Old silverware, old toys, cardboard cutouts, etc.
-Homemade paper.

Ok, must stop now... :LOL What a great thread!!

Melanie
Magical Mama, joyfully home educating my three wonders: FR (12/02), EG (05/05), DK (06/09)
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#27 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 09:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim
If you have fabric and need to make stuff for kids, make those I SPY bags that are all the rage right now. I read somewhere you can make 3 for $10. I am supposed to make some tomorrow at a craft day for $2.50 apiece. Just google I Spy bags for directions. They are great for kids who have a long car ride or a boring line wait.

I couldn't find directions online. Can you post a link? Tell us how the craft day went, too!
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#28 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 11:34 AM
 
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I think maybe you could probably use white rice for the i spy bags instead of those little balls. (I'm pretty sure they sell those at Micahel's though)

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#29 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 11:51 AM
 
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Our family is getting apple pie filling that I canned this fall. Also some sweet bread or other treats. We almost always give food. That way I know it'll be used!

Also, for beanbags, you can sew some long ribbons coming out so they'll have a tail when thrown. You could even make them in warm colors and call them fireballs!

Mama of 3 amazingly sweet kids jumpers.gif, living the dream on our urban farm chicken3.gif

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#30 of 625 Old 11-13-2004, 07:32 PM
 
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I love the beanbag ribbon tails idea! I would have to buy stuff for the I spy bags. I also think my 2.5 yo would go crazy trying to get thr toy he could see.
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