At the end of the Christmas gift list, starts the Christmas wish list. Friends and neighbours spring to mind, and you find yourself thinking:

I wish we could give them a little . . . something . . . to show how much they mean to us. If only our Christmas budget could stretch that far!

We’ve got some cool ideas to help you fulfil all those Christmas wishes with inexpensive, homemade gifts. They’re so easy to make, your kids can help out too – and learn a lesson in thinking of others to boot!

If you’re not sure that your kids’ creative skills are "gift worthy" yet, let them work alongside you all the same. While you prepare the gift, they’ll have fun making a second "keeper" craft for your family.

#1  Table graces jar

What family wouldn’t love a pretty collection of mealtime prayers, and the thrill of unrolling each "scroll" to discover a new prayer! 

Hint: To create evenly-wrapped scrolls of the same size, wrap each "prayer scroll" around a piece of dowel or a thick pencil, then temporarily fasten each one with a small elastic. It will be much easier to tie the scroll with ribbon while the elastic holds it together.

Kids can help by rolling the prayer scrolls. Or let your kids decorate the outside of each prayer scroll with stickers or their own colourful artwork.

There are loads of different ways you could present your prayers. We re-purposed an empty candy jar. Or a latch-lid canning jar would look great too. For a family with small children, you might want to take a completely different approach and present your prayers on laminated wipe-clean cards that sit in an upright napkin holder.

#2  Sandi Richard's festive cranberry pepper jelly

You may recognize Sandi Richard’s name. She’s the host of Food Network Canada’s TV show Fixing Dinner and author of the bestselling recipe series, Cooking for the Rushed

We love Sandi’s cranberry pepper jelly – and it makes a great "gift-able" treat. Its pretty colour makes a single jar a nice gift on its own, or you can add some brie and a selection of crackers to make a lovely gift basket.

The recipe is super simple, and there’s lots of stirring required. Perfect for kids to help with! Check out the recipe here.

#3  Stamped tote bag

Every family needs plenty of tote bags on hand to carry groceries, library books, extra clothing and a host of other things, so you can never go wrong with this gift idea. Purchase blank canvas bags (100 percent cotton), or sew your own easy-to-roll-up bags from plain-coloured pillowcases.

We created this ladybug design with acrylic paint, using a cut potato to stamp the wings and head, then filling in the body freehand. Older children could easily manage their own potato stamp design. Younger children may do better decorating a bag freehand using fabric markers, or bejewelling it with rhinestones.

Hint: Put cardboard inside the bag before you start, to prevent the paint or markers soaking through to the other side of the bag.

For another great gift idea, assemble a kit of a few blank bags and fabric markers and let the receiving family decorate their own bags.

#4  Christmas crackers

Get someone’s Christmas party started with a bang with a gift of handcrafted Christmas crackers!

Kids can help by contributing their artwork for the outer paper and assembling treasures to stuff inside each cracker. Craft party hats from tissue paper, and search the Internet for some fun Christmas jokes. Let your kids vote for the best jokes to include, or even make up original jokes of their own!

Adding trinkets can be pricey, so you might want to include small candies instead. With candy, it’s easier for both participants to divide the spoils! You’ll need cracker snaps too: Michaels arts and crafts stores sell them at Christmastime for about $2 for a pack of 12. 

Hint: If you need help with making your Christmas crackers, look for a website that shows you how to use a tube or rod to shape the body of the cracker, and also keep the ends of the cracker nicely rounded as you tie them off.

#5  Candy Nativity scene

Pack a kit of supplies to make this candy Nativity scene, and your gift is sure to be a hit with kids! Below you’ll find a list of essential supplies, but you’ll want to include plenty of extra candy to allow for mishaps (and children who can’t resist "taste testing").

Let your youngsters help by counting out supplies and packaging them in baggies. Most likely though, they’ll be hankering to build their own Nativity scene instead!

Complete your kit with a card of instructions, including the image above. Here’s some text you can use:

Candy Nativity craft kit

This bag of treats
Looks good to eat
But first, enjoy some fun;
Make a sweet Nativity
And rejoice that Christ has come!

Your kit contains:

4 chocolate Reese® Bells (to make four torsos)

4 Reese Miniatures Peanut Butter Cups® (one each for Mary’s and Joseph’s lower halves; remove wrappers from two more cups for "kneeling" shepherds)

7 coloured jellybeans (6 for heads, and one wrapped up to form baby Jesus’ body

4 black jellybeans (slice these lengthwise to make the sheep’s heads)

1 roll of Fruit By the Foot® (for head coverings)

1 snack-size Snickers® bar (hollow it out a little to make the manger)

1 Hersey’s® Kiss (for the angel’s body)

3 miniature marshmallows (for the sheep’s bodies)

1 package of Chocolate Ice Wafers (to build a stable)

aluminum foil (for the angel’s wings and halo)

1 pack of toothpicks

Instructions: To hold each figure together, insert a toothpick into the base of the figure and push it up through the middle of the torso and partway into the jellybean "head." Push toothpicks into the wafers to stabilize the stable, if needed. Take 12 toothpicks and colour the wide ends black on both sides to make the sheep’s legs.

© 2014 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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