Gifts From The Heart

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First The Photo:  During this festive season, we diverge from our typical format where each photo is a mini scavenger hunt, instead these photos are designed to engaged your senses and ignite your creativity.  This particular photo shows our annual Holiday Gift Crafting Day, with supplies and creative gift wrapping (the stockings) close at hand, we crank up the Christmas songs, and get to work. Here are some simple ideas for your family to join in on the memory making.

Second The Question:  Begin your gift giving project by making a list of all the people who touch your lives with kindness or fill your days with joy.  Be sure to include everyone who shares their gifts and talents with you throughout the year.  Your kids play a big part in this brainstorming exercise as an important element in the wonder of gift giving is taking time to reflect on your daily life and recognize the people who make the moments of your lives special.  Family members are always essential, but you may also want to include: teachers, bus drivers, close family friends, religious Ed teachers, a coach or music teacher.  We always give something small to our son’s PT, OT and Speech teachers.  Don’t worry too much about the number at first, there will be time to limit the gift list as you move forward.

Third Next Steps:  Here is the most important part: Finding the perfect, handcrafted, memorable gift for everyone on your list.  Some years we aren’t lucky enough to come up with a single gift item for everyone, but we try hard to narrow it down to 1 or 2.  This helps us to streamline the crafty process and narrow down the supply list.  We always try to make the gift as unique as possible, and it is always something that my kids create themselves.

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Gift ideas from past years:

  • Clear glass ornaments filled with hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes with a note saying: Friends are the marshmallow in the cocoa of life.
  • A kitchen towel with their hand prints in the shape of a tree. Make sure to use acrylic paint so they don’t wash off in the laundry. After they did their hand prints we used puffy paint to add decorations and a star to the tree.
  • Bulb gardens. This was a BIG hit one year.  I went and bought terra cotta pot bases at a home improvement store (not the pot itself, but the saucer that goes underneath it. They are under a dollar a piece.)  I also bought Paper White Narcissi bulbs, (available at most garden shops this time of year) and then a large bag of potting soil.  My kids then sponge painted the terra cotta pot saucers with gold & green acrylic paint.  Then we put the soil into zip lock bags and placed 4-6 bulbs in a brown paper lunch bag.  Make sure to include planting instructions. “Place about an inch deep of soil into the saucer, then arrange the bulbs with the pointed side up in the dirt.  Sprinkle the rest of the dirt around the bulbs until they are about half covered.  Water after planting and then weekly after that. The bulbs will grow and bloom in about 4-6 weeks. Enjoy a bit of spring during this winter season” It is great fun for people to have flowers in the middle of winter.  You can also include a card that says: You make our lives Bloom!
  • Salt dough ornaments cut out with cookie cutters and hand painted by your kids. Make sure to use a straw to put a hole in the top of the ornament before baking so you have a way to attach a hook for hanging on the tree.
  • Customized Initial Ornaments. We purchased unfinished wood letters at crafts stores for around 50 cents.  Decoupage a piece of scrapbook paper onto it and then attached stickers, words, and 3-D items to it depicting things that the person enjoys. We also printed off photos in miniature and attached them to a piece of cardstock before affixing them to the ornament. It was fun to reflect on our loved ones’ hobbies and interests, plus it was a well-loved gift.  Make sure to attach some ribbon to the back for hanging.

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