Heartwarming gifts kids can make

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

This holiday season, follow Santa's lead and enlist some little helpers in creating wonderful presents for friends, teachers and family.

Children can make a variety of unique gifts that will make them and the gift recipients feel special, said Missy Donovan, education and evaluation manager for the Dublin Arts Council. "You can definitely see the pride kids have in their artwork," she said. "Kids have a real significant emotional investment in their work."

Adults also will appreciate the work that goes into a handmade gift, added Judy Shirck, owner of Sweet Somethings By Judy. "I think people love when [a gift] is homemade," said Shirck, who teaches a class called Holiday Gifts From Your Kitchen for the Upper Arlington Parks & Recreation Department. "There's more thought and actual time spent on the person."

Plenty of simple projects can make a big impact, said Jan Bonner, demonstration specialist at Whole Foods Market in Dublin. She recommends baked goods because children love to help in the kitchen. "Make it fun," she said. "Get everybody involved."

Parents who are unsure of what to make can find lots of ideas online, said Lyn Kiger of the Westerville Parks & Recreation Department. She also encouraged parents to check with their local community centers or libraries because many offer special holiday craft programs.

Columbus Parent Magazine asked Shirck, Donovan, Kiger and Bonner to suggest gifts children can make-- with a little adult supervision. They provided the following ideas.

Snowman containers filled with popcorn potpourri

This seasonally inspired craft transforms a simple clay flower pot into a festive holder for a delicious homemade snack.

1. Paint the flower pot white, allow to dry overnight.

2. Shape a carrot nose from the orange clay, allow to dry overnight.

3. Color wood or cardboard circles for the snowman's eyes.

4. Attach the eyes on flower pot with glue gun.

5. Draw a smile to complete the snowman's face.

6. Make a removable hat for the snowman by turning up one of the long edges of the fleece to create a 1/2-inch hem. Sew the hem to form a casing. Sew the two short ends of the fabric together to create a tube shape, stopping at the casing or hem. Gather the top unhemmed edge in your hand and secure with a rubber band. Attach a pom-pom with the glue gun to the gathered top of the hat. Thread the string or ribbon through the hat's lower casing and allow the two ends to hang out of each end of the casing.

7. Place the bagged snack mix into the snowman flower pot.

8. Secure the hat to the flower pot by pulling the string and tying.

Measure all ingredients into a bag and shake. Scoop into resealable plastic bags and set into a decorative container for gifts.

Votive candle holders

This simple, inexpensive craft uses items you may already have around the house. It's so easy a preschool-aged child can do it.

1. Rip tissue paper into small pieces.

2. Add water to the glue to thin it out.

3. Glue the paper to the jar with a paint brush. Make sure to glue down any loose edges.

4. Place a candle into the jar.

More crafts

Popsicle stick tree ornaments

What you need:

  • 3 Popsicle sticks
  • green paint
  • glitter, sequins or beads
  • ribbon or yarn
  • photo of child
  • glue

1. Paint the sticks green. Allow to dry.

2. Arrange sticks in a triangle and glue together.

3. Decorate with beads, glitter or sequins.

4. Glue a photo of the child in the center of the tree.

5. Attach a ribbon or piece of yarn to the back to create a hook for the ornament.

Do-it-yourself necklace

What you need:

  • polymer clay
  • cord or string

1. Allow children to make their own beads by rolling clay into balls, discs or tube shapes.

2. Use a toothpick to make a generous hole in the bead.

3. Bake according to directions on package.

4. String on cord and tie securely.


Almond butter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all ingredients together. While the butter is soft, spoon into fancy candy molds for gift giving.

Holiday spiced snack mix

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons butter

Toss pecans with sugar and spice; set aside.

Melt butter in medium skillet on medium heat. Add pecans; cook and stir five minutes or until lightly toasted.

Spread onto sheet of wax paper; cool completely. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Spice cookie mix

The dry ingredients can be layered into a mason jar and given as a gift. Be sure to include the recipe.

  • 1 - 18 oz package spice cake mix
  • 1 cup regular oats, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container.

To make cookies:

Place spice cake mix in a large bowl; stir in one large egg, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup melted butter and one teaspoon vanilla.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes 5 dozen.

White chocolate pretzels

  • 1 package long pretzel rods
  • 1 package almond bark or vanilla candy coating
  • red and green sprinkles

Place the candy coating in a microwave safe bowl. Make sure you do not get any water into the bowl, as it will cause the coating to separate.

Microwave the coating for one minute, then stir and microwave an additional minute until it is completely melted and smooth.

Stick pretzel rod into the chocolate and using a spoon, cover about 3/4 of the pretzel with chocolate. Let the excess drip back into bowl. Sprinkle with red and green sprinkles.

Let dry completely.

Maple roasted nuts

  • 6 cups Whole Foods Market 365 Brand raw nuts, walnuts or pecans
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the nuts evenly on a sheet pan, roast 5 minutes.

Measure remaining ingredients into a bowl, stir until blended. Add hot nuts to the mixture, toss to coat evenly. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the coated nuts evenly. Roast 5 more minutes in preheated oven. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool.

Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups.

Gifts made with the hands of little ones aren't just heartwarming, they're priceless.

Melissa Kossler Dutton has worked as a reporter for more than a decade. She's a frequent contributor to a variety of Ohio publications. She lives in Bexley with her husband and two sons.