slowing down

a different kind of black friday - low cost "big" gifts for children

Hooray! We're back online and, most importantly, showering with hot water! The dinner yesterday was spectacular. My mom has a knack for making an incredible food spread look effortless. If I had been in charge, I would have looked haggard, food stuck to my hair and clothing, unable to hold a conversation with anyone until everything was on the table. She rocks the kitchen, that mom of mine.

one mess of a puppet head

I thought you would get a kick out of my Black Friday "shopping" excursion this morning. It started at the end of my parents' driveway where I grabbed a handful of newspapers that had been put at the curb to be recycled. I threw those in the back of the car and headed to the craft store, where I bought four styrofoam balls and some masking tape.

Styrofoam balls, masking tape, newspaper, flour and water ... all I need to begin my most ambitious holiday handmade gift of the season. Puppets. Four of them, with a door frame puppet theater from fabric in my stash. I'm planning on using the tutorial for the theater below, which can be found at Petite Purls


Photo, design and tutorial by Nancy Anderson

This gift isn't for Finn, as he's too little yet to really use such a toy, but my nieces (who are four and six) will most certainly put it to use.

I've been thinking a lot this holiday season about being thrifty, perhaps more than usual, given the health care costs we will be incurring due to Lachlan's condition. The main thing I'm doing for Finn this year is putting together the art/playroom, and trying to spend virtually no money on the endeavor. (More on that when I return home from our time in California.) He will get a few quality, wooden toys, but other than that, it's a simple stocking and a new playspace.

Since so many of us are needing to tighten the belts of our gifting budgets, I thought I'd point to some great, low-cost ideas for children's gifts.

  • Put together a new playspace for your child, using thrifted furniture cut down to size (i.e. saw off the legs of an old desk to make a child-sized table. Again, more on this later!) Here's an article with some helpful ideas.
  • Organize a spectacular dress-up area. Keep your eyes peeled for fun hats, shoes and outfits during thrifting excursions, or make your own. Dedicate a space for dress up in your home - set up one of those cheap wall mirrors next to a peg shelf. Add ribbon loops to all shirts and pants so they can be hung from the peg shelf, assuring that they are easily accessible to children and don't get lost in a bottomless toy chest. Place shoes and accessories in bins below the peg shelf. Remember to rotate the items on occasion to maintain the child's interest.
  • Put together a "kit-in-a-box" gift that caters to your child's particular interests. I thought the veterinarian's case Amanda put together for her daughter was amazing. You could take this idea and apply it to any interest - an field explorer's kit, a baking kit, a sewing kit, a florist's kit ... really any interest you see emerging in your child could be nourished through such a gift.
  • Stock your child's play kitchen with handmade felt food.
  • Set up a birding area near a large window in your home.
  • Re-organize and re-stock your child's art space or reading nook.

Leave a comment to share your own ideas!