The old adage tells us that homemade gifts mean more because they come from the heart, and this is a idea I’ve tried to pass on to my children. Besides, unless your child is some sort of entrepreneurial prodigy, he or she probably can’t foot an extensive gift-giving bill. But if a gift project takes too much time or effort it’s not going to be practical during this busy season. And let’s face it, most people don’t want another knick knack or dust catcher. With that in mind, I worked very hard to find useful projects that my kids can create without spending too much time or money. These are the gifts we’ve made that are still in use among our family and friends.

Clipboards

Our favorite gift to give to almost anyone, including each other, is a personalized clipboard. Purchase a plain wood or sturdy cardboard clipboard at the dollar store, paint it the recipient’s favorite color, and then add more details. Layer the board with drawings, printouts, stickers, etc. When you’re done, cover the collage with several layers of Modge Podge and wait for it to dry. A few examples of past projects include clipboards covered with the kids’ handprints and “Best Grandma Ever,” a painted galaxy with a quote for a science teacher, and pictures from the kids’ fandoms for each other.

Coasters

Any tile from the home improvement store can become a coaster with decorations, Modge Podge, and felt glued to the bottom. As in the clipboard project, you can layer the tile with pictures, paper, stickers, writing, paint, etc. We made a mix of coasters for my parents one year, some with decorative paper that matches their house and some with black and white pictures. They’re very popular when guests come over!

Bookmarks

Another useful (and appreciated) gift is a homemade bookmark. We’ve made two variations of these over the years. One option is to use pictures of your child with the family member or friend you’re giving to, or you can print a picture of a favorite book or hobby. Cut the picture into the desired shape, and then use a heavy-duty laminate. As a finishing touch, punch a hole at the top and string several strands of ribbon.

Another option is to use embroidery thread and beads. String a few beads onto the top of the thread and hold them in place with a knot. On the other end of the thread, add a larger, more elaborate bead assortment or a meaningful charm. To make it extra special, you can use the laminating technique to create a charm.

It’s not the gift but the thought that counts, we all know, but if the recipient loves the gift, that’s even better. I hope that these ideas will simplify and brighten the gift-giving season for you and your family!