With 3 months left until Christmas, it might sound pretty crazy to start thinking about Christmas presents already. But, especially with my family’s low gift-giving budget and high number of gifts to give, I like to start planning for Christmas as early as possible.
With that in mind, I’m excited to announce a series I’ll be starting at stayatbeachmom.com at the beginning of October — Give Great Gifts on a Barebones Budget. Check back next week or subscribe to find out more details, but if you’re looking to give the people you love meaningful and useful gifts without breaking the bank, then this series is for you.
For now, I’m going to share one of my favorite homemade gift ideas for children — activity bags.
If you’re not familiar with activity bags, the idea is that each bag provides everything you need for a child to complete a certain activity. Depending on the ages of children and contents of the bags, these “busy bags” can be great ways to entertain (and educate) children when mom is sick, driving, or busy teaching other children.
I made my first activity bags with my MOPS group a couple years ago and Beach Girl has had hours and hours of fun with her assorted bags. We’ve also had fun making activity bags together for her to give her friends or cousins as birthday and Christmas gifts.
When I make these activity bags, I use Ziplock bags with the zipper closure (so younger children can open and close them easily) and usually stick a piece of cardstock in the bag to help give it some structure. Before filling the bag, I write the name and any instructions on the outside of the bag. As I’m sure you’re aware, you shouldn’t leave your children alone with these bags because they’re a suffocation hazard and some of the contents are chokable.
These are 5 of our favorite activity bags that would make great gifts, all of them using supplies you probably have on hand or can buy at the Dollar Tree:
Paperclips and Straws:
- about 15 paperclips, opened up so they have two separate loops, as pictured above.
- about 25 straws
To link the paperclips and straws together, insert one loop of a paperclip into one end of a straw. Link them up to form various shapes.
Yarn and Sandpaper:
- Sheets of sandpaper
- Yarn, cut to various lengths
Use the yarn to make shapes and designs on the sandpaper. The sandpaper holds the yarn in place, making this a great activity for the car or a restaurant!
Paper and Clips:
- 6 differently colored pieces of paper, cut into small rectangles.
- 36 paperclips – 6 of each color to match the paper rectangles.
Laminate the pieces of colored paper if possible (you can use clear contact paper or DIY laminating sheets for this). To do the activity, lay out the colored rectangles and sort the paperclips according to color. Clip the paperclips onto the rectangles. (Honestly, when we made this one at MOPS, it sounded pretty boring to me, but this has been one of Beach Girl’s favorites. She loves getting to clip on the paper clips!)
- Half sheets of paper
- Foam stickers
Something about foam stickers makes sticker time even more fun! I found foam shapes with sticky backs at the Dollar Tree, but if you can’t find that, just include regular foam shapes and a glue stick.
- Tissue paper in assorted colors, cut into approximately 2-inch squares
- Construction paper
- Wax paper
- Glue stick
Glue the tissue paper onto construction paper or wax paper to make a colorful collage. The wax paper collages look cool hanging in a window.
I hope y’all have fun making these bags! Do you have any ideas for activity bags or other homemade gift ideas for children?
Make sure to subscribe or check back next week so you don’t miss out on how to Give Great Gifts on A Bare-Bones Budget!
Update: You can check out my series here – Give Great Gifts on a Bare-Bones Budget.