DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

Issy, known to her young family, and her Instagram followers as Mummy Scrummie is a Hampshire-based mum of two and brand rep for Catkin Toys. Every Sunday, Issy will be writing a guest blog feature, covering the parenting topics and issues that interest you! Have a topic you'd like to hear more about? Get in touch!

Top DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Children to Make

When I was a kid, a homemade Christmas gift, made by a child, was a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, something plasticky, swathed in glitter and tinsel was probably about as much as you could look forward to in our house.

To be fair to my younger self, my mother and my early years teachers, the eighties and nineties, weren’t exactly known for their understated and tasteful vibe, and I don’t think ‘sustainability’ was even on the collective radar, but I do feel as if the world has come a long way since then, in terms of upping our DIY gifting game.

We’re now in an age of mason jar gifts filled with gourmet hot chocolate mixes, of hand-knitted headbands and embroidery hoop home accessories. If you’d have handed my uncle a jam jar of Cadbury’s ‘just add water’ in 1994, he wouldn’t have had the foggiest idea what to do with it, or why you’d given it to him. Times have changed!

So, this week, I’m taking you through four festive favourites: my Top DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Children to Make AND not only are they Christmassy crafts that are genuinely child-friendly, but I’ve got something for every age group AND they are all eco-friendly options too, so that’s worth triple Brownie points!

First up, something for everyone from newborn bubbas to thirty-something Welsh mummy bloggers...

Salt Dough Hanging Christmas Ornaments

God bless salt dough. It’s been a firm favourite for generations because it’s quick and easy to do, it doesn’t cost the earth and, when finished, can look really, really lovely.

So, where do you start?

For the dough, you’ll need*:

· 500g plain flour (don’t use self-raising, it’ll go all puffy in the oven!)

· 290g table salt

· 340ml water

And that’s it! Bung all that into a mixing bowl, stir and then knead it together (remember to take your rings off if you’re a bling-wearer, I appreciate that it’s a First World problem, but there’s nothing worse than walking around with dough caked into your eternity ring). If it’s a bit wet, just add more flour; if it feels dry, add more water. It’s perfectly safe to get even little children involved with mixing and kneading the dough, they’ll love the sensory element to it; but if you’re messy-hands-phobic, then wait until your dough is workable before letting small people loose on it.

*I find that this makes plenty of dough but as long as you keep the ratios the same, make as much or as little as you need!

For making the ornaments you’ll need:

· Chopping board/play dough mat

· Cookie cutters

· Rolling pin

· Ribbon or twine

· A thin paintbrush, pencil or straw

· Paintbrush

· Modge Podge/clear sealant

· Any stamps, paints and finishing touches you fancy!

· Baby wipes for (messy little hands)

· Baking paper

· An ovenproof tray and an oven!

Grab yourself a chopping board or a play dough mat (if you don’t have one, you can grab this FREE PRINTABLE one from the Catkin Toys website and laminate it), sprinkle it with some of your plain flour and roll out your dough with a rolling pin.

Roll the dough to approximately ¼ of an inch thickness and it’s ready for your small people to get creative with and design an ornament in any way they like.

For my eldest’s first Christmas, I used a circular cookie cutter slightly bigger than her hand and I just pressed her handprint into it; this year, four Christmases later, she’s used different shaped cookie cutters and stamped her own designs into them. There is a lovely snowflake cookie cutter in the Winter 30 Ways to Play Guide box that would be absolutely perfect for this!

Once they’ve finalised their design, use something with a pointed end (I’ve used a thin paintbrush here) to poke a small hole through your dough; once you’ve baked the ornaments, this is where you’ll thread something to hang your ornament with.

Pop the ornaments onto an ovenproof tray lined with baking paper, and pop in a preheated oven, for about 2 hours at 130 degrees (Celsius).

You want to keep them in the oven until they feel firm, so use your own judgement; handprints may need a wee bit longer than ornaments, but all ovens are different so work according to yours!

After they’ve baked, and cooled down, they’re ready to paint, and again, how your children want to decorate them is totally up to them! You can leave them

plain, you can use acrylic/poster paints, you could even sparkle them up with some bio glitter – it’s up to you and yours!

Then all you have to do, once your paint is dry, is cover them with a sealant (Modge Podge works well) and thread a ribbon or a piece of twine through the hole in the ornament, and you’re done! These ornaments make the perfect pressies for grandparents!