Parenting

Trying To Get Your Toddler To Make Christmas Presents For His Relatives? Read This.

Image Credit Faith Moore

So, here I am, grabbing a minute in between stepping on Legos and wandering into rooms forgetting what I was looking for, to pathetically beg the internet to tell me what my son should make his various relatives for Christmas, when what should I discover but that the internet sucks. I suppose I should know this already, given that my last internet search (“What should I cook my son for dinner when I literally have nothing in the house to eat?”) turned up a bunch of sanctimonious websites about the importance of organic vegetables. Excuse me while I lock myself in my empty refrigerator. It’s warmer in there than it is out here.

But, since I can’t even remember whether I showered this morning, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever remember not to ask the internet to solve all my problems. I mean, it’s right there, begging me to ask! So I searched for easy crafts that toddlers can make their relatives for Christmas. And, inevitably, I turned up a bunch of Martha Stewart-esque projects that are a) totally useless and (more importantly) b) actually projects that I, not my son, would have to make.

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Take this “Lunch Bag Scrap Book” from parents.com as an example. First of all, what is my son’s grandmother going to do with a book made out of paper bags? The website suggests she might store cards and photos in it, but you know she never will (unless she’s a hoarder, in which case she’ll love it). It’ll just lie around in her kitchen junk drawer until a mouse puts it out of its misery and shreds it for bedding.

But also, check out the instructions on this thing! Which part of making this would my toddler actually do? Cutting and folding? Nope. Hole punching? Nope. Threading ribbon? Nope. I guess he could decorate it, but I’d be too exhausted from all that book making to get out the markers and glue for him. Not to mention all the ridiculous things it suggests adding (like buttons, rick-rack, and patterned paper) that no one actually has in their house. (P.S. what is rick-rack?)

So, left to my own devices, I made an amazing discovery: I used to be an elementary school teacher! (This was not so much a discovery as a recollection since I’m sure, at some point, this was something I was well aware of at all times.) But, suddenly remembering it, I was struck with the sense that, given this long-forgotten fact about myself, I must actually hold within me the knowledge of how to solve this problem without the internet. And, it turns out I do!

So, here, in case you’re still locked in your refrigerator, is an incredibly easy way to bang out hand-made (by your actual toddler) gifts for all your relatives.

1. Get a large piece of relatively thick paper (I have a roll of butcher-block paper, because I used to be a teacher and they don’t let you graduate from teaching school without promising you’ll always own one of these, but you can use a bunch of pieces of construction paper just as easily.)

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2. Have your toddler decorate the paper by (in ascending order of messiness) either drawing on it with crayons, drawing on it with markers, or painting on it.

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3. Cut the paper up into pieces (if you chose painting, wait until it’s dry to do this). The size of the pieces doesn’t really matter.

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4. The idea now is to choose some items that each relative will like (see below for some ideas).  I’m using a hardcover notebook as an example. Then, use a paint brush to paint glue on the outside of the item. Have your toddler stick the pieces of cut-up artwork onto the glue until the surface is totally covered.

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5. Then paint glue on top of the cut-up artwork to create a seal.

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6. Let it dry. Merry Christmas!

A few things this works really well with: the outside of a clean, empty peanut butter jar to turn it into a pencil holder (who doesn’t need a pencil holder?!). The outside of a hardcover notebook (everyone takes notes. Or if they don’t, they should start!). The frame part of a store-bought picture frame (bonus points for putting an adorable photo of your kid inside).  But I’m sure you can think of other ideas. You’re smart and creative! You don’t need the internet to get things done!

Now, what was I talking about?