What are some good homemade 'kit' ideas for Christmas gifts for the kids?
November 10, 2009 9:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for Christmas gift ideas for our kids. They are 11, 9, and 6 year old girls. Specifically, I'm looking for ideas to put together homemade 'kits' that combine multiple items making up a single theme. For example, a calendar making kit with heavy paper setup like an empty calendar for them to number the days, with space for monthly pictures; including markers, stickers, etc. Or a journal kit with the empty journal, stamps, stickers, etc. Or a 'game night' kit. The kit can be for the 3 of them together, or for one of them specifically. Thanks!
posted by GernBlandston to Shopping (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Slumber party kit
-Fun/scary movie
-Book of spooky stories
-Nail polish in garish colors
-Instructions and ingredients for a snack

Scavenger hunt something or other, could involve clues and a map to send them on a hunt around your house for toys and activities.

Kit to make their own soap or bath fizzies or lip gloss, etc.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2009

Picture frame making kit.
Tie dye kit.
Knitting/crocheting kit...though that might be a bit too complicated. Or maybe not.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2009

My daughter's seven--this is mostly a list of things that she's liked. For almost all of them, I'd do it for each girl separately, even if just means that girl one gets purple, two gets orange, and three gets green. Having to share presents with your siblings always sort of sucks.

Jewelry-making kit: beads, clasps, earring drops, string. Maybe a few super-special beads that are crystals or something. Maybe clay with which to make their own beads. My daughter did this at summer camp this year and thought it was the greatest thing ever.

Pampering kit, especially for the older ones: Bubble bath, some sort of facial mask, nail polish, those toe separators that you can buy for a dollar at the drugstore, maybe a candle if you trust them to burn it while they bathe, lip gloss, sparkly body lotion.

Movie night kit: New movie, microwave popcorn, a box or two of theater candy, a bottle of soda. Maybe a book that ties in with the movie somehow.

Craft kit, mostly for the older ones: Knitting/crocheting stuff as mentioned above, a simple cross stitch or needlepoint project (buy printed ones, not counted ones), maybe some nice paint by numbers stuff. I *loved* this sort of gift when I was younger. (Actually, I still love it.)

I don't know if they'd be into it, but maybe some sort of science kit exploring different chemical reactions in the kitchen?

Pizza night kit, where you agree to back off and let them make their own supper: Pizza shells, sauce, cheese, various toppings.

Dress-up kit, mostly for the younger one: Go to the local thrift store, and pick up two or three pairs of shiny (gold, silver, sparkly) shoes and a "fancy" dress or two. Hit the drugstore and pick up some cheap, hypoallergenic makeup. Watch with mild confusion as your daughter thinks this is the greatest gift ever and plays Cinderella every day for months.

Chocolate-making kit: Chocolate discs (or melting discs in various colors), things to mix in (toasted coconut, raisins, peanuts, crushed pretzels), chocolate molds. Melt discs in microwave, mix in the mix ins, carefully pour into molds. My daughter thinks this is seriously good times, and is always really excited to give people the candy she's made.

Scrapbook kit: Album, stickers, pens, disposable cameras. Let them fill up the cameras with pictures, then get the pics developed and printed. Then they get to go crazy scrapbooking their pictures.
posted by MeghanC at 11:05 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Friendships bracelet kit (some embroidery floss and instructions), a doll-making/stuffed-animal kit (either felt or fabric, pre-cut if you want, fabric scraps, markers, puffy paint, yarn for hair, etc), different yarns for string figures
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2009

T-shirt making kits? My parents gave me one when I was ten and it might still be one of my favorite presents ever. T-shirts, puff paints (glow in the dark paint on black t-shirts is great), and stencils/sponges. When you do the t-shirts, don't forget to put cardboard inside the t-shirts so that the paint doesn't bleed through.
posted by loulou718 at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2009

When I was 10, one of my relatives gave me a 'time capsule kit' for Christmas. It was a store-bought thing. Inside the box was a big silver plastic pill-shaped container, it was supposed to be the time capsule. It came with little bags for things, cards you could write stuff on, stickers to label the capsule and the items, a list of ideas for things to put in there, a book about time capsules and so on. All in all, it was pretty light, kind of gimmicky.

But I loved it. I thought about the time capsule and what to put in it and what it would be like to open it and how I would fly to the opening on my rocketcycle. It was designed to be a one-day type of kids' project, but I could never bring myself to just throw some stuff in there and bury it in the backyard.

Eventually, I decided to bring the time capsule kit to school and show it to everyone. I went to a very small school where there were only like 18 kids in our class, and you had the same teacher for homeroom, religion, and one or two other subjects every year, with all the kids in your grade. My grade was 6th, and our homeroom teacher was also our social studies teacher. I told the kids about it and everyone got really excited. We started arguing about what to put in the time capsule, what it would be like in the future, who would be married to who (it was 6th Grade after all). Finally, the teacher relented and said we could make it a class project, instead of just derailing all of our actual class projects with discussion of the renegade time capsule project. This was the greatest news ever for me, since I hated school, and I loved the time capsule.

So for the rest of the year, we spent almost every session we had with that teacher working on the time capsule. We didn't really learn social studies or religion or anything, but working on the time capsule was great, and honestly, a lot more educational than class would have been. We debated what to put in the time capsule, how and where to store it, what would be important. We broke into groups with different responsibility areas like: "music", "food", and "our class" and the groups had to come up with a proposal for their area, pitch it to the rest of the class, and then take care of that part of the capsule. Like one group, after a lengthy session in committee, decided that we should make a couple of mixtapes with different themes, and that they'd chosen themes, and that they wanted to have the class vote on songs for the mixtapes. After that, they compiled the mixtapes, labeled them, and decorated the cases.

We ended up not using anything from the time capsule kit at all. Someone borrowed a video camera and we recorded little interviews with every kid in the class talking about what they thought was important, what was the most exciting thing for the future happening in the world, and what would be important in the future. Even determining the questions to ask was an interesting project, and then talking about our answers and finally recording them all was fascinating. It was awesome.

It might not sound that crazy if you don't think about how dicey 6th grade is. By this point, I think most of us were 11 or 12. You're just coming out of the 'hey we are all kids who like ice cream and swings!' age an into the 'some kids are cool, some kids are not, and some kids will try to become cool by stepping on the heads of the less cool.' Everyone is confused. you have to watch really uncomfortable videos in health class. People have crushes on each other. Getting a bunch of 6th graders to all get excited about and honestly talk about something is no mean feat, at least the way I remember that age.

Eventually, we sealed up all the goodies in a big black rubbermaid thing with duct tape. We decorated it and labeled it "DO NOT OPEN BEFORE..." We had a burial ceremony, although we actually buried it on a shelf in the library. We decided we would reunite at a certain point in the future to open the capsule together. We put certain students in charge of keeping track of people, organizing the opening ceremony, etc.

Since then, I've thought about the time capsule a zillion times. Every so often, I have that feeling of "wow, I can't believe its already only X years until we open the time capsule." When I see people from grade school that I haven't seen in forever, I'll say, "man, I hope so and so has got everyone's address, its almost time to open the capsule." And we laugh about it. We try to remember what we put in it. Certain things I can remember clearly. Other things, I remember debating about endlessly, but not what actually went in.

It was great. Even though the kit itself turned out to be mostly useless beyond the idea and the inspirational booklet, it turned out to be an amazing project. You could definitely make it more of a "small group of kids do this in a party-like setting in one day", especially if you made the kit better. In retrospect, I wish an adult had done some more thinking on this and made the kit that way, because...I don't know how we're going to get all this stuff to work when we open it. Old camcorder video tape? Does that even last over the multi-decade time span? Where will we find a machine that can play it? I think you could make a really awesome time capsule kit for kids with a little thought, that would actually be useful: find out if polaroids or some kind of photo medium is stable for however long, figure out a way to record audio that will still be playable in the future, etc. Even the process of thinking about that stuff is cool for kids. Give them questions to answer about the future, or about themselves.

The way we decided when to open it was to pick an age at which we'd be extremely old. Our class of 6th graders chose age 35. I can't imagine what my 60-something teacher thought of this. The idea being 35 to a 10-year-old is insane to think about. I remember kids saying stuff like, "that will work, because by that age we'll have cars so we'll all be able to get there." It seems like an inconceivable distance in the future, but with each passing year you can't believe how quick its come up. It's crazy how it makes concrete that experience everyone has with growing up and getting older. But at least you get a present at the end. And candy!
posted by jeb at 12:57 PM on November 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

You might get some ideas from Creativity For Kids, which makes great craft kits.

I love the idea of friendship bracelet kits (or lanyard kits - hello summer camp!). It would be great for all three of your girls! You can probably find instructions online and make your own "book."
posted by radioamy at 3:19 PM on November 10, 2009

If you want ideas for games, boardgamegeek.com is a useful site. They have reviews, pictures, how many players a game needs, how long it takes to play, realistic assessment of ages of players, etc. Offhand, here are some suggestions; you could take a look and see if you could work any of these into a themed kit you're working on.

Real games that reward strategy or thinking, and will grow with them - some are a bit more expensive -
The A-MAZE-ing Labyrinth
Coloretto (may be a little dry for the kids)
Tsuro - depends on the kid, it's sort of a maze-making game; I've seen kids be entranced by it.
Hive - 2-player strategy game with bugs on the pieces; maybe a longshot for your kids but I have to plug this because it's my favorite game of the last few years.
Elfenland (note: I haven't played this one; may be pushing your age range a little)
Ticket to Ride (may be pushing your age range, but has fun plastic trains)
Through the Desert (may be pushing your age range, but has fun pastel camels)
Hop hop Hooray (haven't played, looks fun)
Midnight Party

Card games that may have less staying power, but are cheap and have fun themes -
Rat-a-Tat Cat (this company makes a line of similar inexpensive card games, eg Sleeping Queens, Frog Juice, Loot, Match of the Penguins, There's a Moose in the House etc - different themes can fit with different kits you assemble - click on "Gamewright" on that page to find more in the same series)
Hisss - good for 6, not as good for the older girls probably

Dexterity/action/party games -
Dancing Eggs
Tier auf Tier - balancing animals; goes by several other names in the US
Apples to Apples Kids
Igloo Pop - looks young, but fun with adults too
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:06 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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