Pretty, personalized DIY baby gifts?
February 7, 2011 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend small, pretty gift ideas (preferably personalized!) that I can hand-make as new-baby, birthday or Christmas presents for small children.

A bunch of my friends and relations have had kids over the past few years, and it looks like there'll be lots more on the way. I try to be good about either buying from the registry or sending giftcards, but I often find myself wishing I could also include something small, handmade and relatively personalized (preferably with a name-- hey, who doesn't like their name?), to add a bit of specialness to the present. I'm not talking anything large-scale, just a pretty little ornament or keepsake of some sort that says, you know, MAEDYLLYN on it, or otherwise shows a little bit of particularity to that person/family, and that goes beyond just writing a name in permanent marker on a plastic figurine.

Can anybody suggest any ideas? Instructions would be preferable, but simple images or item descriptions are also cool. Ideally, these would be < $15 apiece and take no more than two hours per item to make (or more for a single large, time-consuming batch plus subsequent quick individual personalization).

Assume that I'm competent in basic craft skills (knitting/ crochet/ scrapbooking/ beading/ macrame/ machine-and hand-sewing/etc.), am generally a quick study at new techniques, can kind of do calligraphy, but am NOT good at drawing or painting images. Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Sewing and knitting/crocheting? Could you make a baby blanket or a cute little stuffed animal? I was REALLY attached to a small yellow baby blanket made by one of my mom's friends.
posted by troika at 10:08 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has taken to giving small, embroidered baby towels (with the kids name stitched in among the flowers/ducklings/bunny rabbits) along with whatever gift came from the registry. it's very cute, and she just buys plain white towels (or maybe towelling material? I could find out if it matters), and has a set of patterns to embroider on as needed. Always been much appreciated, everyone needs towels!
posted by darsh at 10:10 AM on February 7, 2011

Paint a dollar-store picture frame.
Hot-glue on a couple of cute-retro party favour-type toys (plastic animal, toy car, silk flower, little star magnets, etc)
Spell out the child's name in multi-coloured magnet letters and glue that on, too.
Really cute, personalized, hand-made, and under $5!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2011

One of our friends, as a standard practice, takes the birth announcement and has it beautifully matted and framed as a gift for the parents. A fairly crafty person (not me) could probabaly pull that off pretty well.
posted by jquinby at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make summer blankets for babies. I just hem a big piece of seersucker ( or another thin soft material) with mitered corners and a decorative machine stitch. My mom made some for my babies and I've never found these in stores. There aren't really any crib top sheets around and that's what it basically is. They are good for summer with air-conditioning or as a cover up for nursing in the summer. You could embroider the baby's name on it to personalize it.
posted by artychoke at 10:17 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stencil t-shirts or onesies. You can get blank shirts for really cheap in bulk online (just look around--my old go-to place doesn't seem to exist anymore), and if you're going to be making a bunch of them, the starting materials are cheap, too.

What you need:

-Freezer paper
-access to a regular old printer
-exacto knife
-fabric paint (I really like the Jacquard brand, available at any Blick/JoAnn-type art store)
-stencil brush

This is a good tutorial.

You can do their names, a little picture, name and a little picture, or if you want to get really fancy, their own face.

If you want something a little more permanent, you can stencil on a tote bag or something they won't grow out of. (If you decide to go this route, feel free to memail me with any questions!)
posted by phunniemee at 10:22 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

New babies need blankets and onesies. We still have the blanket my aunt knitted for my son tucked away in the memory box, to be used by his kids someday. Use acrylic yarn for washability. It doesn't take a lot of yarn; I made a lap blanket out of yarn scraps - free - and it didn't take long. Onesies don't really last, but stenciled cotton onesies would be nearly universally welcome. If you go with a personalized picture frame, please visit, photograph the baby, and get the picture printed and put in the frame. It sounds silly, but new parents are so swamped that any additional task is a difficulty.

For Christian babies, a Christmas ornament with the baby's name and date of birth in glitter is easy, cheap, and sweet. Or a personalized Easter basket. Babies with different cultural backgrounds will have different personalization opportunities. Which gives me an idea - learn to make pysanky. Beautiful and unique.
posted by theora55 at 10:38 AM on February 7, 2011

Knit/crocheted/sewn finger puppets that look like the other family members? I've improvised knit finger puppets on short notice before with surprisingly good results (long flight, child I hadn't met before, bit of scrap yarn from the project I'd just finished.) They lend themselves to a wide variety of detail, from just having similar-colored hair to adding recognizable outfits and accessories. Not a whole lot that can be made in advance but unlike a situation of not knowing the name/sex before the baby's born, you could make the whole thing before the birth.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:38 AM on February 7, 2011

The possibilities are endless with a homemade hooded towel. You can sew their name on it along with some other cute add-on (duck, horse, dog, pooh bear, etc.). Not only is it cute and personalized but it's very useful and will continue to be useful for many many years. My four-year old still uses his.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:44 AM on February 7, 2011

One of our favorite baby gifts was a banner with our child's name on it. It's a simple sewing project: a long grosgrain ribbon, hemmed 6x5" fabric flags hanging down from it (one flag for each letter), 4" felt letters mounted with fabric glue on the center of each flag). The fabric can match or coordinate with the nursery, if you're familiar with the space.
posted by xo at 10:58 AM on February 7, 2011

Going to make a broad recommendation: if you go the clothing route, for a newborn I recommend giving 12-18 month size clothing. The reason is that in my experience, new parents get A TON of stuff for newborns - stuff that is quickly outgrown.
posted by hijinx at 11:07 AM on February 7, 2011

Related to the summer weight blanket mentioned above, I'm a fan of this tutorial for a swaddle blanket. I recently did six in an afternoon, and by the time I got the technique down I was coming in under an hour each. Easy to personalize based on fabric choices, colors, and of course, any personalization you want to add in.

Self link so you can see mine, since I personalized specific print choices.
posted by librarianamy at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2011

Once the kids are older-- say, five or so-- books, drawing, and writing gifts go over well. I have made personalized version of these little notepads, and they were successful. I printed the names on the card stock. Once you did one, you could just change the names, using the original as a template. I glued or sewed decorations on the covers, too. For the inside pages, i used some white paper and some different colored papers from the scrapbooking section. Also, for this age, you can make personalized bookplates for them to place in their books. I just did mine in Microsoft Word. In landscape view, you can make 8 a page-- four across and two down. I just change the name for each kid. I've done them in black and white for the kid to color or I've printed in color. Print them on paper with a peel-off sticky back.
posted by TrarNoir at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2011

One of my great-aunts made dolls for all of the kids (multiple generations) in the family - the dolls were based on childhood photos of adult family members. Mine were of great-uncle Bob at age 3 and grandpa Bill at age 7. They were huge (at age 6 my uncle Bob doll was an inch shorter than me,) but little ones would be great, too.
posted by SMPA at 11:21 AM on February 7, 2011

There are terrycloth bibs that have a place along the front for counted cross-stitch and some adorable patterns. They probably take more than 2 hours, depending on the patterns, but have always been a hit with my friends. Or you could buy plain onesies and cross stitch onto them - even a couple of ducks or hearts across the front or bum would be cute.
posted by Sukey Says at 12:30 PM on February 7, 2011

I thought these booties were intriguing (haven't tried making them though) - could fuse a cutout felt initial to the outside of each, maybe.
posted by lakeroon at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2011

Have you made your own iron-ons? I just bought a onesie from Target ($2) and the iron on (transfer?) paper (something like 8 or 10 sheets for $8 - plus you can print multiple images on each sheet).

Use the computer to make your own text or image (or use a photo), print it onto the special paper, cut out the shape you want to use and then iron it one to the onsie. It was cheap, fast and fun!
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:04 PM on February 7, 2011

My mom still has a really cute little step-stool that an aunt made for me when I was little. You can buy them pretty cheap at a store that sells unfinished furniture, or at thrift-stores. Small cans of housepaint work great for the background, then you can freehand or stencil with acrylic. Kids always need stools to reach the sink, or to sit on while tying their shoes, etc.
posted by radioamy at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2011

I find this blog, Sew Mama Sew, to be full of great (and cheap!) gift ideas. I'm personally about to tackle the felt name wall hanging for a couple of friends.
posted by Term of Art at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2011

My mom still has a few framed cross stitches that my aunt made for my sister and me when we were born. They're simple patterns with the alphabet or Mother Goose-type pictures on them, and they have our names and birth dates. I think they're nice keepsakes. They hung in our rooms until we were old enough to decorate ourselves, and now my mom has them.
posted by easy_being_green at 10:08 PM on February 7, 2011

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