craft pack for kids
November 16, 2017 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I buy gifts for a local kiddo every holiday season. This year the nine-year-old girl I was assigned asked for craft supplies. I want to put together a kit of amazing, fun stuff for her to get creative with! But I am at a loss, and all the "craft buckets" seem lacking and sad and full of only pom poms and googley eyes (which are great but kind of have limited creative range)! Assuming a $50 budget for craft supplies, help me put together an AMAZING group of gifts to make my very own craft bucket for her.

I don't know if she has siblings, but think she probably does, so I want to make sure I don't get too many tiny things that can be swallowed. I also want to steer clear of stuff that can be super messy, and I do not really want to go with "girly" stuff or pre-fab kits. I want her to have a set of stuff she can really go to town with using her imagination. I was thinking that good quality construction paper and some scissors with fun edges could be a good start, but... what else does she need?

I've also been tasked with getting her books, and that's covered--I've got a nice list of good graphic novels for her. So maybe another thing to consider for crafts is a good "how to draw your own graphic novels" book or something? But I don't want to get too prescriptivist with the craft part of the gift.
posted by sockermom to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nice sketch pad (maybe one of those bound ones that feels important in addition to a spiral tear-off kind?) and some good gel pens in a rainbow of colors.
posted by phunniemee at 12:07 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a 7 year old who is super into crafts. A good set of pencil crayons, a good set of markers, some paints, and some small canvases is a great start. From there, two of her favourite crafts are Shrinky Dinks and Sculpey, both of which require some adult supervision for baking, but only at the very end of the craft. And both are very free form in terms of creativity.

Oh, and pipe cleaners.
posted by 256 at 12:09 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Just because nobody mentioned it yet: glue sticks, elmer's glue, and similar tools. And maybe scotch tape. I remember that was worth its weight in gold as a kid.

Beads are good, too, whether they're big pony beads or smaller/more interesting ones.

Lanyard material or embroidery thread are both versatile.

Watercolor pencils are pretty fun. Or maybe pastels. Or a regular watercolor set.
posted by mosst at 12:16 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

What about a kumihimo starter kit, instruction book, and some extra supplies? I would say it's pretty doable for a crafty 9-year-old, and it's not messy.

An origami book and some paper?
posted by Janta at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2017

Although I practically grew up in craft stores, I really love the Handmade Modern and Kid Made Modern stuff at Target. Mixing and matching some of those elements seems like it could be a cool start.

I also like the Brit + Co kits, although I usually find them new-in-box at Goodwill and don't pay full retail. Starting with something semi-kit-like can give some good base instructions, but any good kit should feel like a starting point.
posted by redsparkler at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

YMMV, but for me, I was all about glitter glue, and nice colored pencils with stencils.
posted by pammeke at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

DMC floss and nice (non-plastic) beads to make bracelets. Plastic canvas, yarn and a plastic yarn needle. A small scissors. There are origami packs of like 500 3-inch squares with varying colors. Construction paper is not very durable, so you might want to check the scrapbooking aisle for better quality pads of paper or cardstock.
posted by soelo at 12:21 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Stickers and/or washi tape would be awesome at that age. Here's a neat-looking kit. There are quite a few others.
posted by hydra77 at 12:21 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a wonderful watercolor pencil sold under the Bruynzeel brand (Dutch made) that I discovered as a kid and still love. The colored pencils work as normal pencils, but if you wet a brush and stroke across the pencil marks, they dissolve into watercolors. I have a metal box with 12 pencils which is probably affordable. It's also unusual enough that she probably doesn't already have it.

Caran D'Ache (Swiss) makes a similar product that's a watercolor crayon. I have a large metal boxed assortment of 84, and I don't know if they make smaller boxes. With a paintbrush or 2 and some reasonably good quality paper that can take a wet brush without buckling, I think either of these would make a wonderful gift. The kids in my life love to draw and then paint with them.

I bought these is a local well-stocked art supply store, so while they may not be at Target, I don't think they're too hard to find.
posted by citygirl at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2017

when i was around that age, i got a craft box that had instructions for soap carving and i totally forgot about the pompoms and whatever else was in that craft box because to me that was the coolest idea ever. the link has suggestions, but all you need is a bar of ivory soap and some pumpkin-carving or clay-sculpting tools. plus, if she likes it, materials are affordable and easy to find, and can be used like normal soap when she's done!
posted by halation at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Target also sells these STMT kits, which are so "cool" that it kind of hurts, but again, they're kits that feel like a starting point towards learning new craft skills.
posted by redsparkler at 12:26 PM on November 16, 2017

You can get colorful craft foam, which is like construction paper made of rubbery stuff, which is worth its weight in gold for costumes and other uses. Holds shape well, responds to staples and glue...
posted by acm at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

A ream of paper. If you work in an office and they have colored copy paper, see if you can grab a selection. Maybe a pad of large size paper as well.
A big box of colored pencils, lots of colors
Washable markers
Plain old elmers white glue.
A selection of pretty glitter or glitter glues is fun.
Rubber Stamps. They're sometimes expensive, but they do come up on craigslist.
Scissors - cheap ones work
Clear tape.
Got magazines or catalogs? Cut out pages that have words, interesting pictures, patterns, colors. I love collaging and have a folders of this stuff.
Blank cards & envelopes
and maybe some craft kit if something appeals.
posted by theora55 at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I will attest from childhood memory that variety origami paper packs are exciting as hell, regardless of whether the recipient knows or cares about origami.

I think by nine or ten years old we had also been introduced to basic sewing in art class, and I was super excited about being able to make drawstring bags (AN! USABLE!! OBJECT!!! MADE BY ME!!!!!), so maybe some fun fabric scraps? I know some fabric shops have actual scrap sections where the last bits of the bolt are sold for a discounted price. But if sewing needles are a concern, then yarn could definitely also fill the "I MADE USABLE THING" niche -- and general purpose twine has all sorts of uses too.

Most of the other craft things I remembering enjoying were actually kind of messy (e.g., twig or popsicle stick structures held together by glue, clay stuff).
posted by inconstant at 12:46 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding sculpey and shrinky dinks. Also air-dry-clay is neat too, it molds just like real clay but you don't need to fire it. And beading supplies would be really cool too.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:51 PM on November 16, 2017

Definitely stickers. But *nice* stickers -- ones that come with only a few in a pack and are special in some way (glittery, googly eyes, etc). A couple of good wooden stamps and a nice stamp pad. High-quality blank cards with envelopes (you can get these at craft stores). Hole punches in cool shapes.
posted by ethorson at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think that whatever you choose, choose a direction. Foam construction paper doesn't play well with the colored pencils and clay but lots of construction paper plus pencils/crayons, glitter glue and stencils would be awesome. Same for a bunch of stuff to do clay projects.

While you don't want to get a pre fab pack they can be really good to look at the back of "this kit contains" plus the "additional things required" section and then get a better value by buying those things from around the store on their own.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you do want to get a prefab kit, I loved Creativity for Kids when I was young. They contain everything you need, down to the scissors and glue.
posted by radioamy at 1:08 PM on November 16, 2017

9 years old is the age kids begin to make autonomous choices - what about giving her a gift certificate to a store for artists, like Blick Art Materials?

Another idea: a giant coloring poster along with a set of markers. It's days of coloring fun - alone or with friends -and then you get an awesome poster to decorate your walls.
posted by rada at 1:12 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

My 9yr old girl just got super into the watercolor pencils. For Christmas she’ll be getting these super neat water brushes that I found on Amazon- you fill the barrel and press to dispense water to the brush. She also luuuurves her some Sculpey. Sculpey can do anything! Costco often has starter Sculpey kits this time of year that include tools and molds along with a decent selection of colors.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2017

I got a set of fabric paints to do my halloween costume and was really impressed by how it looked after drying. Could be used for tshirts, backpacks, baseball cap, tennis shoes, tote bag, etc (could include a blank one of these in the gift).

A set of 12 or so colours ran me about 10-15$ at walmart and looks like enough paint to do quite a few projects.
posted by randomnity at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

My kid is that same age and loves crafting. The supermegapopular craft options for kids that age at this particular moment in time are Perler beads and, above all, Rainbow looms. Kids that come over to our house and find out we have tons of each practically lose their damned minds.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:30 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe some nice yarn, knitting needles, an a how to book for kids?
posted by starlybri at 2:35 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some craft stores have small wooden boxes and similar items to decorate. A lot of the suggested supplies would work on these and she would end up with a useful item.
posted by Botanizer at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Completely agree with watercolor pencils and watercolor paper -- at that age I LOVED those things. I also work with kiddos and one of the things I have noticed is that they LOVE things that seem like "more grown up" - so, for example, I have shared my own "fancy" Tombow brush pens and Stabilo markers with kiddos I see, and they are thrilled to be able to use them.

A sketch book with really good paper

A loom with a bunch of yarn, ribbon, fabric scraps to start making her own weaving projects (The one I have is a Melissa and Doug loom that came with 2 skeins of rainbow yarn!)

Maybe harder to put together, but I also made up an enormous bag of magazine scraps for collages for my office just by going through every single magazine I had, asking other people for their old magazines, etc, and my kids love to go through it and create art. When I was 9 I was doing enormous amounts of decoupage with magazines, Mod Podge, a paintbrush, really sharp scissors, and those little craft paper boxes.

On that line, a good quality set of glue sticks - the kid oriented ones are not always that great and my kids get annoyed that they have to reglue things.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 3:10 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the "more grown up" art supplies. One of my best friends was the son of artists and I loved going to his house and playing with their leftover supplies. Oil pastels were my favorite. Their texture feels fun while drawing and looks really neat.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tulle!!!! It's hella cheap by the yard, and so much fun! It can be used as a skirt, a cape, a veil, a ghost outfit ... you can glue it to other art, or glue other supplies to it. It comes in insane colors. You can usually find a bunch of it for 50 cents for 2 yards or whatever in the remnants bin (since you're not going to be picky about size or colors!), or you can buy it for 70 cents a yard off the bolt.

While you're there, rummage the remnants bin for other cool fabrics for about $1 ... neat quilt prints, crazy faux-furs, whatever. Get a tube of fabric glue. Who knows what she can make with weird and wonderful bits of fabric and some glue? She can built fabric art from it, or attach fabric to other art projects, or whatever!

Also infinite googly eyes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:17 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Weird her out with things she doesn't know she needs but will use forever.

A sewing kit in a cookie tin. Sculpey and InstaMorph. A "coupon cutter" so you can freehand slice and dice paper. Brush pens. Pencils that aren't just the #2. Origami desk calendar (365 days of folding). Drawing and Lettering aids (templates and stencils). Stamps and ink-pad. Hot Glue Gun is game-changer. Roll of twisty-ties or bailing wire and cutters. A roll of cool duct tape with fancy patterns. A pack of bamboo skewers or chopsticks. A bag of assorted rubber bands.

Give her some strange things. Anybody can to to the store and get paper and color pencils. Get dangerous weird things you didn't know you wanted when you were 9 but actually still use years and years later.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:17 AM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh lord. I remember how much I either used tape or wished I had tape to use as a kid. I would make a particular point of including a variety of tape for different purposes - clear scotch tape, double-sided tape, washi tape, nice strong duct tape. Tape was honestly the most useful craft supply I ever received - and I later ended getting a sculpture degree, and produced enormous walk-through structures using hundreds of rolls of packing tape layered with carboard as the main structural element. Tape can do ANYTHING.
posted by DSime at 8:54 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

As the mom of 8 and 10-year-old daughters, I've seen plenty of crappy craft kits, but the Klutz Window Art sets were surprisingly awesome. It's basically puffy paint that you can trace onto plastic, peel off, and stick to windows to create custom window clings. There is a kit available that combines patterns with the paint, but you could also just print a bunch of (fairly low detail) coloring pages, include lots of plastic sheet protectors as a working surface, and buy a set of the refill paints. My kids have had many, many hours of fun with those, and we've had to buy refill paint. It's fun to change them up for the seasons with designs we find online. You could maybe even find images of the characters from the graphic novels to try.
posted by hessie at 10:01 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Arm me with Knowledge!   |   Treats available in the U.S. but not the UK Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.