This Year’s Homemade Presents

We had a lovely little at-home Christmas here at FP central, and I hope you did, too. Having already made three trips East in a year and a half, we thought we’d stay in Colorado (although one Eastern friend came to spend the holiday week with us). I would like you to know that I produced an entirely credible roasted turkey AND homemade gravy from the pan drippings.

We do a simple Christmas, but only a few of our presents were homemade. I usually only make things that I cannot, for whatever reason, purchase. This year, that means that I helped the boys make two kids of Christmas tree ornaments, and I made them some kid-friendly aprons.

I think it’s important to get kids understanding early that Christmas is for giving, not just receiving, so I helped them make presents for friends and relatives. We did these adorable reindeer photo ornaments first:


I made them from a picture I found online and it took a little trial and error to figure out the best procedure. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Cut craft sticks down if necessary and paint them brown. (I used scissors to cut, but if you do, watch for flying wood pieces!) Let dry.
  2. Glue sticks together to make frame; let dry.
  3. Meanwhile, cut out heads, ears, and tails from brown felt or maybe cardboard. (The felt heads were a little floppy.) Glue ears, eyes, and noses to the heads and let dry.
  4. When everything is dry, glue heads and tails to the frames. Let dry.
  5. Meanwhile, glue the photos to cardboard (I used corrugated, but cereal boxes would probably have been easier and quite adequate) for better support. Let dry, then cut out. I used a craft cutting wheel for this step.
  6. While everything is drying, make antlers out of cut and twisted fuzzy craft sticks. Glue them to the frame behind the head. I used hot glue for this step because I didn’t have any craft glue and Elmer’s School Glue (which we used for everything else) didn’t work. Glue a loop of ribbon to the back as a holder.

The boys did the painting and the gluing of the eyes, ears, and noses; I did much of the assembly and all the cutting.

Then we also made cinnamon-scented ornaments (at Big Brother’s insistence). This was a GREAT one to do with preschoolers because they could really participate in all the steps. I used this recipe (I halved it, and we preferred the natural look rather than decorating) and we kept a couple for ourselves. Including this broken Santa–as Big Brother pointed out, it still smells good.



I already owned a giant container of cinnamon, googly eyes, felt, paint, glue, and craft sticks. My cost for the craft sticks, cookie cutters, ribbon, and the photos was about $7.50.

Lastly, I made the boys Montessori-style aprons from this great pattern. I really wanted them to have aprons and just wasn’t happy with what I was seeing to buy; everything was either too boring, too expensive, or both. Plus, they all have ties, requiring an adult to help put on and take off. These Montessori ones have kid-operated hook and eye fastener and elastic necks. So I took them to Walmart and let them pick out some fabric, not telling them what it was for. Big Brother picked Ninja Turtles. Little Brother wanted Minnie Mouse. Now, I don’t object to him wanting a girl mouse, but… he’s fickle, and his attention span is short. So I made the lining in plain mouse ears in case he changes his mind. I’m not a fast sewer, so the two aprons took me most of three evenings, while people who are fast can make two in one night. (There’s a whole lotta topstitching. At least I got to use the fancy topstitching foot I bought for my skirt project.) At any rate, the aprons were a big hit. Big Brother, in particular, declared himself a “waiter” and wore his apron around for hours, assisting with breakfast preparation and serving. The pattern said it was for ages 3-6 but as you can tell, it’s a better fit for Little Brother. Big Brother’s seems a little short and the waist seems a little high. He is not yet 5 and actually on the short side for his age, so I would recommend making the pattern larger for older preschoolers. It works for now, though! I spent about $14 on the fabric and elastic; I already owned the hook and eye fastener. I saw very plain aprons for sale as low as $7 each, but they were definitely not as nice as these!

It definitely worked to get him enthused about cooking. (Don't worry! I was RIGHT THERE!)

It definitely worked to get him enthused about cooking. (Don’t worry! I was RIGHT THERE!)

Little Brother modelling Minnie Mouse.

Little Brother modelling Minnie Mouse. I admit, I talked him out of the pink and purple Minnie Mouse into the simpler black and red fabric.

What did you make this Christmas? How did it turn out?



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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

2 responses to “This Year’s Homemade Presents”

  1. Autumn says :

    I love the aprons and I’m impressed that they love using the aprons. It has to nice to have a fully staffed kitchen this time of year.

    We bought some stuff, made some stuff. We did homemade cookies and cocoa and mailed them out with a few hugs (we had several disposable tablecloths hanging around for some reason, so we traced our arms and threw them in the packages). It made for a simple, quiet Christmas – just the way it should be.

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