20 Handmade Gifts That Are Perfect for Kids of All Ages
Browse our best ideas from stuffed animals and toys, to knit and crocheted accessories, and personalized clothes.
If you're shopping for your kids or the little ones in your family this holiday season, you know too well just how overwhelming it can be to consider the wide selection of toys on the market right now. Sure, there may be a few things that are all the rage, but more often than not, buying the perfect toy is easier said than done. Instead of pondering the offerings available on a big-box retailer's website, why not put your crafting skills to use and make a wonderful gift that will be cherished for years to come?
These gift ideas can help you cross off all of the younger tots on your gift list; they're designed to seamlessly fit into any child's room or playbox without a hitch. Most of them are actually functional gifts, too; from knitted scarves and mittens to adorable dresses and vests, they'll help families (especially new parents!) keep their little ones warm all winter long. Creating a piece of crocheted outerwear or sewing a playful frock is the gift that keeps on giving; after all, there's never enough layers for a growing child and their siblings.
Toys are a surefire gift that's guaranteed to make them break into a goofy grin and whoop with delight, and we have plenty of gender-neutral options that work for both little boys and girls, including the felted animals seen here. These stuffed toys will bring their favorite animals to life right in their bedrooms, keeping them entertained for hours and hours on end.
Even better, all of our toys are as fun to create as they are to actually gift to your little one. Follow along as we share heirloom-quality items that will help to foster their creativity, keep them comfortable, and inspire a craft-minded spirit.
Sewn Felt Slippers
Inspired by moccasins, each of these slip-ons is constructed from a single piece of felt, available in an array of colors.
On chilly days, slip kids' hands into a pair of these mittens—they come in mismatched color-block patterns and, best of all, use leftover yarn.
Crocheted Headband with Floppy Bow
If you can crochet, try this adorable accessory. A child can wear it one of two ways: plainly wrapped around the ears, or dressed up with a big bow! This pattern is easy to customize for any age or size.
This petite argyle pig is so cuddly, you'll want to produce a whole pen's worth. We've fashioned this chic cuddly out of Fair Isle and cable-knit sweaters that have become tattered or shrunken in the wash.
Baby Quilt with Knots
For little ones, there's no better feeling than being bundled up in a warm blanket. In addition to being very sweet, the tassel-like ties of this quilt hold it together in lieu of stitches—in fact, they're called "quilt knots."
Crocheted Chunky Slouch Hat
Bundle up on cold winter days with this snugly fitting slouch hat. This pattern can be customized for children of all ages—starting at three months up to adulthood.
Stuffed Menswear Bunny
This floppy-eared friend will have any child hippity-hopping for joy! Download our printable template and upcycle suiting fabrics—bright cotton shirting adds a surprising pop of color inside the ears.
Tea Towel Clothes
Sundresses, tunics, and bloomers of all kinds can be upcycled from linen and cotton dish towels—try a loose-fitting dress made with a few quick seams or a tunic patched together with tea towels.
The collection of cute patches you've spotted in the craft aisle and on pint-size backpacks everywhere make these accessories as colorful and original as the kids you know. No needle or thread is required for our sweet beret, since you only iron on the designs.
Applique Slip-On Shoes
Tea Towel Doll
If you have access to a sewing machine, you can bring this doll to life in one sitting; you'll use a beloved tea towel and some yarn scraps to create a plush friend that will make any little one smile. To begin, print out our template and cut it out; fold your napkin in half with the right sides facing up, and press and tress the template onto the fabric. Cut out two different layers here. Then, allowing a 1/4-inch seam allowance, sew almost all the way around the body. Leave a 1-inch opening on the torso.
Continue by turning the doll right side out, and use a chopstick to steady its corners. Stuff the doll with filling and use the chopstick as needed to push stuffing into arms and legs. Hand stitch the side opening, and then you'll move on to embroider the facial features, which is done with a few back stitches that create eyes and a mouth.
To make the hair, cut 20 to 30 strands of yarn to be about 12 inches long for a ponytail or a braid. Drape it sideways over the head of the doll and sew it at the center (or slightly off center) to create a part. To leave hair long, stitch onto doll across the back of the head. For ponytails, clasp the hair's sides, and secure them with a piece of yarn; stitch them onto the head at that point. For pigtails, simply braid the ponytails, and secure ends with another piece of yarn. For short hair, embroider all over the head using small backstitches.
Crayon Gift Set
Using natural beeswax and carnauba wax, nontoxic dyes, and silicone ice molds (like these Lego-style blocks and gemstones), you can create a playful collection that's super-comfy in little hands. Pack them up in a wooden slider box so cleanup time is simple and swift.
To begin, melt beeswax pellets and wax flakes together in a saucepan or double boiler. Stir until it's smooth. Then, for each crayon, pour a small amount of mixture into a paper cup, then add pigment until desired color is reached, stirring until incorporated. Pour it into your mold and let cool completely, and repeat with other colors and shapes. Lastly, add shredded wood to the inside of the box, and place crayons on top. Print our custom labels and attach with glue.
Shop Now: Mary Tylor Naturals Organic White Beeswax Pellets, $12 for 16 oz., amazon.com; Oslove Organics Carnauba Wax Flakes, $21 for 1 lb., amazon.com; Introductory Pigments Set, from $17 for 5 colors, earthpigments.com; Creative Hobbies Unfinished Wooden Pencil Storage Box with Slide Top, $7, amazon.com.
These charming fabric boutonnières come together in three steps, so you can give a little girl a whole bouquet of them, or pin one on everybody at the family gathering. Simply cut the shapes out of cotton-shirting material, and sew them onto felt backing.
Seed Bead Bracelet
Colorful beaded bracelets have signaled summer for as long as the coolest counselors at camp have been stacking them up their wrists. For your preteens and high schoolers, these chic strings are made to be mixed and matched with all of their friends.
Braided Octopus Doll Craft
Braid colorful strips of fabric to make a bright detail for a dress, or strands of cotton yarn for a cuddly creature's legs—all eight of them. These projects are simple enough that kids can help. Start out by untwisting a skein of yarn; use 1 strand to cinch its center. Place the yarn on a 2-inch Styrofoam ball, and spread the yarn over the ball. Tie another strand beneath the ball. Cut through bottom loops of yarn, creating a tassel. Divide strands into 8 sections; braid each, and tie ends. Trim the newly created legs to even them out. With black thread, sew eyes on the head by stitching over 3 or 4 pieces of yarn.
Girl's Shirt Dress
With this sweet adaptation of the classic button-down, a little girl can channel the guy she adores—Dad. The dress, which fits most children ages 4 to 8, has a drawstring neckline and sleeves. Start by cutting your chosen shirt using print pattern pieces; tape together, and cut out. Lay the shirt flat, and trace pattern with disappearing-ink pen, following the higher neckline. Cut out; you should have a front and back piece. Trim the front neckline as shown on pattern, and then trim the dress length if desired.
Sew the dress pieces together; pin the front and back pieces together, right sides facing, and sew along shoulders, under arms, and down sides, with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Notch under the arms and press the seams open with iron. Finish the seams with pinking shears or a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. If you shortened the length, finish the edge with a double hem: Fold the unfinished edge over 1/4 inch. Press, then fold over 1/4 inch, and press again; pin, and edge-stitch.
Continue by finishing the neckline; turn dress right side out and fold a 16-inch length of bias tape over neckline. Pin it, turning under 1/2 inch at each end. Stitch tape 1/8 inch from the edge. To make a tie, cut a 22-inch piece of bias tape. Fold in half, right sides facing, so long edges meet, and stitch with a 1/8-inch seam allowance; use the loop turner to turn it right side out. Cut a slit in bias tape to the left of the button placket; attach a safety pin to the tie, and thread all the way through neckline, starting at the slit you just made.
Finish sleeves: fold an 11-inch length of bias tape around each sleeve opening, turning under 1/2 inch at each end, and pin. Stitch 1/8 inch from the edge, leaving an opening where the tape meets at the base of the sleeve opening. To cinch the sleeves, attach a safety pin to an 11-inch length of elastic and thread through the tape; cinch slightly. Trim elastic so the ends overlap 1/2 inch, and stitch. Hand-sew opening shut.
Knitted Kids' Vest
Martha harvests fresh wool from the sheep on her farm in Bedford, where she turns their gorgeous wool into delightful holiday gifts. After shearing, washing, carding, and spinning the wool, Martha knitted it into simple vests for both of her grandchildren, Jude and Truman. "Sheepish" tags cut from paper hint at what's inside.
Snow Globe Cookies
Snow globes—and the miniature worlds within them—capture the imagination of any child. And when they're edible? All the more reason to be loved. Fill a lidded jar with gingerbread cookie houses, melted candy trees, and a fine layer of sugary "snow."
If you can't be there every minute of every day to offer a hug, this warm shawl, is the next best thing. The simple pattern calls for a basic stockinette stitch; it's just the kind of project you can work on while you relax and watch a movie at home.
Remember when it seemed like the whole wide world was so big and out of reach, when really it was just that you were itty-bitty? A toy house made a happy little home for dolls and miniatures, and made the world seem more accessible. Our modern take on the classic dollhouse opens to a set of brightly decorated rooms and, when closed, is disguised as a stately piece of furniture in your home.