November 14th 2011
archived under: Anneliese, Crafts, Crochet, Family Life, Montessori, Sewing

I had a list in my head of things I wanted to make for Anneliese for Christmas this year. Then I kept adding to it, so I had to jot it down on paper, but after a bit the list was quite long, and some of the projects were a bit complicated for me to do on my own or in such a short period of time… so those would get moved until her birthday, or next Christmas (several of these are great for a wide range of ages)… so I thought I’d make a blog post for myself (and you!) to reference whenever I’m looking for a handmade gift for a child.


Dyed silk play scarves – Tutorial by The Artful Parent, and there is also a great color chart by Gerbera Designs.


Coiled Rag Bowl – tutorial by Wee Folk Art (there are LOTS of great tutorials on this site for free, so be sure to check them out!)


Tree blocks – simple how-to by Crafting a Green World. Yes it’s as simple as it seems. And while I LOVE unit blocks for more architectural building and naturally absorbing math concepts (and would love for Anneliese to have a set of real full-size “preschool-quality” ones someday)… there is something perfect in the imperfection of these natural blocks too.


Wooden Peg Doll Family – inspiration by ColorFool. What a sweet idea, to make a little doll family modeled after our own! I’ll try to make a Zora (dog) peg too.


Rainbow people matching game – I’ve seen sets like this on etsy and thought they would be a sweet little game for Anneliese, but easy to make myself too. J Man and Miller Bug apparently had the same thought!


Busy Bottles – from Pink Pistachio. LOVE this idea. I was also a fan of the “glitter wand” as a kid, and this is a similar, homemade idea. You could make bottles with different themes or color schemes.


Upcycled Sweater Crafts – If I can find some great 100% wool sweaters at Goodwill, I’d love to make some felted stuffed animals, slippers, and a cute cap. (All how-tos from Martha Stewart.)


Wooden Lacing Cards – By Dollar Store Crafts. I’ll see if Michaels has any larger wooden shapes that I can drill some holes into. I’m pretty sure they have simple plain wooden geometric shapes I could paint. I know they have the smaller wooden shapes too but I don’t think those would be big enough to work well.


Crocheted tea set – I saw this in the Land of Nod catalog and made sure to “pin” it to my Pinterest. How sweet would this be?


A Play Kitchen – I love the “hacked” Ikea kitchens floating all over the internet. This one is probably my favorite though. I love how it’s simple but “complete” and has real touches like an actual faucet with knobs, and how it doesn’t take up a ton of space.


I would be remiss to not include my girlfriend Kim’s play kitchen she and her husband made for their daughter. Everything Kim does has such CHARM that it’s impossible not to fall in love.



Family Book – I’ve been meaning to do one of these for a long time, but maybe I’ll actually get one together for the holidays. I just need to find a good picture of each of us – my husband, me, Anneliese, Zora, our parents, our siblings and their spouses and kids… that should about cover it. I’ll probably order through shutterfly or picaboo or one of those types of book printing places.


Some sort of Mobile – there is a hook in the ceiling in Anneliese’s room and it would be the perfect place for a lovely-to-look-at mobile, but I haven’t made one yet. Add it to the list. This one is precious.image

A gorgeous fabric memory game – Tutorial and photo from purlbee.com. I love the idea of this and think it would also be great with different textures of the same color fabric too for an older child and a bit more of a challenge (imagine all in royal blue, but pairs of felt, velvet, cotton, chiffon, wool, lace, etc.) and for more of a Montessori element (only one variable).


An activity board – For now I’ll stick with the Melissa and Doug Latch Board that we have, but I would love a more exciting version with more types of “goodies” on it when she gets older. This is something I could enlist my husband’s help with I’m sure.


Wall Abacus – From Anything Pretty. Another thing I’d rather have my husband build than do myself. But this would go perfectly on the wall in the play area of the living room. hmmmmmmmm….


Fabric Card Table Playhouse – From Bargain Hoot. Something I’ve been eyeing for years, since before I was even pregnant with Anneliese. I probably won’t make it for Christmas, but maybe for her birthday next year or even Christmas next year. She doesn’t really “pretend” yet but I know she’ll be into it soon!


Quiet Book – My sisters and I had a quiet book when we were kids, and I vividly remember a page with flowers we could button onto stems in a vase, as well as a page with shapes to match (I’m not sure if they were button-on, snaps, or velcro). There are SO many ideas on the internet for quiet book pages and book themes, and a flickr search will bring up a ton of inspiration. I also LOVE this color scrap book from Emmy Lizzy (shown below).


Painted Step Stool – Photo by Remodeling this Life. As Anneliese gets more sturdy on her feet and more independent with tooth-brushing and such, I’d like her to be able to reach the bathroom sink safely and easily. I have a little step stool but it’s not tall enough for a tiny toddler… it’s only one level like a tiny milkmaid stool. Apparently Ikea has some great-looking wooden step-stools with two steps that would be perfect! I’d love to personalize it a bit, not just leave it one color.


Painted Matryoshka Set – I got a set of 7 blank nesting dolls on etsy earlier this year and haven’t settled on a theme yet, but I got 7 so that I could do the rainbow (including indigo). I want them to be relatively simple and modern, but when I do come up with a design, I’ll paint them for Anneliese. Picture from ecrater – gorgeous, but a bit elaborate for me to make (and $80+ to buy!)


Handmade growth chart – here are two versions I LOVE. An embroidered quilted one, and a jute/safety pin/tag one. Totally different looks but I love them both so much. The doorframe thing doesn’t really work for military families!


Baby underwear – Since we’ve been ECing (Using elimination communication)since Anneliese was about 6 months, she is quite used to the potty. Now that she’s walking and also happens to be telling me (with sign language) more often that she needs to use the potty, I’m thinking it’s almost time to ramp up to actual “potty training/learning” instead of the casual EC we’ve been doing for nearly a year. But no one makes underwear for a less-than-20-pound baby. Well, some people do, but it costs $10+ per pair. Making my own would be much more economical. Maybe not “Christmas gift!” material, but something to do soon in any case. Photo from Noodle-Head. Pattern from That Darn Kat on etsy. Zaaberry also made a trainer/pull-up version which is a great idea. I’m planning to continue using cloth diapers during naps and at night, but maybe when she is more reliable a “pull-up” like this would be good for naps.
Note: The pattern only goes as small as a size 2, but I figure it can’t be too hard to scale it down further.


Fabric “Paper Chain” or Advent Chain – I know people use these to count down (or up) to Christmas, but I think they would be a fun year-round activity for toddlers to do (akin to the plastic linking chains, or the beads that snap together). I saw these covered plastic ones in the Land of Nod catalog and immediately thought “I can make that!” and imagined using heavier interfacing inside of tubes of fabric (quilting cotton or flannel), and snaps to fasten them together. A bit of googling led me to Roots and Wings Co, who has a tutorial for a less time consuming version using fusible webbing, pinking shears, and velcro.


Fabric Christmas tree with Velcro ornaments – This is an idea I came up with and when I googled, I didn’t find anything like what is in my head. There are lots of two-dimensional advent calendars that have similar ideas, and this 3D one is the closest to what I was thinking. But my tree would be cuter and simpler, my ornaments would be less cheesy, and it certainly wouldn’t say “My first Christmas tree” across the base. This is another one you could use as an advent/count down decoration, but I think it would be more fun as a toy through the whole month of December, to decorate and un-decorate as many times as your child wants. When I get around to making ours, I’ll be sure to post pictures of my non-ugly version.


Amy (1 comments)

Love this list! Thanks for creating and posting it. Wish the Purl Bee link still worked, but I found another memory game that is fantastic. http://chezbeeperbebe.blogspot.com/2009/12/tutorial-and-pattern-dont-forget-memory.html..

Special Gifts For Her (1 comments)

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Emily (1 comments)

These are really cool ideas! I made the quiet book and i’m going to make a mobile! Some of these are easy enough for a 10 year old, like me, to make!

Sayrolita (1 comments)

I love your list!! I will be making one for my little princess with some of your ideas! Thank you

Chani (25 comments)

Made some of the busy bottles, Z loves them. Can’t wait to try out more of them as he gets olded. Thanks for a great resource!

Stacy (1 comments)

Oh my gosh, I LOVE those kitchens! We are the opposite of crafty around here, I’d LOVE to be able to put something like that together for our boys!

Domestic Extraordinaire (2 comments)

I love making gifts. Most recently I made a puppet theatre for my friends 3 year old for her birthday. It was made out of a piece of fabric and uses a tension rod to use it in any doorway. I will have to get a shot of her using it.

MHeintzelman (1 comments)

Google “Farmer John’s Market fabric collection” (quotes not necessary) for pea fabric that you mentioned in Parade.com/gifts article on rice bags, flax seed bags, etc. Good Luck!

CorinneC (1 comments)

Love this post! Everything is just so pretty! Thank you for sharing these!
CorinneC recently posted… My Diet Ideas

Christie Loeffler (5 comments)

I love your blogs. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us web go-ers. Your ideas and reciepes are very inspirational!

I actually have a silly/crazy question, feel free to ignore me. But on one of your past stories, months ago, you made a dress for your daughter out of strips of material (pillow case dress I think they are called). I have been trying, since that article to find similar material to make an apron for my daugthers play kitchen. I have been all through the stores and can’t find anything that I love as much (earthy feel that you had). If you have any material left, and are willing, I would love to buy the scraps from you. Thanks for your consideration!!

Sidnie (3 comments)

Love all these ideas.
I want our Christmas to be simpler this year. Might be time for me to look into homemade, instead of lots of plastic junk.

Also, wanted to add something about the fabric chain- Chains are perfect for counting down deployments. Your A might be a little young now, but soon she’ll be able to grasp the concept. It helps a lot with my boys for them to see how many days (chains) we have left. It’d be awesome to have one that’s reusable; wish I’d thought of it sooner.

Denise (4 comments)

We have that exact stool from IKEA! It’s a PERFECT height. My two year old could not reach any sink to wash hands (so it was very uncomfortable for us to hold him up there), but now he can reach everything and loves helping us wash dishes! I’m planning on painting it once it’s warmer or when we get to our next duty station!

bitiite (1 comments)

These are all really adorable ideas. Can’t wait to try them out on my little cousins and soon enough my nephew as well. This definitely is becoming one of my favorite sites very quickly! Thank you!
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