more kid-made gifts

First let me just say that with all that we do around here, I have a very hard time managing the cleanup after a large gathering.  Thanksgiving, with it's brunch for 17 & dinner for 14, was fantastic.  AND, I just finished cleaning up yesterday.  And I probably spent more than a few minutes being pretty upset about that.  So there you have it.  From here on out I'm very excited about the possibilities of Ease, Grace & Organization (aka being a grown-up) after a party.  I'm taking any suggestions, tips, & funny stories for the ride.  Thank you.



Everyday the boys have been coming to me with a new list of gift ideas.  I was surprised to hear, "A giant crock of chili!"  But it made a lovely cold-weather surprise for a playdate.  We set them up with the kid-friendly basics for a veggie chili ~ celery, carrots, tomatoes, 1 can each of aduki beans, black beans & chopped green chilies, a bag of frozen corn & pre-measured bowls of cumin, chili powder,oregano, cinnamon, salt & pepper.  They chopped the veggies & just poured it all in the pot.  Mahal helped me light the stove & they took turns stirring & checking.  We put it all in a pretty crock & brought some seasonal cloth napkins for lunch.


They have a massive collection of prized cardboard pieces, & I'm always grateful for a chance to see some go.  They made a series of leaf presses / flower presses that they stamped with persimmon leaves they had painted with acrylics.  For straps they cut strips out of a sweater & helped them put elastic on the underside.  I usually let them do all the pedal work when we sew gifts.


The boys to these amazing photographs of (I think) young Chinese lanterns.  They're both also very likely to give these as gifts, just as they are, or in a little felted bowl or origami box.   I set the camera to close zoom, had them wait while I checked the distance & told them where to stand so it wouldn't be to blurry.  We have tons of photos they've taken "freestyle" with no direction, lots of pictures of their shirts & chins when they accidentally point the camera at themselves, many pictures of mysterious red & orange hues from fingers over the lens.  But they also really value some "grown-up" direction, they appreciate the respect of some rules & a "real photo shoot."  Seeing their pride at having subjects of their choice in a framed, crisp, clear photo is priceless.


I love watching the focus of real work.


Rubber stamping, Gocco-printing, & Silk-Screening are all some of our favorite ways to make special books or small stacks of cards to give.  When my computer crashed recently & spoke to Mac & had a wonderful customer-service experience.  I was eager to fill out their service questionnaire & when I finished, I was rewarded with the words, "Thank You" in many languages.  So Awesome!  I printed it out to show the boys & they thought it would make a great Gocco Print.  We added a few Fall images & a lemon-merengue pie.  Mahal & I stayed up late printing no less than 300 cards.  Lake had spent the previous day helping us crease the card stock.


We layered them with 2 tones of red crepe & 4 pages of recycled craft paper.  Then we sewed down the center seams with red & brown thread.  Mahal chose a mix of red, brown & gold inks.


They've been inventing all kinds of gifts out of the remaining cards:  Tote bags from punching the sides & lacing them closed, coupons, place cards, story books & gift tags.  I'll keep you posted as the ideas keep rolling in...