Friday, April 27, 2012

Gift for Friends

Emily has reached the age when she attends a birthday party almost every weekend. Or, at any rate, that's what it feels like some months of the year. Since most of these birthday girls are from the same social group (usually schoolmates), they also get invited to each other's parties. All this translates to the challenge of giving presents at each party that are fun and yet distinct. We used to let the girls pick something out at Target, but this got quite ridiculous in that the girls simply picked something they themselves wanted. Between you and me, I think the perfect gift is a big cardboard box and a new roll of masking tape. But I know I'm going to get strange looks from the moms during gift-opening time, so I've never had the courage to do it. 

Over the years, we've sort of created our own formula for buying gifts for the girls' classmates. Here's what it looks like:
  1. A jigsaw puzzle (a good one, like the Ravensburger ones)
  2. Something to read (the current favorite book to give is George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin)
  3. Something to make

Occasionally, a friend will personally request a handmade item. For instance, one good friend of Emily's told me, "When Emily comes to my birthday party, can you make me a Rapunzel wig?" I love that the girls know me well enough to ask things like that. 

Sometimes we pick up a craft kit from Michaels, but there are times when we put together our own, like this peg doll kit

This is another kit we've put together for this weekend's birthday party - The Royal Pegs In Their Paintable Wooden Castle.

It consists of
  • The castle, which is a birdhouse from Michaels for $10 ($6 if you use their 40% off coupon)
  • A pack of paintbrushes
  • A little palette of acrylic paint (you can buy the empty ones at Michaels for about $1 and fill them yourself)
  • A bottle of satin varnish
  • Wooden toothpicks (rounded) for painting tiny details
  • A family of wooden peg doll blanks
  • A sample princess for inspiration

These peg doll blanks can be bought in small quantities from Michaels/JoAnn/Hobby Lobby but I buy them in bulk online, as I've been doing for years, so we always have a stash to dip into.

We will also be writing a little instruction sheet, in case the new artist is unfamiliar with aryclic paints and varnish, and also to reassure parents who might be afraid of anything messier than color pencils. 


  1. ooh I need to look for those bird houses!

    Some of Emma's friends come from families that think stickers are messy...

  2. Great, great, great idea! My grand daughter would love that!

  3. Love the handmade gift angle plus 'making' the birthday girl do some of her own creating.

  4. Oh I love this, it would be a perfect Diamond Jubilee craft activity as well, think birdhouse turned Buckingham Palace!! Super gift idea for any occasion.

  5. MaryAnne, I know what you mean. I'm okay with a little messy, but if you buy my child Moon Sand, it will go directly in the garbage. As I live.

    1. I heartily agree! Moon sand is banned!

  6. What a fantastic idea! I would have been thrilled with a gift like this as a kid. Actually still would...

  7. Would too be happy with such a gift! It appears I have some wood left over and paint and a girl.... thanks for posting. Fun to see, as all your posts!

  8. I love this!
    I love the kids who ask you to make them things when there is no party involved... AWKWARD!

  9. What a great idea! I love that your girls' friends ask for handmade gifts.

  10. I think it ate my comment so I'll try again:

    I love this idea and I love that your girls' friends ask for handmade gifts!

  11. What a nice gift! Will get some peg dolls for Ms.G to paint on. Love your blog!

  12. Oh, my little cousins would just love this--I'll have to track down one of those castles for them!

  13. Colored Duck Tape in wrapped in an extra large box?

  14. I do like the castle and peg dolls, that's perfect for so many girls. I'm just wrapping up a gift box with a HUGE box of crayons, sketch book, and 3 rolls of colored masking tape! (AxMan to the rescue!) Boy, I would love to have a stash of peg people around!

  15. Such an cool idea.I have little bit to add.A Potted Cactus or Succulent.It's a plant that YOU DON'T NEED TO WATER (in any event not regularly) and it DOESN'T DIE like friendship(for quite a while) and it LOOKS CUTE.It's likewise an entry level DIY (essentially: Get a little pot,put some dirt in it,put the plant in,disperse a few stones on top).@Jessica Hall.


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