Handmade Christmas Gifts for Boys

Last year I challenged myself to make one gift for each of my children. Almost everything they want is electronic or made by Nike, so making things for my boys (things they might actually like) is really hard. I came up with a few small things, but of course, I didn't want to post pictures of those gifts before Christmas! So here they are this year.
For Josh I fancied up the poem "Invictus." I noticed he had chosen to memorize it for English class, in spite of all the other options he had, so I concluded that he must like it. Fifteen year old boys don't come out and tell you that a poem or quote has touched their heart in a special way (do they?) so I just watch closely. I printed it at Costco and framed it at Ikea. There were no tears when he opened it, but it's still hanging in his room (that's a good sign).
My little boys were feeling homesick last year! We'd moved less than six months prior, so they were missing friends and school and home. For Christmas I printed photos of their friends and our family and made them little photo garlands to hang above their beds. It was a good excuse to print those special pictures and the boys really liked them. This would be easy to adapt by making a photo garland of a fun vacation or a sports season (with photos of the team and the games).

The other really special thing that resulted from this effort to "make stuff" was our family slideshow. I cannot emphasize enough how happy it made all of us to relive our year together on Christmas Eve. It was a special, meaningful moment for our family. Spiritual, even. I've been making Powerpoint slideshows for 20 years or more, so it was fun to use those skills to make one just for our family.

One other successful homemade gift I've done is making playlists of music. Whether you're burning a CD or just curating a great playlist in iTunes, it's always fun to have new music: even Pandora can't replace a real live person who knows what you might like. My husband has especially loved this gift when commuting and it's also a great gift to force you to share *your* music with your kids. Give them a collection of songs that meant everything to you at their age. Whether or not they like the music, you're sharing a really meaningful part of yourself.

This year I'm cooking up plans to add a small homemade touch to our Christmas. Truthfully, I haven't settled on what I'm going to make yet, but the internet has endless ideas. I thought I'd share the list I'm mulling over: 
Duct Tape wallets or Phone Covers. Although my kids like making these themselves, I know they would love one with a special pattern or color (Max and Lucas). Now that Lucas has his own phone, I think a phone cover might be in order. Here's another good idea if you want to make a wallet using a paperback book cover. It looks cute but a bit too complicated for me to pull off. Plus, sadly, none of my kids are very big readers so it's moot.

Giant Jenga. My kids have endless fun with the tiny Jenga indoors, so I imagine this one would be a hit. And I'll admit, the plastic storage box is about half of the appeal: so organized! Love it.
Secret Book Safe. I think at least one of my boys would really love this. It looks like a pretty simple project except that I don't have a heavy duty vise. I'm hoping our clamps would work (they will).
Paracord Bracelet. Lucas and Max are both wearing paracord bracelets right now and they've given them away to friends, too. Max has been coming home with a lot of those rubber band bracelets that girls at school give him! But they haven't shown any interest in wanting to make them. I think it's a girl thing. Anyway. I think they'd both like another bracelet or one of the other paracord projects shown in the link.
Marshmallow Shooter Kit. Be sure to click through to the link on this one! They have printables to include with the supplies you collect and then your kids should be able to assemble this on their own. It might be fun to include different colors of electrical tape or washi tape so the kids can decorate their shooters when they're finished.
Etched Glass (use a monogram or a favorite sports or super hero image). Josh loved his Jazz glass until it recently broke. I hate having multi colored glasses in my cupboard: I throw away collectible cups all the time. Etching seems like a good middle ground. The kids can have some fun and personalization and I don't have to have pictures and images cluttering up my dining room table.
License Plate Key Holder. We will have a third driver in our house in less than a year (hallelujah and amen) and he happens to be a collector of the old license plates from our cars, so this craft caught my eye. I like the idea of hanging something like this in the garage. I have the feeling that hunting for sets of keys is going to be an issue pretty soon.

Here are a few that require just a little bit of sewing (super simple, one afternoon kind of stuff).
Stuffed Animal Lamp. This is one from my cousin Heather's blog. She is so creative and I really love this idea! I think Jonesy would love having this in his room and we certainly have no shortage of stuffed animals that we could use. Jonesy doesn't currently use a night light, but nightlights would make everyday a little bit magical.
Pillowcases. I think Christmas pillowcases are super cute (and they could develop into an adorable tradition) but I am actually considering making travel pillowcases. I hate it when my boys grab their pillows from their beds when we take road trips! I don't want their pillowcases getting all gross while we're traveling: they are usually part of a set or match their bedding. So I keep thinking it would be a great idea to have a set of pillows but especially pillow cases just for travel! You could have lots of fun with a favorite pattern or theme because this isn't one you'll use (or see) every day. Make sure you check out the tutorial link from Dana Made It: she has so many inspiring ideas for color and pattern.
Capes. Our dress up box is overflowing, but a cute, customized cape would be a welcome addition for Jonesy. Lots of tutorials online: love this one at Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! You could make this more simple by using fleece or felt, which doesn't fray and would therefore require EVEN LESS sewing.

I have a couple of other ideas percolating that I think I need to keep super secret. Maybe you'll see them next year :) I hope your holiday planning is bringing you some joy and fun this year!
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