Handmade With Love

Saying thank you to your child’s teacher doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can show your appreciation by helping your little one create something simple and practical. It’ll show a little effort and time was spent in its making – and give you an excuse to do something fun and creative with your child.

Here are a number of ideas to get you started, and perhaps inspired enough to tackle handmade Christmas or birthday gifts for the family too.


Class acts

If you like coordinating, and find children and parents are keen to participate, then you could try something with the whole class.

  • Create a finger-painted plant pot. Get all the children in the class to add a fingerprint (in paint) to a flower pot and turn these into butterflies and bugs. You can also paint the names of the children onto the pot or write a message around the rim. Then plant with flowers or herbs.
  • Make a classroom recipe book. Invite the children to write their favourite recipe on decorative card, perhaps with a short thank-you message. Collect these and make them into a book or place them in a basket.
  • Create a quilt or picnic blanket. Get children to decorate a square of material (with paint or appliquè or whatever takes their fancy). Then sew them together (or find somebody who can do this for you), place a material border around them, add some backing and you have a wonderful quilt. You could back with waterproof fabric if you’re making a picnic blanket. A lovely idea is to cut out the children’s handprints and turn these into tree leaves on a quilt.

Green fingers

  • Spruce up a watering can with paint, or get younger children to decorate one with stickers. Then attach some gardening gloves and packets of flower seeds.
  • Create a mini herb or flower garden. Decorate or paint a flower pot and plant with herb or flower seedlings.
  • Design pot plant stakes. These are a nice addition to the mini garden above. Children can add a personal touch by adding their picture or a special message. Buy some plain stakes or use wooden sticks. Children can write out a message on some cardboard using a glitter pen. If you’re stuck for ideas you could try: “Thank you for helping me blossom.” Use glue or strong tape to attach the message to the stake, then plant this in the pot.

For food-lovers and foodies

Give ready-to-bake biscuits in a jar. You’ll need a glass jar – such as a Consol jar, or a large coffee bottle. Clean and dry it properly. Children can then layer these ingredients in the jar in this order (pack down after every additional layer):

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar

Fill the jar with your choice of Smarties, Astros or chopped up chocolate – try Crunchie or Top Deck. Close the lid, cover this with a square of fabric and secure in place with an elastic band. Let your child write out the instructions below on decorative paper. Attach a piece of ribbon and tie the instructions around the neck of the jar.

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Blend together 1 cup butter or margarine, 1 egg (slightly beaten) and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  • Add contents of biscuit jar and mix together until well blended.
  • Place teaspoon scoops of batter about 5cm apart on a greased baking tray.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Bake some cookies, place them in a jar or tin when they are cool, then get your child to write out the recipe on some pretty paper and attach it.

Try making flavoured salts. Take some coarse salt and add dried rosemary or some chilli flakes. Use your imagination and raid your veggie and herb garden. Place in a decorated tin or container.


Picture perfect

  • Make a caterpillar picture frame. Cut out rings from kitchen-roll or other cardboard tubes of assorted sizes. Get your children to glue pictures on top or on the bottom of these rings using wood glue. You can make several different pictures and then stick these together to make shapes. Try making a flower or caterpillar.
  • Create a frame for a special memory. Source pre-cut masonite frames (ask at your local craft shop) or try cutting out frames from stiff corrugated cardboard. Stick scrapbooking paper onto the frame and cut to match the frame. Add decorations, charms, words, ribbon or anything you want. This is a gift on its own, or you can include a picture or poem.
  • Make a personalised plate or platter. You’ll need a clear glass plate. Children can decorate the underside with stickers, glitter, a poem or pictures – attach facing upwards so that they can be read through from the top.
  • Paint over the bottom of the plate with acrylic or PVC paint. Your children can choose whichever colours they want and mix these in any way. Things might get messy but just cover the floor with newspaper and let your little artist be creative. Make sure that the whole underside of the plate is covered with paint and leave to dry.

Bath time

  • Make different-shaped soaps. Chop bars of glycerine soap into small pieces and melt in a polystyrene cup in the microwave. Place on high for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Be careful – this gets hot. Pour into cookie-cutter shapes placed on wax paper. Try filling the shape halfway, leave to dry and add a charm. Then fill the rest of the way. When the soaps are dry, remove and package in a decorated box.
  • Create personalised bath salts. Add perfume or essential oils to Epsom salts. Add food colouring, but only a few drops at a time. Mix well and place into a bottle decorated with ribbon.
  • Design non-slip slipper socks. You’ll need a pair of comfy socks and some puff paint (ask at your local craft shop). Decorate the bottom of the socks with patterns, shapes or even a message. Leave to dry. Then heat until puffed.

Tamlyn Vincent