Creative gift ideas

Individual kits make gifts special.

As we approach the coming holidays and have budgets firmly in minds it is a good time to consider the types of gifts you will be giving. Are you looking for a gift that sparks a child’s curiosity and imagination? Try putting together a personalized kit to reflect the interest of the youngster. The kit may be as elaborate or as simple as your budget and time allows. Here are a few ideas Michigan State University Extension suggests:

Baking kit
A large mixing bowl will hold a children’s cookbook. Add measuring spoons, packaged puddings and mixes, or the ingredients from one of your favorite family recipes. Add a recipe box to collect new recipes. Include a blank book so the child can interview grandparents and other family members to make a family recipe book to be published for the family.

A beauty kit
Fill a basket with pretty soaps, shampoo, conditioner and clear nail polish; maybe even a new toothbrush and toothpaste. A gift certificate to a favorite salon might be welcomed.

Fix-it kit
Obtain a set of basic screwdrivers, a hammer and wrenches; add a discarded telephone or radio. Let your child discover how machines are constructed. Include wood scraps precut for a birdhouse, treasure box or dollhouse with instructions. Add a small can of paint or stain, a brush and an “IOU” for help with a project.

MSU adventures
There are several interactive sites for children within the MSU community. Create a coupon book with campus sites listed to visit in 2014.  Use the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden kid’s tour as a starting point. Other interesting sites might be the MSU Museum or Broad Art Museum pages.

Book kit
Fill a canvas bag with a fancy bookmark and several paperback books (most libraries have used book sales). A new pen and notebook could be added to encourage your child to write their own book or journal about books they read. Reading a “chapter” book together would be a wonderful family activity.

What is out there?
To encourage outside adventure, place a field tracking book, binoculars, a journal, and description of the property where you live in a storage tub. Sketch the wildlife trails, trees, vegetation and boundaries to form a picture of what is out there. Photos or a video could highlight the map drawing.

Art kit
Everyone enjoys paint, glitter, stickers, markers and crayons. Add a few cardboard matte frames to display any masterpieces. Purchase paper that will encourage a budding artist.

Family history kit
Use a large plastic tub, treasure chest or tin to collect the tools needed to research family history. Purchase a genealogy book.  Include an inexpensive recorder. Fill in your family tree by interviewing generations. Create a family map with locations of family branches highlighted. This can be as detailed as the child is to pursue and understand.

Map kit
Fill a canvas bag with purchased or free maps. You might put world, national, state and county maps in your kit. County plat books are also available at many MSU Extension offices.   Add a “geography” aid such as a GPS receiver. Begin planning your summer vacation as a family. Travel books for children are available. With open imaginations plan the perfect trip for the entire family.

Bird watching kit
Use a sturdy backpack to hold the kit. Add a bird identification book and binoculars. Perhaps add the plans for a bird feeder and bird houses to build for spring.  An inexpensive camera could be added to capture candid pictures. A notebook could be included to record sightings.

An alphabet book
For the preschoolers on your list; you might make an alphabet book with each letter identifying something in your child’s life: “A” is for apples that grow on the farm, “B’ is for bath, “C” for car, cat or cookie. This could be done in an inexpensive album or printed out on card stock and either spiral-bound at a craft shop or punched and put in a three-ring binder.

These are just a few ideas to inspire imaginations. A personalized present makes a great gift.   For more information on Michigan 4-H programs, refer to the MSU Extension website.

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