Christmas gifts for my boys

18 Sep 2011

This is a repost from this time last year. I posted it on my other blog but I thought you might find it interesting


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My children have had a 'Steiner ( Waldorf)  influenced' childhood.
They have had their share of plastic toys but mostly good quality toys such a Lego and also plenty of little metal cars, wooden and metal train sets , board games and jigsaw puzzles but many of their toys and gifts  have been hand made from natural materials and meant to feed their spirits; head, heart and hands.

My two sons are now 22 and 19 but I have tried to go back over our Christmases and remember the gifts we made or handmade toys we bought that you might be able to make too.
Most of these things have been packed away for many years, well at least since the time that Kate stopped playing with them.
I am going over the boys gifts this week and the things we gave Kate next week.
Household toys become everyone's toys as the family grows and Kate of course played with most of her brothers toys too.

My children did not attend a Steiner/Waldorf school mainly because for many years the school here was so small and tended to implode every so often and eventually closed altogether but Kate went to a Steiner playgroup for a few years. I have always felt strongly that children should be allowed to be children, to have time to play, time to rest, time to be bored, time to grow, at their own pace and in their own way and the philosophies of Steiner early childhood education and their respect for the stages of childhood sat well with our own philosophies.

The list of gifts below reflects Stephen's and my own ideas about child development and the way the way we live our lives.
The focus of this list is hand made and home made but our children also always received lots of books and balls and bats and bikes and skittles and dart boards and all those kinds of things too.



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the castle and knitted people

The List - Homemade, handmade and handmade-ish things we have  given our boys and their boy cousins over the years:


~ wooden barn with flap top lid and wooden animals and fences inside made by Stephen


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the barn and some of the animals that Stephen made 20 years ago


~ playmat with fields of different colours and an island with moat in the middle plus hessian and cardboard castle with knitted people, horses, a dragon and unicorn made by my friend Kate.
You can see something similar here

~ round mat with the game board for 9 men morris sewn on it

~ mini quilt for chess or checkers


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the checkers board quilt


~ marbles bag with marbles

~ kite shaped rice bags

~ bag of wishing stones

~ stick with favourite colours ribbons on the end to run with

~ cardboard castle made by my dad
~ hobby horse


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the king , the prince and the unicorn near the apple tree

~ gardening tools

~ wooden rifle made by my dad

~ wooden truck made by my dad

~knitted jumpers, cardigans and hats for teddy bears


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hobby horse



~ special bought mug with hot chocolate makings

~ book of chocolate and candy recipes with candy thermometer and wooden spoon

~  a cactus plant

~ a homemade colouring book with photocopied pictures from various vintage colouring in books and line drawings from vintage story books

~ a big lump of clay and some clay modelling tools

~ knitted dolls

~ some soapstone and appropriate carving tools

~ patchwork cushions in favourite football team colours

~ ball made from rubber bands

~ knitted gnomes

~ wooden treasure box



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Nine man morris game


~ elastic waisted trousers - many pairs in many colours

~ magician's cape

~ superhero's cape

~ pirate hat and eye patch


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Jacob's ladder


~ pixie hat and shoes

~ Santa Claus hat and beard

~ pirate flag

~ knights wooden sword and shield

~ reading quilt


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the snuggly reading quilt

~ handmade doll

~ tyre and rope swing


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the acrobat bear


~ small cardboard gnome house with a little wood and felt gnome family

~ the makings of chocbit cookies including a cookie cutter

~ a complicated wooden puzzle made by Stephen

~  felt finger puppets


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finger puppets


~ a collapsible carved castle bought at the Salamanca Market


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felt animals


~ hand made very beautiful kaleidoscope ( for the whole family)

~ tiny gnomes with beads for heads

~ very own chocolate cake to eat and share as they wish

~ wooden tic tac toe

~ wooden track made by Stephen for Brio  train set

~ wooden Jacob's ladder


If you have any questions about anything on the list please just ask and i will do my best to answer.


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A great things about toys you have made yourself or that are hand made is that you can repair then or even modify them if you need to.
The Rapunzel doll above was given a harsh haircut by Kate many years ago and then when she wanted the hair to grow again I sewed some new locks on.
Of course
I would have rathered the hair wasn't cut in the first place but it was easy to fix.



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Lots of toy ideas cam from this gem of a book.
It is a  Steiner/waldorf craft book that I think is popular in many countries.
It's very simple illustrations and lack of flashy photos are one the joys of the book. Everything in it works, everything I have made from this book has been a joy. It is suitable for older children as well as adults and our boys often used it to plan what they would make for Christmas and birthday gifts.

Another book is Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke.
This book is full of wisdom about the importance of play in children's lives as well as lots of projects to make.


I am having all sorts of problems today trying to put links in this post so I will have to add them later when Mr Blogger and my computer are having a better day.


A word about materials for your projects.
I think it is a goods idea , when you can , to use what you have around you rather than buy a whole lot of new stuff.
You will be surprised what you have if you have a good look.
The barn that Stephen built was made from various off cuts, the quilt and nine man morris game used remnants and bits and bobs.

You can use felted knitting instead of felt,
The reading quilt is made from the scraps from all the pairs of corduroy trousers I made the boys.


Another thing too is not to expect what you make to look professionally made, it might but it will most probably look hand made or should I say hand crafted but that doesn't matter.
If you want something that looks shop bought then you can buy it from a shop.
I'm not saying to be slap dash with what you do but handmade things will always look handmade,
that is part of their beauty
and they always contain the love and energy of the person who made them,
that is their magic.


Again, any suggestions, comments, links that can add to what I have written would be greatly appreciated and definitely added to next Thursday's post.



Comments and Links

In the comments last week we had suggestions and links so I have copied them below for you.

I also had an email from Jo who explained that she was making domestic goddess baskets with pot holders, aprons, tea towels etc for her grown up daughters but that could easily be suitable for all ages.
Blogger Kimara@weefolkart said...
Hooray for your well stated blog. Obviously, we are huge supports of handmade/homemade, and are so excited that we share our feelings with so many others. Also, we are totally honored to be included in your first submissions. We hope your readers can find some ideas to help inspire them this holiday season. Thanks!
Thursday, September 09, 2010 1:01:00 PM
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Blogger Lauren said...
Hi Jenny, What a wonderful list to compile! I love wood sailboats, homemade magnetic fishing sets with small poles and fish made from woolen felt, felt wands/crowns for dressing up. Can't wait to see the other ideas. Thank you!
Thursday, September 09, 2010 4:25:00 PM
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Blogger SandieT said...
Jenny, What a lovely idea! Christmas is one of my favourite seasons...Hope there are plenty of simple ideas, I am a bit challenged with a needle and thread.
Thursday, September 09, 2010 5:57:00 PM
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Rose said...
Great idea Jenny! I'll link to this post at the forum and put on my own thinking cap.
Thursday, September 09, 2010 6:11:00 PM
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Anonymous Marjon said...
Awesome idea Jenny, being only a beginner crafter I look forward to all the gems to be shared :o)
Thursday, September 09, 2010 8:19:00 PM
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Ola said...
What a wonderful idea! I will definitely be following along. I don't have much experience in home made items and I don't have a sewing machine, but I am keen to learn some new skills :).
Thursday, September 09, 2010 9:25:00 PM
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Blogger tamlovesran said...
I agree that my biggest memories of my own childhood Christmases are the memories of the excitement of the day and not about the gifts I received. My son is a pretty good artist and in recent years he has been doing paintings to give on birthdays and Christmas. I am beginning to enjoy painting too and may do a few of my own this year. You can see some of his gifts here http://sunshinecottage.blogspot.com/search/label/Show%20and%20Tell
Thursday, September 09, 2010 10:41:00 PM
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Blogger appledapple said...
I love this idea as well as the knowing that resources and ideas will continue to flow. Thank you so much! I have nothing to share at this moment (last year I made homemade scarves out of flannel and velvet ric rac), but when I think of something clever or special, I'll pass it on.
Thursday, September 09, 2010 11:41:00 PM
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Blogger French Knots said...
What a super idea, I'm looking forward to some Christmas inspiration. I made a simple advent calander last year so celebrate the countdown to Christmas http://frenchknots.typepad.co.uk/french_knots/2009/12/simple-advent-calendar.html
Friday, September 10, 2010 1:25:00 AM
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Blogger Beth said...
Jenny, what a wonderful plan! I would love to contribute my little bit...there are many free crochet patterns for dolls and animals available on my blog (www.byhookbyhand.blogspot.com. Most of my Christmas list consists of handmade crochet items. Mostly toys and scarves, to bring a moment of joy and warmth on Christmas day :-) Beth
Friday, September 10, 2010 2:12:00 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hi Jenny. Well a really simple idea for children to make are Beeswax candles. My son made them for relatives and friends when he was 7 or so and believe it or not we still have some (he'll be 21 next month). He was so proud of his efforts that Xmas and my mother used hers at the Xmas dinner. They were wrapped in red tissue and tied with raffia. A special handmade gift. Jayne x
Friday, September 10, 2010 3:59:00 AM
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Mary Jane's Tearoom said...
What a lovely idea, Jenny! Susan x
Friday, September 10, 2010 5:29:00 AM
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Blogger carol at home said...
What a super idea
Friday, September 10, 2010 6:02:00 PM
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Blogger Chris said...
I love giving homemade gingerbread men - the single large ones - wrapped in clear celophane. One year I had two family households to visit, so took a basket filled with individually wrapped gingerbread men. You should've seen the kid's eyes pop out when I got the basket out. They even got to pick which gingerbread man they wanted.
Sunday, September 12, 2010 6:02:00 AM
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Anonymous Penelope said...
I simply LOVE this idea and will also put my thinking cap on. My almost 10 year old daughter loves creating so will no doubt have some ideas of her own. I'll be back soon xox  
plus, if knitted toys are your thing...
Linda has a marvellous post on the magic of a knitted toy 
plus of you have a look around her blog she does have some free toy patterns ,
and she has lots of knitted loveliness and patterns in her Etsy shop 
 Susan of Mary Jane's tearoom has the most wonderful toy knitting patterns in her Etsy shop
The lovely Eli has a host of free knitting patterns on her blog and gorgeous patterns in her shop.
Tonya is hosting a Handmade Holiday series too . you could check out Tonya's blog to read about her families simple living adventure and they also have an Etsy shop
Many of the pattern sellers on Etsy and I think, all of these ladies, sell PDF copies of their patterns so you get the pattern by email usually within a day, sometimes straight away.
You can easily do a search on Etsy for knitted toy patterns and you will find many pages of little beauties. 
Or if you would like to buy a knitted or crocheted toy or other handmade goodies  Etsy has those too.
Or you could try Made It  or Dawanda or Folksy  or Felt 
And don't forget to check out your local library for good books of patterns .
Look for Knitted Animals by Anne-Dorthe Grigaff and A First Book of Knitting for children by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton plus heaps of other titles old and new.
OK, that will do for this week.
Have fun.

2 Responses to “Christmas gifts for my boys”

  1. You must have read my mind...I was just looking though this series of posts the other day on your blog getting ideas to get ready for this Christmas. I have so enjoyed reading it and being inspired! Thank you for sharing! :)

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  2. This is an excellent post! So many times when I talk to moms I can see they desire a simpler Christmas/way of giving gifts to their children, but are at a loss for where to begin.

    I couldn't agree more and have my own experience with this that I think I shall blog about at some point.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.