Sibling to Sibling Christmas Gifts

December 19, 2006

There are lots of different ways to approach Sibling Christmas Gifts and I’m still figuring out which one works for the Blairs. My friend Juliane, a mother of 5, sends $20 with each child to the PTA holiday boutique and all sibling gifts have to be bought there and then within that budget. She ends up with a lot of kitsch, but her kids feel totally empowered and the whole thing is done in an afternoon.

Erin’s sister Meghan, who also has a big family, has each child pick one item, say a box of band-aids, and then choose the perfect box of band-aids for each brother or sister. And, from what I understand, a dad I admire named Roger, would take each child on a shopping date the week before Christmas, specifically to pick out and buy sibling gifts.

My sister-in-law Lisa and her husband Mark, parents of 6, have helped their children make amazing gifts for each other every year. Two brothers might work on one project for two other brothers. They’ve made and given a jousting set, a high jump set, soccer goals and a zip line among other cool projects.

So we don’t really have a system yet, but I got it in my head on Saturday, that with my older kids artsy-crafty tendencies, we should really make the gifts and so far it has been awesome.

Sunday the kids worked on baby Betty’s gifts. Maude made a bracelet from Sculpey beads and jingle bells — which will be endlessly entertaining for Betty. Ralph made a bib from some corduroy fabric we had. And Olive also made a bib from a vintage handtowel I was looking to recycle. All 3 gifts turned out super-cute.

Yesterday, Ralph was home from school with a cold, so we worked on the rest of the gifts he’ll give: Romper Stompers (from big coffee can size cans) for Olive which he painted and tied pink polka-dot ribbons to. A hat and mitten set for Maude from an old red wool sweater of Ben’s — we made a huge wool yarn puff ball for the top and the set is super-cute. A snow globe with some plastic farm animals for Oscar.

Maude made glittery soap for Olive yesterday while Olive was at a playdate. She’ll work on a hat and mittens for Ralph from another old sweater and dragon mittens for Oscar when we can get the boys out of the house.

Olive made stacks of recycled crayons for Ralph and Maude last night and we’ll work on a felt board story for Oscar tonight.

Oscar and Betty are too young and will follow Meghan’s plan. Oscar will give new toothbrushes. Betty will give Band-Aids.

Up to this point it’s been fun and no stress and required zero errands for supplies. And I’m vowing right now, if it does get stressful, we’ll stop where we are in the gift making and head to Target.

How do you handle sibling gifts?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 liz s December 19, 2006 at 10:19 am

my mother used to buy small things for each child and then open a ‘store’ in her bedroom one night for each child the week before christmas for the other siblings to buy things from her to give. For example, tuesday would be ‘elizabeth store’ and the siblings of elizabeth could come buy something small from my mom (at a huge discount of course. mittens are a dollar, etc) and then go wrap the gifts themselves for elizabeth. I thought it was a great idea and tradition. when we got older she stopped giving us huge discounts of course and dropped us off at target instead.


2 rebecca December 19, 2006 at 11:02 am

I love that idea, Liz. I’ve been looking desparately for a good system. I love my kids to make stuff, but this year has just been too hectic! Seth, who likes to hoard his money, is wanting to give his siblings “used” things this Christmas– poor Joseph is getting a pair of his old shorts. By the way, we made those same snow globes last Sunday and they turned out awesome– a very nice-looking kid project– I love them!


3 Anonymous December 19, 2006 at 11:59 am

Liberty picks out a gift that will be from her and Bean for Alex. And then Alex picks out a gift for Liberty to be from he and bean. Then Alex and Liberty pick out a gift togeather for Bean. LOL. All gifts have a $20 limit :-D So far it’s worked really well…but I LOVE the idea of making gifts for each other. I just tend to really stress out when we try to craft.


4 michelle December 19, 2006 at 12:13 pm

WOW… WOW. I’m so impressed with this list. I think it’s great to have the kids make stuff – they will be so excited to give it to their sibling.


5 kathryn December 19, 2006 at 12:22 pm

We have followed the holiday boutique idea for the last couple of years, and while it is kitchy, Josh has picked some thoughtful gifts. I love the snowglobe idea–is it from Martha kids? Please direct to where we can find instructions. Next year we will go homemade because it sounds so cozy and fun.


6 liz December 19, 2006 at 12:23 pm

this will show my lack of craftiness even as a kid- I made my sister a checkerboard out of a cereal box and gave her pennies for the game pieces. we still laugh about it now.


7 JMG December 19, 2006 at 12:33 pm

What great ideas! I especially like the sibling store.

I come from a large family (8 kids) and we draw names for Christmas each year. I always liked it because I could focus on one great present that I knew my sibling would love.


8 Lindsey December 19, 2006 at 1:02 pm

I love this post.


9 Design Mom December 19, 2006 at 1:15 pm

Great ideas. I love the little store — so cute.


10 Erin December 19, 2006 at 1:38 pm

Brilliant. So many good ideas. I just can’t get over the fact that you had everything on hand to make all these gifts. Who stocks glycerin? I’ve been shrinking an old sweater this week and trying different things with it. So fun.


11 Anonymous December 19, 2006 at 3:29 pm

i’m tucking these ideas away for next year. fantastic ideas!


12 Anonymous December 19, 2006 at 5:00 pm

I am so impressed that you over-saw all that gift making–Brava! Noah and I have had to be pretty cheap with sibling gifts because we were both in school and making next to nothing, so we would take everyone out to a matine of a first run movie (a big deal for us) which ran about $5 a head.


13 pillingfamily December 19, 2006 at 8:27 pm

This year my oldest two are doing hand made gifts too. My five year old boy is making a really simple skirt for my 3 year old girl and embelishing it with ribbons and buttons and a pipe cleaner toy (a perscription bottle w/ a hole drilled in the lid and lots of short pipe cleaners for the baby to put in the hole) for my one year old. My three year old is making a stuffed gingerbread man for the 5 year old and a stuffed doll fo the baby. The gifts are so cute and totally juvenile and I’m having so much fun making the gifts with my kids.


14 Anonymous December 20, 2006 at 12:27 am

I was really touched this year when my daughter made some gifts for some of her friends and then went into her toy box and picked out something she thought each one would like and wrapped it up. Not my idea, but I thought it was really sweet.


15 Grandpa Mac December 20, 2006 at 12:20 pm

I am honored to be mentioned and have something from the past be worthy of consideration. The trips were so austere at the time, that the limit was $3 per gift and the best part was sitting at McD’s or BK and having a hamburger to celebrate the end of the night.

Things enlarged as the children grew and had paper routes, thus some of their own money to spend, but the tradition goes on even in 2006.

Thanks Gabby, you made my day and this season a lot brighter.

Love to you,



16 sara December 20, 2006 at 3:07 pm

man, betsy blows me away. i want to be her when i grow up!


17 Belle-ah December 29, 2006 at 9:05 am

Ok…my system for my 3 on sibling gifts is that they each make/buy a Christmas ornament for each other. I dutifully write on the ornament who it is from and they year. They each have trees in their rooms so this has been a fantastic way for them to accumulate a nice collection of meaningful ornaments and when they are on their own they will have that “1st tree” already decorated!


18 Anonymous January 3, 2007 at 1:42 am

I just tried making the recycled crayons for the first time, and they’re great! Except my toddler now refuses to use any of his regular crayons.


19 Molly the Waffler November 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

You have such great ideas, I’m going to steal a few of them. I also made a promise to myself that this holiday season I’m only buying toys for the kids that I think they will play with for 6 months or more…now more of these throw-away items.


20 Kara November 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm

There are nine kids in my family (sort of ten if you count my husband, since I’m the first to get married) and we do a sibling gift draw every year. The rule is that every gift has to be handmade. As we all get older (age range 26-8) the presents are really getting nice, and it’s the gift exchange we look forward to most each year.

Generally the boys do woodworking projects (things like cutting boards or simple lamps) with help from Dad, while the girls knit or sew projects. My biologist husband is mixing things up by growing plants as gifts.


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