Homemade Sibling Gifts 2008

December 17, 2008

This is the third year that my kids are making gifts for each other. It’s turned into one of our best family traditions — requiring more thinking and time than is ideal, but my kids LOVE it. As I’ve mentioned in years past, I prefer the gifts to be usable and practical.

For 2 year old Betty, who has lately become obsessed with all things ballerina, Ralph made a tutu. My friend Jill gave me this idea and it is such a great project (thank you Jill)! It’s virtually no-sew.

Cut elastic to waist size and stitch together — that’s the only needle and thread required. Then cut lengths of tulle from a 6-inch-wide tulle ribbon roll. Fold the tulle piece in half and then thread the ends through itself around the elastic. And that’s it. You just keep repeating till the elastic is covered.

We used an entire roll of champagne colored shimmer tulle (25 yards). It was on sale for $3 at Michaels and provided 33 lengths (about 2 feet long each) to tie to the waist band. We also used 3 rolls of ribbon in peach, cream and sage green. They were .50 cents, also from Michaels. They provided 11 lengths each and were attached between the tulle pieces for accents. We already had elastic, so the whole cost for the tutu was $4.50. And it turned out beautifully. I think Betty is going to be beside herself with joy when she opens this.

Another note about this great project. You can make the tutu any length you like, by using longer or shorter pieces of tulle. So this same idea could work for an older girl as well. Also. If I’d had another roll of the tulle, I would have used it and made the tutu twice as full. (I’ve posted more specific directions and photos here.)

For Oscar, Ralph decoupaged a bucket to corral his matchbox cars. We used a bucket we already had, plus modge podge and sponge brushes in our art supply stock. So the only cost on this one was .69 cents for a piece of car-themed scrapbook paper. I heart decoupaging. It breathes new life into all sorts of things.

A super simple project. We first cut wide strips of the paper the same height as the bucket. We put a layer of modge podge on the bucket, added the paper strips, and coated the tops with more modge podge. We did 3 top layers of modge podge, waiting between each for the last coat to mostly dry.

I have it on good authority that Santa is putting a pack of cars into Oscar’s stocking, so he’ll be excited to put this bucket to use immediately.

Ralph used fabric markers and stencils to customize knapsacks for Maude and Olive. They’ll use the knapsacks to carry their shoes/clothes to dance class and gymnastics class. Very straightforward. Just place the template on the fabric, color in with fabric markers, and set with a hot iron. We had all the supplies for this project, so it was a freebie. Ralph was the most happy about and proud of this particular gift.

For her sibling gifts, Maude made tie-dye t-shirts. A project that doesn’t take much time and provides really satisfying results. We adapted instructions from here and here with t-shirts found for about $5 each at Old Navy and Target.

Tie-dying is addictive. If we hadn’t run out of dye, I think we would have started coloring boxers and undershirts next. Maude is so pleased with how the shirts turned out she can hardly stand to keep them a secret.

Olive will put together her gifts this weekend. We’re not sure exactly what she’s making, but some of the ideas on the list are: ribbon belts, embellished headbands, baseball caps with vintage scout patches found on ebay, decoupaged wood blocks, and homemade hair conditioner. She also likes the idea of taking a photo portrait of each sibling and then framing it to display on their nightstand.

You can see more of what we made this year here. You can see what we made in past years here and here and here and here. What do you like to do for sibling gifts?

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandi Schaefer December 17, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Wow, you guys are just too creative! I love it!!


2 Smiling Mama December 17, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Wonderful gifts! I don’t quite understand the tutu instructions, though. Do you knot the tulle?


3 Design Mom December 17, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Smiling Mama, sorry if my explanation isn’t very clear. : ) If I have some time tonight, I’ll draw a sketch and scan it in.


4 ShannyLee December 17, 2008 at 4:18 pm

These are great gifts! I’ve been tormented with what to get my 9 year old step daughter. She’s really into art, but has EVERYTHING she could possibly want or need… except for Fabric Markers, that is. I didn’t even know they made those! I think I’ll get her a bunch of white fabric and those markers.. because I also got her a sewing machine. This way she can make stuff for other people.

Thanks for the inadvertent gift recommendation!


5 i love plum December 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm

love the ideas…the tutu is soooo pretty! xo


6 Pumpkin Petunia December 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm

My two oldest make their gifts too, it’s so much fun! My two year old is receiving a handmade tutu this year too!

I must find those fabric markers!!!


7 Cate December 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm

these are all so sweet! thanks for all the ideas and the inspiration. we’re making our gifts here, too, but the tutu will now have to be included. you’re the greatest. happy holidays!


8 sportyrls December 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm

What a beautiful tradition! My girls are still pretty little, but love everything homemade and would really love to make even a little something for their sibling sweetheart. Thanks for the post!


9 Barchbo December 17, 2008 at 5:42 pm

First of all, please tell Ralph how great he did – I am so impressed!

Okay, maybe even I could make that tutu?!Am tempted to try for my niece’s b-day!

I used to write stories for my family full of inside jokes, family references, “current events”…always with the recipient as the brilliant star. (my sister especially loved this since as the baby, she spent so much time as supporting cast.)

Unrelated: any photos of the rockin’ trombone solo?!


10 Beth December 17, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I am gettin on this crafty bandwagon. I want to tie die everything now. :)


11 CC December 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm

This is your best post ever. I love it.


12 chloe's mom December 17, 2008 at 6:07 pm

I want you to be my mom. You ROCK!


13 liz stanley December 17, 2008 at 6:28 pm

wow, love these especially the tutu. amazing how cheap they were too. i wish i were a blair sibling.


14 Heather Carson December 17, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Such a great idea! Probably too late for this year for us. In my keep file for sure! Thanks!


15 robin k December 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Blairs = Awesome


16 Anonymous December 17, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I agree that we need a full tutorial on the tutu. It’s amazing!


17 Faith December 17, 2008 at 8:15 pm

I love the tutu, too, I’m a little confused about how you attached the tulle to the elastic without sewing…could you elaborate a little more? I would love to try to make one of these for my four year old who loves anything princess!! Thanks!


18 Brian and Arika December 17, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Just when I thought you couldn’t get any cooler…..I just love these homemade gifts! You are super mom!


19 Denise December 17, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Gabby, I heart you! For so many reasons…but today in particular because we have been working on thie same tradition this year and I was feeling totally stuck on a few things. Your ideas will put us right over the edge. Thank you! And btw, homemade sibling gifts are the best! I love watching my kids think up things for their siblings. It’s so much more loving than just choosing another toy!


20 tonya December 17, 2008 at 9:11 pm

This is one of the sweetest traditions I have ever heard. Your children’s gifts are thoughtful and beautiful. They should be so so proud of themselves!


21 polkadot December 17, 2008 at 9:55 pm

you inspired me…my three year old maderecycled crayons for his sibs, my 6 year old made bubble bath (thanks forthe idea! container store had great 4 oz. nalgene bottles for this) and my 8 year old wrote books for her brothers on blank board books. i think everyone will be very happy this chanuka!


22 Tyler December 17, 2008 at 10:56 pm

what a sweet tradition. and a creative lot you have. we have one toddler thus far and she’s most fond of scotch tape ‘collages’ over crayon (a sure sign of brilliance). i’m sorry i’ve missed the fantastic giveaways lately. on a hectic hiatus. will visit again, love your space here.


23 Wnderlnd December 17, 2008 at 11:22 pm

What a lovely idea! I made a tutu for my daughter just this week following similar instrucitons as you, but I discovered the elastic stretched. It helped to stitch it 3 inches shorter than her waist measurement.

Next time I am going to try knoting the tulle onto 1 1/2 inch ribbon, and allowing 20 inches on each side for tying closed.


Oh, another idea is twisting shirts and old jeans and spray painting them with fabric paint or regular paint lightly. The effect is similar to dying, but with a twist.


24 littlecumulus December 18, 2008 at 12:06 am

What a treasure trove of a post! Thanks for sharing all your (and your kids’) wonderful ideas!


25 Becki December 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

This is our 5th year making gifts for each other. We have also loved it. Sometimes it ends up being much more expensive than if we went to the toy store, but it is ALWAYS worth it. The kids are so proud to give and happy to receive their gifts. Thanks for the new ideas!


26 Juwmama December 18, 2008 at 2:04 am

Gabby! Thanks so much. This is the first year we’re trying out the same thing, so I’m all for needing ideas!!!


27 Kenj December 18, 2008 at 4:12 am

We have 8 children, and so they draw names and this year everything is home made.

The 7yog drew her 15yo brother, and she made chocolate chip cookie dough balls, froze them, and plans to give them to him on Christmas morning. He’ll be thrilled to have them all to himself, to eat at his leisure.

The 5yog drew her 13yo brother, and since he likes to bake she made a jarred cookie dough mix.

None of the other gifts are edible, but given these two little girls’ ages and abilities, both were easy to pull off.


28 The Yellow Door Paperie December 18, 2008 at 8:42 am

Such great ideas! I can’t wait till my kids are old enough to give gifts!


29 lenniekat December 18, 2008 at 8:54 am

I love every aspect of this homemade idea… my only question is: HOW do you find time and space for working on each gift with the children individually, so the others don’t find out…?!


30 Vanessa~I Never Grew Up December 18, 2008 at 9:11 am

Those are all so lovely! I love the tutu with the ribbons. Going to go check out what you did in the years past!

This year on Cmas Eve we are going to open gratitude journals/notebooks we decorated for eachother. I plan to help them write in them every day and then we can make eachother new ones every year!


31 Elisabeth December 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

i love love this idea/tradition. and how you have your children catching the handmade giving essence. it is so much more satisfying, for the giver & the recipient.


32 Laura December 18, 2008 at 10:28 am

I love it. your kids are great and very talente. what a really lovely idea!


33 CailinMarie December 18, 2008 at 11:31 am

oh JOY!! Sarah Bray sent me here via twitter! I am delighted, inspired and so excited. now… is there a how to on modge podge? We could re do half the house!


34 Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck December 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I love it. We are totally stealing the sibling gift idea! :)


35 april kennedy December 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Oh…those are so inspiring! I am equally excited though with my 6 year old’s idea for a gift for his 11 year old sister. He came up with it completely on his own, with explanation. She loves the show “whale watchers” and the theme song for the show. He wants to get her an itunes card so she can download the theme song to her ipod. It was a well thought out gift…something that will truly please her.


36 Laura December 18, 2008 at 2:14 pm

You’ve inspired me! I loved your post last year too, but I thought my kids might be too young to “get it.” However, my preschooler wants to help make a tutu for her 2year old sister, the 2yo is making her big sis recycled crayons, and the two of them are making a block puzzle for the baby, courtesy of Martha Stewart’s site.

I was curious what width of elastic you used for the tutu–3/4″?


37 g.lee December 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm

thank you for the wonderful tutu idea! i want to make them for my nieces. i’m craft-challenged, so i look forward to the sketch and instructions!


38 jen December 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm

So, so, so excited to read this post, but (before reading it) I just had to tell you that my family (4 children) is doing the same thing this year, and it has been such a wonderful blessing. All of the kids have learned a new skill or two and made wonderful gifts for one another! My husband and I have also really enjoyed the time with the kids – crafting and creating! So thank you for the inspiration!


39 Laura B. December 18, 2008 at 4:42 pm

These are amazing!


40 Orange Peanut December 18, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Thanks for the handmade gift ideas! We will be instituting the handmade gift giving for our boys next year!


41 kg December 18, 2008 at 9:29 pm

It truly warms my heart to read how your children seem to not only enjoy making these gifts, but looking forward to giving them. Kudos to you for raising such sweet children. :-)


42 Androniki December 19, 2008 at 6:54 pm

I love the idea of sibling gifts. I got the idea from you last year and my girls got so much pleasure from making their own special gifts for each other. We plan on continuing this tradition every year. This year, my older daughter made homemade chocolates for her sisters and my younger twins made perfume (from a kit that we bought) for their older sister. They had so much fun! Thanks for all the great ideas and happy holidays!!


43 Allison December 20, 2008 at 9:56 am

I love that you do this. I was looking through your archives last week for ideas for my kids to make for each other this year. I’ll probably use all of your ideas over the course of time (if I can get my act together!) My biggest problem is finding time when they are away from each other so they don’t see what is being made.


44 Katie and Eric December 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Oh my goodness! I absolutely adore the tutu!


45 Lisa@lisaalbrecht.com December 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

LOVED the tutu so much that I went straight to Michael’s myself. My 7yo son and I whipped up the CUTEST tutus for his cousins and had a blast doing it. THANK YOU for giving me the idea that will help me keep the title of Favorite Aunt Lisa. =D


46 Design Mom December 23, 2008 at 12:39 pm

To anyone with questions about the tutu, I’ve just posted more detailed directions here: http://www.designmom.com/2008/12/tulle-tutorial.html


47 Leah January 13, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Thank you for such a wonderful idea, I made one for one of my son little friends who has a b-day party in a couple of weeks. It turn out adorable.


48 Mod Podge Amy December 23, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Cute! Awesome gifts.


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