Homemade birthday gift: book kits
If your eldest child is an infant, you probably haven't yet experienced the craziness of birthday parties. Just wait until preschool, rather, elementary school! They come fast and furious and frequently. My kids have attended a wide array of parties, from the at-home, no-gift parties to the big-production-destination parties. You can guess my preference, but the kids have just as much fun at one as the other. But it can get really expensive if you're having to purchase a lot of presents for kids whose tastes you don't know that well.
In the beginning I used to spend about $15-20 on a gift until we hit preschool and there were just too many parties. Rather than make the choice between food or birthday presents, I just scaled it way back. Our standard gift became this I Can Draw Animals book and a box of colored pencils. (This book consumed my daughter from ages 3-5.) As the kids have gotten older, I've altered our standard gift to this DIY book kit. The books were totally inspired by Angry Chicken and SouleMama (both of whom put mine to shame), and I've made boatloads of them for my kids who fill them up with drawings and stories. So now for gifts I stitch up six, using about six pieces of basic recycled copy paper folded in half for the innards and whatever cardstock I have on hand. I just do a straight stitch down the spine with a denim needle, backtracking at the beginning and end to keep the thread from unravelling. I make up some blank labels with a byline in hopes it will inspire the recipient to create.
The books go into these white decorate-yourself boxes from Michael's, which cost a couple of bucks. A box of colored pencils ($3) and a writing pencil finish it off. These eco-friendly colored pencils are even better and only $2 more (must order some now). I used to include a little pencil sharpener, but those darn things DO NOT WORK! They work for about a day and then they just stop sharpening. I don't understand it. Sometimes instead of the white box I'll use a cool envelope that I've found in the depths of my office or a similar box that we already have. So far the feedback has been positive from both kids and parents.
I've linked to it recently, but this post from the Simple Green Frugal Coop has some nice ideas for DIY birthday gifts. Do you have any good ones to share?