Holiday Gift Guide: Creator Edition
One of our favorite things to do here at Play Eat Grow is to equip parents with great resources. We know that families are busy and the last thing many parents want to do is spend a hundred hours scouring the internet for the perfect gift.
Weirdly, we LOVE it.
Each year we do gift guides a little bit differently, and so this year, we’re creating 4 guides based on interests:
Next up: Creator Edition
My family loves creating. That sounds extremely adorable and pollyanna-like, right? My little children gathered around the table and dreaming things up and making it happen?
It IS cool that my kids love to create so much– creativity is one of our family values, so it’s something we practice a lot. BUT, what this really means is that our house is a mess. all. the. time. Cardboard, yarn, stickers, paper, a hundred million writing utensils all over the house. I’ve spent years of my life trying to get it all under control, and while I haven’t completely given up, I’m learning to adjust my expectations. I’ll have a clean house in 10 years.
If you can relate, this gift guide might be for you!
A Giant Cardboard Box
Okay, so here’s the deal: for kids who love to create, we gotta give them OPTIONS. One of the best gifts we can give is nearly free: a giant cardboard box filled with raw materials and days of unstructured free time.
- Empty food boxes of various sizes
- Yarn (don’t buy it new- ask around, someone has some lying around they don’t want anymore)
- Old magazines
- Empty toilet paper, paper towel, and gift wrap rolls
- different types of tapes, scissors, etc.
You supply the raw material (cardboard) and this construction set helps you build! Everything is safe for young children AND the tools are reusable.
Paint sticks are fun tools for little hands. We love this set by Little Brain because the colors are vibrant and they are really easy to use. It has a simple twist up, twist down mechanism (think: glue stick) and the paint dries in 60 seconds, which means you won’t have a gazillion papers laying around “drying” all day. You can use these on paper, cardboard, windows, etc.
I have a love-hate relationship with gel pens. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE gel pens. They come in so many colors (metallic! neon! pastel!) and are smooth and fun to write with…. when they work. I have bought a lot of bad gel pens, but recently we came across these, and they work beautifully! You can buy a set that comes with a stair-step stand OR in a travel case. We chose the travel case because the kids like to take them over friends’ houses or when we travel to see family throughout the year. Either way you go, these pens are fantastic!
How to Draw books
My kiddos have been checking out a variety of how-to-draw books from the library over the last 6-9 months. Most of the ones we’ve checked out have been good, but there are a few our kids have LOVED. We don’t buy a ton of books (who needs to when we have a great public library?!), but we have bought a couple of their favorites because we found ourselves requesting them from the library again and again. Don’t tell, but the girls will be getting a couple more in December!
How to Draw Cute Stuff: Hands down the favorite of our house. The girls take it everywhere- soccer field, grandma’s house, in the car going on errands. The style of drawing this book teaches is Japanese kawaii, marked by simplicity, rounded shapes, cuteness, and personifying inanimate objects.
How to Draw Cute Animals: This is a new one that is also Japanese kawaii, and it focuses on animals in particular. It’s by the same author as the one above, so if your kiddo likes How to Draw Cute Stuff, this would be a good follow-up.
The Drawing Book for Kids: 366 Daily Things to Draw: This book is great for boys or girls, and provides your little artist with a new thing to draw every day!
Step-by-Step Drawing: This was our first ever drawing book, which is great for kids who are just starting out! I think our kids started using this one in Kindergarten. It was a challenge for them, but they felt so successful when they had their finished image!
Big Book of Everything Manga: Our 9-year-old went through a serious manga phase, and what we learned is that you have to be super careful with manga books because we found that the drawings can be a bit mature. This manga book was her go-to and we were really happy with it. Perfect for beginners!
For kids who have mastered the fine motor skills, a sewing kit is a great way to take creating up a notch.
For younger kids who are just starting out, we’ve used the American Girl sewing kits: Foxes, raccoons, and dogs. They come with large plastic needles, clear directions, and pre-cut/pre-holed projects. They have a whole slew of projects to choose from, allowing younger kids to master the basics before moving onto the next stage.
For older kids, we like this one by Buttonbag. It comes with materials and instructions for some fun kid-friendly projects: three elephants, a cat, and kitten, a drawstring bag, a pincushion, etc. Instead of being pre-cut, the materials are “raw”: uncut fabric, string, real metal needles, buttons, etc. The quality of the materials is excellent and my 9-year-old loves having a fun case to keep it all in.
I get that puzzles aren’t exactly creative, but this Ravensburger puzzle, The Artist’s Desk, has a strong creative theme :). Coming in strong with 1,000 pieces, this might be more of a “family gift” :). We enjoy putting together a big puzzle over winter break, and we’ll sometimes listen to an audiobook while we’re all working on it together. Ravensburger is by far our favorite puzzle company- their designs are colorful and the pieces are made to last.
Maybe you think sticker books are only for little kids? Think again, my friend! Workman Publishing has a line of sticker books for elementary kids- adults called Paint By Sticker. For younger elementary, I recommend Zoo Animals. The pages are smaller and the stickers are a little bigger, both of which make for a faster completion rate. This is important for younger kids :).
We’ve made slime approximately 1,000 times and so you might say we have an obsession :). Making slime is easy… once you have the supplies This slime-making kit by Wee Cool comes with everything you need- bowls, powder, glitter, colors, etc. We’ve found that this kind of kit is perfect for playdates– the kids have fun figuring it out independently and then the friend gets to take home the slime they made! This kit, in particular, has been flying off the virtual shelves, so if you can’t find it online, try your local Target.
We have been so impressed by the quality of Klutz craft kids. They’ve consistently made their way into our gift guides and summer learning guides for the past couple years. This year, they’ve put out the Mini Bake Shop, where kids can create macaroons, cakes, etc. out of clay! The kit provides the clay, instructions, and tools. After the clay runs out, we just buy more from our local craft store and make again!
I think that’s it for this year! If you want more ideas (especially for younger kids), you can click the images below to check out our past little artist gift guides:
A huge thanks to WeeCool, ButtonBag, and Little Brain for partnering with me on this post! They provided a couple products for me to review (at my request). It’s important to us to only recommend products we love because we know that every dollar counts!