Well, here it is just a few weeks before Christmas and the last of the toymaking fairs is here. Just so you all remember, this fun sharing was born of this discussion we had way back in August, which got us all thinking about how to cultivate beauty in our homes and in our children's lives. That discussion prompted a phone call from me to Alice, my resident guru for all things hand-made. That phone call prompted this post at Alice's blog. That post prompted the idea for these fairs, and here is the first group of thoughts on the idea. The first fair yielded many great ideas, and since then, Rachel, Soul of the Home, and Fe have all provided lots of great ideas and inspiration for those of looking to bring the beauty of handmade toys into our home.
For my part, I have been busily getting ready for a more handmade Christmas than ever, and rethinking why we went this road in the first place. I decided based on those early conversations that I wanted to be more intentional about toy choices for my children and the way they spent their play time. Then I began reading this book and was so convinced I wanted to provide the types of beautiful handmade materials pictured here for my children.
So on the one hand, I wanted to intentionally begin making toys for my children or choosing handmade, heirloom quality toys. And I wanted to approach Christmas in such a way that we gave gifts that were meaningful because they were handmade by us or because they were hand-crafted and of artisan quality. I spent hours looking through natural toy websites. You can find a great list on the right hand sidebar of Elizabeth's blog. And here's what made the list this Christmas:
I am making dress-up cloaks for the boys, who have been envious ever since they saw these at Alice's house. They are hooded and reversible: silver/gray; white/brown; blue/elf green; red/black. I am using this Simplicity pattern, rather loosely I might add.
I am also making play silks of my own. I just purchase some 1 yard lengths of chiffon fabrics in brighter colors than the neutrals of the capes and cut the fabric down the middle so I made two silks out of each yard. I sewed a quick roll hem around all four sides and they were done. I can't take pictures though because there are too many young'uns perusing the files on this computer to risk it.
Play silks seem to be a great try for a first toy-making venture. They're open-ended and easy to adapt for a variety of uses. You can flex and bend materials and techniques depending on what's available to you. Mary shows us her version here.
Another hand-made toy on the list is this awesome board game that I saw in Family Fun Magazine. I am really excited to give this to them as we often have a hard time finding board games that interest all the kids. Usually the thins that Quinn likes are too difficult for the younger crowd and the games they like bore Quinn. This game, based on our own family's experiences, should be a hit with everyone.
Lastly, the kids will be receiving a "small" gift for Epiphany. They will each have two Wee Felt Folk tucked inside their shoes that morning.
Beth sent the following idea: "I have two boys, ages 10 and 11. They love to bake. This year they both asked for oven mitts for Christmas. Blue for Nathan and Red for Nolan. I just purchased the fabric and have it all prewashed and ironed and ready to go. I would be very interested in other ideas for a hand-made Christmas for pre-teen boys."
I'm thinking as our boys get toward their teens I will start giving them their own tools for Christmas...one really nice thing that they can collect and use to learn a craft of their own. Pocket-knives to whittle with would be a nice place for boys to start as well as some basic carving tools and instruction. Then on to some basic carpentry tools....could be fun! Not so much handmade, but encouraging their own handyman skills.
For more great ideas, head on over to see Lisa at Are We There Yet? You may just be clicking all day. I think I already have a list of birthday gifts to make now.
Even if you did not plan a handmade Christmas or are not crafty by nature, I encourage you to try your hand at some simple gift for your kids this season. The joy of a small thing made with love especially for him/ her is something each child deserves to know. For a heartwarming story of about a handmade Christmas, read Apple Tree Christmas.
There are some You Tube tutorials for very cool paper toys here. And here are a ton of links for free toy and doll making patterns. And here are some instructions for fun ( and fairly easy) toy-making projects.
I hope you will find some inspiration here to share the magic of a handmade toy with someone you love.