Craft kits

As winter gift-giving occasions approach, the crafty are getting, well, crafty, while the rest of us who can’t bead, glue, weave, paint, or draw a straight line are wondering how to make a gift card look “cute.” There is a simple solution for the non-crafty who still want to imbue gifts with a DIY touch: kits. Putting useful items together in neat little packages won’t take an art degree, break the bank, or keep you wrapping gifts until Christmas morning, but your giftees will still know you cared enough to do it yourself. Hallelujah!

To start, make a list of everything you’ll need for your kits. Many of the items can be found inexpensively—hit the dollar store first! —but their combined usefulness will make your gifts priceless, or at least much appreciated. that makes them priceless (or at least highly appreciated).

For the “kids”

Your kids may be in their thirties or forties, but you’ll never stop caring about their wellbeing. Go practical and packable with a winter car safety kit. Start with a canvas duffle bag or bookbag, then purchase the following items to put inside: 

• Small LED flashlight, with batteries

• Gloves and hat

• Box of granola bars

• Bottles of water

• Emergency blanket

• Jumper cables

• First aid supplies

• Multi-tool (like a pocketknife with extra features)

• Road flares

• Windshield cleaner

• Ice scraper

• Hand warmers


If you are going for a “deluxe” kit, add a new snowbrush and a small bag of sand for traction in snow. If your son or daughter often travels with your “grandpooch,” throw in a box of biscuits. Stick on a bow and you’re good to go.


For the big grandkids

If your grandkids are fresh out of the nest, off at college, or working new jobs, put together a handy sewing kit in a mason jar for quick repairs. (It’s been unscientifically proven that anything looks adorable in a mason jar.) Think of all the bits and baubles that can keep a wardrobe snafu from turning into an embarrassing disaster, and toss them in:

• Three spools of thread in white, navy, and black (these colors will work for most clothing, at least temporarily)

Small pair of scissors

• Handful of common buttons—little white shirt buttons and a couple that would keep pants closed

• Safety pins in a few sizes 

• Two or three sewing needles stuck into a wine cork (for safety)


For a fancy touch, attach a personalized label or tie a ribbon around the jar. You can even miniaturize this kit for a purse or backpack—put the essentials (one spool of thread, one needle, two buttons, etc.) inside a small pouch. The next time the recipient suffers from a fallen hem or a popped button, they’ll call (or text) to thank you! 


For the little grandkids

To little ones, snow isn’t a travel impediment or something to shovel, it’s fun—and nothing is better than a snow day. Help them prepare for the next one with a snow day kit packed full of treats and cozy gear. Pick up an inexpensive tote printed with their favorite cartoon character and fill it with the following: 

• Hat and mittens

• Thick socks

• Snow brick mold (for fort construction, of course)

• Book 

• Puzzle

• Hot cocoa packets

• Marshmallows


The book, puzzle, and cocoa will keep them busy while they come inside to thaw out a bit, then they can layer back up for fights and forts.


With the grandkids

Be a hero and take pressure off parents by helping your grandkids make gifts for teachers and neighbors. Jar cookies are a classic for a reason: everyone loves cookies. For this project, you’ll need quart-size mason jars plus measured dry ingredients from a recipe you like. For example, for chocolate chip cookies:

• 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

• ¾ cup granulated (white) sugar

• ¾ cup brown sugar

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• ½ teaspoon salt

Layer the ingredients in the jar one at a time—it will resemble “sand art”—and cap the full jar with a lid and ring. Write the missing wet ingredients, with amounts and instructions, on one side of a large label, and add a thoughtful message (or child’s drawing) on the other. Tie it on with a piece of ribbon and admire your newfound craftiness. The kids will be proud they helped, and you can fill an extra jar to put in your own cupboard for baking fun the next time they come over. 


Rebecca Cuthbert lives and writes in Dunkirk. She is a longtime contributor to Forever Young. 


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