Creative gift ideas

Individual kits make gifts special.

As we approach the coming holidays, with budgets firmly in mind, are you looking for a gift that sparks a child’s curiosity and imagination? Try putting together a personalized kit to reflect the interest of the youngster. The kit may be as elaborate or as simple as your budget and time allows. A few kit ideas from Michigan State University Extension include:

Baking kit

A large mixing bowl will hold a children’s cookbook. Add measuring spoons, packaged puddings and mixes, or the ingredients from one of your favorite family recipes. Add a recipe box to collect new recipes. Include a blank book then the child may interview grandparents and other family members to make a family recipe book to be published for the family.

Beauty kit

Fill a basket with pretty soaps, shampoo, conditioner and clear nail polish and even a new toothbrush and toothpaste. A gift certificate to a favorite salon might also be an exciting edition.

Fix-it kit

Obtain a set of basic screwdrivers, a hammer and wrenches and add a discarded telephone or radio; let your child discover how machines are constructed. Include wood scraps precut for a birdhouse, treasure box, or dollhouse, with instructions. Add a small can of paint or stain, a brush, and an IOU for help with a project.

MSU adventures

There are several interactive sites for children within the MSU community. Create a coupon book with campus sites listed to visit in 2015. Use Michigan's 4-H Children's Garden as a starting point. Other interesting sites include the MSU Museum and the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum.

Book kit

Fill a canvas bag with a fancy bookmark and several paperback books (most libraries have used book sales). A new pen and notebook could be added to encourage your child to write their own book or journal about books they read. Reading a “chapter” book together could is also a wonderful family activity.

What’ s out there?

To encourage outside adventure, place a field tracking book, binoculars, a journal and description of the property where you live in a storage tub. Sketch the wildlife trails, trees, vegetation and boundaries to form a picture of what is out there. Photos or a video could highlight the map drawing.

Art kit

Everyone enjoys paint, glitter, stickers, markers, and crayons. Add a few cardboard matte frames to display any masterpieces. Purchase paper that will encourage a budding artist.

Family history kit

Use a large plastic tub, treasure chest or tin to collect the tools needed to research family history. Purchase a genealogy book. Include an inexpensive recorder. Fill-in your family tree by interviewing generations. Create a family map with locations of family branches highlighted. This can be as detailed as the child is to pursue and understand.

Map kit

Fill a canvas bag with purchased or free maps. You might put world, national, state and county maps in your kit. County Plat Books are also available at many Michigan State University Extension offices. Add a “geography” aid such as a GPS receiver. Begin planning your summer vacation as a family with travel books for children. With open imaginations plan the perfect trip for the entire family.

Bird watching kit

Use a sturdy backpack to hold the kit. Add a bird identification book and binoculars. Perhaps add the plans for a bird feeder and bird houses to build for spring. An inexpensive camera could be added to capture candid pictures. A notebook could also be included to record sightings.

An alphabet book

For the preschoolers on your list; you might make an alphabet book with each letter identifying something in your child’s life: “A” is for apples that grow on the farm, “B’ is for bath, “C” for car, cat or cookie. This could be done in an inexpensive album or printed out on card stock and either spiral-bound at a craft shop or punched and put in a three-ring binder.

These are just a few ideas to inspire imaginations; a personalized present makes a great gift. For more information on Michigan 4-H programs, visit MSU Extension.

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