For a number of years, I let my children pick out holiday gifts for their mother.
After the ice cream maker and the disco ball, we began calling these “Homer gifts.” They are named after the animated character, not the Greek poet; epic fail, not epic scale. Really, the boys were picking out things they wanted for themselves.
So now we try to make something that she might want and use, but with a personal touch. As they have gotten older, the macaroni necklaces do not hold much interest for them, so I am always on the lookout for creative projects for them to give as presents.
The great thing about projects like these is that the kids remember quality time spent working together, usually learn something in the process and have a sense of pride in the result that they would not have from simply buying something at a store.
“Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with your Kids,” by David Erik Nelson, has projects from a simple treasure box, which could be turned into a jewelry box, to inexpensive screen printing, to a personalized shirt, as well as other projects kids can build for themselves.
“Ductigami: The Art of the Tape,” by Joe Wilson, is full of inexpensive, durable projects ranging from a wallet to an apron to a full shower curtain. Most people have a roll or two of duct tape around the house. It comes in a range of colors and even some patterns if you prefer to be more creative than using the standard gray.
“Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share,” by Ken Denmead, takes the duct tape wallet a step further and adds a light to it. You also can find out how to crochet a bag for dice or build a lamp using Legos and a few electronic components.
“Woodburning with Style,” by Simon Easton, shows how to take simple wooden objects, such as a picture frame, and add some personal flair to it. Plus, hot metal and the smell of burning wood create lasting memories while creating presents. Just be careful so those memories aren’t traumatic.
“The Complete Book of Decorative Knots,” by Geoffrey Budworth, has great illustrations on how to weave many knots. They can be used to make jewelry, key chains, a rug or a handle grip for just about anything. If you want to make things even fancier, there are more decorative knots in “75 Chinese, Celtic, and Ornamental Knots,” by Laura Williams and Elise Mann.
Although these books do have projects my children would enjoy, they are not limited to boys or children. The Iowa City Public Library also has books and DVDs for all levels of makers for creating almost anything you can imagine. Stop by the Children’s Desk on the first floor or the Reference Desk on the second floor and let us help you find your next project.