craft bookFor a lot of us, money is pretty tight this year. Even if you're feeling flush, sometimes it's more fun to spend time and effort instead of a lot of money to make your child a gift they'll (hopefully) treasure.

Most of these gift ideas require minimal sewing skills and a small outlay of cash for supplies, but some recycled things you might already have around the house. And while they take some time, you could probably get at least a few of these done well before the holiday. Let the crafting begin!

1. Homemade story book. I love this idea ... you snap some photos of the child's favorite places, write a story to go along with it, and have it bound into a book. You could use photos of your child or of a special toy. I love how Dutch and Wood from Sweet Juniper did this; Macworld also has a tutorial to make a photo journal on a Mac.

2. Superhero capes and eye masks. What kid doesn't like pretending to be a superhero? While this requires sewing, it's very little of it and almost all straight lines ... even a clumsy crafter like myself could have a set of these whipped up for my kids in an evening. Moms Rising has great step by step instructions to make a superhero cape; Shannon Makes Stuff does too, and a pattern for a superhero eye mask as well.

3. Magnetic travel board games. If you have older kids and some holiday travel coming up, slip these into their stockings. Artists Helping Children has printable boards for backgammon, checkers and chess, and more ... all you need are magnetic tape and some Altoids tins (ask around, I'm sure anyone who likes Altoids has a stash!).

4. Chalk, play dough, or "crazy putty." Did you know you can make these things yourself? Neither did I, but you can! You could have a lot of fun varying colors and even scents for these. Wise Bread has recipes for chalk, play dough, and crazy putty along with more ideas.

5. Glove animals. If your house is like mine, there's a glove-eating monster in the closet that leaves one of each pair behind. Put those lonely mitts to good use with this extra cute baby chipmunk stuffed animal made out of a lost glove. Your handiwork could even be the star of the photo book mentioned above!

6. Jacob's Ladder. A friend brought our kids one of these old-fashioned wooden toys last Christmas, and they are really fun to play with ... legend has it one was found in King Tut's tomb! You can make your own Jacob's Ladder using your child's favorite colors.

7. Hollow book. This would be good for an older kid, especially one with pesky younger siblings who snoop into their stuff. Scout thrift stores for an old hardback. Bonus points if you can find a copy of a book they already love, or one reflecting their interests. How to Do Stuff has instructions on how to make a hollow book.

8. Artist's organizer. I included this because my 7-year-old daughter was sitting next to me while I was looking for ideas and said, "I WANT that!" Another sewing project, but again, one that requires minimal skills and time; this would be great to take with you to a restaurant or doctor's office to keep kids amused during long waits. Martha Stewart (of course) has easily customizable instructions to make an organizer for your child's favorite art supplies.

9. Family photo coloring pages. If you're a Photoshop whiz, use the layering function to create a coloring book of your own photos. You could take photos of your pet, your house, and yourself, as well as tons of your child's photos. Fototiller has step-by-step instructions on using Photoshop to make coloring pages in three simple steps.

10. Handmade journals. This is probably the most complicated craft here, but would make great gifts for preteens and teens as well as your own friends ... or maybe even a sketchbook for a younger child. You can customize the covers and endpapers to the recipient's taste and interests, too. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will take you through the process, or Curiously Crafty has a book-binding tutorial.

Have you made any gifts for your children?


Image via WiseWellWoman/Flickr