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Cool Gifts for Kids

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Budding Artist

Here's what to give that creative kid on your list who seems to have everything—a storage box full of art supplies. All it takes is a little time to assemble the ingredients and paint the child's name on the box.

Present Pointers

A college student would appreciate a “movie time” basket—the latest video releases wrapped up with a box of microwave popcorn, hot chocolate, and soup mixes.

Time frame: One to two hours

Level: Easy

What you need:

For the box:

  • Plastic storage box (The see-through plastic ones are nice to paint on.)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Stencils (optional)

To put inside the box:

  • Sketch pad
  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrushes
  • How-to-draw books (for example, how to draw animals or how to draw faces)
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Coloring books for younger children
  • Construction paper
  • Blunt scissors
  • Stencils
  1. Use acrylic paints to write the child's name on the box. If you like, you could include some simple flower designs, or you could use your stencils to create a special effect.
  2. Assemble all the supplies and place them in the plastic storage box.

It's Showtime!

Present Pointers

If you enjoyed making puppets out of foam sheets, you might want to try making a Nativity scene. Use blue foam for Mary's gown and brown for Joseph's garments. Include a manger and baby Jesus, three wise men, an angel, and barn animals. Fashion a stable out of the shoe box and add a large white foam star on top.

Get the creative juices flowing by giving the kids on your list this puppet show in a box. Make these easy finger puppets from craft store foam and include the ingredients to make their own puppets to add to the fun.

Time frame: Two to four hours

Level: Moderately easy

What you need:

  • Several different-colored foam sheets, including six sheets with sticky backing for the stage
  • Scissors
  • Foam sheet glue or glue gun
  • Shoebox for stage
  • Extra foam sheets, glue, feathers, pompoms, blunt scissors
  1. Make the body of your puppet by cutting a 312 x 2-inch rectangle of foam. Glue the two ends together to form a body that can slip over your finger.
  2. Make a head and decorate the puppet following the samples or use your imagination to create your own designs. (You can also buy precut foam animals and shapes and glue them onto the puppet body.)
  3. For the stage: Cover a shoebox with the sticky back foam inside and out. Cut a hole in the bottom of the box, large enough for your fist to go through. Decorate the opening with foam stars. Cut out lights and microphone shapes and glue them inside the box.
  4. Assemble several foam sheets of different colors, glue, feathers, pompoms, and blunt scissors so the kids can create their own puppets to add to the cast.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Great Gifts © 2001 by Marilee LeBon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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