Homemade Creative Play Gifts for Kids

How about offering your children fun and creative play gift ideas this Christmas? By creative play I am referring to supplying items that will help spur on and encourage their imagination, giving them freedom to explore and develop their minds. Here is a list of items that you can make at home inexpensively that will entertain your children for hours. We all love those frugal gift ideas, and the special touch of handmade items is an extra bonus.


Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.23.42 PMPlaysilks are a simple creative play item made out of fabric and dyed various colors. These playsilks can be used to play peek-a-boo, doll blankets, forts, dressup clothes, head scarves, and numerous other ideas. There is no end to the ideas that little ones can come up with for their use. Playsilks can be a bit spendy to purchase, but you can make your own with white silk scarves sold through Dharma Trading Company. Include your little ones in a fun project of dying them with Kool-Aid. Yes, it’s that simple! For a easy tutorial, visit here. You can also buy playsilks through A Toy Garden or Let’s Explore.


There are numerous free patterns online for costume and dress-up ideas that you can make yourself. Here are some favorites I have seen:

Fairy Wings
Tulle Skirt
Ladybug Costume

Add old watches, old oversized clothing, jewelry, wigs, hats, gloves, handbags, etc. and you will have a fun dress-up box! You also might want to check out the fun dress-up outfits produced by Melissa and Doug. They are cute!

Play Dough

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.46.51 PM

What kid doesn’t like play dough? Give them a batch with a knife, rolling pin, and a few cut outs, and they love it! Try your hand at making your own. It is safe for your family and easy! Make your own play dough with a few basic ingredients that you probably already have on hand: salt, flour, oil, cream of tarter and various food colorings. For this easy recipe, visit here. Make all different colors and store in little baby food jars to keep it fresh and soft. Or try yummy edible play dough made out of almond butter.

Building Blocks

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.21.55 PMWooden building blocks are a perfect gift for any little boy or girl. There is no end to ways you can assemble them in building castles, houses, and the like. Find scrap wood from your local lumberyard and Make your own wooden blocks with this tutorial.

Felt Toys – Kitchen Food Items

How about some fun homemade felt food? Kids love pretending like they are cooking. Why not encourage the creative chef in them? Check out these ideas for cute felt food to get you started:

Homemade Bread, Pan & Mitt kit
How to Make Felt Food – cheese, cookies, carrots, eggs, strawberries and other fruits
Food Sandwich

Waldorf Dolls

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.18.48 PMA homespun doll made out of completely natural and cuddly wool and cotton materials? I love it! Waldorf dolls are intentionally simple in order to inspire creativity, improving and strengthening the imagination. Check out the simple waldorf doll making kits available through Wier Dolls & Crafts or Magin Cabin. Boy & Girl patterns are available. Simple instructions are included with the kit or for further help, visit this tutorial.

Doll House

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 2.55.19 PMI love this idea of making it yourself doll house with a simple cardboard box and cut out pictures from magazines. You don’t need delux dollhouses when it comes to little girls. Inspire creativity and simplicity with this homemade edition. How fun!

Making Make-Believe: Fun Props, Costumes, and Creative Play Ideas – a fun book offering children ideas for creating a life-sized igloo from empty milk jugs or putting on a puppet show in their very own Lighted Box Stage. This book is filled with wonderful storybook play ideas, games, cooking fun, making costumes, and so much more.

Do you have any homemade creative play gift ideas to add?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

27 Responses to Homemade Creative Play Gifts for Kids

  1. Robby Tieken April 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    I discovered your web site from aol in fact it is superb. Thankx for providing such an incredible post…

  2. Wrinkle Treatment : October 26, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    my baby beddings are made up of super soft cotton and wool coverings:.:

  3. Katie Dickinson August 26, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    As Fall is the time to make your Christmas gifts (not December!) I wanted to offer links to my blog posts on making “notefolios” for little girls and also a “play” diaper bag and layette. These are wonderful homemade gifts that will last for years to come and are so fun to make. Happy sewing and happy giving!


  4. old timer knives July 19, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    I got these as a gift from my wish list. I chose them based on price and reviews I found here and elsewhere on the net. I’ve used them just about every day for a few months and I don’t know how I lived without them! They slice through everything easily. Definitely worth it.

  5. Melody May 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    I just saw this post for the first time. What great ideas!

    Another wonderful creative play gift for the slightly older child (8-12) is some pullies, small tarps, and some rope ~ Good for hours of creative play and building out-of-doors! This is especially fun for little boys.

  6. Jodi March 10, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    We love to make kool-aid playdough. No food coloring required just flour water and salt. Just web search kool-aid playdough and you will find recipes. The best part it smells great too!

  7. Rebecca December 23, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    I’m going to hang onto these links for when my son is bigger, great ideas!

  8. Jen December 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    I just ordered two Waldorf dolls for my daughters from an artisan off of etsy for Christmas. She blogged about it at http://www.acornpies.blogspot.com
    She did a really beautiful job and made them totally custom. She really enjoys the process and lovingly makes these little friends. And her prices were the best I could find for the quality and beauty she produces.

  9. Amy blogs @ River Rock Cottage December 7, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    FairyFinery.com has some wonderful capes that are also a great dress up item for both boys and girls. While a bit pricy, I found that their suede cloth capes are well made and durable. I really appreciated the velcro closure around the neck for safety reasons. With a red cape, my daughter can be anything from Red Riding Hood to Lucy or Susan from the Chronicles of Narnia!(Last year we added a wooden bow set & quiver to complete the gift.)

  10. Tracy G. December 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Our “Playsilks” are old sheets and receiving blankets. We are about to have our fifth child, so these items have begun to wear and have been recycled into great imaginative play things. :)

  11. Kate December 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks for the ideas!

    If you’re looking for a cheaper place to get the playsilks, I wrote a blog the other day on purchasing through coops. There is a coop I am a member of that runs the playsilks and I know they are a good deal! That coop is called Cloth Diaper Supplies. http://modernalternativemama.blogspot.com/2009/12/buying-in-bulk-and-through-coops.html

  12. Jenni @ Dr Mom Essentials December 6, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Thanks for sharing such fun, great ideas. Even my older kids enjoy dressing up and playing with play dough! The doll house looks terrific for imaginative play without spending so much. Often when kids help make things themselves, they end up playing with them more (and also taking care of them). Love your ideas!

  13. Dina December 6, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    These are fantastic ideas! Icannot wait to make some of these for my kids!

  14. Mrs. Yoder December 5, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    I’ve been wibbling for several days now over what to make my daughter for Christmas. I had my son set with a board game (Wildcraft herbal adventure game), a chess set, and a microscope. I needed 3 things for my daughter and all I had that I knew I could do was a dress I’m working on now. I wanted to make her a cloth dolly, but I couldn’t find any patterns I liked.

    Then you post! And such an angel you are to have provided lovely links to awesome places for me to dig into for ideas. Bless you for having this blog. You’re my favourite!

    Mrs. Yoder

  15. Amber Lee December 5, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    I love this post for a reason that isn’t Christmas: for ideas when I have my own children.

  16. Heather R December 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Oh what perfect timing you have in writing this post! I was just looking into getting some play silks for my 8month old for Christmas (He’s totally into playing peek-a-boo, and things with bright colors, and fun textures! I also thought they would be something he could grow into!) My problem was the prices I was finding! But I never thought of buying plain white, and dying them myself! (I also didn’t know where to find them) What a wonderful idea! Thank you so much!

    Something else I came up with was Bean Bags! I just bought some fun textured fabrics (silk/satin, fleece, seersucker, flannel, denim, wool, etc..(some of these I already had on hand from previous projects)), each in a different bright color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, etc..) and plan on cutting/sewing them into three basic shapes (circle, square, and triangle). My husband will be making a small box with rope handles, that can be used by our little boy to fill/empty (another game of interest at this age), and double as storage!

  17. Rebecca (Green Baby Guide) December 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    These are all great ideas. I think I will bookmark this page for future reference. And thanks for showing off my deluxe cardboard dollhouse! I made a cardboard television set for the dolls as well. Here’s a link: http://greenbabyguide.com/2009/09/25/more-eco-craftiness-the-diy-doll-television-set/

  18. Becky December 4, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    What a great post! I started crocheting my 19 month old son play food for his kitchen. They look adorable, are easy to make, and didn’t cost a lot. The other bonus is that he won’t be chewing on plastic food! Thanks for the Waldorf doll info, I think this might be another project for me to make for him. He has a been showing interest in babies and I would love to encourage that.

  19. Kika December 4, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    My four year old loves to dress up and dance/sing around the house. Recently (at her desperate request) we made her a “beauty shop kit”. My older daughter donated a special bag for this and we filled it with little brushes, mirror, a dollar-store hair dryer, etc. She LOVES THIS and we all get ‘beautified’ on a regular basis:) The whole thing cost very little to put together and provides my princess with hours of entertainment.

  20. Anna December 4, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    I made a gift for my cousin’s kids last year. A mail set! I bought a $2 canvas bag at Hobby Lobby and embroidered (really simple stitching) MAIL on it. I cut up white fleece into envelopes and embroidered their names on each envelope. I also added a few that say MAIL and JESUS to round out the set, especially for playmates that wouldn’t feel left out. Then I sewed two squares together so that the embroidery was hidden. Voila! I should have embroidered stamps and such, but I was either intimidated or ran out of time. I can’t take all the credit for it, I saw the idea at One Pretty Thing, which was a link to another blog.

  21. Katie December 4, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    Thanks for all the creative ideas for handmade gifts. I actually just finished making a Waldorf style heavy baby for my youngest for Christmas. I used a kit from Joy’s Waldorf Dolls. I am also planning on making a couple of cloth checkerboards for gifts this year and some child size aprons paired with some small cooking utensils. The links for the felt food are great. I don’t know if I will be able to squeeze another project in my schedule this year, but I will definitely be keeping it in mind for another gift giving opportunity.

  22. megan December 4, 2009 at 7:17 am #

    I love the playsilks idea…and that book looks like a great resource. I’m always looking for creative and useful things to make! Thanks for sharing!!

  23. sara December 4, 2009 at 6:52 am #

    I just had to mention “A Toy Garden” for children’s silk scarves as I was so happy to find them. They say they try to keep their prices affordable on silk so that every child can have them. They sell packs of 8 for $40 which is a terriffic price! They are also thick silk. I think I remember them saying that it is the thickest you can by on the market for play silks. I am not positive about that, but do know that compared to others we bought at first, they are very, very nice.

  24. Sarah M December 4, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    LOVE this post. I love creating things for my kids, this is such a great resource to have all of these tutorials in one place, and I’ve been saving some wood scraps for those wooden blocks, so thanks fo rhtat link!!
    Sarah M

  25. Elizabeth from The Nourished Life December 4, 2009 at 5:45 am #

    My daughter has a nice wooden doll house her grandparents gave her a while back, but it sits in the closet most of the time and we kind of forget we have it.

    But a couple of months ago my daughter saw some cardboard boxes around and decided to turn them into dollhouses! She got out her markers and drew windows and doors, flowers and whatnot all over the outside. She asked Daddy to cut a door out for her. And let me tell you, she played with these for hours and hours and hours.

    Not to mention that Play-doh frees up untold hours for me as my son explores the shapes and colors he can make by mixing them altogether. The only trick is persuading him to clean up his own mess. ;)

    One idea I loved as a child and that my children love just as much: homemade forts! Drape a large sheet over a table or some chairs, or the bottom bunk on a bunkbead – instant imaginitive play! My kids will invent all kinds of games to play with their fort, or they just enjoy it as a private getaway to play with books and toys in a new environment.

  26. Rachel December 4, 2009 at 4:44 am #

    The dollhouse idea is just what I need to give my kiddoes something to do while I finish up my schoolwork for this semester! I am tired of putting them in front of the TV. THANK YOU.

  27. Tonya December 4, 2009 at 3:58 am #

    These are great ideas. We make building blocks of branches which is really easy to do. you have a great blog. Warm wishes.