So this year, and hopefully something we maintain over the years to come, is to have essentially 5 gifts for each of the kids. I really like the idea of 'something they want, something they need, and something to read'. I also would like to add something to wear and something I think they should have. I have also moved very much in the direction of open ended and simple toys for both my home and the nursery school program and I am really liking the way these items inspire and require the children to use their own creativity and imagination. A great article can be found here about the benefits of simple, open ended toys for young children.
Here are a few of the items that I am aspiring to make for the kids this year.
Dying more play silks for both kids - larger ones for Ewan and smaller for Isla. I first did 5 this past spring and Ewan absolutely loves them, they are definitely one of his favourite activities. He uses them for dancing, as superhero capes, making birds nest - it really depends on the day!
Another idea for Ewan is a felt crown and two swords that I have sewn for him to go along with a wooden hobby horse that I purchased. He has begun to get into knights and dragons, so I think this will be big hit. Both were very simple projects and I really like the way they turned out. I found the crown pattern here and the sword pattern here.
I have also made a Fort Building kit for Ewan as he is all about using blankets to create his own little spaces. I found this idea here and I loved the simplicity of it. With a some suction hooks, a flash light and clothes pins from the dollar store, a bed sheet and some fabric scraps I was able to make this kit and I am sure he will be so excited to start building.
I also made both kids some Christmas pyjama's. I have just recently learned to sew and these were considerably harder projects and I kind of got bored of doing them by the end. Also, I messed up Isla's pj's and all of her penguins are standing on their heads, lol, I am not going for perfection with any of these items! I do like the idea of making them Christmas pj's each year though - a tradition a may try to keep up.
I have also invested in a set of Schleich animals for Ewan, which I expect should last forever and can be brought to A Gym Tale after he is finished with them. To add to this set, I am making a play mat using felt with trees, water, mountains etc. as a dedicated space for him to use with the animals.
And yes, I realize I have gone over the five gifts. But not nearly as much as last year and I am really happy with the potential each of these items have to hopefully inspire his imagination.
As for Isla, in addition to the play silks, which I order online from Dharma Trading, I will be making her a set of bean bags - ideally the alphabet, but she may only get her name depending on time;) I found a great pattern for them here. For Isla's age I think the bean bags will be great for stacking, throwing, dumping or just eating.
I have also ordered a soft doll and a little wooden stroller for her from various shops on Etsy - a great site to check out for both ideas and to purchase the hand made items that you do not have time to do yourself!