At New Jammies, we love the idea of kids learning and playing in the kitchen to help make gifts for their loved ones with found objects and fresh-from-the-pantry ingredients. From homemade pine cone bird feeders to a healthy vegetarian bean soup mix, these kid-friendly ideas for gift-giving help us inspire creativity and nurture imagination. They can be gifted during the holidays or year-round for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Happy holidays from our family to yours!
Birds of a Feather
The Outdoor Parent, online at theoutdoorparent.com, is a useful website for moms, dads and caregivers with a message we love featuring content from “surfers, climbers and skiers who have embarked the greatest adventure — parenthood.” They offer their stories, perspective and reflections on parenting, children and the outdoor lifestyle. One holiday or birthday gift idea great for bird watchers and nature lovers that attracts a wide range of winged species winter through fall is Outdoor Parent contributor Becca Cahall’s Pinecone Bird Feeder project for kids.
Pinecones (preferably opened)
String or ribbon
Peanut butter/suet/vegetable shortening
Oatmeal and/or cornmeal
Birdseed (make it high-energy with sunflower seeds and or chopped nuts)
Plate or pie tin
1.Tie ribbon or string around the pine cone.
2. Mix ½ cup peanut butter/suet/shortening with ½ cup oats/cornmeal.
3. Use a spoon (or fingers!) to spread the mixture onto the pinecone. Make sure to get the mixture into the open areas of the pinecone. It’s easier if the mixture is warm.
4. Place birdseed in pie tin. Roll and press seed onto pinecone until well covered.
5. Hang your pinecone feeder in a tree just outside you window. Try to place it away from the tree trunk so it’s more difficult for squirrels to get to it.
All Santa’s Reindeer
The birds won’t be the only creatures enjoying homemade treats when you and the kids whip together easy-to-make Reindeer Chow, also called Puppy Chow or Muddy Buddies. This favorite holiday snack can be given out as gifts in cute treat bags, decorated mason jars or plastic containers with red, green or blue lids adorned with ribbon. The recipe is easier than pie, and kids can join along in the fun of making homemade gifts that everyone loves to receive.
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
12 ounces chocolate or butterscotch chips
1 large box Chex or Crispix
2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1. Melt peanut butter, margarine and chocolate or butterscotch chips in a saucepan.
2. Pour mixture over Chex or Crispix; coat well on a baking sheet.
3. Place confectioner sugar in a paper or Ziploc bag.
4. Add coated cereal.
5. Shake well and place in gift containers.
Tip: Add red-and-green holiday-colored M&Ms to the mix for a splash of color. Make this treat anytime of the year by adding M&Ms in seasonal colors on Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July and during the fall.
So Minty Fresh and So Clean
The kids may not know what a mojito is, but Grandma Sue or Aunt Patty, and maybe even Grandpa Jim and Uncle Bob, will enjoy the idea of a rejuvenating soak in a cool minty bath. On her site Hello Natural, at hellonatural.co, writer and mom-of-three Stephanie Gerber offers up this Mint Mojto DIY Bath Salts recipe. It’s fast and perfect for homemade holidays gifts that kids can take part in mixing up since all the ingredients are fresh and safe. This gift can be especially fun for those who love mojtos by adding a drink recipe and spirits components so cocktails can accompany that refreshing, minty soak.
2 cups Epsom salt, sea salt or kosher salt
Fresh mint, finely diced
Juice and zest of one lime
Mint essential oil
Green food coloring (optional)
In a small bowl, add salt, mint and lime juice and zest. Stir everything together. Then add 3-5 drops of mint essential oil. You can also add 1-2 drops of food coloring to give it a hint of green. Mix together until fragrance and color are well combined. Add 1/2 cup of salt to your bath. Enjoying while sipping a fresh mojito is highly recommended.
Tip: Package in cute mason jars with a burlap bow and a spring of pine tied to the center.
Just Like Mom Used to Make
Soup’s on this winter as HGTV lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith shares his recipe for a savory, healthy, and cost-effective Vegetarian 5 Bean Soup Mix on hgtv.com. Smith suggests this easy gift idea for kids as a way for them to help out at the kitchen table, sorting the dry beans and filling up the mason jars. According to Smith, the recipes makes 4 jars, but feel free to double and triple as needed. And make sure to save a few for your own pantry for those cold winter evenings by the fire. These also make great housewarming or get well gifts Bon appetite!
1 lb. pinto beans
1 lb. split green peas
1 lb. great northern beans
1 lb. black beans
1 lb. kidney beans
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons dehydrated onions
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
8 bay leaves
4 vegetable bouillon cubes
4 clean quart-sized mason jars with lids and rings
Fabric to cover top (optional)
Paper for cooking instructions
1. In each of the mason jars, layer 2/3 cup of each bean, shaking gently after each layer to even out. Set jars aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine all spices except bay leaves and bouillon cubes.
3. On a 10-by-10-inch piece of parchment paper, spoon 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture in the center and top with 2 bay leaves and one bouillon cube. Fold paper around the spices to make a spice envelope and seal with tape.
4. Place spice envelope on top of the layered beans, cover with a square piece of decorative fabric and seal jar.
5. Decorate as desired. On a piece of cardstock or decorative paper, write:
Preparation directions for labels
Rinse beans and place in large stockpot, cover in 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, remove from heat and let soak for one hour. Drain and rinse. Return beans to the pot and add in spice envelope, one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours until beans are tender and soup is thick. Remove bay leaves before serving.