Kids gifts: DIY painting

DIY kids art

Images and text by Sarita Rajiv

I’m a big fan of personalised gifts and whenever I have the time (and get struck by a particularly good idea!) I prefer to make a gift as opposed to buying one. And it turns out that when it comes to kids gifts, there are lots of fun ideas to try out.

Last week, we were invited to the birthday celebrations of my daughter’s friends – a four-year old boy. Since I knew a few things about this little fella, I decided to make a special painting featuring his current favourite soft toy — a crow he calls Kaka:-) I had a lot of fun making this. Here’s the tutorial if you’d like to try your hand at a DIY painting for kids. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pencil and eraser
  • Canvas board
  • Acrylic colours and paint brushes
  • Acrylic pens (optional)
  • Spray varnish (you should get this at any arts/craft store)

DIY kids art

Before you start painting on the canvas, draw a rough sketch of what you have in mind on a piece of paper. I always do this as it gives me a perspective of the dimensions and what works or what doesn’t. At this stage, it’s easy to alter the sketch till you get what you have in mind.

3 DIY kid's art

Next, take the canvas and coat it with one layer of white paint. As the canvas was big, I used a sponge — the kind you use in kitchens, just use a new one — instead of using a brush. Since this is just the base layer and you’re not doing any shading here, using the sponge covers more area and gets the job done faster.

DIY kids gift ideas

Then take blue paint and using gentle brush strokes, cover the entire canvas. I used a darker shade of blue at the top, making it lighter as I went down. I also allowed some parts of the white paint underneath to show through. This gives the effect of a beautiful sky in shades of blue.

DIY kids art

When the paint is dry (important!), draw a faint pencil outline of the image you want to paint. You can always erase any mistakes and start afresh. You can skip this step if you’re confident of painting directly. Here’s what my painting looked at this stage.

DIY kids art

Now here’s the fun part. Start filling in colours into the drawing. I always do at least two layers of paint to get the shades right.  You can play around with the colours creating two or more shades of the same colour for depth. For instance, I used a basic brown as the first shade for the tree. For the next layer, I added a bit of black paint to the brown paint giving some areas a darker shade. This technique will give your painting more depth.

I then wrote out a quote to go with the image. “Spread your wings and fly!” I love this quote, it’s so inspirational.  I used an acrylic paint pen to write this. You can always write it using a thin paint brush as well. Here’s what the painting looked like after the first layer of paint.

DIY kids gifts

And here’s the final product after a second layer of paint, some shading and highlighting the outlines. Can you see the difference? See the leaves for instance or even the crow.

DIY kids art

Once the paint dries off completely, spray a paint varnish (spraying it from a can is easier and less messier than doing it with a brush ). The coat of varnish keeps the colours strong and gives your painting a longer life. That’s it, we’re done. Not too complicated right?

You can customise your painting to include any animals, birds or even creatures of the sea. The possibilities are endless. Kids love having art work of their favourite animals, toys or cartoon characters. All you need to know is what the kid receiving the gift likes and you’ll have one wonderful gift to give.


Candle gift wrap for kids

Candle gift wrap idea

I almost never have any standard ready gift wrapping paper at my home as I like to experiment with different gift wrapping styles. I mainly use simple white or brown paper as the base to wrap the gift. I then add-on different elements using whatever material I have on hand to create something unique.

I recently created a candle gift wrap for a five-year old’s birthday present. The idea is simple and easy to do. I first covered the gift in plain white paper. I glued a rectangular piece of blue crepe paper on top of the front of the gift. I then cut out shiny, pink rectangular strips from an old magazine (the advertisements in most magazines have a variety of colours you can cut out and use) and interspersed them with strips of a black and white decorative tape.  For the candles flames in the gift wrap, I cut out yellow and orange pieces of paper from an old magazine (you’d be surprised at the different ways you can use the glossy colourful paper from old magazines).

To finish it, I added a brown gift tag, tied up in twine. And voila, the candle gift wrap was ready. It works really well for small kids.

DIY Candle gift wrap idea

A piece of a place: British gift ideas

British Gift ideas - Classic British telephone booth

Hello everyone and wish you a happy new year! 2013 ended with a much awaited family trip to the United Kingdom and I’m excited to share with you ideas for goodies and gifts that are typically English or British.

Whenever I travel to a new city or country, I try to get back something that is representative of that place. I call it a piece of a place. Sometimes these are simple souvenirs that become a part of my family’s travel memories and many a time they work out as wonderful gifts. My trip to London was a whirlwind of catching up with friends and relatives, sight-seeing and of course gift and souvenir hunting! So here  my favourite British-themed gift ideas.

English Breakfast Set

British gifts from London

What could be more British than an English breakfast with tea and marmalade. As a thank you gift for our friends who hosted us in London, we got them a Crabtree & Evelyn breakfast set of Oat and Fruit Crumbles, thick cut Breakfast Marmalade and bags of smooth English Breakfast Tea.

Queen coffee mug

English and British gift ideas

So what’s the most obvious thing you get back home from the United Kingdom? Well, you can get the Queen. There’s a huge variety of  royalty and Queen-themed gifts you can get. Like these coffee mugs for instance; makes for a nice little gift for the women in your life. If you buy the Queen Elizabeth mug in cream and blue you’ll also be doing your bit for cancer research as these are sold by Cancer Research UK. The white mug with the red crown is available in the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.

English and British gift ideas

Scottish shortbread 

Double-decker shortbread tin from London

When you’re in London, it’s hard to miss the  double-decker buses. The trip on the upper level of a double-decker bus is a fun adventure especially for kids. And if you’re tempted to take back this little piece of London, you’re in luck. Several stores like Marks&Spencers Food and Churchill’s Confectionery store, among others, stock Scottish shortbread packaged in a red double-decker bus tin.

English toffee telephone box

London souvenir gifts for kids

Combine the old style telephone booths or kiosks with English toffee and you’ve got another British classic that would make a welcome gift for kids. Once the toffee is in the tummy, the telephone box can be used as a piggy bank. It is beautifully designed and can make a welcome addition to your collection of travel mementos as well. You can find these at several stores including Churchill’s Confectionery and Selfridges.

Cricket collectibles

Gift for cricket lovers

If you’re despairing over what British gift you can get for the men in your life, may Lord help you! For a cricket lover, a visit to London would be incomplete without a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground, the mecca of cricket. And a quick stop at the Lord’s shop should arm you with some cricket collectibles like this antique bronze effect fridge magnet. Non cricket lovers can just put this cricket bat to practical use as bottle opener.

There you go. Five gifts from London that are typically British. Do you have any British favourites of your own?

Christmas gifts for teens

Teens tend to be pretty vocal about what kind of Christmas gifts they want, don’t they? They have strong likes and dislikes at this stage and almost everything is judged by how cool or groovy it is. The flip side about gifting for teens is that they also change their minds with alarming frequency and you may be left wondering what gift to get them.

Here’s my pick of Christmas gift ideas for teens. These would be apt for both teenage girls and boys.

Hunger Games Trilogy: Is your teen a voracious reader? Or perhaps you want your teen to spend less time on the computer and more time reading? The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a popular read among teens thanks to its teen protagonist and exciting plot with an element of reality television.

Personalised phone cases: While a new smart phone may be an expensive buy you’d rather avoid, there’s a whole range of mobile phone accessories you can gift your teen this Christmas. Funky and individualistic phone covers and cases are the flavour of the season. I love this personalised wood phone where you can add images of your own.

Christmas gifts for teens

Headphones: Teens and music are inseparable. Gift a set of trendy headphones and you’ve got yourself a happy teen. There’s a wide variety of head phones in the market, so you can always pick and choose based on your budget.

Lego VW Camper Van: What I love about Lego is that you can enjoy it at any age; you’re never too old for Lego. Lego has developed this VW Camper Van specially for teens who are 16 and above.  This VW Camper Van from Lego comes complete with wonderful interiors.

Christmas gift ideas for teens

Gift ideas for teens

Christmas gifts for teens

Images used by permission,© 2012 The LEGO Group

What do you think? I’d love to hear  if you have any favourites for the teens on your Christmas list this year.

Children’s gifts: The magic of books

Children's gifts

I have a ritual I follow for my daughter’s birthday every year. Among the birthday gifts I give her, there are always some books. Books rarely figure at the top when it comes to children’s gift ideas, but what makes them a great gift idea is their longevity. They remain fresh for years and the magic they weave lasts a lifetime. I think books are magical and one can never have too many books, can you?

Children's gift ideas

While searching for some books for my four-year old, I chanced upon on this beautiful book called STARS by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee.  The author Mary has used stars as a metaphor to talk about a child’s life. The illustrations by Marla are beautiful and have a serene quality about them.

Gift ideas for kids

“Pin a star on your shirt and you can be sheriff

Put a star on a stick and you’ve made a wand.”

Kids gift ideas

 The next time you’re thinking about gifts for children, look around for some good books. After all, there’s rarely a child who wouldn’t appreciate a lit bit of magic and fantasy.

Kids gifts: Halloween Costumes

Fastelavn costume ideas

If you’re looking for some interesting gift ideas for kids, here’s something fun to try out. Have you ever thought about gifting a Halloween Costume?  It’s autumn and Halloween is just a month away; the perfect time to gift a Halloween Costume I’d say.

While several countries don’t celebrate Halloween, they do have fancy dress events and contests, making it a fun gift idea for kids everywhere. This is bound to be hit with the kids and much appreciated by their parents. No more last-minute hassles to find costumes for the next Halloween, Fancy Dress competition or Fastelavn (Nordic Halloween). Costumes can also be reused by different kids in the family. Here are a few costume ideas I like.

Halloween or Fancy Dress Costumes for girls

When it comes to little girls, you can’t really go wrong with a princess costume or fairy costume.

a fairy costume gift

And it doesn’t always have to be the standard pink one.

A princess-costume that isn't pink!

As a variation of the fairy costume, I love this butterfly costume.

Gift a butterfly costume

If you are looking for something that’s not so common, try this! Cotton candy…yummy!

cotton candy costume for halloweenn

Halloween or Fancy Dress Costumes for little boys

Like girls, there are 2-3 costumes for little boys that are fail proof. Go with any of the ‘mans’ – Spiderman, Superman or Batman. My favourite is this super strong Superman.

Gift a Superman costume

Or, how about Legoman for a change?

Lego man costume

Unisex Halloween or Fancy Dress Costumes for babies

I also love these costumes that are great gifts for both girls and boys. Perfect for babies.

adorable Spring chicken costume

adorable Tiger cub costume

P.S: This is a variation of my earlier post A Costume = Fail Safe Kids Gift. Some of the images are from my Fancy Dress Costumes Pinterest board where you can find the original source – some of which have DIY instructions.


Kids gifts: Traditional Indian toys

Kids gift ideas - Traditional Indian toys

I recently came across these gorgeous traditional Indian toys by Creative Craftz and thought what adorable kids gifts they would make. I’m drawn to traditional arts and crafts  from different countries and I’m especially partial to Indian handicrafts. The skill and art that goes into creating them, makes them such unique gifts.

Called Channapatna wooden toys, they are made in Karnataka’s toy town (Gombegala Ooru) of Channapatna and are Persian in origin.  I love the deep, vibrant colours of these traditional Indian toys made using wood from the Wrightia tinctoria tree, also called ivory wood.

Kids gift ideas - Traditional Indian toys

Kids gift ideas - Traditional Indian toys

Kids gift ideas - Traditional Indian toys

Kids gift ideas - Traditional Indian toys

The handmade Ludo set  and the spin top (a toy that never goes out of fashion), remind me of summer afternoons in my childhood spent playing all sorts of games.