Easy Handmade Gifts | Cookie Dough Jars

Easy Holiday Gifts (that kids can help assemble) | Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

Easy Handmade Gifts, made by Kids

Could you use an idea for easy handmade gifts that kids can help with?

I’ve been thinking of different ways that my kids can get involved in gift-giving. They’re four and six, so it had to be something they could both help execute AND get excited about. Oh, and if the gift happened to look good, well, that would be nice too.

Well, friends, this easy cookie-dough-in-a-jar is just the project, and I would wholly encourage you to give it a try if you’re also looking for an easy gift to get the kids involved in.

Bonus: we have tested these cookies twice, and they are truly divine. They bake like chocolate chip cookies, with the added subtlety of oats, tart cherries, and walnuts. Feel free to leave the nuts out for nut-free cookies.

Handmade Holiday Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

Inspiration for this project came from Kids in the Holiday Kitchen (affiliate link), from Chronicle Books. My mother-in-law gave us this book a couple years ago, and it comes out every year for holiday cooking. The book is full of so many great ideas for cooking and crafting with kids in the kitchen. If you can grab a copy before (or after) the holidays, it will be worth your while.

If you click on the link you can peek inside. But I digress, for today I’m sharing how to make these rad cookie jars that are 100% kid-friendly.

Handmade Holiday Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

Start by cleaning and drying your jars.  The jars you’ll need for this are quart-sized mason jars and you can find them on Amazon: here (affiliate). I was surprised that the girls were so enthusiastic about this step. I found some little washcloths for them to dry the lids while I dried the jars.

Easy Handmade Handmade Holiday Gift } Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

Then we filled them. This was our favorite part. I filled a big bowl with each ingredient, one at a time, and then scooped out the appropriate amount for them to transfer into the jars.

Because we were making large quantities, I was able to find most of the ingredients at Costco. They carry tart cherries, organic sugar, and large sacks of flour. I was surprised that they didn’t carry brown sugar when we were there, but that’s easy enough to find elsewhere.

What goes in each jar

Recipe for Oat Walnut Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies. For nut-free cookies, leave the walnuts out. You could replace the walnuts with another favorite such as pecans or almonds, and of course, the cherries could be replaced with raisins. Get creative!

Layer the following ingredients in the jar, in the listed order:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (tap the brown sugar down before you add the next ingredient)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Easy Holiday Gifts | Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

Once the jar is packed, you could cut a circle of fabric out as we did, and seal your jar ring around it. Add a tag with the following information:

Oat Walnut Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Beat 6 tablespoons of soft or melted butter, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Add all of the jar ingredients to the bowl and mix until well blended.

Drop in round spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 7-10 minutes (We like our underdone. If you do too, err on the shorter side).

Easy Holiday Gifts | Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

One more thing: Because it’s always a good idea to test a recipe before you gift it to a billion people, and, well, these are wicked good, make a batch for yourself first like we did. Yum yum.

Easy Holiday Gifts | Cookie Jars | TinkerLab

More Handmade Gift Ideas

Handmade cards that kids can make.

Handmade Valentine Cards with heart-shaped envelope

Last-minute DIY gifts to make with kids

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Are you looking for Valentine Crafts for Kids? This project takes a bit of time since there are a few steps involved, but the results are treasures that will last a lifetime.

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Salt Dough Recipe

We used this same recipe from our salt dough Christmas ornaments

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • up to 1 cup water

Mix the water and flour together. Slowly add the water and mix until the dough comes together. If you add too much water the dough will be too sticky to work with. If that happens, simply add equal amounts of flour and salt to get a workable consistency.

  1. Flour your work surface
  2. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick
  3. Cut shapes with your favorite cookie cutter/s
  4. Place the dough on a baking sheet and cook at 200 degrees F for 2-3 hours. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we baked ours at 350 F for about 40 minutes, which is why some of them turned out puffy and brown. They’re still fine, however, and I’d recommend this route if you’re also short on time. Just keep an eye on the dough and make sure it doesn’t burn.
  5. Cool the pieces. They’re ready to paint!

Salt Dough Magnets: A Valentine Gift Made by Kids

Painting Supplies

  • Acrylic paint. This is a relatively inexpensive set that’s great for this project.
  • Paintbrushes. I haven’t tried this set, but it looks great!
  • Paper plate or other paint palette
  • Water bowl
  • Rag to absorb water from brushes
  • Table covering
  • Painting clothes (acrylic paints will stain clothes)
  • Paint markers, optional. We like Elmers Paint Pens and Sharpie Water-based Paint Pens

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Paint the salt dough with acrylic paint. Have a covered area nearby where these pieces can dry. Acrylic paint dries quickly!

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

When these were dry, we added a layer with paint markers to some of the pieces. My 3-year old loved this step.

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Magnet Supplies

This step is for grown-ups:

Once the paint is dry, turn the salt dough pieces over. Add a small dollop of glue. Goop makes a good product made by Goop called Craft Arte. It’s smelly and best used outside or in a well-ventilated space.

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Add the magnet to the glue and allow the glue to dry.

Be careful with these magnets. They are powerful and not for use by children.

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Gifts for Family and Friends

When the glue is dry, your magnets are ready to gift to family and friends or to save favorite mementos to your fridge.

Valentine Crafts for Kids: Salt Dough Magnets

We made these for Valentine’s Day, but with a different shaped cookie cutter, you could make these magnet gifts for Christmas, Mother’s Day, or a Birthday.

Mini Heart Pies | A Simple and Sweet Valentine’s Day Treat

Yum! We love making (and eating) these heart shaped hand pies.

These mini heart pies are not an adorable Valentine’s Day treat, but they’re fun for kids to make and bake. My little bakers, ages 3 and 5, were invested in every step along the way and practiced these skills in this kitchen project:

  • press heart shapes out of the dough
  • measure and mix ingredients
  • use a basting brush
  • crimp pies
  • use best judgment to fill pies
  • problem-solve when we ran amok (keep reading for more on that)

Adorable and Easy Mini Heart Pies | Tinkerlab.com

Adorable and Easy Mini Heart Pies | Tinkerlab.com

Let me start with the hero shot, just in case you’re on the fence about this recipe. OMG!

This pie not only looked good, but it was downright delicious.

This is my half of a heart that I shared with my husband (awwwww).

measure ingredients

Mini Heart Pies: Tools

(note: this post includes affiliate links)

To start, you’ll probably want to pick up a Heart-shaped Pocket Pie Mold. This one is great because it’s also BPA-free.

We found a similar one in the house goods section of Target, just before Valentine’s Day. Not to fret if you don’t have a pie mold, with just a little more attention and work, you could also make these with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

We have this one, and I bet it would do the job.

Mini Heart Pies: Ingredients

Makes 4 mini heart pies. This recipe is adapted from one that came with our mold.

  • Pie Crust or pastry dough
  • 1 cup berries
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

How to make Mini Heart Pies

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Set up a cookie sheet, covered with parchment paper.
  3. Coat your pocket pie mold with a bit of oil. You don’t want your crust sticking to it, after all.
  4. Mix the sugar and corn starch in a small bowl.
  5. Whisk the egg in another bowl.
  6. Roll out your dough and cut hearts from it with the back of the heart-shaped pie mold.
  7. Place a heart on both sides of the mold. Fill the center of one side with about 2 tablespoons of berries.
  8. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture on top of the berries.
  9. With the basting brush, coat the edges of the heart with egg.
  10. Press the two sides of the mold together. Open it up and place the mini heart pie on the parchment-covered cookie sheet.
  11. Cover the pie with a layer of egg and sprinkle more sugar mixture on top.
  12. Continue until all the dough is gone.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Here’s a visual of how we made our mini heart pies…

press out hearts

The heart stamping is so fun for kids.

We used our favorite freezer pie crust from Trader Joe’s, but any crust should do the trick. Two of these come rolled up in a box and we just used one of them. We let the dough defrost while we had breakfast, and it was ready to go a couple hours later.

sprinkle on sugar

Next up: fill with the ingredients. Since its winter and berries aren’t’ in season, we used frozen berries. In the end, they may have made for more runny pies, but the flavor was to-die-for-good. No worries there.

The kids took turns filling the pies with berries, coating the edges with egg and sprinkling the sugar mixture on top.

Brush on egg

On our first mini heart pie we learned the importance of oiling the pie press BEFORE putting all the ingredients inside. Needless to say, our dough made a big sticky mess and didn’t want to come out of the mold without a fight.

Since we didn’t want to lose any of that amazing filling, we did a quick brainstorm on what to do and decided to turn the scraps into pie balls and hamentaschen. And please don’t look up “pie balls” unless you want a totally different image in your head than the photo that follows.

oven surprises

In the end, we ended up with two mini heart pies, two hamentashen, and five pie balls, but if you stick to just mini heart pies, you should be able to get four of them out of this recipe.

Enjoy!

mini heart pies

Heart Sewing Cards for Preschoolers

It’s always fun to add a seasonal twist to the activities we do with children, and these sewing cards for preschoolers can be easily adapted to any holiday, interest, or season.

Simple sewing cards for preschoolers | TinkerLab.com

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so we stitched a heart shape, but consider a shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day, pine tree for Christmas, or a fish in the middle of summer.

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Benefits of sewing cards for preschoolers

  • Develop hand-eye coordination
  • Learn the basics of sewing
  • Practice fine motor skills

There are lots of reasons to try this activity. You might have a child, like mine, who loves to dive into mom’s sewing stash or you might want to help your child develop fine motor skills. Whatever the reason, your child should have fun with this sewing cards activity. If you get started and it proves more frustrating than fun, put this aside for a couple weeks or months, and then try again.

Sewing Cards for Preschoolers Supplies

Simple sewing cards for preschoolers | TinkerLab.com

Simple sewing cards for preschoolers | TinkerLab.com

Steps

  1. Cut a rectangle shape from the chipboard box. The piece in the photo is about 6″ x 9″.
  2. Poke holes into the chipboard with the needle.
  3. Thread the needle with embroidery floss. Encourage your child to choose the color/s. For inexperienced sewers you’ll want to double-thread the needle by making a double-length of floss and then tie the two ends together at the end. This will keep the thread from slipping out of the needle eye while stitching.
  4. Show your child how to push the needle up through one hole, and then back down through the next. Pull the needle taught each time it goes through a hole.
  5. Tie the end off and cut the extra thread after you reach the last hole.

Simple sewing cards for preschoolers | TinkerLab.com

After they stitched all the way around the hearts, my kids added some embellishments with markers, glue, sequins, and rhinestones. This should be fun, so let them go wild and see what they come up with.

Simple sewing cards for preschoolers | TinkerLab.com

More Sewing Projects and Ideas

Even Toddlers Can Sew: A great intro to sewing project

Machine Sewing with a Preschooler

How did you teach your children to sew? Thoughts from our Facebook page.

A 5-star, affordable entry-level sewing machine via Amazon

This Pinterest Board of sewing projects for kids

 

How to cut a heart out of paper

This may be obvious to some of you, but given what people search for this time of year, I know there are many of you who want to know how to cut a heart out of paper. 

The other day my three-year old and I were making a gazillion Valentine’s cards and I snapped a few photos of our heart-cutting process. She’s at that age where she gets a thrill from practicing her cutting skills, which made this an engaging project for her.

You’ll love how simple this is! In just three easy steps, you’ll turn into a heart-cutting machine.

How to cut a heart out of paper | TinkerLab

If you have a small child in your life, this could be a great way to work on those scissor skills. The top right heart (below) was cut out by my three-year old who could do this activity for hours.

How to cut a heart out of paper | TinkerLab.com

Supplies

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

How to cut a heart out of paper in 3 easy steps

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half
  2. Draw a half-heart shape along the folded edge of the paper
  3. Cut the heart out

How to cut a heart out of paper | TinkerLab.com

Enjoy!

Creative Table: Valentine’s Day Cards

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this Creative Table invites children to make Valentine’s Day Cards that are sure to delight not only the children in your home.

Creative Table: Make your own Valentine's Day Cards | TinekerLab.com

One of our favorite ways to engage children at the art table is by setting up invitations to create. Toward this end, we started the Creative Table series as a way to capture easy set-ups and inspiring ideas that encourage creative and independent thinking.

All you have to do is gather some basic supplies, set them up, and then let the creativity begin…

Valentine’s Day Cards

Supplies

  • Pre-made blank cards or cardstock cut into card-size pieces
  • Glue sticks or PVA glue
  • Markers
  • Child-friendly scissors
  • Decorative Paper
  • Waste basket to collect scraps

More Ideas:

  • Self-inking Valentine stamps or stamps and ink pads
  • Decorative Paper ideas: wrapping paper, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, candy foil wrappers, doilies
  • Treasures:  googly eyes, sequins, foam hearts, stickers
  • Cardboard
  • Hole punchers and ribbon

Set up your table Valentine’s Day Cards Table

Valentines Card Table set up

Clear your table. If it’s looking a little messy (like ours usually does), take a minute to clear everything unessential off. Our art table is marked up, so we often cover it with this awesome butcher paper (Amazon) or oilcloth (Amazon) to make it extra inviting. Oilcloth is especially nice because it can be wiped clean after each use, but keep in mind that if it has a busy pattern it could be distracting.

How to set up a simple "Make Your Own" Valentine's Card Station  |  TinkerLab.com

Set up the materials for the Valentine’s Day Cards

Center of the Table:

  • Stack of pre-folded blank cards
  • Bowl full of scraps (pre-cut hearts, shiny paper, and doilies)
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  • Bowl of self-inking Valentine stamps

In front of each station:

  • One pre-folded blank card
  • Stack of patterned paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick

supplie for valentine cards

Now it’s time to get creative!

make your own valentines card

Tip for making art with kids: When my children have new ideas that vary from mine, such as using materials that aren’t on the table or using them in a way I hadn’t anticipated, I’ll embrace it. This is the time to encourage independent ideas and creative thinking. Children experience new materials and stimuli differently than we do, and we can look at these moments with awe. Who knows, your child may give YOU a new way to make things…mine often do!

Creative Table: Valentine's Day Cards  | Tinkerlab.com

More Valentine’s Day Inspiration

Our Valentine’s Day board on Pinterest

Make an All-in-one Valentine Envelope

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

Easy Valentine Bookmarks

How to Make Felt Ornaments with Kids

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

I made these sweet ornaments with my three-year old and five-year old. Our original plan was to hot glue them together, but when our hot glue gun went missing we took the opportunity to turn this into a sewing party.

My preschooler surprised me and rose to the sewing challenge (I’ll share a photo of that in a moment), while my kindergartener was able to thread her own needle and learned how to tie off knots.

I did the bulk of the work on these, so I’d call this project a collaborationjust something to keep in mind in case you expect your little one to take the lead on this one! Children six and older should be able to do most of the steps themselves.

If you’re not up for sewing, take this as inspiration, and simply hot glue the whole thing together!

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Gather Your Supplies

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

  • Felt
  • Thread
  • Hand-sewing needle. Tip: Use tapestry needles for small hands. These have bigger eyes that are easier to thread, and they’re a bit thicker.
  • Treasures to sew on: sequins, beads, jingle bells, and buttons
  • A couple straight pins to hold the felt together
  • Scissors that will cut fabric. Tip: I have a pair of scissors that are ONLY for fabric, since paper quickly dulls scissors.
  • Ornament hooks

Cut and Sew the Felt Ornament

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

To cut the ornaments, I used our cookie cutters as templates. We used a candy cane, angel, and a tree. I cut the first one out, and then layered it on top of the next color of felt. Then I cut the subsequent layers, each slightly larger than the rest.

To sew the ornaments: 

  1. Poke a straight pin through the felt stack.
  2. Thread the needle with a long piece of thread. Make it double-long and knot the end.
  3. Sew a running stitch through the felt.
  4. Knot the thread in the back.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Decorate the Felt Ornament

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

To embellish your ornament, sew the treasures to the felt. We used sequins and jingle bells (not shown here), and you could also use buttons or beads. My 5-year old wants to add that you could also make designs on the felt with stitches.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Hang your Felt Ornament

Twist the ornament hook into the felt.

Tip: For the tree ornament (below), I twisted it through two layers of felt and it took about ten seconds to poke through. To poke through four layers of felt on the candy cane, it took me about thirty seconds of twisting. 

Once the hook pokes through the felt, twist it off!

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

Your ornament is ready to hang or to gift to someone special.

How to make sweet keepsake felt ornaments with kids | TinkerLab.com

p.s. This post took twice as long to write because my 5-year old decided she wanted to be a blogger today. 🙂

kid blogger

Easy Valentine Bookmarks

easy valentine bookmark 3

Today I’m joined by my real-life friend Susan, amazing mom to a 2-year old and a 4-year old, who I’ve known since our blanket baby days. She made this simple Valentine Bookmark with her 4-year old last week and I invited her to share it as a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift.

Welcome, Susan!

easy valentine bookmark 2

My daughter’s preschool loves to celebrate Valentine’s Day with homemade Valentines.

I wanted to do a project that was quick, where my daughter could handle most of the work, and that could be used beyond just Valentine’s Day.

Materials

  • 8 ½ x 11 Cardstock or any heavyweight paper
  • Scissors, regular or the fancy-edged kind
  • Glue – any kind (Elmer’s, glue stick, glue gun)
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon cut in pieces around 12 inches long
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Large sheets of paper for protecting your table (optional)

How we made this

  1. I taped large sheets of paper to our dining room table so I don’t get nervous when glue starts going everywhere.
  2. Pick two sheets of paper that will be glued back to back. Our local craft shop was having a sale on different cardstock with hearts and cupcakes so I picked up a couple of patterns that I thought would look cute together.  My daughter had her own idea of combinations, so we went with that.
  3. Hold the sheets together and cut it in half, lengthwise. You should now have four pieces that are 4.25″ x 11″.
  4. Then take one half (sheets together) and cut width-wise in to 5 equal sections (approximately 2.25″ x 4.25″). This gives you your basic bookmark. Repeat with the other half.
  5. Take each pair of cut bookmark halves and glue them together.
  6. After the glue dries a bit, take each bookmark, punch a hole at the top, slide a piece of ribbon through and tie it off.
  7. You can be done, or you can decorate! We used a glue gun to attach puffy felt hearts I bought at the craft store.

easy valentine bookmark tall text

Helpful hints about the project

  • Precise Edges: We used fancy-edged scissors, which turned out looking great but meant that gluing the two sheets together precisely is difficult. Ours are not at all “precise.”
  • Wet and warped bookmarks: My daughter really loved squeezing the glue on all of these so they were quite wet, resulting in warped shapes that give the bookmarks “character.” A glue stick may be the way to go if you don’t like that look.
  • Help your child cut the ribbon: I made two marks on our big sheet of paper that indicated the length of ribbon that we needed, so that it was easy for my daughter to measure and cut.

My husband was very enthusiastic when my daughter shared our finished project with him.  However, he later remarked to me in private that he thought the puffy hearts made the valentines not-so-good as bookmarks since they wouldn’t lie flat in their books. I still don’t know if that is the case since neither my daughter nor my son have used them.

Final note: At my daughter’s Waldorf preschool, her symbol is a mother hen, hence (ahem), the chicken stickers on our bookmarks.


Thanks for sharing this easy Valentine’s Day gift with us, Susan!


More Valentine’s Day Projects for Kids

Our Valentine’s Day board on Pinterest

Make an All-in-one Valentine Envelope

30 Valentine Activities for Kids