Last Minute Easy Handmade Gifts To Make With Kids

Could you use some ideas for last minute, easy holiday gifts that kids can help make? The following four projects are great gifts for friends, neighbors, grandparents, and even stocking stuffers.

And my 3-year old helped make all of these projects, so they’re also all kid-tested.

holiday gift kids help make

Beaded Ornament Activity KitPipe Cleaner Ornaments for Christmas | TinkerLab

Collect a set of basic supplies (pipe cleaners and beads), and pull together your own craft kits for friends or cousins with young children.

Supplies: Pipe Cleaner Bead Ornaments

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Easy handmade gifts | Make a beaded ornament kit | TinkerLab.com

Make a Sheet of Directions


  • Choose a pipe cleaner
  • Sting the beads onto the pipe cleaner until it’s roughly 1/3 full of beads
  • Move all the beads to the middle of the pipe cleaner
  • Create a circle of beads
  • Twist the pipe cleaner to secure the top of the circle
  • Make a hook
  • Hang it on your tree

Make it

Easy handmade gifts | Make a beaded ornament kit | TinkerLab.com

I folded a piece of card stock in half, typed (with this typewriter) “Make and Ornament” on one side (you could also stamp, print, draw this on, etc.) stapled up the sides, and attached an example of the activity to the side with a piece of clear tape.

Easy handmade gifts | Make a beaded ornament kit | TinkerLab.com

We filled the envelope with a small baggie of assorted beads (from a few big bags that we sub-divided) and four pipe cleaners that I prepared with a little bead-stopping loop at one end.

Snowflake-Making Kit


Easy handmade gifts | Make a Snowflake Activity Kit | TinkerLab.com

Easy handmade gifts | Make a Snowflake Activity Kit | TinkerLab.com


Tissue Paper Circles or Coffee Filters

I prepared an envelope the same way, with typing, stapling, and filling. This time we placed a short stack of colorful tissue paper circles and a few pre-made snowflakes in the envelope for inspiration. If you don’t have circular tissue paper on hand, a stack of flattened, round coffee filters or squares of upcycled magazines would also do the trick.

Include directions on how to make a snowflake: I love this tutorial for making snowflakes from squares of newspaper squares, from Maya Made.

Homemade Sugar Scrub

Easy handmade gifts | Make your own sugar scrub | TinkerLab.com

This is a nice way to spread some pampering cheer that will shine away rough wintery skin, and they couldn’t be easier to assemble. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • Glass Jar with tight-fitting lid
  • Sugar
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Essential Oil in your favorite smell
  • Decorative Fabric or Paper
  • Paper Label
  • String or Rubber Band
  • Small wooden spoon (optional)

Collecting materials was the most time consuming piece of this project. I found the jars and wooden spoons at Daiso, a Japanese dollar store that rocks my world, and the essential oil was from Whole Foods. I used grapeseed oil (Trader Joe’s) because it’s virtually scentless and has a long shelf life, and I included a wooden spoon so that my friends can scoop out their scrub without adding bacteria into the jar. It’s not really necessary, but I think it’s a nice touch.

Easy handmade gifts | Make your own sugar scrub | TinkerLab.com

I wish I was more scientific about this, but I’ll tell you how I made it and hopefully it will make sense. We filled 1/4 of the jar with sugar, added enough grapeseed oil to coat it, and then mixed it well. Then I added sugar to the 1/2 way point, added more oil, and mixed it again. I repeated this until the sugar-oil mixture was about 3/4″ from the top. I added a little more oil so that it floated on top of the sugar, making the whole mixture easy to stir. Once it was nicely blended, I added about 30 drops of grapefruit essential oil.

How much oil should you add? I added the essential oil, smelled it, and then added more until I was happy with the strength of the smell. I thought about using lavender, which I also had, but the grapefruit smelled so refreshing and it complemented the green fabric.

Lastly, I covered it with a circle of fabric (traced with a bowl), secured it with a rubber band (to hold that heavy spoon on tight), and wrapped a gift tag on with some baker’s twine.

Pecan Chocolate Turtles

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtle Recipe

These Pecan Chocolate Turtles is so simple, absolutely delicious, and I made them with both my 1-year old and 3-year old. My one year old exercised some fine motor skills by unwrapping the candies, while my 3 year old placed them on the pretzels. It was assembly-line cooking at its finest!

They won’t disappoint you, I promise!

diy gifts with kids

Find the recipe here.

More Ideas for Easy Handmade Gifts

Cookie Dough in a Jar, easy for kids to help assemble

Handmade cards that kids can make.

Handmade Valentine Cards with heart-shaped envelope

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  1. Nice ideas! Love the turtles! I’ll have to pin this for next year….we have too many gifts already!!!
    We did a similar beaded pipe cleaner ornament of snowflakes here:

    Happy Holidays!

    • I adore your snowflake ornaments. You’ve taken ours up a notch (and I’m always amazed at how we’re often on the exact same page). Happy winter solstice. 

  2. Those turtles were both delicious and lovely to look at!  Thank you!!  I can’t believe the recipe is so simple, and I’m excited to make some of my own!

    • So glad to hear they were enjoyed 🙂 We’ll have to make another batch with all the kids after the holidays.

  3. Great idea! Sometimes holiday parties are more adult focused, so this would be a great gift to bring for the kids so they have some fun things to keep busy. I was also thinking when we are doing our regular craft projects, after pulling out all of the boxes with all of the supplies, to make a “kit” or two with just the materials needed so next time the prep is less work, and when I need a quick fix to keep him busy, it is right there! Thanks and happy holidays!

    • Making kits ahead of time would be such a time saver! I’ll try to add that to my new year’s resolution list too. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

  4. I am so glad to read your post! I absolutely love these ideas especially the make an ornament kit. We need a last minute gift for a friend of my daughter’s and we are definitely making the ornament kit for her. There’s about 14 inches of fresh snow outside so shopping is not something we want to tackle right now! 

    One of our favorite homemade gifts this year that we made for family/friends were magnets. Easy, fun and pretty!

    • Woah! 14″ of snow is no joke. I’m so glad that this will help you out. One of my favorite gifts is a set of homemade magnets from a friend’s child…they’re still on my fridge after 6 years!!

  5. all of these are amazing! love!

  6. It was around this time last year that I discovered your TinkerLab and I’ve checked it out everyday since.  It was one of my favorite holiday gifts and remains a great inspiration.  Thanks for all you share!  Happy Everything!

    • I remember that, Jena! I’m so glad you found me, and can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear that you read my blog so often. Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year. xo

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