Thursday, 21 March 2013

Baby Gift Ideas

Today I thought I would share with you some more of my latest crafty ideas, all perfect for Baby Gifts.  I may be creative, but I don't always come up with good ideas on my own.  If you have read my blog before you may know that I am a huge fan of Pinterest.  It is a great online resource for connecting you with new ideas and often the original source of an idea.  I love it!  So these ideas I will share with you are a mixture of my own and some from Pinterest.
I often share with you about our Playgroup.  Yes I am biased, and I have been to my share of Playgroups over the last 15 years to have a few comparisons, but we honestly have such a wonderful group of ladies who come along to our Playgroup each week.  The group seems to easily attract new-comers because of it's friendliness.  The women have really emerged into a group of strong friendships, people who genuinely care for one another.  One of the things I love about them is their generosity and support for one another.
This show of support has been very evident this year when one of the ladies had complications with her pregnancy and delivered her baby at only 28 weeks.  It has been a long journey for this family, but they have received a lot of support and encouragement, people doing practical things to help, like making meals for them.  Well we were all very excited when this precious little baby came home last Friday to be at home with his family, after almost 11 weeks in the hospital.  Even more excited when he came along to Playgroup with his mum and other siblings.  There were lots of willing arms to cuddle this beautiful little baby!

We have a bit of a tradition at Playgroup over the past few years. When a new baby is born, everyone brings along a baby item to donate towards a gift parcel for the new baby. It can be as little or as much as people want to contribute, from a cute outfit to something as simple as a packet of baby wipes. Just all those things you need for a new baby.  I made up a nappy cake with all the small gifts.  It ended up getting a little lost amongst all the bits and pieces we had collected - but it is in there!   
Following on from my last blog entry, I was still in applique blanket mode when I had to make up this nappy cake gift, so I made up a baby blanket.  I have made up heaps of these in the past.

It's a nice personalised gift, soft and warm, just perfect for a new baby.

Here is another very cute idea I came across on Pinterest and decided to try make one up and see how it went.  Well it proved to be so easy, so I made up a few.  All this cute little baby is made from is a rolled up disposable nappy/diaper.  The hat is a newborn sock and the blanket is a baby facewasher. To add the finishing touch, just a couple of craft eyes attached - and you have one very cute little baby!  Because you are using a sock, you need to make two babies so that the recipient can then wear the socks. 

This is a cute way to package these babies up if you want to make a smaller gift.  There is a baby blanket/wrap folded up to make up a bed. The babies are partially covered to look like they are laying in bed.  Too cute!  Everything in this gift is very practical and can be used for the newborn baby - blanket, socks, facewashers, nappies and you can see I also added in another cute set of socks with this pack.  It was quite inexpensive to put together and I love that it is something a little different to what you usually receive as baby gifts. 

A little bit of creativity certainly can add some fun to gift giving!!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Personalized Applique Blankets

Over the last few weeks my girls have had a few birthday parties to attend and you know how it is, especially when it is a special friend, a lot of time and effort goes into finding just the right present.  We are just entering that transitional stage where little girls still enjoy playing with their toys "sometimes" but they are also wanting to be more grown up and starting to find other interests.  One of the most popular gifts amongst this age groups seems to be Smiggle stationery.  But when the majority of your gifts end up being Smiggle, well there is only so much Smiggle one little girl can use, so we wanted to try find a gift that was totally different.
The idea came when Aldi Stores recently had soft, plush blankets on sale in a variety of bright colours.  We've purchased one of these in the past and it has washed up well and been a much loved blanket in our home, so I wasn't in the least bit hesitant about the quality.  So with an idea formed, we purchased a few different colour blankets (in the recipients favourite colours)  and headed home to start designing our project. 

Here is the finished result . . . . .

A Personalized Applique Blanket

These are a nice size plush blanket and measure 127cm x 152cm, so just perfect to snuggle up under and keep warm and cozy when reading or watching a movie!

The designs are positioned around the centre of the blanket and each piece is approximately 8-10cm in size. 

Now the big question - were the recepients excited to receive them?  Yes, Absolutely!! 
This idea is particularly great if you have a child with a name that never comes on the mass produced personalized items you can buy in stores.  One of the girls was very excited because she finally was able to have something with her name on it.

If you need a gift idea then why not try making something like this.  I just used cotton fabrics for the applique pieces, vliesofix (a heat bonding product which sticks the fabric to the blanket) and then blanket stitch around the edges - this can be done by hand or by machine.  Honestly, it is so easy.
I now have some more to make for my own children - they figured if their friends could have nice personalized blankets then they wanted to have one too.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Coloured Rice & Pasta - Toddler Crafts

This year I am continuing on with my role as Playgroup Co-ordinator.  I felt like I quite literally hit the ground running ( as the expression goes) with the start of this year.  There is always a lot of administration type work that goes on behind the scenes and then there is the weekly program planning. 

I am so fortunate to have a great lady who helps me out each week and I'm able to delegate all the stories and music and songs to her - she has a background in early education and does an amazing job - the kids and parents alike all adore her.  She even has a great crocodile puppet she uses which the kids totally love.  
We run two playgroups each week, so that leaves me with organizing the activities and crafts for each week for the two groups.  We've seen a growth in numbers this year, which has been fantastic, but I'm finding it requires a bit more time for preparation, especially for the crafts.

I thought I'd share a couple of ideas with you which we have used recently. 

We actually did the coloured rice towards the end of last year.
This is one of the crafts we used it for.  We also used it to decorate sea creatures recently and they looked great - very colourful.  Sorry I don't have a picture of those. 
This week I had my daughters help me at home and we had a fun time colouring uncooked pasta. There are several ways you can colour rice and pasta, we just went with what we had at home. We used simple food colouring and a few drops of water - inside a zip-lock plastic bag. Add the rice (or pasta), seal the bag and gently shake around until the colour disperses and covers all the contents. We then spread the contents out onto trays lined with paper towel to absorb the liquid/moisture and left to dry. It was quite a warm day, so they didn't take long to dry. I removed the paper towel part way through the drying process to get rid of the dampness completely. 

You can see we had fun experimenting with lots of colours!

This is what we made with the coloured pasta this week.  All the playgroup children had fun making faces and their own versions of coloured pasta artwork - it was a huge success and so easy for little hands to work with on their own!

I have stored the various colours of rice in plastic takeaway colours and they seem to store really well - even through our summer heat and humidity.  I will do the same with the pasta and see how that goes.

I am always on the look-out for craft ideas for playgroup - so if you know of any or can refer me to a great website - please take the time to let me know - I would be very appreciative!

Enjoy the rest of your week!