Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Colorful Game, and Brainstorming Gift Ideas

Another day, another craft project. This is a simple game that I made for a friend's 2 year old. It is a "busy bag"- a game that fits into a small bag, portable and ready to entertain a toddler for 15 minutes while you're out and about.

This popsicle color matching game is inspired by ones I saw here and here.

Making it was SO much fun. From the craft store I bought wide popsicle sticks, a set of markers (sketch pens) and 6 sheets of stiffened felt in colors that matched the markers. This felt was made from plastic bottles.

I cut each sheet of felt into quarters (this means you get 4 popsicles from each sheet of felt). Each quarter was then cut in half. Then I rounded off the top of each piece to form a popsicle shape. I hand-sewed together the round edge of two popsicle layers using good old blanket stitch and viola, the popsicle top was ready. For the sewing averse, hot glue could be used.

Then I colored the sticks with the markers and we're ready to play.

I adore the ideas for so-called quiet-books and busy bags. They are homespun activities for young ones and a refreshing change from screen-based and battery-operated games. And these simple games exercise the imagination. This popsicle set can be used for color matching but also for counting and for all kinds of pretend play like operating a popsicle stand. It is also fun that this particular game can have various levels of play for kids of different ages. This simplest one is about color. The next level would have names of colors written in black marker on the sticks and the child has to read the word and match the color. The third level would have flavors written on the stick, like "cherry", "chocolate" and the child has to match the right flavor to the color.

I love making handmade gifts, so when Sangeetha requested ideas for homemade gifts with an Indian touch to give during the holidays, I was thrilled to brainstorm for her. Sangeetha, here are a few ideas; see if any of them appeal to you.

1. A homemade spice mix, such as tandoori spice rub or garam masala, along with a couple of very easy recipes for using the spice.

2. Assam tea (either tea bags or loose tea) along with chai concentrate. (I used to keep this chai concentrate in the office fridge and it really was delicious.) I also thought this tea bag wreath is a nice gift for a group of tea drinkers, such as an office kitchen or teachers' lounge.

3. If you like to bake, you could make something with an Indian touch, such as coconut saffron macaroons (I've tried this recipe- it is easy, you can read my notes in the linked post, and they turn out great) or nankhatai.

4. Block prints always remind me of pretty Indian cotton fabrics. Fabric paints can be used to make designs on plain tote bags or dishtowels. I personally adore the simple prints made with okra. Maybe your son will want to help with lego prints. Martha Stewart mag had a nice feature on block prints made with unexpected everyday materials.

5. If you can find decorative handmade paper from India (many high-end craft stores carry it), you can use it to decorate picture frames or make coasters using ceramic tiles.  

Are you making any homemade gifts for this holiday season?

18 comments:

  1. Home made soap- DIY kits available in craft stores.

    Sala has a mix for Daal fry and Cajun spice rice- in a jar.

    Home made Heating pad filled with dry beans or rice (martha stewart)- this is a good choice considering the aftermath of Sandy, a lot of people did not have power for about 10 days, with dipping temps. No heater, No hot water, nothing, old people and children have suffered the most. I always feel, if the feet and hands are warm, the body can accept the cold, better. So these hand/ leg warmers can actually be life savers. Even otherwise, they are good to carry in your jacket when stepping out in the cold, keep 'em warm.

    And though what I am going to suggest now is not exactly a gift option, Vicks shower disks are easy to make at home and great to use when one is suffering from a severe cold. Just pop one when you are in a hot shower and let the steam and hot water do it's job, great for little children with blocked noses.
    I have used them and the relief! Oh!



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    1. Love your ideas! I do remember Sala's post about dal in a jar. The heating pad with rice is a great idea but won't you need a microwave to heat it up, making it impossible to use during a power cut?

      Ooh, will definitely make some shower disks before I catch my next cold!!

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  2. Yes, I am making faral baskets for friends this season. Also putting together a breakfast basket for my son's teacher.It will be fun to make these.. :)

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    1. Breakfast basket- what a neat idea! Oh and faral baskets are always appreciated.

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  3. There are such terrific ideas, Nupur!!!! I love the block print idea and I think that is a very ethnic way of using items you get here in the US to make Indianized gifts. I am going to try the chai idea too.
    Coconut macaroons? Why did I not see that befor on your site?!!!
    Thanks so much for considering my comment and posting on it.

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    1. I hope you enjoy making gifts this holiday season! Post and show us what you made :)

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  4. Hi Nupur... it's great you're participating in this event as there is something from your pen everyday. Would love to read a post on any or all of the following: (1) getting creative with leftovers (2) home made ideas for diwali decor (3) using up leftover yarn from knitting and crocheting projects.

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    1. Maya- I'll definitely try and write a post about leftovers (both food and yarn)!

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  5. This Diwali, I'm planning to make home-made gift packs of spiced dryfruits - honey almonds, paprika spiced cashews and salted pistachios. For the younger kids, I plan to make your hot chocolate mix. I loved it, it's so addictive :)

    Preeti

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    1. Oh Preeti- your lucky lucky friends!!!!

      Glad the hot choc mix worked for you. I should make more of that this year.

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  6. I've always thought of gifting a spice mix along with some recipes to my non-Indian friends. I'll probably do that for a Holiday party I'm hosting next month!

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    1. That would be a really fun party favor!

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  7. First, congratulations for keeping up with NaBloPoMo with such wonderful posts! I had seen the popsicle game and tea bags wreath somewhere (may be pinterest?). I'm not a tea drinker, but had made chai concentrate last year for DH, he really liked it. Spice mix is a wonderful idea. Can you please post the recipe for tandoori spice rub if you have one? As a kid I have used okra and potato stamps (of course not on fabric) to make cards, used to love those, and still do. I'm enjoying your non-food posts as much, so keep posting the crafty stuff :)

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    1. Not a tea drinker? tsk tsk :)

      I don't have a tandoori spice rub recipe, I'm afraid. Ahem, I've always used the store bought stuff.

      I'm sure there will be a few more crafty posts before the month is up.

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  8. Hi Nupur,
    I am really enjoying your daily posts and i am sure a lot of your other readers are too ....its almost like discovering your fav magazine is now a daily instead a weekly :) I could relate so much to your making friends posts ...and although i do not know you personally it feels like you are a very nice and sensible person. I am amazed to see how much you pack in your day from raising a kid to working to cooking , managing a blog to all those arts and crafts activities . i would love some of your time management tips and would love to know how you manage it all. It would be also great to know what are your favorite dishes to serve to friends ...i tend to get tensed and tend to do too much which is why i cant have friends over more often. I am trying to be relaxed about it. do u have suggestions for an egg free dessert that can be sent to india ?
    roshni

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    1. Egg free dessert to be sent to India- let's see.
      -Eggless biscotti (biscotti is a dry cookie and lasts several days)
      -Eggless fruit cake
      -Fudge
      -Toffee (David Lebovitz has an excellent recipe)

      In fact, most cookies last several days so look for eggless/vegan cookie recipes.

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  9. last christmas my hamper included the hot chocolate mix from your blog...was an instant hit!

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    1. Really? So glad it worked for you!

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