Before we knew how the year 2021 would turn out, many Venice residents were curled up inside creating ways to entertain themselves. Now that we have the opportunity to seek out friends and join gatherings, mixing a little craft-making with gift-giving can bring about entertaining ways for teens and tweens to give creatively. Assembling “Do It Yourself” gift items can be ideal for young friends to be able to share their appreciation for a theater performance, congratulations for a volunteer project, to bring as a thank you for a group project, or to simply share friendship.
One gift project perfect (for those parents okay with a sweet tooth) is a mini-candy bouquet in a vase. Swapping flowers for edible treats can certainly bring a smile to most youngster’s faces. Simply buy Halloween-style mini-candies, whether regular store bought favorites or organic alternatives. Purchase a package of natural bamboo or wooden skewers usually — priced at under five dollars — and find any leftover vase, some scotch tape and some ribbon. Tape the candy to the top of the sticks, arrange in the vase, add a ribbon and a card, and it’s complete.
Since the outdoors are the safest place to be with ongoing concerns about contracting Covid-19, tweens and teens may enjoy themed picnics with friends. The television show “Parks & Recreation” is credited with starting the trend. While picnicking, one popular theme or activity is creating jewelry for each other. Bring clear fishing wire, a way to cut the string, and beads from any craft store.
Some may prefer to make bracelets from parachute cord (paracord) since it’s a little thicker while forgoing the beads. These can be made by purchasing nylon string and paracord bracelet buckles. You will need a pair of scissors and a lighter to melt the ends. Cut four sets of string, with two being about four inches longer than the others. Make sure the four strings are longer than you believe you need for the bracelet after you have folded each one in half. Attach all four strings to a buckle, and then use a series of square knots to create the bracelet.
For those who may be keen on creating a more active gift, tweens could get together to build, gift to each other, and race pinewood derby cars, popularized by the Boy Scouts of America, in which kids compete against each other to see who can create the fastest car. Racers can build from scratch or buy and assemble their own car kits.
If you prefer a gift that requires a little less crafting, just collect a few fun items and put them together. Why not fill a beach bag with flip flops, sun glasses, a beach towel, and sunscreen, along with a popular paperback or magazine, as an easy year-round winner for sunny California? An added craftier activity can be to bedazzle, paint, or add jewels to inexpensive flips flops. Add a homemade card to go with it and voilà, a gift with heart.
This article was recently published in a parenting column I write for Venice Living Magazine.