This year it seemed like it was finally time for the boys to start giving gifts as well as receiving them. In past years it has felt like too much work – in fact, this year it felt like too much work, too, but it also seemed like the right thing to do. A fairly trite case of doing what was right rather than doing what was easy. So we buckled down and figured out doable projects. I thought of beaded gifts, since we have some beads around, but bracelets and necklaces were too big for me and my kids. For one thing, I have a thing about gifts – I don't want them to be clutter. So if we made jewelry, I'd want it to be wearable. But if the kids make gifts, I want them to feel ownership. I could see myself hovering and fixing, and it wasn't going to be a good thing. So only a week or so before Christmas I thought of earrings. Now earrings don't work for everyone on our gift list. They don't even work for all the women, because not all the women have pierced ears. But for the women who do, my five-year old made earrings.
You can buy pieces of wire like pins, with a head on the end to hold the beads, load it with a few beads, leaving enough wire at the end to twist around the earring finding that you can get at a craft or bead store – I got ours at AC Moore. M did the beading – he chose the beads and put them on the wire, often more than once if they fell on the floor. He made two to match. Then I wrapped the wire onto the earring finding and voila, a beautiful gift. (Although, don’t underestimate the wrapping procedure if you’re a beading newbie like me. However, since it was a gift from a five-year old, I didn’t feel perfection was necessary.)
For people who don't have pierced ears, we made bookmarks on a ribbon. These were less successful in my opinion, because I had to be involved the whole time, to help him thread the beads onto the ribbon (we used a waxed piece of thread, folded in half as the "needle"). With the earrings I could walk away while he prepared the wires, and attach them to the earring piece later – he could watch or not.
P, who is eight, had trouble with the earrings. He wanted to use big beads, which slip of the end of the wire. He didn't want to hear me tell him that if he started with small bead, it would hold the big bead on. He stuck an ugly button on the wire which looked terrible, and my perfectionist tendencies kicked in. So to cut to the chase, he drew pictures on bookmarks that we cut out of cardstock, and felt very proud of them, and I'm sure the recipients will like them too. They meet my criteria because a little piece of paper, used as a bookmark (I use old envelopes all the time) just cannot be clutter. At least not as long as people read books, which isn't a sure thing, I guess!
E, who is three, made a single gift – he climbed on my lap and said he wanted to make a present, so we did. I didn't feel that he was up to making more than that. Maybe next year.