Handmade things are amazing! I love handmade for the same reason I love hand-me-downs, they remind me of someone special who has put a lot effort into making something with their own hands.
I believe that everyone has been given a gifting and I love it when I see someone using theirs. At Chrismas, I often ask my friends and family, if they possibly can, to make something rather than buy something, no matter how simple.
I practise what I preach, here are some knitted bricks I made my youngest when he was born:
Knitted things are very tactile for babies, they love squishing, pulling, throwing and stroking them.
I feel honoured to be part of a family who very much like using their gifts, and I have a brother-in-law who likes making wooden things, such as this little wooden knife you see below that we use for cutting playdough. It is very light and really lovely to hold, brilliant for teaching knife skills.
Musical shakers are the easiest things to make and every household should have some! Use any left over plastic tubs/jars and fill with lentils/beans/dried peas/ whatever you have in the cupboard. I found that a sprinkle jar (pictured) was the perfect size to fit in a chubby fist, my doctor friend used a sample bottle (clean)! You could experiment with different containers until you find what you like…or make a library of them! I would like to make a rainmaker, do let me know if you find the ideal container…maybe a cardboard tube that a poster comes in would do the job.
A couple more.. I made some bean bags with my mother-in-law for an event that I was helping at, but there are umpteen games you can play with them at home! A very easy, quick toy to make, and you can use any old material lying around! We filled ours with lentils.
My mum made a wonderful material picture book for Youngest. A very special book that we will treasure for years to come.
Sometimes, all I need is some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. The world wide web is a brilliant place to start, I love it! Here’s a really great link that I have used: Happy Hooligans’s article on 70+ toys you can make. I love handmade toys because they do not have to be expensive, you don’t have to have a lot of skill. I’m not terribly artistic, but I always say to myself that handmade toys don’t have to be pretty…kids can play with literally anything (as long as it’s safe!). As people often say to me, sometimes children are far more interested in the cardboard box than what comes inside it!
If handmade isn’t your thing (it’s not always my thing if I’m honest!), there are plenty of brilliant companies out there who are doing amazing work employing people around the world who live in poverty. I love supporting these organisations because they are helping give communities a hope and a future.
One company that I have found is Pebblechild. This company has a tagline of ‘handmade and fairtrade’, something that really jumped out at me as ticking several of my ‘I’d like to do that’ boxes at the same time.
Pebble has a lovely story! It was started by British lady Samantha Morshed in 2004 when she moved to Bangladesh. Samantha wanted to do something to help the local community so she started teaching the women to knit and crochet toys..I really wish she was my next door neighbour! Imagine the chats you could have! Samantha’s original idea has grown and blossomed, and her crafty community are now selling their products worldwide. Watch a short video about their work here for more info, it’s really simple and helpful.
We have not yet bought anything from this company but from all that I have seen and read, I totally approve of their mission, work, ethics and products, so go check them out! I have favourited this web page for future present ideas!
Speaking from a ‘green’ perspective, I feel that perhaps this is not the most environmentally friendly way of getting toys due to the air miles involved. The materials used by Pebble are biodegradable (wool, tick!), and air mileage would not be as much as buying heavy plastic toys from across the other side of the world. I love helping give families the chance at a proper wage to help buy food, health and education, and that’s never a bad thing 🙂
I’d really like to buy more things locally. It would be great to see local and national businesses flourishing once more. Sometimes it’s quite tricky to find local businesses to support, so anytime I find one, I’ll post it here!
For handmade toys, we can recommend The Crafty Elm, based in Aberdeenshire (Scotland). Hannah at the Crafty Elm uses her sowing skills to make toys of all descriptions. Crafty Elm started off making ‘daddy dolls’ for children who missed their daddies whilst they were at work or further afield (sob!).
We have our very own daddy doll (custom order based on photographs I sent)! Both our children love playing with him, re-enacting daily life/ including him in whatever it is we are up to!