DIY Kids Gifts- Painted Totes


It is so important to help our kids strike a balance, especially during the holidays.

Don’t you agree? Our kiddos get all these great little gifts that inevitably break or fade and meanwhile, they miss the great chasm of love, joy, mutuality, and gratitude that springs forth when they learn to give good gifts well.


“The Friendly Beasts” from Tomie dePaola is a PRECIOUS reminder of the mutual exchange of love, no matter how big or small, that occurred on that first Christmas. We are gracious givers and desperate receivers, all of us.

In this illustrated carol “Jesus our brother, strong and good,” lays in the middle of a manger, pouring forth hope, redemption, joy, recognition of pain, and promises of healing. All around him stand the animals, participating in this exchange of good gifts, each proud to have given something of their own to this sweet baby. The donkey carried the mother, the cow a manger and hay, the sheep a blanket, the dove a lullaby…”And every beast, by some good spell, In the stable dark was glad to tell, Of the gift he gave Emmanuel.”

Shall we give our kids this gift? The gift of giving?


This Christmas, we have made spin art stationary for teachers (click for post). For our Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, we are making these book totes! Inspired by the beautiful color palette of The Friendly Beasts, I gathered the paints and blank tote bags. From there, I simply invited my children, through various processes that I thought would be lovely, to create as they would enjoy. I will share some links to find some of these materials, and say a bit about the processes that I made available.

Both my children participated in this activity (3 yo and 1 yo). So it is great for children of all ages!


The Goods:

the three processes we offered:

1 – We watered down our paints and used our pipettes to drip-drop, blend paints, and make water-colorist creations.

2 – We used short straws to manipulate by blowing our watered-down paints and regular paints. You can see the cool effect this has.


3 – We used the paint brushes to encourage splattering and other regular strokes. I ended up using these after my 3 yo had done her pipette and blowing work. I let the bags dry then let my 1 yo use the brushes.

Coming back to the project a couple of days, layering processes and effects makes for some really beautiful and surprising creations. I can’t believe that these turned out so beautifully! There really is no way to go wrong, although, you might want to warn your recipients that they shouldn’t be washed!

God loves us; not because we are lovable but because he is love, not because he needs to receive but because he delights to give
— C.S. Lewis