Kids Gifts: Painted Totes

Painted Book Totes

It is so important to help our kids strike a balance between giving and receiving, 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?

Easy DIY Painted Tote Bags

This Christmas, we have made SPIN ART STATIONARY for teachers (click for post). For our Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, we are making 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).

multiple processes for bags


Tote Bags

Acrylic Paints



The Friendly Beasts – book (for inspiration, of course)



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

DIY Tote Bags


Spin Art Stationary

DIY Stationary

My daughters participation in gift giving is super important to us. It is just one way that we hope to help her believe that her gifts and talents are worth giving and worth receiving. At this point, she could rub brown marker on brown paper and everyone would be perfectly proud (thank God), but when she has something totally beautiful to give, BONUS!!

So go ahead, buy some basic kraft paper stationary ($4.99 at our local hobby store), a little tempura paint, and put that salad spinner to good use! Maaaaaybe a $8 total gift (which gets cheaper the more you make).

The Goods:

Salad Spinner

Tempra Paint

Square Kraft Paper Stationary

The Process:

It is easy enough. Use a little tacky putty to put your card on the bottom of the spinner. Let your kids drip, splatter, or make shapes with the paint, put the lid on, and spin until everyone feels satisfied.

Experiment! There isn’t a wrong way!

Look at that precious face of surprise! Every.single.time we opened the lid he did this. His awe never waned.

Oh! And these are the perfect companion craft to The Not Very Merry Pout Pout Fish. It is a precious, easy to read, fun rhyming book about a fish that soon realizes that, “Hey! Homemade gifts are the best gifts.”

Pout Pout Fish Companion Craft


Best DIY Teacher Gifts