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

, ,

Rima Joy’s Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Boxes

Rima Joy is back! – and this time she is bringing you a reusable advent calendar that you can make yourself. We love making an advent calendar, but having to do it every year can be tedious. Here, she is helping us get crafty and make something unique – and then we get to keep using it every year! She has shown you her special way, but I think you can do all sorts of fun things to make the bones of this craft especially yours. Take it away, Rima:

I’ve always loved anticipating Christmas. As a kid, months before any decorations were up at the mall, I would be scouring our toy magazines, circling items that caught my eye. My excitement only grew once the Christmas music, the decorating, the baking, and—in full disclosure—the present peaking began. I’m not sure why my mom thought the guest room was a good place to hide gifts. So obvious.

Well, now I’m an adult with my own children, and it’s time to get them excited for Christmas! I don’t think I’ll have a hard time getting my sons to follow in my footsteps. They were asking for Christmas music in October! But I don’t want them to only be excited about lights, snowmen, and presents. I pray that the time leading up to Christmas will help our sons grow in their excitement and understanding of the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, the Savior of the world.

Using an advent calendar is a great way to build anticipation and explore the mystery of the incarnation (God made man) at the same time. I’ve put together a list of 25 passages from scripture to use (along with chocolate of course!) in a handmade advent calendar for our family. Each passage focuses on a simple sentence about who Jesus is or why he came, and the last couple of passages focus on the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. We read one passage a day to help us celebrate the advent season.  Would you like to join in our tradition?

Click Here to Download Rima’s Daily Scriptures Printable

Supplies Needed:

  • 25 small favor tins (You can find these in the wedding section at craft stores.)
  • 2-3 sheets of Christmas cardstock
  • Numbers 1-25 (I found cute Christmas card stock with numbers on it and just cut the numbers out. You can also use numbered stickers or write/stamp your own numbers and then cut them out. )
  • Blue gel school glue
  • 12×12 shadow box
  • 25 small magnets with adhesive backing
  • Print out of scripture passages
  • Acrylic craft paint and sponge brush (optional)
Prepping the shadow box:
  1. If desired, paint the shadow box with the craft paint and allow to dry.
  2. Once dry, apply the magnets to the box. The magnets will hold the tins in place. To ensure that the magnets line up properly, I used the following process:
  • Place a magnet on the bottom of each tin (the adhesive side of the magnet should be facing out).
  • While the magnets are still on the tins, peel off the protective papers from each magnet.
  • Line up the tins in the shadow box, and press down firmly so the adhesive from the magnet sticks to the shadow box.
Prepping the tins:
  1. Cut the Christmas card stock into 25 5x5cm squares.
  2. Take the lid of one of the tins, and place 5 dabs of glue underneath the lid (see image). Place a square of cardstock underneath the lid, so that the pattern shows through on the front of the lid. Repeat the process for each lid.
  3. If you are not using stickers, cut out your numbers.
  4. Center and glue (or stick!) each number to the top of the lids.
  5. Allow the lids to dry overnight before placing them back on the tin.

Assembling the Calendar:

  1. Cut each day’s scripture reading into a strip. Fold each strip and place in the corresponding tin. We like to include a little piece of chocolate too.
  2. Put the tins inside the shadow box in order, and you’re ready to go!

Thank you so much for letting me share with you today! I hope you enjoy our tradition as much as we do.