We’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays here, as we are ramping up for Otis’s birthday party this weekend, and I wanted to share this idea with you. I find present buying absolutely torturous, as it would be for any criminally indecisive person. But for kids, it’s especially hard since 1. kids have such specific interests; 2. I hate buying junky or plastic toys, but feel self-conscious about buying old-fashioned toys because of reason #1; and 3. I always feel guilty if I don’t give a handmade present away yet I am pretty sure that kids would prefer something junky and plastic. How does buying a birthday present for a 4-year old devolve into a circle of guilt and self-hatred?
One day, I was thinking about the birthday of a fashion-conscious classmate of Otis’s who is very dear to my heart. She always engages me in discussions about my clothes, and was particularly interested in me when I was pregnant, since I wore dresses all the time. I proposed designing a shirt together that I would then sew for her. She came up with a design, I let her choose her own fabrics from my stash, and then mere weeks later, she had this:
Word to the wise: if you’re doing a project with a pre-schooler and you want it to have meaning, don’t wait four weeks to finish your project because they will forget. She looked blankly at the shirt when I gave it to her, but soon after, with some prompting from her mother, she was very appreciative.
And then I made one for our good friend, Emmett:
He’s obsessed with the Cal Bears (from UCBerkeley, from those who don’t know). Happily, I’ve seen him wear it a few times. Evidently, it is one of the few things that he will wear that does not bear the Cal logo. I got lucky, I guess. The kid won’t even wear red socks anymore — you know, because of the old rivalry between Cal and Stanford.
What’s amazing is that the kids are so impressively decisive about what they want. And they stick with it, too. Totally foreign to me. If you’re interested, I drew my designs backwards onto iron-on adhesive paper. Then I cut them out and pressed them onto pre-washed shirts (I found Target to be a good source for cheap, basic shirts). Then I topstiched the designs down. Simple and easy, and it was fun for both me and for the kids to work together on a project. This is the perfect age to start doing projects like this.