Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Craft Kit Questions Answered

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As we near the end of the road with the Craft Kit gift we gave out at Christmas time I thought I’d answer some questions I seem to be asked a lot about them, and review our experience with the whole idea.
How Does It Work:
First off, I want to say that I still think it was the BEST gift idea for the person we gave it to. I don’t regret the choice at all, but the original concern I had when coming up with the idea came back to haunt me. 
I was worried, right from the start, about keeping up with it. It’s quite the process that I go through to make the craft kits. I usually spend a day looking up all the holidays, birthdays, and oddities that happen(ed) in the coming month. Then I jot down any that sound interesting to me or seem really important.
From there I go on to “make the cut”, which is basically which of those dates I go through to plan something for. If a date made the cut I then dig through all my resources and find crafts, recipes, and experiments to go with them. That does not mean that each date has one of the above!
Next we print up a paper for each date that has a tiny snippet about the date and then explains all the crafts or activities that we’ve included. In essence it’s really super simple, but can take a while to come up with everything!
Once I have everything assembled to my liking I bundle up each date in it’s own envelope, label it with the date on which one should open it and then they all go inside a bigger envelope or box for mailing.
Pros:
The idea was awesome, and I know my niece really enjoyed it. That makes it all worth the effort! 
I learned a lot about various small holidays, anniversaries, and other oddities out there. That was equally fun. I also have a whole years collection of fun ideas I can now use with my own boys, because honestly I didn’t end up using any of it with my gang!  This has left me pondering the question, “Should I gift this to Morgan this year?”
I also pulled out a lot of my resources that often sit idle on the shelves, this was another plus for me. It reminded me of things I hadn’t used in a while, and of course when you hunt for one item you often come across a few others. 

There’s also the whole fact that when you work on something for someone you are led to think about them often. It’s always fun to think about people we love! 
Cons:
The biggest, and probably the only, downside to the entire gift was the upkeep! It could take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to get it all ready, each month.
There was also the cost of shipping. I had big intentions of sending all the needed supplies (empty boxes, tape, glue, etc.) but just to send the envelopes without extra supplies turned out to be more then I had anticipated, and I couldn’t convince any of the Wallabies or Wombats to deliver the package for me!
Where do you get the ideas from:
Various resources. As mentioned above I scan a few sites and books for ideas of things that are happening in a given month. KinderArt is great for holidays for kids. I also used Daily Discovers & Scholastic Monthly Idea books as we own many months of each. I also own a book called Kids Holiday Fun by Penny Warner
This is where I search for dates, and from there we may or may not use all the craft and activity ideas. Sometimes I’ll have an activity bookmarked away for a rainy day and I’ll remember it. Weird, but true. Just don’t ask me to remember if I got bread out of the freezer today or not!
There were also months that I went with an overall theme. For instance, in March or Apri, I think it was, all most all the crafts were hand print crafts! It made it a bit of a messy craft, but I figured my niece wouldn’t mind too terribly much.
Another month I went with a lapbook theme. My kids, especially Morgan, loves lapbooks. He happens to be 5 days younger then this particular cousin and while that doesn’t make them have the same likes and dislikes I will honestly admit that I thought she’d really enjoy them too. So each date we celebrated there was a lapbook to go with it. Because of that, very little of anything else went into the kits that month. I figured that lapbooks can take time to make and assemble and thus there might not be time for anything else!
What was in each craft kit:
This is probably the most frequently asked question that I get asked! Each month I sent my niece an audio book. It might have something to do with a coming holiday/date in the craft kit or it might simply be a book we love so much that we purchased the audio version for her. (I purchase my audio books from Audible.com.)

Now, because this is the most frequently asked question I’m pretty sure each of you really wants the nitty gritty of exactly what was in the boxes. I didn’t take photos of each box, in fact I think I only snapped a photo of the very first one! So, I’ll make a quick list of the things we popped in the boxes, but be forewarned it will probably be some what lengthy too!
January:
You can read a detailed account of the January kit here.
February:
Ground Hog Day was February 2nd, and while it’s not something that’s celebrated or known about in Australia it’s a big deal in America. I’m trying to initiate Wombat or Bilby Day here for the same purposes, but the rotten marsupials refuse to cooperate with me!

President’s Day

Valentine’s Day 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Birthday

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday


George Washington’s Birthday

Black History Month

  • Info on the Underground Railroad & a pattern for making a Safe lantern
  • Light experiment
March:
Peanut Butter Day

Alexander Graham Bell’s Birthday

Johnny “Appleseed” Day

St Patrick’s Day

First Day Of Spring

In Like A ... Out Like A ...

April:
April Fool’s Day

Easter Sunday

  • Contents for this kit can be found here.
Young Writer’s Day

Beverly Cleary’s Birthday

Notes: I had considered sending money or purchasing her tickets to the movie, but I wasn’t sure if it was out in her area or if they’d be able to make it so I ended up vetoing my own idea.
Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

Earth Day

ANZAC Day

May:
May Day

Cinco DeMayo

Mother’s Day

Fahrenheit’s Birthday

    June:

    • Read about the June Kit here.
    July:
    Canada Day

    July 4th

    Elias Howe’s Birthday

    Ice Cream Cone Day

    August:
    Friendship Day



    Watermelon Day

    Smart Cookie Day

    Going On A Bear Hunt Day

    September:
    Johnny Appleseed’s Birthday

    Newspaper Carrier Day

    Talk Like A Pirate Day

    First Day of Autumn

    Mexican Independence Day

    October:
    Charlie Brown Day


    Columbus Day
    Erie Canal Day [Opened]

    Grover’s Birthday

    As you can see some months had more then others. May & July ended up being emailed which really bugged me, and August & September are incredibly late getting to her! 
    August was a tough month because I honestly couldn’t dig up enough of anything reasonable about it! For September I skipped Labor Day & Patriot Day, not because I was unaware of them but because the kit was so late as it was I decided to send it “as is” instead of rounding up more information.
    Will you be doing it again?
    No, most likely not. We’ve all ready spotted a few awesome things we can’t wait to purchase for my niece and send her for Christmas and her birthday. I am considering using all the information I sent her with Morgan this year. 
    He’s very crafty and would adore something like that. Of course I’d have the advantage of having it all together all ready and not needing to mail it to him. This would make a big difference. I would, however, need to round up all the supplies. If I do it with him I’m considering a large rubbermaid style box with all the supplies needed inside so that on the appropriate day we can just get what we need and have fun with it.
    While I know my niece has really enjoyed this gift I feel slightly disappointed with it. I had envisioned a box loaded with craft supplies and bright colors awaiting her at the start of each month. Instead, she got a package full of great ideas, a few extras, and the occasional supplies.
    February was my favorite month because I did send ALL the supplies needed for the various crafts and things. We also tucked in a birthday present for her and a couple of fun Valentine items. That particular kit was exactly how I envisioned it going out each month, and if we didn’t live in a country different from her it might have panned out exactly as I’d hoped.
    At the same time, the feedback was always good about her like(s) for the kits. She even sent us photos of some of the things she did which is always fun too! It might just be my perfectionism streak that has me disappointed with the presentation of what I sent.
    Was it Difficult?
    No, but it was time consuming. I’m sure you’ve gathered that by now! I love giving people gifts, and I love making those gifts to give them. That makes all the time it took worthwhile. Not to mention the fun that she had and the great resource I now have from compiling all that information! 
    Was it costly?
    I think that would depend on a variety of issues. For me, shipping to America (or any country for that matter) can be costly. I live in Tasmania and sending an average package to the mainland can cost me about $9.50. Same for receiving it.
    Packages to other countries are clearly triple that or more depending on the size, depth, and weight of the package. If you are living in the same country as someone you were to do this for it might cost you considerably less in shipping!
    Another idea would be to box it all up in advanced and send it all out at once. If I had been more on the ball or had even considered it this might have been how I’d done it. Hindsight is always 20/20.
    Are the last two months of the year planned:
    Yes they are! I’m debating if I want to add more to them then what I’m all ready planning, but don’t think I will. I’m planning to send her 30 Days Of Thanks & Giving as well as the Christmas Craft Bags from 2009. We will be doing the same craft bags again because due to several unexpected things happening in December last year we didn’t get to do them which was a huge dissapointment to my children. I may, or may not, add a few more fun things into it for this year.
    I’m completely undecided on coming up with a fresh set of 30 Days of Thanks & Giving because we’ll be emersed in a big Thanksgiving study leading up to Thanksgiving.
    What was your favorite part:
    That’s a tough one. There’s so much fun in putting them together and coming up with ideas I thought she’d enjoy. I did have an incredible amount of fun working on Talk Like A Pirate Day; I was quite pleased with the way the instructional paper reads. but there’s also extreme satisfaction in getting in the mail on time!

    1 comments:

    Pam said...

    Hi, I used to live in Aus. & will be returning in Jan. I also struggled w/ keeping up w/ my niece & nephews. Your dieas are very intriguing. I would love to try some of them. I know I'll have to limit it to one or two things each month-cost of shipping does hurt! Thanks for sharing such creative ideas.