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Natural Awakenings

Fabulous Father's Day: Do-It-Yourself Gifts for Under $10

Jun 01, 2009 03:00AM ● By Helen Coronato

Father’s Day is a good time to remind Dad of how special and loved he is. With a little ingenuity, toddlers to teens can skip commercial products and commemorate the day with memory-making ideas that go easy on their piggybank and the Earth.


Hand Print ~ Capture the attention of little hands, as well as their shape, by mixing one cup of applesauce with one and a quarter cup of cinnamon in a bowl. Knead well, shape into a ball and roll out on a counter. Gently push your child’s hand down to make an imprint. Let dry completely.

Workshop Storage Containers ~ Wash and dry used baby food jars. Have your toddler paint the outside of the jars, using equal parts glue and paint and then, while they’re still tacky, help him or her cover the jars with bits of tissue paper. Next, apply another coat of the paint/glue mixture. While drying, paint caps. Together, sort screws, nails, bolts and other small items into different jars, fastening one item from each jar to the top of the cap, using a strong adhesive (adult job).


Laptop Montage ~ Remind Dad of home while he’s at the office by creating a picture montage for his laptop computer. Help your preschooler choose a selection of digital family photos and program the screensaver to show him how much he’s loved.

High Seas Adventure ~ If Dad dreams of a sailing adventure, create his own personalized fleet. Cut a piece of construction paper into a triangle to make the sail and decorate with markers and stickers. Along the longest edge, punch three holes and weave a plastic straw through. Anchor the bottom of the straw with a small ball of Play-Doh. Attach the anchored sail to the top of a plastic lid, such as the cover of a large yogurt container. Make several boats of various sizes and shapes.


Month-long Fun ~ Because Father’s Day is June 21, brainstorm 21 simple things Dad likes to do, have and eat. Print out a blank June calendar on recycled paper and fill in his favorites, so he can look forward to, for example, a game night in his honor on a Tuesday, a fresh pack of gum on a Thursday and pizza at six on a Saturday night. Have children assemble needed supplies and info before June 1, so that the daily gifts are ready to give.

Baked Treat ~ Help your child measure out all ingredients, store each in a separate sealed food container, and then wrap everything in a box topped with the recipe. When Dad unwraps the ready-to-go recipe, he’s all set for an easy-bake treat with his little one.


Cherished Memories ~ Organize children to scour the house for small conversation pieces that symbolize Dad. Maybe a golf ball, if he shares his passion for the sport with the kids; a fork, if family barbecues are a specialty; or his favorite weekend baseball cap. Place items in a box with a handmade note thanking Dad for the memories, for who he is and all that he does.

Plant Family Roots ~ Contact a local nursery to find the best types of trees to plant in your area. Or, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at to learn how you can have a tree planted in Dad’s honor in a national forest.


Good Vibes ~ Give dad the gift of relaxation, motivation or stimulation with a personalized music mix. Fill his iPod or burn CDs with labeled musical themes, such as TGIF – Music for the Weekend or Traffic Tranquility – Soothing Sounds for the Morning Rush. Enjoy researching some of Dad’s favorite tunes and introducing him to some new sounds, too.

Value Dad’s Counsel ~ Tear out, trim and recycle used pages from a discarded notebook and turn it into a new keepsake. Have your teen brainstorm a list of questions he wants to ask Dad; everything from, “What was your favorite thing to do when you were my age?” to “If you could change one decision in your life, what would it be?” Have your teen type each question onto a mailing label, attach one question per blank page and invite Dad to share his answers.

Helen Coronato is a mother, author, speaker and consultant. Her latest book, Eco-Friendly Families, is packed with concrete advice, useful tips and fun strategies for families who want to go green. Visit for more eco-living tips.

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