Friday, September 7, 2012

A Birthday Treasure Box a la Miss Moo

One mermaid gift, as requested.

The Dilemma

Birthdays gifts are a challenge. (Well, really gifts in general, but I digress.) I don't like buying something just for the sake of saying I have a gift. I also don't like buying "junk" - things to just sit around, lotions or soaps, gift cards to restaurants people might not even like, etc. I always try to do something that I feel will be appreciated by the recipient that has a little touch of me in it.

Last month our beloved babysitter and friend, Lizbet, celebrated a birthday. I had been brainstorming for days on something special to do for her and had come up with nothing. I mentioned to Miss Moo on the morning of Lizbeth's birthday that we were going to her party.

The Solution

"We need a present for her, Mama!!" (Boy, didn't I know that.) She went on, "I can make something for her!"

That was a great idea!! Simple, homemade, kid driven. Just what Lizbet would LOVE! But I still had no idea what to make. After breakfast, the girls and I loaded up and headed towards Hobby Lobby. As we walked through the doors I asked Moo what we should make, because honestly I was at wits end.

"How 'bout....hmmmm," her brow wrinkled as she thought.  "How 'bout we make her a treasure box for her treasures!"

 My little pirate had handed me the perfect idea. Off we went.

The Process

Our supplies (which I forgot to photograph) were:

  • one small, wooden box with latch
  • purple soy craft paint
  • gold iridescent glitter glue
  • under the sea scrapbooking stickers

For this project to be driven by Moo, it had to be a less is more theory. We didn't need paint options, locks, jewels, or other additions. We needed a process she could follow and enjoy. Her involvement was simple but crucial.


I taped some newspaper to the kitchen table. I am usually a bit particular about painting and accuracy, so I had to let that go. It's about the process, I kept reminding myself. Moo used a sponge brush to first paint the bottom and let it dry. Then together we painted the rest of the box a very bright purple. Did we paint rivets and the latch? Yes, because Moo is two and that's what they do. Perfection wasn't the point. She really wanted to make this for her Lizbet.
Exterior of one purple treasure box.


While we ate lunch, the treasure box dried. Moo was very anxious to move on to the next step of the process, SPARKLES!! (I find it very amusing that my little girl who loves trains, trucks, excavators, and pirates also LOVES sparkles.)  Using a clean sponge brush, we used glitter glue to paint the inside of the treasure box. I chose to use the glue hoping it would somewhat seal the wood so that Lizbet could actually put things inside the box.  After two good coats of sparkles, the box was ready to dry and the girls were ready for sleepy naps.

Final Touches

Before heading to the party, Moo put the finishing touches on the treasure box. She had wanted mermaids for the inside of the box but we'd had no luck finding any. Instead she settle for treasure. I helped her place the treasure chest and she did the rest herself.

The girls each made a card for Lizbeth. Moo folded her own card and placed all the sea creatures. Miss Roo mostly added stickers to hers.

From Moo.

From Roo.

Then, since we had found no mermaids, we had to wrap it to LOOK like a mermaid. The iridescent tissue paper I had on hand from the Dollar Tree worked perfectly. As I began to wrap the box, Moo suddenly ran from the kitchen telling me to wait. She brought back an acorn we had gathered from a trip to the park with Lizbeth.

"Her treasure box needs a treasure!"

Yes, it does. So we wrapped the box, holding the precious acorn, and took it to a very happy and grateful Lizbet.

Why a Child Driven Gift

This treasure box was a great idea for many reasons. It was low cost - less than $8 for all the supplies with paint and glitter left over. It was low mess - only three steps mean that there isn't a lot of clean up if you have limited space or time.  It was low stress - Moo was able to enjoy it because there weren't a lot of steps or rules to follow. It was high result - it gave Moo something to be proud of for having made it, it gave me something to use as a process teaching tool,  and it made Lizbet feel like she was truly appreciated by us all.

It was also inspirational - I have an idea for Moo's big Christmas gift based off this original design. Be sure to stay tuned in the coming months as that idea develops and starts taking shape.

Have you ever created child given gifts? How successful were they?

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