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Christmas Gift Idea: Busy Bags (Great for Advent, Stockings, or Under the Tree)

photos via MADE and the rigneys


The popularity of our current giveaway for a 6 month kid craft club subscription tells me that you guys are hungry for some quick and easy kid activities to fill up your winter months.  So today we’re gonna talk about a magical little wonder know as “the busy bag”.  If you’re not familiar with the concept then it’s your lucky day – this post may just change your world.


The definition of a busy bag varies somewhat based on who you talk to.  For me, any small bag containing re-usable materials for an entertaining kid activity constitutes a busy bag.  They can be as simple as a few lacing cards and string in a zip lock or as extravagant as a hand sewn tote stuffed with theme-related books, activity pages and figurines.  Either way, they’re worth their weight in gold when you have a whiny, cooped-up toddler on your hands.


photo via the rigneys


Here’s my idea, use Christmas as an excuse to make as many busy bags as possible.  Whip up a few as stocking stuffers, put a dozen or so into a plastic bin and wrap it as present for under the tree, or (if you’re REALLY feeling brave) frantically throw together 24 of them tonight and open one each day as an Advent calendar.  It may mean putting in a little more effort than a trip to the toy store but, trust me, this will be as much of a gift to you as to your kids.



On board with the plan?  Good, here’s how I’m gonna help.  First go here and here to check out my two favorite sources of inspiration for busy bags.  Then go here, where I’ve put together another continually evolving pinterest board for you (yay!) all about busy bags.


Two helpful hints before I wrap up:


  1. Busy bag swap parties are a great way of easily growing your collection.  Pick one or two busy bags you feel you can easily make, ask a few friends to do the same, make several copies of your bags, then meet up and have a swap.
  2. Many of these busy bags contain small paper parts, which I would suggest laminating for long term durability.  I’m gifting myself this Scotch Thermal Laminator as an early Christmas present this year.  You might want to consider doing the same!

P.S. If you’re really looking to have the holidays in the bag this year, we’ve got two ways to help. First get the holiday shopping out of the way with all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here

Over 250 of the most engaging educational toys out there - the only gift guide you'll need this year! (love the detailed descriptions and age recommendations)

Second, check out our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, packed with low-prep and low-stress ideas for make memories crafting, cooking, reading and adventuring with the kids!

Hands On Holidays eBook - can't wait to use this with the kids this year!




P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time so you can connect with your family? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our "Save Your Spring" bundle: over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more PLUS 84 pages of kid activities perfect for spring break!

Over 50 pages of organizational gold


2) Sign up for our newsletter:

sign up for the newsletter and get a free 6 week meal plan


3) Bookmark our famous Gift Guides for the next time you need the perfect kids' gift! (350+ detailed descriptions including age recommendations)

Our infamous kids' gift guides

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecilia November 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

awesome ideas! i love the colored paint chips one- and the cookie jar bag on MADE so puts me in the Christmas spirit, even though it’s not truly seasonal. thanks for sharing these.


Anonymous December 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

These are great. I save the plastic “envelopes” that duvets or pillows come, they are the perfect for traveling and throwing in your purse or baby bag. Perfect when you need some entertainment on the go.


another donkey design by kate December 1, 2011 at 1:31 am

Oh, wow, i think you may have unleashed a busy bag monster in me – so many ideas i want to try- now just to find the time. Thanks for sharing.


Nicole Manier December 1, 2011 at 4:34 am

I swear I am never going to sleep again trying to duplicate all of your amazing ideas! Thank you so much for sharing everything you come across to those of us who want to be creative but just aren’t quite sure how to go about it.


life:styled December 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I love our busy bag! I have a slew here too, including those in our current rotation: http://www.ourlifestyled.com/search/label/busy%20bags


lady December 5, 2011 at 2:38 am

I have been looking at Quiet Books for so long, but I am a perfectionist so I have never started. I thought about just making pages and sticking them in a bag. Seeing all these ideas has given me permission to do just that.


Emma December 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Hi, this is such a good idea. I shared it on our blog today. Thanks.


Natalie December 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I am following the board on pinterest now and am so excited for making many of the great ideas there. Thank you so much for sharing!!!


Thaleia@something2offer September 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Great post! I have over 240 busy bag ideas on my pinterest board, if you care to take a look! http://pinterest.com/tmaher45356/busy-bag-swap/


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