10 easy personalized gifts to make for children’s birthday

If you are a mildly creative person, chances are that you are looking to create a personalized gift for a special child in your life.

How cute did these personalized applique T-shirts turn out? My girls loved these!

I love making personalized gifts for two main reasons. Firstly they really make kids feel special and secondly, because they have the stamp of my love on them which no store-bought gift can have.

I have two young girls aged 5 and 7. And over the course of the past few years, I have created a wide variety of personalized gifts for them using the resources I have at home.

In general, I have spent very little money on the expendable supplies to create these personalized gifts. And so every time I do sit down to make something for a child, I am happy and proud of the fact that I am creating something useful as well as incredibly special.

Here let me share with you 10 of my favorite personalized gifts that I have created for my children. I gifted some of these to them on their birthday too. But all of these are excellent personalized gifts to make for children’s birthdays.

1. Personalized fabric book covers

 My older one is a real bookworm and she loves to read and write. You will find her scribbling in all kinds of little notebooks and diaries and notepads and papers. We go through quite a few stationery supplies every year because of this!

I wanted to cut down on spending so much on notebooks and diaries. I figured that if my daughter has a special notebook, she will take better care of it and use it more judiciously.

I came across an amazing tutorial on YouTube which taught me how to make a lovely book cover. I decided to take this tutorial one step further by personalizing the fabric notebook cover as well.

I bought a set of super cheap notebooks from the pound store. You could use the dollar store or any budget supermarket for these. The covers of these notebooks were thin and not really hard wearing at all. So I first covered them following the Youtube above.

Next I used my die cutting machine to cut my daughter’s initials out of stiffened felt. I have a small, very cheap manual die cutting machine called the Cuttlebug that I bought pre-loved on eBay. These machines are an excellent investment if you are into crafts at all. I also bought the alphabet dies on eBay as well.

I used 10% wool mix felt that I stiffened first at home. I have done a detailed tutorial on how to stiffen felt at home very cheaply. I would highly recommend that you take a look at it because you can save tons of money doing that instead of buying sheets of stiffened felt.

Once the felt was stiffened, I ironed it out and ran it through my die cutter. I then used a tiny bit of fabric glue to stick the felt letters onto the fabric cover. Finally, I used my small, cheap sewing machine to sew the letters on.

It’s very important that you sew, rather than just stick the letters because if you don’t, the felt letters will eventually fall off.

Lastly, I tidied everything up by ironing out the cover and putting it on the notebook. And hey presto, I have one very happy daughter who, eight months on, is still using her personalized notebook with great care.

2.     Personalized T-shirts

Halloween T-shirts for my girls. I used ric-rac for the spider’s web and made a 3-D bow out of spotty ribbon.

Commercially sold garments have made something of a cliché out of personalized T-shirts. But the kind of tops that I make at home is far from what you find commercially. In fact personalized T-shirts are my favorite go-to when I’m feeling creative and want a quick project that yields rewarding results.

Felt raw-edge applique. I dipped the end of a toothpick in white acrylic paint to make the robin’s eyes. Once the paint was dry, I sealed it with a hot iron.

Many moons ago, I had bought a bundle of cheap but good quality, plain T-shirts on sale. And so whenever I am feeling crafty, I grab a couple of those and create customized T-shirts for my daughters. They have also been popularly received by friends’ kids on their birthdays.

Hot streets in Europe! I made these personalized T-shirts using raw-edge applique on wool-mix felt. The girls loved these cute tops!

There are many ways to create personalized T-shirts: applique, embroidery, HTV, fabric paint. My favorite method is machine applique.

Here, I’m sharing with you the methods for two applique T-shirts that I created for my daughters. Alongside, I am sharing a few other personalized T-shirts that I have made for my girls over the past few years.

Each and every single one of these personalized T-shirts have turned out to be head turners. And wherever my girls have worn these, people I know along with absolute strangers have come up to me to ask me where I bought them from. I just know deep in my heart that these are great projects to make and hopefully you will too.

Whale applique T-shirt with free motion embroidery

The first one is a whale applique top with felt cut-out letters and free-motion embroidery words. To make this top, I used a simple applique technique. You can find a video tutorial for this technique here.

  • I started by finding an image of a humpback whale online. I printed and cut it out into different pieces for the different parts of the whale.
  • Next I took two coordinating fabrics and ironed on fusible web (also called Wonder Under) on to their back. I then cut out the pieces of fabric using the paper pattern cut-outs.
  • I fused these pieces onto the T-shirt with a hot steam iron and then sewed everything using a straight stitch just inside the edge. To stabilize the T-shirt, I used an iron-on tear-away stabilizer on the wrong side.
  • For the whale’s eye and the words ‘humpback whale’, I used a free-motion embroidery foot on my sewing machine. I have a very basic, cheap sewing machine that does not allow me to lower the feed dogs. So a free-motion embroidery foot is ideal for the job.
    This video tutorial does an excellent job of teaching you how to do free-motion embroidery.
  • Next I some felt and ran it through my little manual die-cutting machine to create my daughter’s name letters. I first glued these on to the T-shirt with tiny dots of fabric glue, and then top-stitched them all around.
This T-shirt has been washed and tumble dried countless times. It still remains my daughter’s favorite.

All in all, this project took me no longer than an hour from start to finish. And even though my daughter has grown out of it by now, she loves it to bits and refuses to give it away. I think it has taken on a bit of an heirloom quality for her!

Personalized raw edge applique logo T-shirts

  • For the two big logo T-shirts that you see, I used MS Word to type the letters Z and S on two different pages. I then blew them up to huge sizes, printed and cut them out. My patterns were ready!
  • Next I took a striped fabric and ironed on fusible web behind it. Then I cut it out following the paper patterns. I fused these letters on to the T-shirts with a hot iron.
  • I used my handy dandy Cuttlebug to cut out the little green hearts for an added cute touch.
  • Finally I top-stitched everything on my sewing machine.

I hope you can see how easy it is to create beautiful, high quality personalized T-shirts at home for children.

So if you think that gifting a homemade personalized T-shirt is too cliché, think again. If you applique things on properly and take the time to finish and wrap it nicely, it’s the perfect personalized birthday gift for a child.

3. Personalized story stones

 I have talked at length about story stones in my post here. Story stores are a great creative outlet and teaching aid.

Story stones can easily be customized to make beautiful birthday gifts

In short, they are smooth pebbles painted with different, bright, colorful images. They are presented in a little pouch for children to play with. Children can take one stone at a time out of the pouch and arrange them in a row, spinning a story around the images that they see.

Since we are talking about easy personalized gifts to make for children’s birthdays, story stones are ideal because you can personalize them very easily in two different ways.

Personalizing the pouch for story stones

Firstly you can personalize the pouch that carries the stones using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) or applique or embroidery or fabric paint.

You could very easily sew a simple drawstring pouch at home using some fabric and string. This short tutorial teaches you how to make a cute drawstring pouch from scrap fabric.

Alternatively you could buy cheap drawstring pouches on eBay and personalize them.

Personalizing the stones for children

You could also write the child’s name on one of the stones so that as the child spins a story, she can involve herself within that story. This makes for an even more engrossing and enjoyable experience for kids.

The best part is that you only need a handful of materials to create story stones. These include smooth stones and pebbles, acrylic paints and pens, and spray-on varnish to seal the stones.

4.  Personalized bookmarks

Parents of young children are increasingly aiming or wishing for a lifestyle of minimalism rather than opulence for their families. Therefore it’s great that more and more people are appreciating gifts like books or educational tools at birthdays, rather than garish plastic toys.

If the child you have in mind has started reading books independently, you could consider giving a set of storybooks as a birthday present. But you could make this gift extra special by making a personalized bookmark for the child.

Now there are tens of different ways of creating personalized bookmarks at home. Here, I will just talk about a method that I personally use all the time. It only takes a few minutes to create and you are done! The personalized bookmarks that this method creates also last for a while.

Personalized bookmarks materials

To make a personalized bookmark, you will need a piece of cardstock in any color you prefer.

You will also need a piece of sticky back vinyl in a complimentary color, and an appropriate tool to cut the vinyl out. Sticky back vinyl is the stuff used to make wall decals and car stickers. Essentially it is a large sheet of plain sticker material. You create cut-outs from it using manual or electronic cutting machines.

You will need laminating pouches and a laminator to seal your bookmark.

To make the hole, you will need an eyelet punch and setter, along with a craft eyelet.

Finally, you will need a piece of pretty string.

How to make a personalized bookmark

  • Begin by cutting out a piece of cardstock in a color that will appeal to the child. This piece should be appropriately sized to make a bookmark.
    I’m not giving you any specific dimensions because bookmarks can vary in shape and size. So go with what you think would be the right size for a bookmark.
  • Now take a piece of sticky vinyl sheet and use a manual or electronic die cutter to cut out the child’s name. If you don’t have any cutting machine, simply buy cheap alphabet stickers.
  • Now stick the vinyl letters on the piece of card stock that you cut out earlier. I like to arrange my letters vertically. You can also decorate your bookmark further with stickers or felt tip pens. It’s entirely up to you.
  • Once the cardstock bookmark has been decorated, you must seal and protect it. For this, you will need a laminating pouch and a laminator. You do not need to use a whole laminating pouch for the job. Simply cut it down to size, sandwich the bookmark between the two plastic sheets and run it through your laminator.

You will end up with a beautifully sealed personalized bookmark. But we’re not quiet done yet.

  • Use a paper trimmer or a craft knife to trim away the edges. You can also use a curved punch to finish off the corners nicely.
  • Now take an eyelet punch and setter to install a cute little eyelet on one end of the bookmark.
  • Finally thread and knot a piece of string through the eyelet hole to finish off the bookmark.

The whole process will take you no more than 15 minutes and you will end up with a very special personalized birthday gift.

5.  Personalized outdoors clothing like jackets or coats

 I live in England where we get really cold fall and winters. And whenever I have shopped around for a nice coat or parka for my girls, I have found that the really beautiful ones are super expensive.

This is because these branded coats and parks come in unique, beautiful prints or embroidery and applique details. These details give these jackets that extra oomph that plain high-street parks do not have.

Well, last autumn I found that both my girls had outgrown all of their clothing and were desperately in need of outdoor parkas. As I was browsing the H&M online sale, I found and bought a pair of really warm, plain outdoor coats with great reviews and at a fraction of the full price.

But they were a plain navy blue and dusty pink color, so I decided to jazz them up a bit. I had a sheet of glittery rainbow heat transfer vinyl (HTV) sitting in my stash that I decided to use for this project.

I pulled out my electronic die cutting machine and wrote out my girls’ names in a pretty font. I cut this out along with a pair of pretty flowers from the glittery rainbow HTV. Next, I heat pressed my girls, names on the left arm of the parka coat. I fused the rainbow flower just above the notch of the fishtail.

This Youtube tutorial does a fab job of explaining how to use HTV.

I ended up with a pair of the most adorable, personalized and – believe me when I say this – expensive looking jackets! In fact for the next few weeks, I had moms coming up to me at school admiring the girls’ jackets and asking where I’d bought them from!

It’s been a whole year since I made these coats and the girls have been wearing them to school for three seasons now. The coats wash and tumble dry beautifully. I also give them a quick iron afterwards to finish them off. They come out looking brand new every single time.

The most important thing is that my girls love these coats. Seriously. I never thought kids can actually love a piece of outer wear but they do. Which is why this is totally worth it.

So if you are looking to make a personalized gift for a child’s birthday, remember that designer children’s wear is expensive. So if you can create something of equally good quality which also looks the part and is personalized, it will be well received by both the kids and the parents.

You can buy sale items from high-street brands at very reasonable prices. Read the reviews first to make sure that the quality is good. Now you can decorate and personalize these items of outdoor clothing to create a unique and useful personalized gift.

6. Quiet books

If you have been around my website at all, you will know that quiet books are my absolute favorite type of personalized gift to make for children. I have been making quiet books since 2014 and by now, I have created these for a number of kids of both friends and family.

A quiet book that I recently made for my nephew

Quiet books make for the most versatile, useful and highly customizable personalized children’s gifts. However they cater to a relatively younger audience, ranging between a few months up to around six years.

My post here will introduce you to quiet books and how you can make one very cheaply in the least amount of time. You can also open up another browser tab, go onto Pinterest and simply search for ‘quiet book ideas’. You will be inundated with a flood of colorful images that will inspire you to make one.

Personalizing a quiet book retains the lifetime value of this beautiful gift. You can also include a personal loving message to give it an heirloom touch.

Whatever type of quiet book you decide to create, just make sure that you have enough time to work on it. I would say give yourself at least one to two weeks before someone’s birthday to take on a quiet book project.

For more information, click through the top tabs on this website. Don’t forget to print my free resources that will help you get started quickly and easily.

7. Personalized toy boxes

If you want to create a personalized birthday gift for a younger child, perhaps under 10 years of age, then a personalized toy box makes for an excellent and very useful present.

You can purchase plain wooden boxes or crates at very reasonable prices. Then you can decorate and personalize them at home easily.

Wood has a lovely heirloom quality to it that plastic toy boxes don’t. Plain, sanded wood is also beautiful enough that it doesn’t really need to be painted.

There are different ways of personalizing children’s toy boxes. Here, let me show you how you can use sticky back vinyl in two different ways to do this.

Use sticky vinyl as a decal

You can create a personalized decal for the child using sticky back vinyl. Simply cut the child’s name from a sheet of vinyl and stick it on the box. You can use any color and texture of vinyl. This method is quick and simple and yields immediate results.

Use sticky vinyl as a mask

You can take your vinyl letters one step further by using them as a paint mask to personalize the toy box.

First, simply stick the vinyl letters on the wooden box. Now take some acrylic paint or indoor wood paint and paint over the box. Once the paint is dry, remove the vinyl letters to reveal the child’s name. Finally, seal everything with a coat of indoor varnish.

Personalizing the toy box in this will take a bit longer. However the results will be longer lasting because unlike vinyl, paint cannot be peeled off by little fingers. And so your gift will last a long time.

You can watch this Youtube tutorial to see how to do this easily at home.

Other ways to personalize children’s toy boxes

You could also get wooden cut-outs of the child’s name letters online and stick them on to the box using wood glue.

Alternatively, you could use a burning tool to etch and burn the letters into the wood. These tools are also available very cheaply online.

8.  Personalized walkie-talkies

Kids love communicating on electronic devices like phones, microphones and walkie-talkies. The latter makes for a perfect gift for a child who has another sibling. Simply buy a set of walkie-talkies and then personalize each one by sticking the child’s name on it.

There are several benefits to personalizing walkie-talkie sets. Of course there is the element of creating something special and unique for the child’s birthday.

More importantly however, it avoids sibling rivalry when one walkie-talkie goes missing and all hell breaks loose. If the child’s name is already on it, mom and dad will know immediately which one is lost and nip any emerging sibling fights in the bud.

A word of advice when purchasing walkie-talkies though: avoid the ones that use batteries. Instead, go for the mains rechargeable ones that sit in their own charging pods/sockets. It only takes a few hours to charge them from zero and is a lot less headache for the parents.

Walkie-talkie presentation

First use your die cutter to cut out the children’s names out and stick them onto the walkie-talkie. Now charge and place the gadgets back in their original box.

It will make for a wonderful surprise when the kids open the boxes to find their names already written on their personal set.

9.  Personalized gym/PE bags

If the child goes to school, s/he will need a separate bag or gym class or PE class. These are usually simple drawstring bags that are very easy to sew. There is a fab tutorial on Youtube that teaches you how to make a drawstring backpack quickly and easily. Do check it out.

My daughter was obsessed with Paw Patrol so I made her this gym/PE bag for school. It was super easy!

When my daughter started school, I made her one of these at home using a piece of canvas and some homemade cording. My daughter was obsessed with Paw Patrol so I bought a fat quarter of Paw Patrol fabric on eBay to use as applique. I also appliqued her name onto the bag, making it incredibly personalized.

The end result was amazing and my daughter was thrilled with it. And since the bag was made out of sturdy cotton canvas, it was easy to wash, tumble dry and iron as well.

The other side of the bag

The great benefit of a personalized gym/PE bag is that it stops kids’ things from getting lost at school. My daughter’s bag was the only one of its kind in school so she never lost it!

Making a PE bag is actually incredibly easy and if you have some sturdy fabric, it makes for a lovely birthday gift for a child’s birthday.

10.  Personalized water bottles and lunch bags

Let’s just face it: when kids go to school, they lose things. The important thing though is whether they can find those things in school again. And this is where personalized water bottles and lunch bags come in.

Over the past four years, my girls have lost a wide variety of things at school, ranging from uniforms and socks to bags, bottles, lunch boxes, pencil cases and even underwear! You name it, and we have lost it at least twice.

The good thing however is that we have always found our lost items soon after losing them. And this is simply because I took the time to personalize my daughters’ school things.

One of the cutest projects that turned out for us is the personalized lunch bags and water bottles. My daughter has been using these for three years now and the personalization still looks good as new.

So if you are looking to create a simple personalized gift for a school-going child, a personalized water bottle and/or lunch bag is a great project to create within minutes.

 You will simply need a water bottle and/or lunch bag/box. Alongside, you will need sheets of sticky back vinyl in a complimentary color and a vinyl cutter. 

Simply cut out the letters of the child’s name using your vinyl cutting machine and stick it on the school accessories. For a young child starting school soon, you could also present these things as a gift bundle and throw in a personalized stationery case as well.

Remember to start with a clean, dust and grease proof surface for the vinyl to stick properly. Also, avoid silicone products because vinyl does not stick to them very well. Hard plastic or oil-cloth is best for personalization.

And there you have it: a roundup of my favorite 10 personalized gifts to make for children’s birthdays. All of these are products that I have personally created at home for my own daughters. And after 4 years of school, I can tell you: this stuff works!

If there are still a few weeks left until a young child’s next birthday, do try looking into to creating a quiet book. They make for excellent educational toys and increase children’s confidence in school while keeping them entertained as well.

You can find detailed tutorials about the various aspects of quiet books all around the website and this article is a good starting point too.

Happy crafting!

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