The Art Box: A Unique & Affordable Gift for Children

As I mentioned in my post last week, every Thursday in December (and maybe a few other days too) I will be sharing some unique Christmas gift ideas that move beyond Toys-R-Us, won’t break the bank, outlast 2013, and, hopefully, create beautiful memories for your children.

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The Art Box

WHO is it for?

  • The aspiring artist or any toddler or preschool-age child who likes to doodle

I first started making Art Boxes for my nieces who were 5 & 3 at the time. Just keep in mind the age of the child & his or her skill level when selecting supplies to include.

My rule of thumb: If I wouldn’t let my child play with it, then I don’t give it to another child of the same age.

WHAT is it?

The Art Box consists of whatever arts & crafts supplies you think the recipient would like. Again, take into consideration the age and skill level of the child plus interests. Also consider the mom. Really. Don’t give your friend’s 2-year-old tubes of glitter or an ink pad with stamps unless you want to lose a friend.

You can use whatever you like to serve as your Art Box. Usually, I get a plastic storage container with a lid to keep everything contained. This year I couldn’t find a box big enough to hold everything, so I settled for these cute totes at the Dollar Tree.


I like to personalize each Art Box with the child’s name. You can also add decorations if you’re creative. I’m not; that’s why I’m giving an Art Box in hopes that some child out there isย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Basic art supplies to include:


Construction paper
Googly eyes
Watercolors & paint brushes
Scribble pads
Glue sticks
Coloring books
Self-adhesive jewels
Regular & colored pencils
Pencil sharpener
Pipe cleaners
Tissue paper
Old Christmas cards
Wrapping paper &/or Fabric scraps
Yarn or ribbon
Old Wall Calendars

The sky — or rather your budget — is the limit. Really. Kids will create with anything.

WHEN can you give one?

Art Boxes make great gifts for Christmas, birthday, even Valentine’s Day and Easter gifts. This year I gave my two big girls each a new Art Box as a “Welcome to the first day of school” present. An Art Box would also make a great gift for a child who is ill and confined to a bed.

WHERE to buy the supplies?

Honestly, I buy 90% of the Art Box goodies at the Dollar Tree. You can find everything listed above and much more, including little craft kits, there. However, I do purchase higher quality items like markers, crayons, pencils, and watercolors at Target because off-brand crayons don’t hold a candle to Crayola.

Another great source for good quality art supplies is

Here are some items I have bought in the past that I would highly recommend as well as some supplies that are on my girls’ wish lists for Christmas:

Do-A-Dot Markers

My three & five-year-old girls LOVE these paint that you hold in your hand like a marker. Mamas love them too because they don’t spill or make a huge mess like other paints can. Plus, you can use them for school — think patterns ๐Ÿ™‚


My five-year-old has really gotten into stenciling lately, so I’ve added this stencil set to our Amazon wish list for her. These 24 plastic stencils come in a handy-dandy box for storage. Plus, the price is pretty reasonable.

Melissa & Doug Standing Easel


Every budding artist needs his or her own easel. I really like this one because (1) it folds up and stores neatly under the bed and (2) there’s a dry-erase board on one side and chalk board on the other. The downside is that paper and supplies are sold separately. I’ve put this one on my daughters’ wishlist too. It would make a good gift from a grandparent ๐Ÿ™‚

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads

ABCs & Numbers

We’ve had this exact same reusable sticker pad since my oldest was 3, and it’s still hanging on ๐Ÿ™‚ There are over 1,000 stickers in a variety of colors. I consider these stickers “fun-educational” because we use them for learning new letters and their sounds, practicing spelling, counting, basic arithmetic, and writing new words.


My girls love this magnetic dress-up doll set, so I know they would really like these reusable stickers. These are on their wishlist too and would be a nice addition to an Art Box for a little girl.

ย Vehicles

And for little boys, this sticker pad includes 5 scenes and over 165 repositionable stickers. Scenes include airport, roadway, construction site, harbor, and railroad. I can imagine this would be a fun activity to play in the car, and, hey, no mess!

Melissa & Doug Artist’s Smock

But of course, art is generally messy. That’s why an artist’s smock would be an ideal addition to your Art Box. Personalize-able, durable, adjustable, wipes clean, Melissa & Doug. Need I say more? We usually use one of Daddy’s undershirts when we’re getting artsy, but I’d like to invest in artist’s smocks so my girls feel like artists. At under $10, these smocks are really affordable.

WHY give an Art Box?

Because, from my experience, most toys get played with for a while and then are quickly tossed aside or broken. An Art Box can be pulled out on a rainy day or when Mama needs a little break, and children can draw and create independently.

If you have a friend with little children, consider making an Art Box for her, I mean her kids. Or if you have a child or a niece or nephew who spends most of his or her free time drawing, an Art Box filled with favorite supplies would be the perfect gift.

Art encourages creativity, self-expression, quiet reflection, and contemplation — all of which are important for growing children. The Art Box facilitates learning in a fun, inexpensive way.

And Some Extra Advice

From my own experience, I’ve found that if you’re giving Art Boxes to siblings you need to label each supply with the recipient’s name. This will minimize squabbles over whose crayons are whose and encourage responsibility for one’s property.

Set a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to go overboard fast, even at the Dollar Tree. Pick out the items you want, and split large bags of pompoms and googly eyes among multiple children. Each child doesn’t need 150 googly eyes.

Go through your own Art Box to see what craft supplies you no longer use that you can give away.

Only buy “washable” products for children under 10.

Avoid sharp scissors.

Reconsider glitter and/or glitter glue for the under 3 crowd.

Do you have a child, friend, or family member who would like an Art Box?

What would you add to my list of art supplies?

I welcome your kind comments & questions.

Come back next Thursday for another unique Christmas gift idea!

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  1. “Also consider the mom. Really. Donโ€™t give your friendโ€™s 2-year-old tubes of glitter or an ink pad with stamps unless you want to lose a friend.” <—truth. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The Do-A-Dot Markers look like a lot of fun! And relatively mess-less. Win-win!

    This is a great collection of art ideas. Will is an artist and Elizabeth is too, so I'm thankful for any recommendations I can get ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lisha recently posted…Sometimes, I Microwave The VeggiesMy Profile

  2. M & D Reusable Stickers look fun!! Other additions to craft box: buttons, tissue paper, wrapping paper scraps, old Christmas cards, fabric scraps, empty toilet paper rolls, yarn or ribbon, and old wall calendars (can cut up pretty pictures on calendars and use). ๐Ÿ™‚
    Christa Upton recently posted…5 Ways to Survive Chronic Illness and ChristmasMy Profile

  3. I love doing art supplies too! So much fun and they get used up so they don’t become clutter in someone’s house.
    Deanna recently posted…Gift Ideas for a 2 Year OldMy Profile

    • For real, Deanna. I’m so tired of clutter. Plus, you can buy art supplies so inexpensively that it doesn’t bother me to restock often.

  4. I love when people buy art supplies for my daughter. In fact, I wrote a post similar to this just a couple of weeks ago. Great minds, right Keri? Love the easel idea. Right now our art station happens on the coffee table- it’s the perfect height for my 2 year-old. Thanks for sharing!
    Jelli recently posted…Christmas Decor on a Budget & Christmas Linkup!My Profile

  5. LOVE, LOVE , LOVE this idea! My children LOVE using their art supplies. It is the gift that never ends and keeps on giving back ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now if I could just figure out how to keep my daughter from holding on to EVERY art project she creates.

    • Melanie, I can totally empathize. I have to secretly throw my kids’ art creations in the trash. But I can’t just let them stay there on top. I have to smash them down, bury them under food and diapers so they can’t see them. They WILL find them. They always do if I don’t bury them in the trash. Then, I feel like a horrible Mom for doing it. But we can’t keep them all, can we?