I can’t be the only one who struggles with buying gifts for kids.
I mean, I’m totally fine with figuring out what to give my own kid. But I’m talking about other kids – my kid’s friends, my friend’s kids, or family members who we don’t see often.
Their interests are always changing and I never know what they’re currently into, so I just put off buying a gift.
I always wait until the last minute and then try to find the perfect gift. Then I get overwhelmed and end up grabbing something that they toss aside after five minutes of play.
Well, did I ever find the perfect solution to my gift-giving conundrum.
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I came across this tutorial for a DIY Fort Kit a few weeks ago and literally had a lightbulb moment. I began my search to gather materials and found them to be cheaper in huge quantities, so I bought enough of everything to make six kits. Sixty dollars and few hours later, I had six awesome kid’s gifts ready to go.
It’s so nice to know I always have a unique, fun kid’s gift on hand. Bonus points that it’s something kids can use their imagination and be creative with. No more need to stress about last-minute birthday party invites: grab one of these and head out the door!
In my fort kits, I included:
- Clothespins. An essential item. I divided a set of 100 evenly among the six kits.
- Clamps. I put four in each kit, but when I make these again I’ll be adding more. These are the anchors of the fort kit.
- Suction Cups, although if I had to do it again, I’d skip these altogether. The particular suction cups I purchased didn’t hold the weight of the rope with the sheet on it. After building with the kit a few times, we decided that they aren’t necessary.
- Rope – I bought three packs of 100 yd clothesline and cut them in half to split among 6 fort kits. Each kit got 50 yards of rope.
- A flashlight (and don’t be like me and forget the batteries!)
- One or two twin flat sheets (these are super easy to come by at thrift stores, or you can order this multipack in a pinch)
- A bag to store it all in (I sewed this simple drawstring bag to store everything in. Or, you can use any bag you have on hand).
Follow the simple directions below:
Find a Bag
You need a bag or container to store all of the tiny fort components. Bonus points if it will hold up well to repeated use. You can repurpose an old tote bag, a reusable shopping bag, or any small to medium size bag you have on hand.
I have fabric to spare so I sewed one of my reusable drawstring bags. Check out my detailed tutorial. Follow the “fort kit size” dimensions in that post.
If you don’t have a sewing machine handy, any old bag will do.
Add Tie-Ons to the Sheets (Optional)
I added tie-ons to the sheets before packing them in the bags. Here’s how I did it:
Cut an old T-shirt into 12″ X 1″ strips.
Stretch out each individual strip and make a simple knot at each end.
Using one strip, make a loop in the corner of your sheet. Sew a few lines back and forth at the crossing point.
I like to create a smaller loop and leave extra length after the sewing point. This way, kids can thread their rope through the loop or tie it on with the spare length.
I sewed seven fabric strips onto each sheet: One at each of the four corners, one at the midpoint of each of the long sides, and one smack in the middle of the sheet. It ended up looking a little something like this:
This step is totally optional, and possibly unnecessary. I’ve only set up a fort with younger kids (under 7) so far, but we’ve relied on the clothespins more than the tie-ons to hang our sheets. You might consider leaving this step out unless you’re gifting the kit to older kids with a little more dexterity.
Throw Everything in Your Chosen Bag
Yup. Open up your completed bag, and toss everything (clamps, clips, sheets, suction cups, flashlights, rope) right on in there.
Add a Label to Explain What’s Inside
The first time I gave a fort kit as a gift, the poor recipient had no idea why I was giving them a bunch of laundry/building tools. It took a lot of explaining and demonstrating at first.
I saved myself some time with the next kit and created some simple labels for to explain what everything in the bag is supposed to do (make a fort, duh).
I handwrote a little note to each recipient on the back of my labels, cut them out and laminated them. Then, I punched a hole in the top and tied them onto the bag with ribbon. Simple dimple.
I gave a fort kit to my niece and nephews for the holidays and I’m not sure who had more fun building and playing in the fort: them or me. We built a giant fort above the futon my nephews were staying on and we all had a blast.
I’m not kidding about how simple these are. At $10 a kit and an afternoon’s worth of optional crafting, you’ll be done buying kid’s gifts for the next few months!