On Father's Day, I gave 40 small children at church paper ties. I asked them to write or draw words of wisdom from their fathers. They looked confused so I explained. I said, "Write or draw what your father tells you. What advice does he give you?" They wrote and colored vigorously for a few minutes until I asked someone to share.

Katie proudly displayed her work of art and said, "My tie says, 'take out the trash!' Because that is what my dad always says." I laughed as all around the room ties had things like "clean your room" and "be quiet" written on them.

When class was over and the doors opened, 40 excited children ran to their fathers, grandfathers and stepfathers. They proudly gave them handmade paper ties. I smiled as I watched grown men joyfully accept paper ties, hugging and thanking their children.

The best gifts are made with love and become more priceless as time passes, like a paper tie or a plaster mold of a small child's hands.

Here are a few low-cost ways to say happy Father's Day:

Picture Frames

Any photo of your child can become Dad's desktop favorite. Glue or tape a photo of your child to stiff cardboard leaving a 2-inch border around the photo. Talk to your child about Dad's favorite things to do. Does Dad love fishing, football or cars? Go through magazines and let your child cutout pictures of fish, sports and things he thinks Dad will like. Glue them around the photo. You can also let your child write a personal I love you in his own special handwriting on a piece of construction paper and glue it to the frame. Don't forget the glitter! Cut a colorful paper cup in half and tape it to the back or glue a child's block to the back. Your picture should stand up on its own on Dad's desk.

Ties and T-shirts

Here is a link with step by step instruction for making T-shirts and ties at home that look amazing. Put photos of brand new babies on T-shirts for new dads. Start with light plain ties and T-shirts. To save money use an old tie or T-shirt. Young children can create a masterpiece to put on a shirt or tie. Photograph it, print it on special print transfer paper, iron it on and voila! Scribbley art makes a great tie pattern. If you can't afford transfer paper, use sharpie markers and basic acrylic craft paint. Draw and paint right on the shirt.

Fishy barbecue apron for dad

This is as fun for your kids as it is for Dad. Plain barbecue aprons can be purchased for less than $10. Craft acrylic paint is permanent so aprons can be washed. Purchase a full-sized fish (not live - sorry kids) from the grocery store. Put your acrylic paint on a large disposable paper plate. Use an old paint brush to cover the fish with paint. Or if the fish is small you can lay it in the paint. Use the fish like a stamp and press it on the apron in a fishy pattern. Use one or more colors for fun. Once your work of art is dry make sure your artist signs it with a sharpie marker.

Garden stepping stone

Using a cardboard box and cement like this ready mix by Dap, you can make a stepping stone that will last a lifetime. A stepping stone was one of our favorite gifts. The kids had covered it with things that were sentimental to us like agates and seashells. Here are simple directions.

Homemade clay handprints

These can last a lifetime and be made with items found in your kitchen.


2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Salt

1 Cup water or more until clay is right consistency

Roll the dough out and press handprints into the clay. Cut a quarter-sized hole into the top of the dough so that you can hang your work of art. Bake at 300 degrees until the dough bakes through. It will gradually harden. If your dough bubbles it is too thin or needs more flour. Once your work of art is dry you can paint, glitter and bedazzle it. Let your children get creative. This same recipe can be used to create anything your child thinks of as long as it fits in your oven. Here is a video with simple instructions for your clay art.

Paper weights

By our fountain is a potato-sized rock that says, "I am a rock," on one side. If you turn it over there is a painting of an island. This was my daughter's junior high gift for her dad, who loves music, like the lyrics, "I am a rock, I am an island." by Simon and Garfunkel. Acrylic paint and a rock is all that is needed. Let your child paint the rock and create his work of art so it can spend a lifetime holding dad's papers down. For a glossy finish, spray your rock with acrylic finishing spray.

Bedtime jar

Fill a jar with colorful slips of paper. On each slip of paper write a question like, "What is your favorite food?" Decorate the outside of the jar with stickers. At bedtime, each child gets to pick a question from the jar for Dad to answer. It is a fun tradition and a great getting-to-know-you game.

This Father's Day get creative and give Dad a gift that shows your children took the time to make something from the heart, something he will treasure forever.

Close Ad