You want to pamper your pet this holiday season but probably don’t want to spend even more money on gifts and decorations. What can you do to make your cat or dog part of the celebration without going broke?
Plenty! By creating your own pet centered gifts and decorations, you’ll save money and have fun at the same time.
Gifts for Pets
The toy-filled aisles at your local pet supply store are actually designed to attract you, the pet owner, more than your actual pet. Dogs and cats don’t care about the bright colors and the fun designs we commonly see in commercially made toys. They just want something they can chew or chase. Instead of spending upwards of $10 on a fancy toy for your pet, just make a one yourself.
Cats are the easiest pets to make toys for, any cat trainer can attest to this. It’s not hard to make
some fun items for your cat this season. Here are a few ideas.
- Sock toy. Probably the easiest toy to make for kitties is a sock toy. All you need is an anklesockyou don’t want (one with a Christmas design can make this toy particularly festive), some crinkly paper and a permanent marker. Simply ball up the paper and stuff it into the sock. If your cat likes catnip, add a few pinches of it inside the sock too. Tie a knot at the end of the sock to keep it all contained, and draw eyes or a face on the sock if you’d like. Then toss it to your kitty and watch the fun begin.
- Cat hideaway. Cats love to snuggle in cardboard boxes. Something about the cardboard seems to attract them. You can tap into that mysterious attraction by turning a large cardboard box (big enough for you cat to stand up in) into a perfect place for hide-and-seek. Simply cut off the flaps on the open side of the box, and then using a retractable razor blade or utility knife, cut a hole in one side of the box big enough your cat to enter. Cut another hole the same size on an adjacent side of the box. Turn the box over so the open side is facing the floor, and leave it where your cat will find it. It’s only a matter of time before Kitty is hiding inside the box, napping for hours on end and popping out at unexpected moments.
- Menswear Mice. If you like to sew, you’ll enjoy making catnip mice for your kitty from scratch. Few toys are as fun for cats as cloth mice that they can bat around. All you need to do it yourself is some old menswear shirts made of material like cotton, wool or corduroy, a sewing machine, embroidery thread and a few other sewing items. Martha Stewart has a great pattern for making cloth catnip mice for your kitty: https://www.marthastewart.com/908084/menswear-mouse-toy.
Dogs can be a bit more challenging to make toys for because they tend to be hard on their playthings. Just remember that any toy you make for your pooch has to be able to stand up to those tough jaws. Here are a few:
- Ball and Rope Toy. If your dog likes both rope toys and balls, this combo do-it-yourself toy willbe a big hit. You only need cotton rope, a lacrosse ball and electric tape to make this toy, which is good for both tugging and chasing. Instructables.com (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-ball-and-rope-dog-toy/) has complete instructions. Any Certified Dog Trainer would recommend keeping a close eye on your pet when introduced to this toy. Rope can easily be swallowed and lead to a medical issues, so many sure your pet plays with this toy correctly.
- Plastic Bottle Toy. Lots of dogs like to chew on empty water bottles. There’s something about the sounds and sensations of the crunching that gets them going. Rather than just giving your dog a water bottle to munch on, make him a pretty toy that provides him with even more satisfaction. All you need is about a yard of fabric, a plastic water bottle and a pair of scissors. Cut four 1-inch wide strips of the fabric to use for ties, and then wind the rest of the fabric around the bottle as if you were wrapping a burrito. Tuck in the excess fabric as your reach the end of it. Then tightly tie the 1-inch strips around the bottle to secure the fabric in place, all the way to the top of the bottle. Next, cut the excess fabric at the top of the bottle into 2-inch strips that hang down. Then braid three of these strips at a time to together, knotting each one at the end. The resulting toy will look a bit like an octopus—and your dog will love it.
- Tennis Ball Treat Toy. If your dog is the busy type, he might enjoy a homemade tennis boy treat toy. You need a tennis ball, some aromatic crunchy treats and a serrated knife. You can turn the tennis ball into a treat dispenser that only gives its rewards when your dog figures out how to get them out. Visit Instructables.com https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-amp-Cheap-Dog-Toy for instructions.
The holidays are a great time to let your family and friends know how much you love your pets with some homemade pet-oriented decorations. Here are some ideas:
- Cat Face Ornaments. If you have an artistic flare, you can make your own cat-themed Christmas ornaments for your tree. Start with plain, round ornaments, and dip them in a light-colored acrylic paint. Once they dry, use a felt pen to draw a cat’s face on each ornament: eyes, whiskers, nose and mouth. For a sample of what these look like, take a peek here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/149533650115848407
- Salt-Dough Puppy Paw Print. Your dog can participate in the making of this adorable Christmas tree ornament. Using dough you make at home, along with some paint and glitter, you can help your dog provide a pretty paw print memento that you can hang on your tree for years to come. This video walks you through the steps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2b-I5x96fA.
- Pet Christmas Wreath. A Christmas wreath adorned with photos of pets both past and present can be a special and unique ornament for the holiday. You can buy a ready-made wreath already decorated and add a few photos of your pets amidst the existing decorations. Or, you can make your own wreath from scratch, with either a living pine wreath or an artificial wreath. Whether you are working with a ready made or a DIY wreath, use small craft picture frames for your photos. You can get these at your local crafts store or online. Print photos of your pet sized to fit the frames, and place one photo in each. Using a small paintbrush, cover the front of the frames with glue and then dust the glued area with red, gold or silver glitter. This will make your photos stand out with a real holiday sparkle. If you are making a wreath from scratch, you’ll need more decorations. Wind a pretty wired ribbon around the wreath, and add small Christmas balls throughout. Then place your photos throughout the wreath, amidst the ornaments. Affix all the decorations with floral wire you can buy at a crafts store. Hang your wreath over a fireplace or another spot in your home where the photos are easily visible.
- Christmas Collars. Want your cat or dog to look festive this year but can’t find just the right Christmas collar? Make your own! For this design, you’ll need felt, floss, elastic, jingle bells and sewing tools. Follow this pattern (https://dogue.com.au/club-dogue/dog-diy/diy-christmas-dog-collars), or make your own design. Your home will be brimming with holiday spirit once you don your cat or dog with one of these cheerful collars.
- Doggy Advent Calendar. A great way to include your dog in the days leading up to Christmas is with an advent calendar with a canine twist. Advent calendars for humans feature a piece of candy for each day leading up to December 25th. Advent calendars for dogs mean a dog treat for every day. You can buy treats that will fit in a calendar, or make them yourself. For advice on making your own Doggy Advent Calendar, Cooking For Dogs has a how-to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5irUuFXB-9A&t=15s