I can’t count the number of years my kids have gotten their grandfather golf balls and their grandmother store-bought jewelry for Christmas. If you’re in a similar boat, consider going to a paint-your-own-pottery studio where your kids can make truly meaningful gifts with their very own hands. The best part? You’ll all have a fabulous time doing it.
How It Works
First, pick the piece you want to paint. Dena Pearlman, executive director of the Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association, suggests browsing a studio’s website for samples with the gift recipient in mind. Looking to make something for a grandmother who loves cooking and entertaining? Consider making a piece of dinnerware. A cousin who’s seen Cars 25 times and counting? Some studios have a Disney line. An aunt who loves jewelry? Many places offer silver and glass. And what grandparent wouldn’t adore a plate that incorporates your kids’ handprints?
Next, choose the paint colors and get to painting! You’ll leave your masterpiece at the studio for glazing and firing, and you’ll pick it up three to seven days later.
Costs vary, but most venues usually charge a per-person fee (under $10) in addition to the price of the item, which can be anywhere from a few bucks to about $60.
Who Can Do It
According to Pearlman, even infants can help create a piece, by adding their handprints or footprints. (All paints at the places we list are nontoxic.)
Know that kids at any end of the artistic spectrum can also make something special—from your teen who’s been taking art classes since she was 5 to your current 5-year-old who’ll likely be proud of anything she makes. Most studio employees will be happy to give direction if needed and may even have stencils or rubber stamps on hand to make things even easier.
Here are studios in the area that don’t require membership, classes—or experience!
• A’ La Art, Lake Hopatcong: 973-810-5388
• A Stroke of Creativity, Monroe Township: 732-446-4268
• Brushes & Bisque, Denville: 973-627-6292
• Color Me Mine, locations throughout the area, including Bernardsville, Denville, Hamilton, and Ridgewood: Visit the website for a complete list.
• Creatively Yours, Ridgewood: 201-857-0900
• Make Me Take Me, Highland Park: 732-246-3888
• That Pottery Place, West Windsor: 609-716-6200
Renée Sagiv Riebling is a freelance writer from central New Jersey who is always on the lookout for new adventures with her family.