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Father's Day crafts: Ideas help ensure Dad won't be forgotten

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Even while reveling in the handmade treasures that have come my way each Mother's Day for the past years, I've wrestled with a disconcerting reality.

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I think it's time to go public with this, so I'm just going to lay it all out there.

Dads, you've been getting ripped off. It's as simple as that. It's true, and we mothers know it.

We've got the school year on our sides, along with the awesome teachers who spend time planning and preparing activities around the goal of making mothers feel special mid-May.

But then the school year ends, and with it goes school projects. Though some exceptionally forward-thinking teachers exist, most often Dad stands the chance of feeling like second fiddle come Father's Day.

Now, if I may, I'm going to ask the Dads to fold up this SheSays section after reading the next paragraph. I hope you won't take offense when I ask you to split for just a while. This is about to become a conversation between me, your kids and their mother.

Wait, though, before you go, could you please place this article in a conspicuous place for those in charge of Father's Day gifts to "discover"? And pretend you didn't just read that. Yes, your memory has just turned very hazy. OK, dads, catch you later.

Moms and kids, now that I have your rapt attention, I hope you'll enjoy some of these craft ideas we've collected for the benefit of helping dear old Dad feel special and appreciated this Father's Day.

A final disclosure: I'm not a crafty person. So in narrowing down the options, I tended to zero in on some of the simplest; the fewer supplies needed, the better.

TIE TREAT BOX

A see-through, square container filled with daddy's favorite snack and adorned with a paper tie makes for an adorable surprise.

Though we discovered this craft through a blog called "eighteen25" (eighteen25.blogspot.com), its author admitted to having "totally copied this idea from Martha Stewart." The tie pattern, in fact, can be found on Stewart's site (www.marthastewart.com), but it's simple enough to make on your own with a straight-edge and pencil.

What you need:

* 1 plastic box - I found this one at Hobby Lobby, and it was the perfect size for the patterned tie cut-out. With the lid, it's about 3.75 inches wide, 5 inches tall, though taller boxes also could be used.

* Cardstock or other patterned paper - I ended up with more than I needed, but because these boxes aren't very big, I can envision making more than one. Perhaps each child could make their own with a different snack.

* Since our daddy is a football guy, I went with a football pattern. To involve younger kids, have them create their own patterns on white paper.

* Adhesive - I bought a tube of tacky glue then realized the whole operation would have been a lot easier with double-stick tape, though the glue worked fine in the end.

* Dad's favorite snack - I ended up going with M&Ms. First, because they're chocolate, which is always a hit in our home, and secondly, because they look like mini-footballs, and that fit in with the overall theme.

* Template - You can find one online at http://tiny.cc/duuqfw, or as I've already suggested, make your own without too much extra effort.

Instructions:

1. Print and cut out cardstock pattern or your own. For the ready-made collar, cut along the solid center line and fold down along the dotted lines.

2. Attach the additional strip to the collar with adhesive.

3. Place the snacks in the container, close the lid and use adhesive to attach the collar and tie to the top of the box, just under the lid line.

SPELL IT OUT

We found this fun idea on a blog called "Brassy Apple."

What Dad doesn't like to keep photos of his kids on his desk? But even better than the standard school portraits, this simple collage is made with Dad in mind.

We had a lake and lots of nature at our disposal the weekend of the secret photo shoot set up to accomplish my aim, but in order to keep it all on the down-low, I chose a grove of trees as the backdrop.

The blog version had the kids standing against bricks that look to be part of their home. Almost any backdrop will do, but I'd suggest sticking to natural lighting and outdoors if possible.

What you'll need:

* Wooden letters, around 6 inches in height

* 1 tri-fold frame

* A pleasant day weather-wise

* Cooperative children wearing their best smiles

Instructions:

The minimum number of letters you'll need is two - "D" and "A;" the "D" can be used twice to create the word "DAD" in three separate photos. You can spell out "DADDY" or "FATHER" or even "PAPA" or "GRANDPA."

You can do this project with any number of children, even one. Just make sure to have just one letter in each shot and three different shots if spelling out DAD.

With two or more children, alternate letters and children in each photo. All sorts of combinations are possible. Have fun and try several different poses.

After choosing your favorites, edit the photos if necessary, then print or bring to a one-hour photo processing store.

What's fun about this project is its potential to become an annual tradition. Yes, the surprise factor will rub off after the first couple years, but it's also likely Dad will come to look forward to seeing the yearly changes in his munchkins.

CUTE, CUBED

This is a great idea for smaller kiddos. Again, from MarthaStewart.com.

What you'll need:

* An undecorated notepad cube at least three inches in depth

* Markers or crayons

* Ribbon in dad's favorite color

Instructions:

1. Have the kids decorate the outside of the cube however they want. They can write things like "I love you, Dad" and include simple drawings of Dad's favorite hobbies. If the notepad is loose and not bound together with adhesive, they may need adult help to keep the individual notes from scattering as they draw.

2. Tie up notepad cube with the ribbon.

'KING OF THE GRILL' APRON

For the dad whose culinary prowess shines at the grill, an aptly-decorated apron can help him feel official.

We found one on the website www.bhg.com that is super cute, though it will require either ironing or sewing skills.

What you'll need:

* 1 plain, full-length man's apron

* Approximately 1 square yard each plain material in the following colors: red, yellow, tan, brown and black. If available, iron-on material in same colors could be used for the sewing-shy.

Instructions:

1. With the black material, cut out block letters spelling "King of the Grill."

2. Cut out three shapes that look like ketchup bottles with the red material and three shapes that resemble mustard bottles with yellow fabric.

3. Use the tan and brown to create three buns and burgers.

4. When all the shapes and letters have been cut out, either sew or iron onto apron.

*Note: If sewing or ironing on fabric pieces isn't your style, consider painting the apron with fabric paint available at craft stores.

(Now, dads, you weren't "reading in" were you? Say it isn't so. If you were, you have to promise to act surprised.)

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