I love doing this each year! It's so much fun to see what everyone comes up with. This year I drew my sister's name and thought I would surprise her with a game, Bananagrams. The game is a little pricey at the store, around $15. I made mine for around $5. It could have been much cheaper if I already had everything I needed. Still...Five dollars isn't much!
If you've never played or even heard of Bananagrams, it's a lot like Scrabble. Except this game isn't played on a board and everyone is making their own crossword simultaneously.
My first step was assembling a bag to hold all the tiles, or pebbles that I made my game with.
You start with the top of the bag. I had to buy a zipper, but the banana uses so little fabric you might be able to dig through your scraps if you have a lot. Next time, I would probably make my top a little skinnier. It made the banana a little misshapen with the wider top piece. My original top was almost the same size as the banana sides.
The bag was three pieces. The top with a zipper, and two banana shaped sides. You could make a liner, but I didn't.
After your zipper is sewn into the top piece, you pin your first side on, right sides together.
You pin your next side onto the top piece, right sides together and sew along the edge. You can see from my picture below how the middle zipper piece is almost the same size. I would adjust that and make it smaller.
Before you sew your banana shut, you want to make a small strap which resembles the banana stem. I folded mine in half, and then folded the sizes in a 1/4 inch.
Sew along one side, or both if you want it to look more professional. It is not necessary to sew along the width side. It will be sewn into the side of your banana bag.
You want to fold your strap in half, leaving both ends poking out a little bit. Make sure to place the stem in between the banana layers. I sewed my strap on the side where the zipper closes at. Before you sew the bag shut, make sure to unzip it enough so you can flip it right sides back out.
Now your bag is completed! You should have a banana ready to be filled with tiles. I thought about purchasing some Scrabble tiles to use, but decided it would be just as expensive as buying the Bananagrams game. I wanted to make my own.
For this part, you need a bag of clear pebbles. You can usually find these in the floral department at the craft store. I think they are commonly put at the bottom of flower vases for decoration. I know Hobby Lobby sells a bag for $2.99 and with a 40% off coupon that's only $1.80.
You also need mod podge, a 5/8" circle punch, and yellow paper. I used two sheets of paper to print off my letters.
Once you have printed out your letters, cut them into strips to make it easier to punch out the letters. You can cut these out by hand, but I would HIGHLY recommend getting the 5/8" paper punch. It makes it so much easier, and the circles are all uniform. I found the paper punch at Michaels for $2.40.
The next part is very tedious and time consuming. I put on a few Christmas movies and didn't get off the couch for almost the entire school day. My son colored in a coloring book on the floor and we had a good time having a lazy but productive day together.
You can use a paint brush to apply the mod podge to the bottom, flat side of the clear pebbles. You put the letter face down, so it is magnified when you turn it over. Depending on the type of paper you chose to print your letters on, you may or may not want a coat of mod podge on top of the paper, yet. (See later note)
If you notice in the picture below, my paper was a little thin and you can see the letters showing through the back. I didn't want this. I figured it might be a temptation to cheat during the game and try to pick what letter you need. I glued the paper to the pebble, but I didn't finish them off with a clear topcoat yet.
I painted a design on the back of the pebbles to hide the letters, and to make them more fun and professional looking. Once I had my design painted on, I then added a couple coats of mod podge to seal the papers onto the pebble.