The bags were made from a free tutorial here. E's is the one in blue and was made exactly as the tutorial directs, N's is the light one and I squared the bottom rather than rounding it. I'm not sure that I can tell much of a difference between the two when they are sitting. The cords I think could be shorter and the tubing that the cords go through have to be bigger than what is called for in the pattern. I made them bigger and they were still pretty snug to thread the ties through.
I have been wanting to make a few handmade quite activities for N to be able to play with on her own when I need a minute (or five) to myself. Thanks to the wonder of Pinterest I found this, I love that she did it as an exchange with other mom's and I think that it would be a great way to do Christmas if you knew enough parent's who were game. I didn't do everything that she had listed but I did a few.
A rice I-syp bag: which N loves, even if it is just to carry around. I walked around JoAnn's looking for small stuff and ended up with some shaped buttons, small wood shapes, ABC letter beads spelling out her name, some small bells, and some of those Japanese shaped erasers (a pig and a pair of shoes if you are really interested).
The bead bottle: by far N's favorite, and probably my least favorite. It's a mess, pony beads will go everywhere. On the up side, she does love putting them in, in the bottle, in her pants, in the play kitchen, in the trash, pretty much anywhere they can be put, she'll put them.
The miscellaneous extras. You really can't go wrong with giving a toddler a whistle and a kazoo, at least if you want them to stay occupied you can't go wrong. If you want to have a conversation with another adult it might not be the route of distractions that you want to take. N mostly likes the silly putty container more than the putty itself.