Do an Etsy search for “peg people” and you’ll find hundreds of super cute, tiny handmade wooden dolls. From acorn topped fairies and families to superheros and ninjas, these little guys can be styled to match almost any child’s interest. While I love to support small businesses, I also love to save money, so I decided to try making some myself.
My first attempt was for a Christmas present for my 3 year old niece. I used acrylic paint and had my husband cut some 2×4’s to make houses to go with them. A month later I decided to try using watercolors to make these for a couple of birthday presents, and was even happier with the results. I really like how you can see the wood grain through the watercolor paint. It gives them an even more natural, “Waldorfy” feel. By this time my son was wondering why the heck every kid he knew had a set of them but him, so when his birthday rolled around I pretty much had to make some for him. Luckily, this is one of those crafts that turns out as cute as the ones you have pinned, and doesn’t require you to stay up until midnight wondering what the hell you’re doing wrong. With no faces to draw on the dolls and no doors or windows on the houses, I can whip out a set of these during nap time (which is brutally short at our house these days). If you have older children, I imagine they would love making these themselves.
The wooden peg people are available in a few different shapes, though I prefer this shape, which I purchased at Joann Fabric and Craft. The dolls alone are enough to elicit imaginative play on their own, but kids seem to have even more fun when you add some wood houses or pots for them to climb in (pictured below). You can cut the houses out of wood of any size, and I found the wooden pots on the same aisle as the peg people. We like to keep ours in a sensory bin filled with rice, but they’d make a charming addition to any toy shelf. After painting, I didn’t seal them in any way, so we’ll see how long they hold up. Also, I should probably mention that since they’re only 2” tall, they might pose a choking risk to kids under three, so use your best judgement there.