Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rice Buddies

Rice Buddies are a cinch to make, inexpensive, and make wonderful gifts! Simply put, they are fabric pockets filled with rice which can be stored in zip locks in the freezer to use as cool packs, or microwaved and used as heating pads.

Over the years, I've made sets of small squares (4-5 inches) which I call Pocket Packs, and then long ones about 18 inches long by 2-3 inches wide. The size depends on the material I'm using, for whom I'm making it and how they'll use it, etc.

This year, I found some fleece on clearance at our Walmart which will work perfectly! You want a heavy material since, when you microwave these, even for a short time, they can get extremely hot. Besides, the fuzzy fleece just feels wonderful!
Take your material, cut two identical pieces to the size you like, place them right sides together, and sew a seam around all the edges--leaving a 2 inch gap for filling later.

Then, turn it right side out, and it is ready to fill. A good rule of thumb is to fill the bag about 2/3 full. You want to leave enough space inside for the rice to mold to the person's hands, neck, lap or head. Shhhhh! These football ones are for my sons for Christmas, since they complained the last time that I didn't make them any. They'll love having them to put in their pockets before they head out to play in the snow.
If you are making a long one, or one that is broader for a lap pad, do it the same way. I recommend, though, that after you turn it right side out, you tack the layers together in a few places (or sew a few plastic buttons down the middle) to help keep the rice spread out. The pad will heat better, you use less rice, and it won't be as heavy for the person who is using it.

This year, I've gone a step further, and actually made a set of Pocket Packs that have pockets. Now don't laugh. These are just prototypes. But, my dad's hands get extremely cold and I'm thinking he would love the "snug as a bug" feel these could offer when he puts his hands inside. I can picture him in his recliner with his hands (and TV remote) snugly inside. LOL!
The sky is the limit for what you can do! Here is my little guy checking out the pockets.

When you finish your rice buddy, test it in the microwave. Each fabric behaves differently, and with the varying amount of rice used, you want to put a good and safe estimate of heating time on your instruction tag. Less is always best! For our pocket packs, it generally takes a minute, and for the longer ones, about two, to get them pleasantly hot.

I print out little tags from the computer onto card stock with the directions. After we cut them out, the kids decorate them with markers, and we attach them with gold safety pins. My kids like to do the filling with a funnel, (yes, rice will be everywhere, so expect it). The older two even like to sew up the last little bit by hand. It's a fun family gift that everyone can take some part in making. Oh, yes, and the Daddy's part? He can carry the 50 lb bag of rice in from Sam's Club!

We've given them to teachers (for recess duty), Sunday school teachers, neighbors, friends and family. Everyone loves them!

If you are traveling a great distance at Christmas time, it might be a good idea to take them unfilled, and finish them on location. That way, you aren't hauling the extra weight!

Also, along those lines, if you are looking for a homemade gift you can mail to those distant friends and relatives, this probably is NOT it. After mailing off 50 pounds of Rice Buddies one year, I've learned to give them locally only!

Thanks, Sharon, for hosting Works for Me Wednesday!


Kimberly said...


I think I will make some of these, especially for the pre-school teachers!!!

Raise Them Up said...

A few teachers we gave them to (several years ago) still make comments about theirs when we pass. It's feels good to have given them something they still use!

Niki said...

That is so cute, perfect as you said for teachers out on recess duty in the cold. They have so disposible ones but I hate throwing stuff out, so wasteful. Thanks

Susan said...

What a neat idea! They look very cozy.

lomagirl said...

Okay, I was already planning to make one of these for my mom this Christmas because I've been enjoying the sock on I threw together. Now I have instructions. Thanks.

Sherry said...

What a fun and easy looking gift! :D

Tonyia said...

Could you give me some kind of idea on how long they stay warm?

Great idea! Thank you so much!

Candace said...

Great idea - I think I will have to make some for Zachary to stick in his pockets before he goes out to play in the snow too!

Blessed said...

A friend of mine gave me some of these once - they are WONDERFUL!

My WFMW post is here:

Amy said...

Ooh! We've always had 1 or 2 of these around (sometimes even in an old tube sock), but I've never
#1 - seen them in fleece before... love it!

#2 - thought of giving them as a gift! Doh! Really love it! Thanks for the idea! :)

Jerralea said...

Awesome idea! I had one with parched corn in it, but I like the idea of rice better. It is moldable.

Raise Them Up said...

I'm sure it varies, but generally, they stay warm anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes or so. I hope that helps!

Jilann said...

I never thought of making these pocket size. I think I'm going to make them for our family, for our ski trips. We've gotten those hand warmers before. This could work really well. THANKS!