For the girls, I am able to do all sorts of little things. I paint their toenails, I braid their hair, I sew them clothes (not so little), I buy a few new hair bands or clips, etc. Ezra presents a challenge. When he was smaller, I painted his toenails and put clips in his hair if he asked me to, but he was not that old before he decided he didn't want those things. He prefers t-shirts and jeans to any other clothing, refusing to wear shirts with buttons, so this leaves me only pajama pants for a clothing option to sew. I do knit him mittens, but this is a BIG thing that takes a long time and lacks the immediacy of a cute pencil.
Don't get me wrong- he likes cute pencils as much as the girls do, but his desk is covered with writing and drawing paraphernalia already. A fellow can only have so many pairs of pajama pants. He understandably balks when I suggest brushing his hair for him. So, I invite him more often on walks or make a point of engaging with him more about the books he's reading, etc. He still feels it's not quite fair, but he does not have any suggestions either.
Then I have nephews. And their mother already knits and sews them hats and pajama pants and toy animals. That's pretty much it for little things I might make them for birthday or holiday presents. If they were girls, I could do homemade hair bows or little aprons or cute bloomers or...
I figure there are things I must be overlooking, but I also really dislike giving gifts that I know will not be appreciated. Most boys I know (but not all!) are not going to be delighted to open a bow tie. Remember that scene in "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie gets the pink bunny suit? I do not want to be the aunt who puts all that effort into a skunky gift. So, I give little card games and erector sets and I try to find interesting craft things, like Ukrainian egg dying kits. But I am open to suggestions.