As you all know, I've been using my little bits and pieces to make bonding squares for Today is a Good Day for a couple years now. While squares are quick and easy, they can become a bit tedious, and I also thought some of the parents who receive them might appreciate some cute shapes instead of squares. Both times I have sent a bunch of things off to Today is a Good Day, I have received a hand-written thank you note, and they have not told me that using shapes other than squares is a problem. Among the shapes I have sent them, many have been crocheted hearts and stars.
Criss Wall's 3 Row Christmas Star Ornament pattern is free, fast, and easy. Worked in worsted weight with a size I (5.5 mm) hook, it comes out the right size for donating to Today is a Good Day. I also think it's really pretty. I've made a couple dozen of these stars, and sometimes I'm a little short on yardage for them. When that happens, I switch from clusters with 5 loops to clusters with 3 loops and groups of 2 hdcs in the second and third rounds instead of 3 hdcs. On a project so small, those changes make a real difference in the yardage required. Making the clusters in the first round smaller also makes the whole thing lie flatter and the first round easier to do and gives a more open look to the finished star.
While I've only done these stars in worsted weight yarn, I think it would be fun to make really small stars with thread, and then either use them to make jewelry or attach a lot of them together to make some kind of garland.
If you are looking for cute, fun, fast, small projects. Criss Wall's Ravelry page is a good place to go. She has tons of patterns, most of them free, including this star pattern. Her patterns are well written, easy to read, and have good photographs.
The heart pattern I've used is Rosina Plane's Heart Motif, which is another free, 3-round pattern. Rosina is a British designer, so the pattern uses British terminology, but she provides a translation chart at the begining of the pattern. Again, this pattern is quick and easy, and I think the way she uses stitch height and increases to make the heart shape is very clever. This pattern does require you to be comfortable seeing your stitches, however.
I've made these hearts almost exclusively in DK weight yarn and with a size G (4 mm) hook, which comes out just a little small for donation to Today is a Good Day. Working a round of single crochet around the final round gets me to the right size, but I think it also creates a more finished looking heart.
Again, I think it would be fun to make really small versions of this pattern from thread. You could also sew a few together (probably 4?), point to point, to make a cute coaster or trivet.
Either pattern worked in worsted cotton or in that scratchy yarn intended for making scrubbies would be fun as reausable face or dish scrubbers.