Christmas

8 Christmas crafts to make with your kids

Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:40 PM ET

Christmas Crafts To Make With Your Little One
D. King/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images /
Christmas Crafts To Make With Your Little One

This is the time of year when we always try to do too much. I like to send personalized Christmas cards to all of our friends, I want to bake all of my favorite Christmas treats and I want to add more decorations to our house each year.

Adding all of these special things on top of my already-busy schedule means that something has to give. I have to cut back somewhere to make this all work. I could cut back on sleep, I suppose, but then I'd be so cranky that Santa would put my name on the "naughty list." The one thing I really don't want to cut back on is time with my daughter. So, what I try to do is combine some of my holiday preparations with my mommy-daughter activities. Over the years, I have come up with several good craft ideas that my young daughter enjoys helping with.

Sponge-Painted Wrapping Paper
Last year's favorite craft idea was making our own wrapping paper. Here's how we did it.

Supplies:

  • Roll of brown or white craft paper
  • Washable paints in holiday colors
  • Compressed sponges: Flat pieces of sponge, about the thickness of construction paper, that cut very easily. After cutting, you expand them in water. Available at most craft stores.

Optional supplies:

  • Empty 35mm film canisters
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • Small holiday cookie cutters
  1. Cut holiday shapes like trees, angels, bells and stars from compressed sponges (or regular kitchen sponges, if you like). If you don't feel comfortable drawing shapes, trace around small cookie cutters.
  2. Expand the sponges in water.
  3. Help the kids dip the dampened sponges into washable paint, then press onto sheets of craft paper. You can hot-glue an empty film canister to the top of the sponge for a handle to keep little hands cleaner.
  4. String a clothesline in your garage to hang your creations to dry.

After your paper dries, wrap up your packages. Tie with coordinating colors of curling ribbon or raffia. You can add squiggles of color with markers for any blank spots on your package. This technique also works on solid-colored gift bags. I like to make my wrapping paper out of brown craft paper, tie it up with raffia and top it with a homemade felt gingerbread person.

Felt Gingerbread Friends

Supplies:

  • 2 sheets of tan felt per child
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Sequins
  • Scraps of fabric and felt
  • Wiggly eyes or buttons
  • 1/8-inch-wide red or green satin ribbon

Optional:

  • Iron-on fusible web
  • Large gingerbread person cookie cutter
  • Fabric paint
  1. Fuse or glue two sheets of tan felt together.
  2. Trace a large gingerbread person onto the felt, either freehand or by using a large cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out and embellish with wiggly eyes, sequins and buttons. Dress with scraps of fabric. Older children may be able to add fabric-paint embellishments.
  4. Cut a six-inch piece of 1/8-inch-wide ribbon. Form a loop and glue the ends to the back of the gingerbread person's head, with the loop extending above the head.
  5. Cut a small circle of tan felt and glue on the back of the head to cover the ribbon ends. Let dry.

You can hang these on the tree, give as gifts or use as package labels by writing the recipient's name on the back with fabric paint. You can also make trees with button ornaments or flat gingerbread houses with this technique.

Angel Kisses
These angel kisses are simple, but so cute!

Supplies:

  • Holiday Hershey's Chocolate Kisses, one per angel
  • 1/2-inch wooden beads
  • Gold or silver pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Fine-line black marker
  1. Have your kids squeeze a glob of tacky glue into the hole of the wooden bead, then set down on the pointed end of the candy kiss. The bead is your angel's head, and the kiss is the body.
  2. Cut a small piece of pipe cleaner, about three-inches long, and twist it into a figure eight. Form a four-inch piece of thread or ribbon into a loop and tie it to the center of the figure eight. This will be the ornament hanger.
  3. Glue figure eight onto the angel's back for wings.
  4. Cut a tiny piece of pipe cleaner, form a circle and glue it onto the angel's head for a halo.
  5. You can draw a face onto the bead with a fine-line black marker, or leave it plain.

Cookie Paint
Baking Christmas cookies is a long tradition in our family. My mother made cookies with me using the same recipes her mother used. Now, I am making these same favorites with my daughter. One of her favorite recipes involves painting the cookies before you bake them.

Supplies:

  • Your favorite sugar-cookie dough
  • Egg yolks
  • Food coloring
  • Old ice-cube tray or foam egg carton
  • New paintbrushes
  1. In a small bowl, gently stir several egg yolks until mixed together.
  2. Spoon a little bit of egg yolk into several compartments of an old ice-cube tray or a foam egg carton.
  3. Tint each bit of egg yolk with food coloring.
  4. Roll out sugar-cookie dough and cut shapes with cookie cutters.
  5. Before you bake, paint each cookie with small paintbrushes dipped in the cookie paint. (Remind your kids not to taste this cookie paint before it is cooked. Uncooked egg yolks may contain salmonella bacteria.)
  6. Bake as directed in your cookie recipe.

Cereal Strings
The first is that wonderful old stand-by, stringing popcorn for the tree. The problem is, if your kids are little, the LAST thing that you want to give them is a sharp sewing needle to play with. The following is a much simpler solution with an added twist. When the holidays are over, you can simply hang the strings outside, wrapped around several tree branches (so the squirrels don't just grab them and run) and watch the birds feed off of them for a few days. Come spring, you may even spot the yarn in a newly constructed nest.

Materials:

  • Several yards of kitchen string or colorful yarn, cut in one yard lengths
  • Large box of inexpensive colored, fruit-flavored, cereal loops
  • One candle of any kind (and a match)
  • One small piece of foil

Directions:
It's probably best to start this part in private - away from the little ones.

  1. Melt a small puddle of wax on to the foil.
  2. Dip one tip of each length of string or yarn into the puddle, wait 10 seconds to cool and shape into a point with your fingers.
  3. Put away candle, discard match and foil .
  4. Tie one cereal loop to the UNWAXED end of each string.
  5. CALL IN THE KIDS!
  6. Give each child a string and a pile of rings - and relax. They will, almost instinctively, begin to string the loops onto the yarn.

This is one craft that your children can actually do themselves, or the whole family can spend an hour doing together. It's fun, it's easy and, after looking beautiful on the tree, gives even more pleasure outside. Enjoy!

Applesauce Ornaments
These ornaments are another favorite of mine. Like the cereal strings, they're inexpensive, easy and serve a purpose. Our family actually asks for them each year. Yours might, too!

Materials:

  • Applesauce (inexpensive - quality is NOT a factor); about two cups per child
  • Cinnamon (inexpensive); about one-and-a-half cups per child
  • One plastic drinking straw
  • Your favorite cookie cutters
  • Several sheets of waxed paper
  • Glitter, paints, photos, ribbon, dried flowers, etc., optional

Tools:

  • Pancake turner or spatula
  • Colander or strainer
  • Sink

Directions:

  1. Place colander in sink
  2. Pour contents of applesauce can or jar into colander and let drain overnight.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. CALL IN THE KIDS!
  5. When ready, pour one cup of applesauce onto a large sheet of waxed paper and add one cup of cinnamon. Mix until the consistency of clay or dough. Add a little more applesauce, if too dry, or a little more cinnamon, if too watery. (Relax, even if you guess wrong, it will only take a little longer to dry, or maybe, dry a little quicker. You really can't ruin it.) If you prefer, you can wrap tightly in plastic wrap, at this point, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
  6. Roll out with a rolling pin or soup can (without the label), until a little thicker than a cookie.
  7. With cookie cutter, cut out shapes.
  8. Press end of straw into TOP CENTER of ornament to make hole.
  9. Lift onto clean sheet of waxed paper and let dry for two or three days, turning once.
  10. When dry, you can hang them as is, apply glitter (our favorite), paste on photos or magazine cutouts, add small dried flowers and ribbons or whatever else your imagination suggests.

Uses:

  • Tree ornaments,
  • Closet and car fresheners,
  • Package tie-ons,
  • Table placecards that can go home as favors

Kept dry, these ornaments will keep for years. You may also add any other dry spice to the cinnamon for a different aroma. These are great for the kids to do, but can look very professional when done well.

Milk Carton Village
The last, although probably the prettiest of our Holiday crafts, is, alas, just for show; but it is so very beautiful that we actually wrap them carefully and save them from year to year. Kept dry, they seem to last forever.

Materials:

  • Milk carton—empty, clean and dry
  • Two cups IVORY SNOW laundry soap (NO OTHER BRAND WILL WORK)
  • Warm water
  • White, iridescent or silver glitter
  • Small candle
  • Optional-paint, feathers, small decorations of any kind
  • Old newspaper

Tools:

  • Sharp knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Tablespoon

Directions:

  1. With knife, carefully cut off bottom inch of milk carton. You will be left with a small "house."
  2. Carefully cut out a one-inch square from one slanted side of the "roof" for a "chimney."
  3. Choose one side and cut a two-inch line up from the bottom. Then cut over one inch. The finished cut should look like a number seven. It should then be bent open to form a door.
  4. You can cut out squares in the sides for windows.
  5. CALL IN THE KIDS!
  6. Cover surfaces with newspaper.
  7. Pour soap into mixing bowl.
  8. Gradually add warm water by the spoonful while mixing soap with hands.
  9. Soap will become paste-like.
  10. With hands, apply to all outside surfaces of "house," including doors.
  11. While wet, sprinkle on glitter to create "snow."
  12. Let dry.
  13. Decorate as desired.

We have created an entire village through the years. We light them all on Christmas Eve, and they look better than the store-bought ones. At least, we think so!

Felt Christmas Ornaments
by Peggy Hill

These are ornaments that my grandma would share with everyone at Christmas. She loved making craft items. I am having fun showing my kids how to make this craft for the Holidays. I hope you enjoy making these ornaments with your children as well.

Large Mouse and Small Mouse

Materials Needed:

  • Mouse Pattern
  • White felt
  • Pink felt
  • 1/4" (6.5 mm) pom-pons—for large mouse
  • 5 mm pom-pons—for small mouse
  • 10 mm paste on eyes (oval or round)—for large mouse
  • 5 mm paste on eyes round—for small mouse
  • 1 Standard-sized candy cane (6")—for large mouse
  • 1 small candy cane (3")—for small mouse. Be sure it is wrapped like a large candy cane
  • Low-heat glue gun (works best for pom-pons), Multi-purpose or craft glue

Instructions:

  1. Print Pattern (If you are going to make several ornaments, glue the pattern pieces to light cardboard. I use an empty cereal box, and then cut pattern pieces out for easy tracing)
  2. Trace body of mouse on white felt.
  3. Trace ears for mouse on pink felt (for variety, you can vary the colors of felt used).
  4. Cut out body and ear shapes.
  5. Cut the small slit openings for the candy cane.
  6. Fold in the ears and push carefully through the ear slits, so the round parts of the ear are in the front.
  7. Slide candy cane into tail slit on the front and then behind the little piece of pink from the ears.
  8. Put some glue under the pink and the white on the back of the candy cane to hold the felt in place
  9. Let dry.
  10. Glue on eyes and nose (pom-pon).

Then hang on your Christmas tree and enjoy. You can hang it by the candy cane or you can use a small wire hook so the whole ornament can be seen.

Reindeer

Materials Needed:

  • Reindeer pattern
  • Brown felt
  • Pink felt
  • 10 mm eyes (round or oval)
  • 1/2" (12.5 mm) pom-pons
  • 2 Standard-sized candy canes (6")
  • Low-heat glue gun (works best for pom-pons), Multi-purpose or craft glue

Instructions:

  1. Print Pattern. (If you are going to make several ornaments, glue the pattern pieces to light cardboard. I use an empty cereal box, and then cut pattern pieces out for easier tracing.)
  2. Trace head of reindeer on brown felt.
  3. Trace ears of reindeer on brown felt.
  4. Trace inner ears of reindeer on pink felt. (Trace two for each reindeer.)
  5. Cut the small slit openings for the candy cane.
  6. Fold in the ears and push carefully through the ear slits, so the large parts of the ear are in the front. You have to go through both sets of ear slits.
  7. Slide candy cane into antler slit on the front and then behind the little piece of brown from the ears.
  8. Put some glue under the felt on the back of the candy cane to hold in place.
  9. Let dry.
  10. Glue pink inner ear on fronts of ears.
  11. Glue on eyes and nose (pom-pons).

Then hang on your Christmas tree and enjoy. Use small wire hooks to hang ornament, or even use as a place decoration at the children's table. Place one at each child's plate.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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