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Avoid cabin fever this winter with these DIY snacks and crafts

With winter in full force, a lot of people are spending more time inside, which can lead to cabin fever. To help make indoor time plenty of fun, Jodi Levine, author of "Candy Aisle Crafts," joined TODAY's Erica Hill to share a few of her favorite crafts that kids and adults can do together, and use up some holiday leftovers.

1. Peppermint Bowls

Those holiday peppermints (which you can also buy year-round at your local drugstore) can be melted down into a variety shapes and projects. Levine said that she loves melting them into lollipops and beautiful peppermint bowls. Some brands of peppermint swirl candies work better than others, so try different types to see which ones work best for you!

To make the peppermint bowls (as excerpted from "Candy Aisle Crafts") you'll need:

  • parchment paper
  • heatproof bowl (I used a 6-inch metal bowl)
  • vegetable oil
  • 18 starlight mint candies
  • scissors

To assemble:

1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Very generously grease the outside of the bowl with the oil. Place 1 candy on the baking sheet. 

2. Place in the oven for 2 to 2-½ minutes until the candy starts to look shiny and softens but doesn’t melt or sag.

3. Remove and place six candies around the heated candy, touching it.


4. Return to the oven and heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven as soon as the candies start to soften. Don’t let them melt.

5. Place eleven more candies around the circle on the baking sheet. You can try this step with nine or ten candies for a smaller bowl.


6. Return to the oven for 7 minutes.

7. Remove and let cool for 1 minute. Quickly trim off some of the parchment paper. 


8. With the candy still on the parchment paper, and using an oven mitt, flip the candy onto the greased bowl and quickly center the middle candy on the bowl’s bottom. 

9. Shape the candy around the bowl, using the oven mitt to press the candies into one another. 


10. Remove the parchment paper and gently lift the peppermint bowl off the bowl (it should slide right off, but if it sticks, let the candies cool for another minute or two and gently pull it off).


11. Place the finished candy bowls on top of small circles of parchment paper so they don’t stick to surfaces.

2. Fun hot chocolate

Hot cocoa can become a fun crafting event with just a few tools. Levine recommends creating marshmallow letters, using alphabet cookie cutters on flat marshmallows. "It's good for kids learning the alphabet," Levine says. Other ideas to spice up your hot cocoa include adding a little peanut butter, Nutella or a candy cane to add some extra flavor.

3. Vacation memory jars

Levine says a fun way to relive a vacation — and consolidate some clutter — is to create a vacation memory jar. You'll need a mason jar, vacation trinkets and some sand (one idea is to collect some from your vacation, but you can also buy sand from your local craft store). You can also place a picture from your vacation in the back of the jar, to create a complete display from your last trip.

4. Big building blocks 

Between ordering and receiving gifts over the holidays, everyone has a few boxes that could use repurposing. Levine recommends simply painting the boxes to give them another life. "You know how sometimes little kids like the boxes more than the present? Now you've made them into giant building blocks," Levine says.

5. Make gift tags and puzzle pieces with holiday cards 

Enlist the help of your little ones to find a second life for the many holiday cards that you're not quite sure what to do with. Levine says the front side of holiday cards can become great gift tags for the next holiday season. All you have to do is cut the front of the card into a gift tag. And for photo holiday cards, you can cut them into miniature puzzles.