Christmas crafts

Craft ideas for kids leading up to Christmas

Foam Christmas decorations

My children have made Christmas decorations for the boys in their classes this year, having already made hair ties for the girls.

child-made decorations in Christmas card envelopes

Foam decorations made by my children for their classmates

We used a craft kit of foam decorations which they decorated and popped into an envelope with a Christmas card.

The kids loved colouring in the ornaments, to the point that my son even coloured along the edges of some!

children working on foam ornaments

My children enjoyed making these ornaments (excuse the marked table they were working on!)

Foam decoration kit

The kids were excited and got into the decorating before I got photos taken so I only have shots of the kit in part!

foam Christmas ornament craft kit

Foam ornament kit from Art Star

The kit made things very simple and the kids enjoyed making the decorations.

The kit contains 12 foam Christmas ornaments (three each of four designs), lengths of golden string, four small textas and some glitter glue. The packet states ’embellishments included’ and there were two tubes of glue so I thought there was something else to glue onto the ornaments – it took a little while to understand it was glitter glue and that was classed as an embellishment.

The biggest issue with the kit is the size of the textas – they were cute being so small but didn’t last well enough for my kids thoroughly colouring in the ornaments and writing messages on the back. In particular, my kids used a lot of red (on Santa’s suit and other decorations) so ended up using their own textas and pens.

But you could certainly use the kit for a quick Christmas activity or as gifts like my children have done.

BHG Christmas edition review

Better Homes & Garden Christmas magzineSo the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens (BHG)Ā magazine is out and it is based around Christmas and includes a Christmas cookbook attachment. I grabbed the magazine for inspiration (and witches fingers – see below) and thought I’d share my thoughts on the magazine as I did last year.

BHG “Hello Christmas” December 2016

It does feel a little ridiculous calling it a December edition when I bought it in October, but that is fairly common practice these days… Ironically, the editor writes as if the magazine isn’t published in October (she refers to some people starting Christmas preparations in October as if that was a while ago!) And yet the Priceline advertising feature (6 pages at one end of the magazine) talks about October being Breast Cancer Awareness month

The magazine includes some delicious recipes such as a chocolate orange fruitcake, prawns with hazelnut mayo and seared eye fillet with gado gado-style salad – I’m looking forward to trying some out šŸ™‚

I really like that it includes some Christmas crafts and ideas that are not budget busting, like making coloured linens instead of paying a fortune for pre-made tablecloths and napkins.

On the other hand I just rolled my eyes at the December events calendar – all very interesting if you are in NSW or Queensland but notĀ inclusive for the rest of Australia. Actually, there is a listing for Christmas Melodies in Melbourne (never heard of it before!) but ignoring Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music BowlĀ  and other states is a bit nauseating.

If you are looking for recipes and craft ideas for Christmas, then this magazine will help you – and also give you some gardening and decorating information.

BHG “Your amazing Christmas cookbook” 2016

This 36 page cookbook has both recipes and tips for cooking meat beautifully for your Christmas events.

It starts with recipes for chicken, ham and pork (complete with crackling!) then moves onto side dishes such as whole roast cauliflower cheese and roast beetroot with figs, goat’s cheese and thyme. Of course, it finishes off with a Christmas pudding and brandy custard, and some pav stacks.

I haven’t tried the recipes yet, but they are written in clear steps with pictures so I think they will work fairly easily.Better Homes & Garden Cookbook

Witches fingers

witch finger shaped healthy biscuits

Biscuits that look like witches fingers suit Halloween more than Christmas!

Ok, this is definitely a Halloween recipe rather than Christmas but I had the magazine in time for Halloween and my kids had seen these made on the TV show and were keen to try them at home!

It is a simple recipe in that you throw everything in together and mix, but I found it more challenging and it took a lot longer than 10 minutes to prepare them! The mixture is quite thick and sticky while also needing to break up the nuts and fruit. I didn’t use a food processor but tried a vitamiser and hand processor – it was hard work! I’d suggest reducing the size of the nuts before adding everything else.

Santa shaped biscuits

Colour used as eyes and mouth instead of witches nails!

I couldn’t resist trying them in Christmas shapes, and will play with this recipe a bit as I can’t send these to school as they are (no nut policy) – so watch out for a Christmassy adaptation of Fast Ed’s witches fingers!

Creating Santa in wood

I just came across a news article that is wonderful so I am sharing it here šŸ™‚

Carving Santas

Ken Miller livesĀ in theĀ USA and literally carves Santas for a hobby and profit!

art of carving in wood with a carver working on the background

Carving wood takes patience, perseverance and practice.

He carves Santa’s face and body into wooden objects such as rolling pins, bowls and shoes (clogs), and then paints them. Some are given as gifts and others he sells at craft markets – what a pity none of those markets are in Australia as I’d love to see his work!

But what I think is really special is that he sometimes carves Santa into old wooden objects that have sentimental value to people. For example, taking the rolling pin of someone’s great grandmother and turning it into a Santa statue that can be placed on a mantelpiece with price each year – rather than keeping the treasured rolling pin locked away in a cupboard.

Do you have any old objects that could perhaps be given new life by being turned into a Santa? Are you game to try the transition yourself?

 

Making Christmas masks – reindeer

A close up on the reindeer mask over a faceAs I posted last Friday, I recently made some foam Christmas masks with my daughter – one of Santa’s face and one of a reindeer face.

Neither took particularly long and did not require a lot of my input, but to keep the blog post a reasonable length I separated out the reindeer mask for today.

Whilst my daughter and I made these masks, it is my husband modelling the reindeer mask in the photo here, much to my daughter’s delight šŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the Santa mask, the kit was complete and consisted of a piece of elastic and foam shapes.

Foam pieces from teh reindeer Christmas mask set

It was easy to make – some fine motor skills are needed to align the pieces correctly but otherwise it is not too challenging. And my daughter loved putting on the pink ear pieces!

COllage of images of a child making a foam reindeer mask

My daughter was intrigued when she found that the antlers were a little different to the other pieces of foam – instead of peeling off the back of the foam, the antlers just had small bits of adhesive attached. Obviously, this is so that you don’t end up with a large sticky surface above the mask!

Image fo reindeer antlers with adhesive and then being atatched to the mask

Again, this was a simple, fun activity to do and my six year old did most of it herself. My input was mostly some attention and tying the knots (like for Santa, I poked the elastic through from the front and tied it at the back of the mask).Back cover of the package the foam Christmas mask set was in

Now we just have to keep the masks in a nice condition so they can be word at a Christmas event or two later in the year! Are masks part of your usual Christmas celebrations and traditions?

 

 

 

* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.

Making Christmas masks

I recently had a short time with my daughter when we had nothing planned so we pulled out a Christmas craft set and enjoyed making some masks.

A packet for making two Christmas masks

The Christmas mask set (from Kmart although the packaging doesn’t show it)

The kit was completeĀ  – most of the decorations were foam stickers so no glue was required and allowed us to make both masks quite quickly.

COntents of the Christmas mask set

We decided to make the Santa mask first – and I’ll do a separate blog post for the reindeer mask.

They are very simple to make – start with the biggest pieces, peel off the backing paper, align it on the mask and stick it down. Depending on the child’s fine motor skills, the aligning part may be challenging and need some assistance – while things not being perfect is fine for kids’ craft, any sticky bits that are not attached will remain sticky and be a magnet for dust and fluff!

Child's hands peeling the bakcing of Santa's hat to make a mask

Child sticking a beard otno a foam santa mask

Adding Santa’s beard took precision to get it straight

The pom pom on Santa’s hat is the hardest part – there are many little bits of foam to remove and then aligning all the lines takes some skill. I would expect adult help is needed with this for most kids under 10.

images of the pompom on Santa's hat

The pompom on Santa’s hat requires fine motor skills to create

Then tie on the elastic and you have a mask to wear straight away – no need to wait for glue to dry! Note to add the elastic, poke it through the holes from the front and tie it behind the beard so when it is word, you can’t see the knots and there is less force on the edges of the holes.

Foam Santa mask over a girl's face

ta da! My daughter proudly wearing her Santa mask

Once the mask is finished, there is a reasonable bit of foam left over – certainly enough to keep my daughter happy with additional stickers to make something else with!

Completeed Santa mask with the left over foam pieces

Do you like our fun Santa mask?

It’s a quick and easy kit to have in theĀ cupboard to pull out when you need some brief entertainment – or if you need a quick costume for a Christmas party!

If you can’t find the kit to buy, you could just buy a sheet of foam to cut outĀ the face and then some adhesive foam to cut out the beard, hat, etc – but you may want to find a pattern for that if your drawing skills are anything like mine!

 

* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.

Poinsettia Christmas wreath

When I got the BHG Christmas magazine, one of the things I decided to try was the wreath made out of Poinsettias – the aim being to make it with my five year old as a fun Christmas activity.

So, I have made it and the five and seven year olds both helped a little, and I think it looks ok. Once I got it figured out, it wasn’t too hard to make but it did take some thinking as the instructions were lacking in some areas.

Making the wreath

Ok, to make this wreath, you need a few things. In the magazine, the instructions are actually divided into two as you can just make the poinsettia flowers to hang or you can use those flowers to make the wreath.

Putting the two lists together, you will need:Requireemtns to make a poinsettia Christmas wreath

  • red felt (about 12 cm by 90 cm in total – it can be in different dimensions)
  • a 23cm flat bottomed polystyrene wreath (it took me time to find a large one and mine is actually 29cm thus the extra felt and bells I used)
  • Christmas ribbon
  • string (I used Christmas coloured rope instead)
  • 21 small bells (I used 27)
  • a hot glue gun and glue

Making the flowers

This is the trickiest part of making the wreath and certainly is not child friendly because of the hot glue.

First step is to cut out eight tear-shaped petals and one circle for each of the seven (or nine in my case!) flowers. The pattern in the magazine needed to be made larger so I free handed it.

My hint is to cut out a few of the paper templates so you don’t have to pin the templates quite so often! I certainly folded the material in half so I could cut two at once – there are at least 56 petals to cut out!

The magazine told me to glue each petal like a cone. With some experimenting, I can tell you that you need to keep the pointed end of the petal outwards and fold the curved end over.

fingers folding red felt to make a petal

Then add some glue and fold over the other curved side.

fingers holding red felt petal

It is fiddly and I had my fingers in hot glue a number of times so please don’t give this to young children to do!

The next part if much easier – glue eight curled petals onto a circle of felt. You can lay them out perfectly around the circle by doing them in pairs on either side of the circle, but I found it much easier to add them side by side when the kids helped me as they had trouble getting the points centred otherwise.

Little hands gluing petals onto a felt circle

Add three dobs of hot glue in the entre of the flowers and stick a bell on each one. This my five and seven year olds did manage and enjoying.

small hand adding bells to a felt flower

By now, you can clearly see the flowers and my daughter called them amazing! The big advantage of the hot glue gun is how quickly the glue is set – no wasted time waiting for things to dry.

Putting the wreath together

The next part is easy – lay all the flowers on your wreath, adjusting the spacing until they all fit nicely and cover most of the wreath.

Foam wreath partially covered by red felt flowers

One by one, hot glue a flower onto the wreath until all are in place. Then, glue a bow of the ribbon into the gap between the last two flowers. You can tie a bow then just glue it on (or glue on the ribbon then tie a bow), but I glued it into place and to form a bow so I know it won’t come undone.

Ribbon glued onto wreath to form a bow

Turn the wreath over and hot glue a length of string onto the wreath to form a hanging loop.

View of the back of the wreath where handing loop is attached

Attaching the loop is simple

All that’s left to do now is hang it! Or wrap it to give as a gift I suppose.

Felt poinsettia wreath handing on a blue wall

The finished product is quite good I think

 

Christmas stars – a fun craft activity

My daughter and I made some Christmas stars for her to give as gifts to her kinder friends last yearĀ – like for my son, I wanted something other than candy canes and it is so much nicer to make something.

Making Christmas stars

I was inspired for these stars by Crafty morning’s snowflake ornaments. I prefer to make starsĀ rather thanĀ snowflakes don’t mean Christmas to Aussie kids – and I think mine look more like stars anyway!Materials for making bud stars

Materials

cotton buds
coloured cardboard
glue
glitter
ribbon or similar for hanging
scissors and hole punch

How to make the Christmas stars

cut cotton buds into two pieces – uneven sizes is the aim so don’t worry about making them equal or matching sizes!

Cotton buds cut into pieces

Add glue to a piece of cotton bud – I found the easiest way for my daughter was to have a blob of glue on a plate and put the pieces in the glue.

Child putting pieces of cotton buds into glue

Stick 5 or 6 pieces onto cardboard with the cut ends together and the other ends spreading out to for a star shape.

child sticking buds onto cardboard

Spread some glue roughly between the cotton bud pieces – close to the centre, reaching out to different lengths.

Glue between cotton bud peices stuck on cardboard in star shape

Sprinkle some glitter over the star.

Glittery cotton bud stars

This stage needs adult supervision or assistance for younger children. Cut out the cardboard around the stars – it is easier to cut roughly around each star and then neatening it up. Rounded edges look nicer, I think, but sharp corners could be effective, too.

pile of cut out cotton bud stars

Then simply put a hole in the cardboard of each star, thread through some ribbon or twine and you’re done! I made a little loop of the ribbon so it would be easy for the kid to hang the stars on a tree, and it also made it easy to hang a number of stars on a length of ribbon at home, too.

cotton bu stars hanging in a row

The stars are small and light enough that my daughter could pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card to hand out to her friends.

Child putting a cotton bud star and Crhsitmas card into an envelope

Simple Christmas gift

small black magents with varius Christmas themed stickers

Plain magnets and stickers – an easy and cheap material list!

To solve the issue of what my son could give to his classmates for Christmas, we decided on a card and small gift for everyone rather than trying to choose who to give a personal present to.

 

Christmas magnets

I found some magnets and Christmas stickers so our gift idea was found!

Foam Christmas stickers and plain black magnets

Foam stickers give a better result than flat stickers, I think. They are bigger and will look better on the fridge!

If you manage to get stickers and magnets exactly the same size, then all you have to do is stick on the stickers! However, the odds are you won’t be quite so lucky.

Creating Christmas magnets

If the sticker is bigger tan the magnet, you can just take off the backing paper and attach the magnet. It will look great from the front and back but (and this is a big but!) the exposed glue surface will attract dirt and dust and soon will become messy.

CHristmas stickers with magnets attached, one with backing paper and one without backing paper

The red surface of the left Christmas magnet is sticky and will soon be messy – the Christmas tree will stay nicer.

The sticky surface will also make it difficult to put the Christmas magnet into an envelope or gift wrapping.

I traced around the magnet on the back of the sticker and then scored the outline. I actually prepared a pile of them before my son got involved, but older children could possibly score the paper themselves.

stickers with the backing paper scored around a magnet's outline

Trace around a magnet with the blade of a craft knife or pair of scissors

It was then easy for my son to peel off just that bit of backing paper and attach the magnet, leaving the rest of the backing paper in place.

Child's fingers peeling off backing paper then atatching a magnet to a sticker

Peeling off the relevant bit of backing paper and attaching the magnet was managed by four and six year olds.

That’s it – no drying time or finishing touches needed! And because they are small and light, it’s easy to just pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card and you’re done. In half a day, my son had a gift and card doneĀ for all his classmates (and writing the cards was definitely the most time consuming task!)

 

an array of Christmas magnets and a child's hand

My son proudly laid out his completed Christmas magnets

Egg Shell Ornaments

When I was a child we use to make egg shell Christmas ornaments for the tree. Does anyone remember these?

decorated eggs in a basket

Children’s drawings on egg shells can be quite beautiful

They were super easy to make, the worst part was blowing the inside of the egg out YUCK!!!!!

The process

An adult usually mama would give us all an egg raw of course, we would have to be outside for the first part of this project.

We would take a small nail, and very carefully punch a hole in the top and bottom of the egg.

Then we would gently press our pucker lips against the top of egg with the hole in it. We would then blow really hard into the hole.

Usually it would take us at least three good blows to push the yolk and white out of the other hole at the bottom of egg.

Once we had that done we could go back inside, and decorate the outside of egg with paint or glitter.

Just whatever we wanted to do with it was fine. We would use thread inserted in the hole to hang our ornaments.

 

* Image courtesy of 123rf

Gumnut wreaths – craft for kids

Red and gold glitter on gumnuts and gum leave wreath

Red and gold glitter on gumnuts and gum leaves – a beautiful Christmas display!

 

I just had to share this craft idea! Being so Australian I thought it would fit beautifully on this site, too!

 

I helped at my children’s kinder the other day and all the children were busily making some Christmas wreaths, and loving it. I was impressed with the great results but also that they were so very Aussie, well within the children’s abilities and also so much fun to make.

Although be warned if you try this at home because it took me ages to vacuum up all the glitter afterwards!

 

 

Making gumnut wreaths

I didn’t see this bit, but the kids were given cardboard rings which they stuck together, with a loop of ribbon sticking out one end. I think they are double to be stronger, and it makes attaching the ribbon neater.

They painted this double ring green and left it to dry.

I then was there to watch them stick on gum nuts of various sizes, along with gum leaves and even sticks if they wished.

They also had some red felt leaves (which does add colour on the green background) but I think I prefer just the gumnuts, leaves and glitter – or is that just me?

Once they were happy with their arrangement, they sprinkled glitter over the top – first letting it stick to the excess glue already on the wreaths, then adding dobs of glue where they felt more glitter was needed.

gumnut wreaths drying - kids Christmas craft

Some of the gumnut wreaths made by kinder children – aren’t they beautiful?

As they dried, I got some photos – I think they are beautiful Christmas wreathes, don’t you?

Once they come home from kinder, there will be one hanging with pride on our front door!

Making paper lanterns

Three child-made paper lanterns lit by candlesĀ Paper lanterns can be a beautiful decoration, indoors or out, but they’re also very easy to make.

Making lanterns with kids

For preschoolers, you will need to help with the cutting but otherwise kids can pretty much do this themselves.

  1. decorate a piece of A4 paper children decorating a red paper lantern
  2. fold the paper in half length wise
  3. cut 1cm strips across the paper – start cutting at the fold and stop about 2cm before the edge of the pageĀ  Cutting paper to create a paper lantern
  4. open the page out
  5. spread glue along one short edgeĀ  Adding glue to hold a paper lantern
  6. roll the paper to overlap the short edges, sticking them together
  7. cut a strip of paper and glue it on as a handleĀ  Four paper lanterns made by children
  8. use your lanterns as you will – you can hang them or stand them on a table or window sill

handy lantern tips

  1. you can use other sized paper, just be sure it is rectangular, not square. A4 is a good size for little fingers to work with
  2. decorating theĀ paper with crayons, stickers and textas is more effective than pencils!
  3. colour paper is a good basis
  4. remember they are made out of paper – you can put a tea light candle inside but the fire risk is high. Don’t leave them unattended or near kids, and be sure the paper is firm enough to stand first (cheaper printer paper isn’t!) A good compromise is to use a candle inside a glass jar or a battery operated tea light candle.

 

Simple Christmas decorations made by kids

A while ago I worked as child carer in my own home. Leading up to Christmas, I wanted to do some ChristmasĀ activities with the kids, as you do!

I was also on a budget but I found this activity worked really well – it cost nothing as I had stuff lying around, the kids were amused for hours and got creative (and developed fine motor skills of course), and by their nature, parents had somewhere to display their work (there are only so many paintings that fit on a fridge!)

Cardboard Christmas TreeĀ decorations

As I was working with two year olds, I did a lot of the preparation work and divide the instructions for an adult and kids. If you have older kids, they may be able to do some of the earlier steps as well.

instructions for the adult

Cut out Christmas shapes from cardboard (cereal boxes work but washing powder boxes are thicker cardboard so are better). Stars, stockingsĀ and bells are easy, but get as creative as you want!

Punch a hole near one edge (poke the hole with scissors if you don’t have a hole punch).

instructions for the kids

Decorate the shapes! Glue on bits of coloured paper, tinsel and cotton wool balls, add stickers, glitter and paints.

Let it dry.

Thread gift ribbon (or string) through theĀ hole and tie into a loop.

Hang the loop on the Christmas tree (or a door handle).

Stand back and admire your beautiful work šŸ™‚

Love Santa says – send us photos of your creations, too!

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