by Jessica Cochran
I COME FROM a craft-y lineage: my grandmother sewed most of my clothes and made more than a few toys when I was little. I spent many a vacation with her, spending my days at the fabric store where she worked, and evenings attempting to learn to sew. So making Christmas presents is something I’ve always tried to do: knitted scarves, home-made stuffed animals, funky quilts made from old nightgowns or t-shirts. But the thing about my craftiness is I’m far from a perfectionist, so my creations always look decidedly home-made.
And that’s why having kids is such a boon. Now, they make the less-than “perfect” crafts and everyone thinks they’re great! And I can help them without worrying if it will turn out ok, or if it’s nice enough, and just enjoy the messy, fun creativity of it all.
Here are a few of the things we’ve made over the years:
1. Baby Footprint Christmas Cards. Because I really thought everyone in my address book wanted to see the bottom of my firstborn’s foot?
2. Mitten garlands. We made these when my daughter was three. I cut a bunch of mitten shapes from felt – and came up with a bunch of things she could glue on them – ribbons, shiny things, more felt cut into various shapes. Then I sewed 5 or 6 to a piece of ribbon, and voila – a Christmas garland. We probably made 8 or so of these?? Grandma Kristie and Aunt Tracy love theirs (see that joy on their faces in the above photo?)!
3. Glass jar lanterns. Use watered down glue to paste tissue paper to a glass jar (add a coat over the top layer for protection); secure a wire hanger by tying more wire around the lip of the jar. Put a tealight candle inside and you have a beautiful indoor or outdoor night-time decoration. We didn’t follow any directions for this one (we copied one a friend had made at school) – but I found some directions for hanging the wire on-line. And here’s kind of what they look like:
One site mentioned using heat resistant glue but we just used Elmer’s. We keep them outside and they’re still looking pretty good after 3 years.
Image via: FamilyFun.go.com
4. Soap balls. This one came straight from Family Fun Magazine. We put little Hello Kitty trinkets and other animals in ours because we couldn’t find penguins! One note of caution: apparently one recipient from the Midwest thought our creation was some kind of edible treat and took a bite out of it. Yuck
5. ArtCards. At one point, my daughter’s art output was so high we could have wallpapered a high rise with her work. Instead, we turned them into sets of note-cards that we gave to relatives for Christmas. I cut out the best part of each creation, sized to fit an envelope, and either folded it over to make a 100% recycled card, or glued it onto a blank note-card. Each card was unique, and labeled on the back with “ArtCards by___”. I got the idea from art fundraisers like this one.
6. Bead Ornaments. A hoop of jewelry wire, some pretty beads and bingo, a gift! Or, make them long and dangly like these:
Image via: TheMotherHuddle.com
(Note: these ornaments are WAY easier to mail than the glass jar lanterns.)
I get lots of kids craft ideas from Martha Stewart, or Family Fun magazine and just adapt them to our skill level, or often, to whatever supplies we have on hand.
I always try to remember the most important part is to have fun – ‘cause Grandma will love it no matter what!