The boys and I have had fun this year doing a variety of Christmas crafts. Most of them were inexpensive and required very little planning. Although it has required me to let go of my “I want this to look perfect like an artist did it” inclination, doing crafts is a meaningful way for me to spend time with my kids and create things that will be a yearly reminder of the time we spend together.
The first project we did was a simple one using tissue paper and contact paper. I had planned a similar craft for the kindergarten Halloween party making “stained glass” candy corn, and I when I took the candy corn off our window I thought Christmas trees would look nice in their place. I cut out a Christmas tree outline by folding a green piece of paper in half and cutting out half a tree shape. I laid it on the contact paper and trimmed the edges of the contact paper around the construction paper. The boys put squares of tissue paper on to make up the tree and the ornaments. I like that this looks festive from inside the house during the day, and from outside the house at night.
Sticking with the Christmas tree theme, I made a present for my sister using my young niece’s footprint. I painted her foot green and her toes red, then pressed them on a piece of paper in a tree shape. Partway through the second print she decided she was not a big fan or my idea, so the toeprints turned out as big smears. To fix them I used white paint to make them back into circles and then photocopied the whole thing to make my coverup less obvious. I cut out a star for my tree, drew a trunk, and put it in a little frame. I think it turned out really well!
We made snowflake ornaments next. I began by reading a book about Wilson Bentley
, the man who discovered that each snowflake has its own design, and by showing them some of Bentley’s photos of snowflakes. I also took the opportunity to point out that just like God made the snowflakes all different, he made us different to!
To make our snowflakes I but 3 six inch sections of white pipe cleaner and twisted them together. I then presented the boys with a variety of clear plastic beads to put on the pipe cleaners however they desired. I bent the end of each pipe cleaner over the last bead in order to keep the beads on.
The next project we did didn’t turn out quite as well as I was hoping – probably because I didn’t bother reading the directions until after I had completed the project! I purchased some ceramic ball ornaments at the craft store and a small bottle of brown acrylic paint. I had the boys each put a thumb print in their ball, and then I baked them at 350 for 30 minutes to cure the paint (I took the metal hanging part off for this). Apparently if you use a ball with a matte finish instead of a shiny finish, the thumb print will look more like a thumb print and not be so dark. Next I drew reindeer antlers on them, along with eyes and a dot of red paint for a nose. Using a Sharpie, I put their names and the date on the other side of the ball.
A few weeks ago we had a fantastic time making gingerbread houses. I was thrilled to find ready-made gingerbread house kits at Ikea that were ok for my nut allergic child (it only had a “may contain almonds” note on it, which is all right since he’s not allergic to those). I put the houses together and we let the frosting set up for awhile and then the kids went to town decorating. They each got a bowl of frosting and as much candy as they wanted, and they had a finger-licking good time. Literally. They houses looked fabulous! Well, they looked fabulous for all of ten minutes anyway…
After munching up all that deliciousness, I decided we should make a gingerbread-looking house that we could enjoy for a little longer. I cut the shapes for our cardboard houses out of cereal boxes and glued them together with hot glue. I set out a variety of materials for the boys to use to decorate their houses, but what they enjoyed using the most was a kit I had purchased from the craft store that was intended to make about 30 foam Christmas trees. I almost bought a kit for them to make a foam gingerbread house, but I decided not to because I really wanted them to be creative and not feel like they had to do it “like a picture”. They worked on the houses for a long time, and I’m glad they can be a more permanent decoration for us to enjoy. Unless or course my husband follows through on his threat to eat them!
My six year old and I had a great conversation as we were walking through the craft store to get supplies. He was jumping up and down with excitement, telling me how much he was looking forward to our projects and what a good artist is. I was able to point out that being good at art and appreciating beauty and creativity is a part of how God made him, and that since God is also creative and artistic, it’s part of how my son is made in God’s image. I’m so thankful that doing fun projects together can also be a time for us to reflect on truth from God’s word!
If planning arts and crafts is not your cup of tea, that’s ok! God gave us all different strengths. If your children enjoy crafts and you are looking for a less stressful way to provide fun projects, you may want to check out Kiwi Crate. Read out our review of Kiwi Crate here.