I sorta promised my husband I wouldn’t spend much on craft supplies this holiday so I have been keeping my word and finding great ways to recycle instead. These ornaments are fun, fast, and cheap. Also as I sit writing this I am looking at how awesome these ornaments are on a lit Christmas tree!
- Gather your materials. You will need some cleaned lids ( yogurt, icing, even jar lids will work), old Christmas cards or photos, scissors, glue , permanent double stick tape, a pipe cleaner per ornament and glitter.
- Start by choosing your photos or cards and tracing the lid on the back of it.
- Cut out.
- Using the double stick tape attach the picture to the lid. Press and hold for a bit.
- Grab the glue and add to edge on the front.
- Add glitter.
- Let dry.
- Punch a hole and thread the pipe cleaner through. If you are using a metal jar you can use hot glue to attach a pipe cleaner to the back. Adults only though!
The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Mayer is a beautiful book. The dedication to his grandchild is perhaps my favorite part even though the book itself is wonderful too! Read it and you’ll see ! The story is a retelling of the little drummer boy , but in this book he’s a tiny little insignificant mouse. At least he thinks he’s insignificant until he follows the bright star to the manger on the very first Christmas night! The little acorn drum that this little mouse beats is anything but insignificant and he is thrust into the spotlight as Baby Jesus likes his music best of all ! The illustrations are amazing, they have so much detail I find myself opening this book over and over to just look. Great book, the test is lengthy for toddlers but preschoolers and older will love it.
Merry Un-Christmas by Mike Reiss is a fun twist on Christmas Book. In it Noelle is tired of Christmas, because in her town it’s Christmas every day except one. She can’t fake the enthusiasm for another pony or bike but when she figures out that Un-Christmas is coming she is elated. It’s the only day she goes to school, it’s the only day the mail comes and it’s filled with tradition and special meaning. I love how this book turns everything topsy turvy and makes kids think what really makes Christmas special.
Mini Merry Book: Gingerbread Joy by Julia Woolf is a tiny little book that my 6 month old is nuts about. A good friend and I decided to do only books as gifts to each other’s kids this year and this was one of the board books my daughter received. As expected it’s a super simple book about baking gingerbread houses and people as a treat at Christmas time. What my daughter loves are the shiny foil inserts in the already fun illustrations. She smacks them over and over with her chubby baby hands and the text is simple enough my son can help read it to her. All in all a perfect little stocking stuffer !
This recycled project is possibly the easiest custom ornament I’ve ever made. These easy letter ornaments are kid friendly Christmas decor ( or even gift tags) with a dash of learning in the mix as well . These big foam letters are part of a floor puzzle that we’d grown out of , but there are similar bath ones for much less available online , thrift stores or you can use small ones that you can find in the dollar section of Target and Walmart.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam letters, newspaper , markers, glue, glitter and ribbon. You will also need something to poke the ribbon hole in your foam, we used a paintbrush.
- Start by covering your table with plenty of newspaper or something you can simply fold up and throw away. Glitter is awesome, I love it but it’s a drag to clean up , when you can simply fold and throw it’s much easier.
- Lay out your letters and color with markers. Be prepared for your kid’s hands to get covered in marker, the foam doesn’t absorb it easily and it will smudge. If this will frustrate your child, skip it and move onto the glitter. I am trying to do everything I can to get my son writing ,he has little interest in it, so I sneak it in everywhere.
- Add glue!
- Add glitter. Don’t be shy dump it on.
- Let dry. I let them dry for 2 days , then shook the extra glitter off . If your marker was still wet when you added the glitter , the glitter will have initially stuck to the wet marker but will now fall off. A few taps will take care of it.
- Poke a hole in the letter.
- Thread the ribbon through.
- Hang up!
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett is a great book to read whether your children are familiar with the song or not. I love that even though I think of it being a song, my son thinks of it as a math book, counting up the gifts on every page. In classic Jan Brett fashion the illustrations are incredibly detailed , in the side pictures you can follow a family trimming their tree and I particularly liked the holiday salutations on every page in different languages. Really my only complaint is the copy we got from the library was sticky.
It’s Christmas by Tina Burke is simple and brief but it’s not too simple to share with a wide range of ages. The story reads like a photo album with short descriptions of holiday preparations, traditions and celebrations. My favorite is the picture with Santa with a screaming baby. The heart of this book though is how it captures the feeling of having to wait forever for Santa to come.
Ho, Ho, Ho, Tucker! by Leslie McGuirk is a cute story about an adorable little dog Tucker who is crazy about Christmas. While getting into the holiday spirit he burns his nose on a cookie pan . When Santa sees his bright red nose he asks him to come a long for the fun on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of good natured humor that any young child will giggle at , Tucker peeing on a Christmas tree got some good giggles at our house. I doubt this will be a Christmas classic to read on Christmas Eve but it a cute book your kids will enjoy.This post contains affiliate links
Today’s guest post is my Amy, who like her post explains is a mom and not really a crafter, although she has me fooled! I love how she approached these holiday crafts for a large group and you will too. Thanks Amy for sharing ! You check out more about Amy’s adventures on her blog, Blog-o!
Crafting for a Crowd:Festive Crafts at the Winter Fair
When I signed up to run the craft room at my childrens’ school Winter Fair, I wasn’t in it for the crafts. To tell the truth, I’m not really a crafter. My problem with crafts, particularly little kid crafts, is that they can be pretty bad for the environment;often they involve gluing a bunch of non-recyclable things to recyclable things so you end up throwing the whole schmagiggy into the garbage. Not to mention the amount of pointless stuff that gets manufactured just so kids can glue it onto other stuff!
In truth, I signed up to run the crafts room with an agenda: I wanted to green it up. Our school is one of the leaders in the city on environmental matters and I thought our Winter Fair crafts room should reflect that. In addition to that challenge, I and my co-crafters Nancy and Tanya had to create a variety of crafts which would appeal to children from JK (four years old) to Grade Six (eleven years old), and that wouldn’t be too messy or too expensive. Here is what we came up with.
Bows and Chains, or The Stapling Table
The simplest craft we offered was paper chains made out of strips of construction paper. We cut lots of different colours of construction paper into strips, and provided both staplers and glue sticks. This craft wasn’t very popular, I think because the other crafts were more glamourous (or messy). However, one mom made a nice long paper chain of her own and said it was very relaxing!
Also at the stapling table was our most challenging craft: magazine paper gift bows. To prepare for this craft, we cut strips about five or six inches long and wide out of magazines. (The best pages for this are pages which are mainly one colour on one side and another colour on the other.) We also cut little inch-by-inch squares from cereal boxes to act as backs for the bows.
There are two ways to make gift bows. I call them “The Hard Way” and “The Easy Way”. Here’s The Hard Way:
1. Take a strip of magazine and fold the end over into a twisted loop. Use a dab of stick glue to stick the loop together.
2. Turn the strip around and make another loop at the other end.
3. Set that strip aside and repeat steps 1 and 2 for three more strips.
4. Stack the four completed strips on top of each other, angling them to get a full bow. Staple or glue the whole thing to a cereal-box square.
Here’s The Easy Way:
1. Take a strip of magazine and join it into a loop. Bring the middle of the loop together into a figure 8. You can staple this now, or just hold on to it, depending how dexterous you are.
2. Get another strip of magazine, join it into a loop and bring the middle of the loop together as above. Put the two loops together in the middle to make a +. You can stop at this point and staple the + to a piece of card to make a very minimal, chic bow, or continue…
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make a second +, then join the two together at an angle to make a fancier bow.
These bows look great, but they would look even better if you could figure out a way to finish the middle of them. We were experimenting with gluing a little loop in the middle on top of the staples. Perhaps you could stick a sticker over the staples, or it might be nice if you made them with coloured staples.
We set up two tables for the children to make cards. At one table we provided small, deckle-edge cards along with crayons and watercolour paint. We drew simple holiday designs on some cards, and left the others plain. Some of the kids coloured with crayons and then painted over the crayons, and some just painted. This craft appealed to all age groups: the little ones made a painty mess and the bigger ones were very careful and precise with their painting.
The other table had larger cards, some of which we stamped with festive designs and others left plain. We provided pencil crayons, glue and foil shapes and let ‘em at it.
The last craft;my favourite;was directly inspired by this one . To prepare, Nancy borrowed a die-cutter to cut a bunch of shapes out of card stock: trees, round ornaments, dreidels and stars.
We cut lots of coloured bits out of magazines and sorted them into baskets by colour. We also cut out interesting little pictures, like animals and bugs, and cool patterns, as we came across them.
Our little crafters stuck on the bits of magazine using stick glue, and then a helper trimmed any overhanging bits from the edges…
This craft, as Allie says, works equally well for little kids and bigger ones. Little ones love the gluing and the sense of accomplishment, older kids like experimenting with colour and texture and combining images in unexpected ways.
In the end the Craft Room was a big success: everyone who came in, big and small, left with a craft which they enjoyed making and were proud of. We managed to reuse a lot of stuff, and most of the things we bought, like recycled paper and cardstock, and woodless pencils, were easy on the earth. And even I appreciate crafting a little more! Maybe I will make some bows for my Christmas packages.
My original idea for this was to have it closed and have jingle bells inside , but I was concerned that if it broke the jingle bells could be a safety hazard. So I went back to the chalk board and decided to cut one side open and make a home for one of my favorite little bird ornaments that is getting old and needs a comfy place to rest. This is not nearly as hard as it looks but it’s finiky and would frustrate young kids, which is why it’s a naptime creation for older kids or adults to do while preschoolers snooze!
- Gather your materials. You will need yarn, glue, a dish, water, a balloon, some cotton balls , scissors , ribbon and your ornament of choice.
- Start by blowing up your balloon a little, and tie it.
- Mix your glue in a dish with some water. It’s about 4/5th glue 1/5th water.
- Cut your yarn into manageable pieces.
- Drench your yarn in the glue and wrap it around your balloon.
- Let dry- I clip it to a wire hanger and hang it over my utility sink. I dried mine for a few days.
- Pop the balloon and pull it from the yarn .
- Cut an opening in the yarn.
- Add cotton balls.
- Glue your ornament on.
- Add ribbon.
- Hang on your tree.
One Little Chicken: A Counting Book by David Elliot was a great library find. You count chickens as they dance all different styles, my favorite being the chickens who dance the hula ! The rhyming text is really fun and the pictures will make you giggle, I mean there are chickens in leotards doing ballet! Totally tickled my funny bone. The best part though is that it gets the reader involved after counting to ten, the chickens turn the tables stare at the reader and implore them to dance! One of my new favorite counting books.
Birds by Kevin Henkes , illustrated by Laura Dronzek is stunning. I love this author but this book is absolutely about the pictures. The cover is beautiful but there are pages that I just wanted to look at the way I look at paintings at a museum. The book is perfect for toddlers and young preschooler, it’s non fiction , simple and has a great flow. The colors are so vibrant I would bet that infants would dig it too! Awesome awesome awesome!
When I asked my son what he wanted to make he said “Something big! ” so I grabbed some paper plates left over from his birthday party , painters tape and we were in business! By using a spoge roller paintbrush the paint dried quickly and the tape didn’t have to stay on too long, and came off easily with no ripping. Have fun!
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 paper plates, some painters tape, paint, glitter glue , ribbon and double stick tape.
- Start by taping your plates. You can make all sorts of designs, don’t be limited just because we chose stripes.
- Start painting!
- Add glitter glue, it’s the holidays you want it to sparkle!
- Let dry. Pull off the tape!
- Tape the plates together , with ribbon looped at the top.
- Hang wherever you need some holiday cheer.
Happy Christmas, Gemma by Sarah Hayes is a hidden gem. The book is narrated by a preschooler, the older brother to little baby Gemma. Throughout this family’s preperations for and celebration of Christmas he notes how he does what he is supposed to and his baby sister does not. She makes messes, pulls the ornaments off the tree, has terrible table manners during Christmas dinner and so much more! What makes this a gem in my mind is that no one ever corrects her, these are all age appropriate behaviors and the family is loving and accepting. Perfect for families like mine who are expecting a baby, or those with older siblings who like to boss their younger ones around and may need a reminder that babies are still learning, just like they are!
Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate is a sweet look at the animals in the manger preparing for Baby Jesus’s arrival. The animals aren’t sure who is coming but at the insistance of the mouse, they clean and prepare the manger until finally a very pregnant Mary on a donkey with Joseph by her side. The next page is probably my favorite image of the Baby Jesus image in any children’s book. Mary’s hair is down, feet bare and Jospeh is protective by, the animals are watchng and alert. Illustrator Ashley Wolff does a perfect job with this simple but fantastic book!