Gift Wrap Pattern Sorting

I hate just recycling scrap wrapping paper after wrapping gifts. I’d much rather use it for crafts! I also like that this craft is a pretty fast one to set up and depending on your child’s abilities they can do this semi independently. I made lunch while my son did this , stopping only to take pictures and reign in his glue habit ( I would have used a glue stick if mine weren’t all dried up – must get some new ones).  One other thing I’d do differently – I’d use a larger piece of paper ( or smaller trees) so you could also make the squares larger, the small ones were at some times tricky to match up.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large sheet of construction paper multiple scrap pieces of wrapping paper,a marker, scissors and glue.
  2. Start by cutting your wrapping paper into 3 different trees .
  3. cut the rest into square ‘gifts”
  4. Glue the trees onto the paper.
  5. Invite your child to sort and match!
  6. Glue them on. Like I said a glue stick would be ideal but white glue worked.

More Gift Wrap Crafts

Stocking

Patterns

Recycled Lid Ornaments

easy christmas ornaments for kids to make

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Start by choosing your photos or cards and tracing the lid on the back of it.
  3. Cut out.
  4. Using the double stick tape attach the picture to the lid. Press and hold for a bit.
  5. Grab the glue and add to edge on the front.
  6. Add glitter.
  7. Let dry.
  8. 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!

Christmas Books

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 !

Shampoo Bottle 3 Wise Men Craft

This craft wasn’t planned at all, it was one of those ” Oh oh I have an idea!” moments, in the shower of course! I was thinking about Christmas dinner then 5 minutes later I was grabbing sequins with dripping wet hair. You could make so many variations of this craft with felt cloaks, pipe cleaner arms holding gifts… but we kept it simple today.  As I write this they are sparkling on my mantle , shampoo bottles never looked so good!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 empty clean travel size shampoo bottles, specifically Dove . Sequins, glue, sparkly sticky back foam, scissors and a paper towel.
  2. Start by peeling the labels off. Ours came off without leaving yuck behind.
  3. Add glue, spread it with your fingers.
  4. Add the sequins. I use a paper towel to keep the sequins on to keep them from sliding and frustrating my son. This is great fine motor practice.
  5. This is not – but it works too.
  6. While they do that cut crowns out of the foam.
  7. Pop them on the caps.
  8. Let the glue dry and screw the caps on.
  9. All done!

Books

Din Dan Don, It’s Christmas by Janina Domanska is one of a kind. The books follows the pilgrimage to the manger to see the infant Jesus . It starts with a single duck playing bagpipes, but it builds on it self until they spot the manger and the infant Jesus wakes. The story is simple because there is no need for lots of text , the illustrations are amazing. Every page looks like a cross between a stained glass window and a ornate mosaic in a Orthodox church somewhere in Eastern Europe. My son exclaimed “WOW” many times as we turned the pages of this book, and I know I let out a gasp or two as well, simply beautiful! * When I did a search for a photo I could not find this book in print , so you may not be able to find it in store, try your library though!
Only a Star by Margery Facklam is a calm beautiful book about the first Christmas. A little girl asks her dad about the decorations on that very first Christmas day and readers are reminded that the true origin of the holiday.  The illustrations by Nancy Carpenter are stunning, they vary in perspective and unlike so many manger scenes, this one looks like a mom and a baby. They gave me chills coupled with the simple but profound text. A great holiday read .


Cock-A-Doodle Christmas by Will Hillenbrand is a really unique Christmas story. A little rooster is at the center of this book, he is so little that his cock-a-doodle doesn’t wake anyone up.  He is very sad about his inability until that night he finds himself in the manger with Baby Jesus and finds his voice. It’s a simple book, with profound meanings. This is a great book for a Christan family or to read at Sunday school.

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Holiday Gift Boxes

I stole this idea for a gift bag at Walmart – at first I was going to make a reindeer gift bag but decided that by making it a box you can avoid any other wrapping ( or tissue paper) at all. Pop treats in and your gifts are done!  My son made the Rudolph with me then during quiet time I played around and made the other two in about 5 minutes. So easy and you can use them year after year.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some 2 piece gift boxes, sticky back foam, crayons, scissors, painters tape and treats to fill the boxes with . We made fudge.
  2. For Rudolf start by tracing your kids hands on the black or brown foam. My son decided to do this solo after I showed him , he was pretty successful!
  3. Using painters tape make a v , you can skip this if your child will stay in the lines. Don’t press too hard, these boxes were cheap and as you can see later the tape ripped the finish off a little.
  4. Color with brown crayons.
  5. While they do that make eyes , cut out the hands and a red nose.
  6. Peel tape off.
  7. Add eyes,
  8. Add antlers- don’t peel the backing all the way off, just on the part that will touch the box.
  9. Add the nose
  10. Add fudge
  11. Go give it to someone special!

Christmas Books


Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo made me cry. It’s a simple story about children’s innocence and giving hearts. A little girl sees a homeless man, and that’s what she sees , a man in need, instead of the stranger her mother sees. When she leaves to go to her Christmas pageant she calls out to him to come, when he does the true meaning of her line in the pageant comes to life. Which is when I choked up. Beautiful illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline accompany this simple tale.

Albert’s Christmas by Leslie Tryon is awesome. I love this book and so did my son. It’s such an original story about a troop of animals who act as a pit crew for Santa and his sleigh. They give the sleigh a tune up just the same way race car pit crews do. If your child has seen the movie Cars , they are sure to make the link. The rhyming text is wonderful the pictures are adorable and the feeling of everyone pitching in made me smile. In a genre of similar stories.

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Christmas Books Worth Reading!

Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit like snuggling up with my kids and reading Christmas books. I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet but if you are hoping to find these books at your local library you need to get them now!  No time to read this week? You aren’t the only one. I collaborated on an article with Stacie Billis at The Family Kitchen all about ways to keep your kids busy while you are preparing for the holidays.

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown will sound very familiar to you if you are a fan of her book The Big Red Barn, which both my son and I am. I like this book but my son kept saying ” That’s not right” thinking that this was the other book. They are that similar. In this book though there is something that the other doesn’t have, most notably Baby Jesus. It’s a calm and gentle book about the birth of Jesus in a way only Margaret Wise Brown could accomplish.  I would like to read it next year to my son when he can appreciate that it’s not supposed to be exactly the same as  the Big Red Barn. Great book for toddlers and preschoolers alike!

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!

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston made me cry. The story is about the hardships and love of one family torn apart by World War 1 as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother in this book is, she does the best he can with what she has, treks through snow to cut that big old Christmas tree down , and the part that made me cry uses her own wedding dress to make her daughter an angel costume for the Christmas pageant. Oh but that is not all she sacrificed, she  used the silk stockings her husband sent her from the war to make a doll for Santa to give to her daughter. The father coming home right as they were leaving the church service – once again starting my water works.  It’s an awesome story but probably too long for a group of kids , or toddlers , but perfect for a bedtime story for preschoolers on up. Also this book and the one previous were illustrated by Barbara Cooney , who captures such meaningful stories with her amazing work.

My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a perfect book for this activity. In this story a little boy writes to Santa and asks for a very specific gift, a real live penguin! It’s not long before he realizes that a real live penguin is not as much fun as he thought it would be. He is very responsible though and sacrifices a lot for Osbert. He is thankful to Santa for getting his gift exactly right but writes a follow up letter explaining how it would be ok if Santa sent a replacement. Very cute story, it’s not short though but my 3 year old listened to it happily for a bedtime story. Laughing at the funny parts and pointing out that he wrote a letter to Santa too, but he didn’t ask for a penguin… thank goodness!

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is a fun and surprisingly practical story about Santa and how he developed the skills needed for his one of a kind job.  It starts with Santa as a young man and as he keeps bouncing from job to job he acquires skills like going in and out of chimneys as a chimney sweep with ease and without getting dirty,  develops a relationship with reindeer as a zoo worker and gets chubby eating all the food at a all night diner gig!  There are more but i don’t want to spoil the story. My son loved it, especially once the elves showed up, which was when the toys did too! I know when i was a kid I wanted to know how Santa got his job, and there are movies dedicated to this so this book  jumped on the bandwagon and did a great job , it’s very cute!

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson is such a heartwarming story about friendship. Bear is hibernating but his friends wake him up to celebrate Christmas. It’s not easy at first , Bear is super sleepy and wants nothing more than to cuddle back up and fall back to sleep.  They get a tree, decorate it, hang their stockings and sing carols. When all the other animals snuggle in and go to sleep Bear stays up. He is busily making gifts for all his friends, he is so busy he doesn’t even notice Santa coming and filling the stockings. He delights in the friendship and when his friends present him with a lovely quilt, he snuggles under and goes back to sleep happy and filled with friendship. This is such a wonderful book , I love it’s focus on friendship and the excitement of giving gifts!