Countdown to Christmas: Crafts, Food and DIY Gifts

This season, deck the halls, walls, and tables with these cool eats and treats.

  • Courtesy of The Decorated Cookie Blog

    Melting Snowman Cookies

    Take a bite out Frosty before he melts away!

    What you'll need: dough, frosting, soft gel pastes (white, orange, green), sharp knife, frosting bag, small spatula or knife, white rolled fondant, black edible pen, light corn syrup

    Make it: Bake a "blob" shaped cookie and let cool. To decorate, color frosting with white gel paste and spread across the cookie. Once your base is set, roll some fondant between your palms to form a sphere for the head (colored white) and smaller spheres for the buttons (colored green). Knead a small amount of fondant with the orange color and form a triangle for the nose. Draw on a face with a black edible pen. Adhere the fondant pieces to each other and to the cookie by dabbing your finger in light corn syrup and rubbing on the areas that will be adhered. You can either draw on the stick arms with your black pen, or pipe with a thin tip and brown frosting.

  • Alison Miksch

    Family Photo Wreath

    Take your pictures out of the frame and create a clever holiday decoration.

    What you'll need: 3-inch circle template, colored cardstock, pencil, scissors, 4x6-inch black-and-white photos, glue stick, decorative-edge scissors, 12- or 14-inch foam wreath form, crafts glue, jingle bells, ribbon, two T pins

    Make it: Use circle template to cut circles from card stock; cut faces from black-and-white photos into slightly smaller circles. Use a glue stick to attach the photo cutouts to card stock, then trim the card stock with decorative-edge scissors. Glue the photos to the surface of the Styrofoam wreath form with edges overlapping. Thread ribbon through jingle bells and tie bows. Glue the bells in between the photos as desired. Attach a loop of ribbon to the back of the wreath with T-pins and hang.

  • Alison Miksch

    Advent Calendar

    Make a tree by tacking 25 decorated envelopes to a corkboard -- a month full of surprises!

  • Alison Miksch

    Minty Chocolate Treats

    Serve these goodies at a party, or package them in cellophane for a delicious holiday gift.

    In a food-processor bowl, grind 1 box (9 ounces) chocolate wafers, 3/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup sugar. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup chocolate milk and 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in crushed peppermint candy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 4 dozen.

  • Paper Stars
    Paper Stars

    Decorate your kids room or playroom with these easy-to-make paper stars.

  • Alison Miksch

    Dressed-Up Napkins

    Add a little flair to your table with stamped napkins.

  • Alison Miksch

    Toy Drive

    Teach your kids to pay the love forward and donate some of their gently used toys to needy children.

  • Alison Miksch

    Sweet Ornaments

    Your kids will love to see their personalized sugar cookies hanging on the tree.

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. On a clean surface, knead 3/4 cup all-purpose flour into 1 tube (19 ounces) refrigerated sugar-cookie dough until combined. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out wreath and star shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Using a straw, poke holes at tops of cookies; bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Gather remaining dough and repeat to make more cookies. Let cool 3 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

    2. In an electric mixer on low, beat together 1 box (16 ounces) confectioner's sugar, 2 tablespoons powdered egg whites, and 5 tablespoons water. Increase speed to high and beat 5 minutes. Divide icing among four bowls. Cover and set aside one bowl. With remaining divided icing, tint one portion aqua-blue, one red, and one a green-yellow shade using icing colors. Transfer a third of each tinted and white icing to pastry bags fitted with #3 writing tips. With remaining icing, sprinkle in a few drops of water to thin out.

    3. Frost wreaths with thinned aqua-blue icing and stars with thinned white icing. Using bagged icings, pipe names onto bottom halves of wreaths and pipe berries with leaves onto top halves; pipe names and colored dots onto stars. Let dry completely before hanging. Makes about 2 dozen.

  • Alison Miksch

    Brownie Tree

    Stack brownies on a cake stand to make a gorgeous holiday dessert.

    1. Prepare and bake 1 box (21.4 ounces) family-style brownie mix according to directions for 13-x-9-inch pan and cake variation using an additional egg. Let cool completely. Cut seven circles from baked brownie in the following sizes: 6 inches, 4 3/4 inches, 3 1/2 inches, 2 3/4 inches, 2 inches, 1 3/4 inches, and 1 inch. Stack circles to make tree. Push a bamboo skewer through the center of the tree to secure the layers, trimming if it sticks out of the top.

    2. To decorate you'll need 1 can (12 ounces) whipped vanilla frosting and green, yellow, blue, and red icing colors. Place 1/2 can (6 ounces) of vanilla frosting into a bowl and tint it bright green using green and yellow icing colors. Divide remaining icing between two bowls. Tint one portion blue and the other red. Place green icing in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip, blue icing in a pastry bag fitted with a #4 writing tip, and red icing in a pastry bag fitted with a #6 writing tip. Once tree is assembled, pipe a "garland" of green stars around base of each brownie layer. Randomly pipe red and blue dots onto brownie layers. Make a star out of a soft red candy.

  • Alison Miksch

    Doggie Biscuits

    Treat your puppy to tasty gingerbread snacks.

    1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine 3/4 cup hot water and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl. Stir until butter melts. Add 1/2 cup powdered milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 large egg, beaten. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup quick oats, and 1/4 cup wheat germ. Mix until dough forms. Knead on a floured surface to form a stiff dough.

    2. Roll dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut out dog-bone shapes using a cookie cutter. Place on baking sheet and bake 50 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

  • Alison Miksch

    Snow Globe

    Encase photos, crafty creatures, or holiday trinkets inside a plastic cup to make a nifty tree decoration.

    What you'll need: 5-ounce plastic cup, tack or pin, ornament string, small bead, colored card stock, pencil, decorative-edge scissors, small paintbrush, white glue, opaque white glitter, 2 thin orange chenille stems, 3 black chenille stems, 1 white chenille stem, black and white felt, 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch hole punches, strong craft glue, scissors, white paper, red toothpick, small piece of white clay, 1 silver chenille stem.

    Make it: Globe: Make a small hole in the bottom of the plastic cup using a tack or pin. Insert one end of the ornament string through the hole, and thread small bead onto string inside the cup. Bring the ornament string back through the hole and tie ends together to form a loop. Put the cup upside down on the card stock, trace around it with a pencil, and then trim 1/4 inch outside the line with decorative-edge scissors. Use a small paintbrush to fill in the middle of the card stock with white glue, and sprinkle with opaque white glitter. Set aside to dry.

    1. Fold a 6-inch piece of orange chenille stem in half.
    2. Form the body by making a loose spiral around the orange chenille stem with a black chenille stem. Loop the two ends of orange chenille stem to form feet.
    3. Tuck a 1/2-inch piece of white chenille stem into the top and bottom opening of the black chenille body.
    4. Fold top of orange stem down to form beak. Use hole punches to make the eyes from black and white felt and glue on.
    To finish: Once glitter is fully dry, secure penguins to base with strong craft glue. Press sign (glue piece of paper to toothpick) into white clay and stand it next to penguins. Add craft glue around the rim of the cup and glue to card stock. Hold in place until glue sets. Glue a piece of silver chenille stem at the junction of plastic cup and cardstock.

  • Alison Miksch

    Nice Gift

    Cheer up an elderly neighbor with a stocking full of teas and gourmet cookies.

  • Christmas Crafts: Clothespin Skier Ornaments
    Christmas Crafts: Clothespin Skier Ornaments
  • Alison Miksch

    Holly Leaf Gift Wrap

    What you'll need: Brown kraft paper, scissors, pinking shears, hole punch, tape, green paper, crafts glue, red pom-poms

    Make it: Cut a strip of kraft paper lengthwise and fold it in thirds. Trim edges with pinking shears and punch random holes along the strip. Repeat. Unfold and tape strips around the package in both directions as you would with ribbon. Cut two holly leaves from a folded piece of green paper and glue to the top of the package. Glue on three red pom-poms.

  • Alison Miksch

    Artwork Sticker Gift Wrap

    What you'll need: 8-1/2x11-inch full-sheet labels, scissors, markers, crayons

    Make it: Cut labels to the appropriate size for the package and have kids decorate. Cut strips of label paper as ribbon and have kids decorate those as well.

  • Alison Miksch

    Paper Flower Gift Wrap

    What you'll need: wrapping paper, pinking shears, tape, two drinking glasses of different sizes, pencil, double-stick tape, circular labels, rubber stamp, ink pad.

    Make it: Cut strips of wrapping paper with pinking shears and tape in both directions around the package. Cut two circles from wrapping paper, one about an inch smaller than the other. Using the small drinking glass, trace a circle in the middle of the backside of the small circle; use the larger drinking glass on the bigger circle. Cut slits 1 inch apart around the circles to the penciled line. Fold the corners of the paper between the slits back toward each other and tape to form petals. Layer the two flowers on the package, securing with double-stick tape. Stamp design or words on circular label and place in the middle of the flower.

  • Alison Miksch

    Fringe Pom-Pom Gift Wrap

    What you'll need: ribbon, double-stick tape, two colors of crepe-paper fringe, button

    Make it: Tape ribbon around package. Place double-stick tape in a circle in center of package. Spiral crepe-paper fringe to form a pom-pom, pressing it onto the tape. Add a second color of fringe around the center pom-pom in the same way. Tape a button in the middle of the pom-pom.

  • Courtesy of The Ki Blog

    3-D Tree

    Recycle scraps of wrapping paper by pulling together this pretty patterned Christmas tree.

    What you'll need: wrapping paper, scissors, glue, ribbon

    Make it: Print the tree template from The Ki Blog. Choose the patterned wrapping paper you want to use - pick at least three different styles and opt for heavier duty paper. Fold your paper in half (wrong side facing out), trace the tree template and cut. Add glue to the backside of each piece of wrapping paper; then, line up two pieces paper at the folded spines and press to adhere the backsides of the paper together - half of every tree shape should be adhered to a different pattern of paper. Continue until your patterns are glued together, completing the circle by closing the last patterns together. Decorate with ribbons on the top or by adding paper ornaments to your tree.

  • Courtesy of Crafts by Amanda

    Snowman Bread Tags

    Add some fun, wintery spirit to your kids' lunch bags with these clever and simple snowman tags.

    What you'll need: white plastic bread tags, paintbrush, acrylic paint (in orange and pink), black marker, toothpicks, sealer spray

    Make it: Start with your snowman's cheeks - dip a paint brush in pink paint, dab on a piece of paper to remove excess paint, and then dab your paintbrush onto either side of the bread tag cutout. Use orange paint to make a carrot shaped nose. Finish by using the black marker to make dotted eyes and a mouth. Let dry and repeat, and then spray with sealer to set.

  • Courtesy of The Speckled Dog

    Foam Tree Forest

    Don't throw away your holiday-inspired ribbon scraps and extra craft supplies. Instead, transform them into a fun forest centerpiece for your Christmas table.

    What you'll need: foam tree forms, pom poms, ribbons or yarn, pins, hot glue, embellishments like buttons and sequins

    Make it: Starting at the base, pin a scrap of ribbon or yarn to secure. Wrapping from bottom to top, cover the entire foam tree, securing with pins as you go. Once covered, hot glue a pom pom to the top and add embellishments like wavy ribbons, buttons, or sequins. Repeat until you have a mini Christmas forest to add to your decorations.

  • Courtesy of Elsie Marley

    Sock Advent Calendar

    Don't stress when the laundry bandit steals one of your kids' socks - turn the lonely leftovers into a fun advent calendar to countdown the days to Christmas

    What you'll need: 24 socks, number stickers, ribbon or rope, clothespins

    Make it: Hang a piece of ribbon or rope on your wall - you can make any shape you like, just make sure it's long enough to hold all 24 socks. Then, add the number stickers to your socks and attach them to the ribbon with clothespins. Place a special trinket or piece of candy inside each sock and let your kids pick a present every morning before Christmas.

    Copyright & copy 2011 Meredith Corporation.