String buttons and felt and paper flowers onto yarn and chenille stems to make adorable necklaces and rings.
What you'll need: Narrow chenille stems, mini hole punch, felt and paper flower embellishments, scissors, assorted buttons, yarn or thin cord
Make it: To make rings, cut a short length of chenille stem and bring ends together to form a loop. Punch two holes in the center of felt and paper flowers and stack them onto the chenille stem loop (keeping the ends together): Thread one end of the chenille stem through one hole in the flowers and button; repeat with the other end of the pipe cleaner on the second hole. Twist the ends together, trim excess if needed, and make sure there are no sharp ends sticking up. To make necklaces, thread yarn through stacked flowers and buttons.
These candle holders are so lovely, people will never believe that they're handmade -- and by a kid, no less!
What you'll need: Food coloring, water, paper doilies, kitchen tongs, paper towels, scissors, colored tissue paper, straight-sided glass votive holders, paintbrush, craft glue
Doilies: In a large glass pie plate or pot, mix a dye bath using approximately 20 drops of food coloring (more for deeper colors) and 2 cups of water. Slide a doily into the dye bath and push it down with the tongs so it's covered completely; let it sit for five seconds to two minutes, depending on the desired shade. Remove doily with tongs and place it flat on a stack of paper towels. Immediately blot it dry with another paper towel, then set it aside to dry on a clean paper towel.
Votives: Cut a rectangle of tissue paper that is 1" longer and ?" taller than the votive holder. Cut a piece of doily the same size or smaller. Use a paintbrush and coat the entire votive holder with a thin layer of watered-down glue. Adhere tissue to votive and use your fingers to smooth the bottom edge underneath; turn upside down to dry. When dry, trim the excess tissue paper so that it's flush with the top edge. Apply glue mixture to the entire surface of the tissue-covered votive and adhere doily strip. Press down lightly with fingers and set it aside to dry. Trim the excess doily pieces from the votives, then brush a thin coat of glue on top to seal it; let dry completely.
Lunch Bag Scrap Book
Store holiday cards and photos in the pockets of a book crafted from folded brown paper bags.
What you'll need: Three brown lunch bags, scissors, hole punch, pencil, thin ribbon, glue, assorted embellishments (we used patterned papers, gift wrap scraps, buttons, stickers, rickrack, and photos)
Make it: Cut off the bottom of the lunch bags, stack them, and fold in half. (If necessary, trim edges to make pages even.) Remove the outermost bag and punch three to four holes along the folded edge. Using this bag as a guide, punch corresponding holes in the other two folded bags, one at a time. Restack folded bags and thread ribbon through the holes to bind the book. Embellish the cover as desired using gift-wrap scraps, buttons, photos, and more.
Ink Blot Prints
A series of simple folded Rorschach paintings are festive and fun for little ones to make.
What you'll need: Medium-weight art paper, small paintbrushes (optional), tempera paints, colored cardstock for backing, picture frame
Make it: Fold paper in half and generously drizzle or dab paint onto one side of the paper fold. Fold the other side of the paper onto the painted side and press down. Open to reveal design and let dry flat. Mount print onto colored cardstock and frame.
Mini Clay Bowls
Press small rubber stamps or chipboard letters into air-dry clay to make this cute little catchall.
What you'll need: White air-dry clay, wax paper, small rolling pin, water, cooking oil, non-washable ink pad, rubber letter stamps or chipboard letters, cotton swab
Make it: Knead a piece of clay for a few seconds, then flatten it on wax paper and roll it out so it's ⅛" to ?" thick. To smooth the surface of the clay, wipe a little water on top and let it sit for about ten minutes. Use your finger to apply a thin film of cooking oil to the surface that you're going to stamp. Ink your stamp and press it into the wet clay. Use a cotton swab to clean up any undesired impressions or excess oil. Mold the edges up to create a bowl or dish and let it dry for two to three days on wax paper.
Upcycled T-shirt Bowl
Kids can turn their outgrown T-shirts into pretty bowls for trinkets and tiny treasures.
Jolly Java Jackets
Kids can fashion a striped or solid sock into a reusable sleeve for coffee or hot cocoa to go.
What you'll need: Old socks, fabric scissors, buttons, felt, felt stickers, fabric glue
Make it: Cut 4 inches from leg of sock to form a cup cozy. Add embellishments using fabric glue.
Bottle Cap Magnets
Fill a bottle cap with mini-fingerprint artwork or wrapping paper scraps to make these adorable magnets.
What you'll need: Inkpad, markers, clear Con-Tact paper, 1-inch circle punch, glue, small magnets, assorted metal bottle caps, scraps of gift wrap or photos, white cardstock
Make it: For fingerprint art, have children make designs using inkpads, their fingers, and markers. Set aside to dry for a few minutes. When ink is dry, cover the fingerprint design with a small square of clear Con-Tact paper, then punch out using a 1-inch circle punch. Glue the small paper punch to the inside of the bottle cap. Glue a magnet onto the top of the bottle cap. If using gift wrap scraps or photos, glue the gift wrap (or photo) to white cardstock, cover with a square of clear Con-Tact paper, then punch out and attach to bottle caps.
Tin Treasure Boxes
Don't throw away those Altoids tins! They make a perfect little gift box for tiny toys and candy. Just add a little decoration to make them festive.
What you'll need: Empty mint tins; embellishments such as stickers, felt scraps, ribbon, gift wrap, colored tape, patterned papers; glue, scissors
Make it: Decorate the top of the tin by gluing on strips of ribbon, wrapping paper, or colored tape. Embellish as desired. Glue strips of ribbon or gift wrap around the bottom of the tin, or wrap with colored tape. Fill the tin with small toys or candies.
Cookie Mix Kit
Layer the dry ingredients from a cookie recipe into a clear plastic container. Dress it up with a hand-written label from your child and make sure to attach the baking instructions!
What you'll need: Double-sided adhesive or tape, fine-textured canvas fabric, scissors, fabric crayons or markers
Make it: Adhere double-sided adhesive sheets to the back of canvas fabric and cut into desired label shape. Decorate labels with crayons or markers; peel off back of adhesive and apply to container.
Create these mod drink mats from adhesive-backed felt and package them in sets of six.
What you'll need: Ruler, white pencil, assorted colors of wool felt ($8 for 18"X18"; magiccabin.com), scissors, white adhesive-backed felt
Make it: Use a ruler and pencil to draw rectangles and squares of felt of varying sizes on different colors of wool felt; cut out. Create a patchwork design by mounting the small felt pieces onto the sticky side of white adhesive-backed felt. When completely covered, cut decorated felt sheet into 4" squares.
Christmas Finger Puppets
After your kids make these holiday-inspired finger puppets, it may be hard to part with them!
What you'll need: Assorted colors of felt (red, black, white, brown, and beige), scissors, dime-size coin wrappers, quick-setting gel glue (such as Beacon's 3-in-1), 1?" round natural wooden beads, fine-tipped marker; additional embellishments such as pipe cleaners, small buttons, and mini pom-poms
Make it: Cut a rectangle of felt large enough to cover the rounded coin wrapper; glue in place. Glue the wooden bead on top of the felt-covered coin wrapper; let dry completely before handling. Draw eyes using a fine-tipped marker.
For Santa, cut a shorter rectangle of red felt and wrap around the cylinder, gluing only the top edge of the felt down to resemble a jacket. Glue a small black button at the top and a strip of black felt underneath. Cut a half circle out of red felt and form into a cone-shaped hat; glue at the seam. Add a mini pom-pom to the top. Glue a thin strip of white felt to the bottom, and then glue the hat on top of wooden bead. Make a mustache and beard out of white felt and glue in place.
For Elf, make jacket according to directions above and finish by rounding the edges. Create a hat, belt, and collar from matching felt and secure to puppet with glue.
For Rudolph, cut an oval from beige felt and glue to front of cylinder. Cut a small oval, glue to the face, and add a mini pom-pom for a nose. Cut out two ear shapes from beige felt and glue in place on bead. Bend a brown chenille stem into antlers and glue between ears.
For Snowman twig arms: For the snowman arms, wrap a chenille stem around the back of the snowman and glue it to the body for extra support. To make top hat, cut a felt circle that's appropriate for the size of the puppet's head. Cut a narrow strip from felt and form into a circle; glue the overlapping ends together. Apply a little glue to the bottom of the circle of felt and glue it onto the larger circle. Cut a small circle of felt and glue on the top of the hat. Apply glue to the middle of the felt brim and adhere it to the top of the snowman's head.
Fabric Rock Paperweights
Use a rock from the backyard and some fabric scraps to make these cool paperweights.
What you'll need: Fabric, scissors, fabric glue, water, smooth rocks or stones, wax paper, felt letter stickers
Make it: Make a small cut in the end of the fabric and tear strips from it. Cut the strips into manageable pieces and brush watered down glue on the back (coat each piece as you're using it). Adhere the strip of fabric to the rock. Repeat with additional strips, overlapping the edges of the fabric strips. Set aside to dry on wax paper. Once the rock is dry, brush another layer of glue over the top of the rock and let it dry. Embellish with letter stickers, if desired.
Penguin Snow Globe
Encase a precious chenille stem animal inside a plastic cup to make a super-cute ornament.
What you'll need: 5-ounce plastic cup, tack or pin, ornament string, small bead, colored cardstock, 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, ⅛" and ¼" hole punches, strong craft glue, scissors, white paper, red toothpick, small piece of white clay, 1 silver chenille stem.
Globe: Punch a small hole in the bottom of the plastic cup using a tack. Insert one end of the 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 cardstock, trace around it with a pencil, and then trim ¼" outside the line with decorative-edge scissors. Use a small paintbrush to fill in the middle of the cardstock with white glue, and sprinkle with opaque white glitter. Set aside to dry.
Penguins: Fold a 6-inch piece of orange chenille stem in half. 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. Tuck a ½" piece of white chenille stem into the top and bottom opening of the black chenille body. Fold top of orange stem down to form beak. Use hole punches to make the eyes from black and white felt and glue on.
Once glitter is fully dry, secure penguins to base with strong craft glue. Press sign (glue piece of paper to toothpick and label) into white clay and stand it next to penguins. Add craft glue around the rim of the cup and glue to cardstock. Hold in place until glue sets. Glue a piece of silver chenille stem at the junction of plastic cup and cardstock.
Stamped Napkin Set
Use various holiday-theme rubber stamps to make these cute napkin sets.
Brown Goody Bags
Embellish a simple brown bag with stickers and tags to make fun and simple holiday grab bags.
Originally published in the December 2010 issue of Parents magazine.