Help kids deck the halls with homemade crafts and gifts

The holiday vacay is almost here. Sure, it’s great to get kids outside to burn off energy, but how about those inclement days when they are out of school and raring to “do”? Go retro with seasonal crafts from your own childhood, which also offer the chance to share stories and pass along traditions, or put together something totally new and different. Here are 6 ideas.

  1. Share the time-honored holiday tradition of cutting out paper snowflakes. ReadsinTrees provides step by step instructions on for making beautiful, 6-pointed snowflakes (most patterns have 4 or 8). Aiming for authenticity, the creator says that most real snowflakes have six points.
  2. Remember paper chain garlands? They are still easy, still pretty, and still inexpensive. Wikihow shows how to make them. Let kids go wild making chains to adorn the tree, doorways, and window frames. Or make other traditional garlands by stringing popcorn or cranberries.
  3. Craft a treat that’s for the birds! Roll a pine cone in peanut butter and birdseed, then hang it near a window and watch feathered friends flock to the “diner.” One site among several that offers directions is—and they say it can be made in under 10 minutes!
  4. Kids will also love making Monster Rocks, featured on the Yesterday on Tuesday blog, for their friends and siblings. It’s pitched as a Halloween craft, but in a child’s world, monsters are pretty much all-season. Brightly painted, with glue-on googly eyes, these are described as “cheap, easy, and cute.”  Drop one in the Christmas stocking or wrap up a few as a prank. What a great way to make use of that bucket of rocks collected at the beach last summer!
  5. The I Like to Paint app delivers big learning fun in rainbow colors. Painting by letters, numbers, or shapes helps little ones practice skills as they make art. Preschoolers and kindergartners can choose a picture to “paint” from one of five image galleries: Mammals, Nature, Favorite Foods, Fun Characters, and Things That Go, each with 16 pictures. Pick a monster truck, a prancing pony, or bird’s nest, among many others. Share the end result with Grandma or others by Facebook or e-mail without even leaving the app.
  6. For creative, craftsy pre-teens and teens, encourage them to try arm-knitting and whip up fabulous scarves as fun, low-cost gifts for everyone on their list. See for pics, ideas, instructions, and a link to a 12-minute video.

Nothing matches a gift or decoration made by hand and given from the heart.