Tuesday, November 13, 2012

holiday crafts you can do with kids, part 1

do you see what i did there, with those dorked-out, pinterest-worthy vintage christmas lights in the background?  (god, i don't know how some bloggers do it.  i felt like such a huge dork setting up those lights.) but pretttty festive, no?

anyway, this year is fun times because shoshi is old enough to start making her own christmas gifts to give people.  since before she was born, i've always made most of the presents i give, out of financial necessity and also because i wish everyone did that.  "be the change you want to see in the world," etc.  (i'm pretty sure gandhi was talking about xmas there, wasn't he?) shosh has always scored a major haul of gifts from adoring grandparents, family and friends, and i feel like two years old is not too young to learn that gift-giving goes both ways; that it can often be just as fun (if not more so) to give as it is to receive.  to me, this is a really important lesson to teach her.

so i'd love to share some of the projects that we've been doing lately, because they've been so much fun and i think those of you with kiddos would like them too.  but i don't want to spoil the surprise for friends and family who are reading!  it's a total dilemma, y'all.  i guess i'll start with a teensy craft we did a couple weekends ago and share other small projects as we go, while keeping the main ones under wraps for now.

this is one i invented myself!  i wanted to make some salt-dough ornaments to decorate wrapped presents with.  i was thinking of doing the ol' handprint in dough christmas ornament, but it turned out totally wack.  so, with the dough hardening by the moment and my toddler's attention waning, i bundled her up and we went outside looking for little twigs.  i raced downstairs and dug around in my glitter/crafty stash that david's grandma (an art teacher) gave me shortly before she died, and bam!  we were in business.  these ended up looking very earthy and natural, with the texture of the twigs and sprinkles of cinnamon and a dash of gold shiny things for good measure.

RECIPE  (adapted from here)

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1.5 cups warm water
half cup or so of cinnamon
wee little twigs
little gold (or silver or whatev) shiny plastic circles - what are these called?  kind of like glitter, craft supplies. agh!  i'm a terrible diy blogger, evidently.  they're pictured below.

combine the water and salt, then add flour.  knead by hand (sho and i love this part).  add cinnamon - as much as you like.  i liked the more earthy look this gave the ornaments, plus they smell great.  our ornaments have faded a lot since they've dried though, so make the dough darker than you'd like it to end up.  then we rolled the dough into balls and squished them flat, about 1cm thick.  (you could also use the rim of a cup to make a circle after rolling out the dough.)  then take the small twigs you've collected, and help your little one cut or break them so there are a bunch of approximately three different sizes - longer ones for the sides of the tree, shorter ones for the bottom, and even smaller ones for the trunk of the tree.  press them into the dough circles in a tree formation.  then take the shiny gold crafty circles and press them into the dough as if 'decorating' the twig tree.  then, if you like, use a little toothpick to draw your child's name/year into the ornament, and poke a hole through the top.  later you'll string some twine through that hole to create a legit christmas ornament!  my mom got in on the crafty action (even though projects notoriously stress her OUT) and pressed some teensy evergreen branches (like super-tiny) into little dough circles, and those turned out quite rad.  those would be good for younger babes with limited fine motor skills to do.  officially you're supposed to bake this dough, but due to the plastic and wood involved, i opted to just leave ours out - two weeks later, they've almost totally hardened and are pretty sturdy little guys.  i would recommend checking in after a few days to re-poke the holes at the top, since ours closed up a bit.  as sho would say: "voila!  ooh la la!"

to be honest, this craft was mostly done by me, with sho dicking around in the dough and generally wreaking havoc.  (who dumps all of the shiny gold circle things into the dough at once and then presses them in even further?  who DOES that?  oh yeah, a two year old.  also, what the hell are those crafty circles called, anyway?)  still though, she had fun messing around with the dough, and i had fun reliving my toddler days.  the important thing is that she will remember making these ornaments (or more accurately, sabotaging my every effort to make these ornaments) when packages are opened, and feel some sense of ownership and pride in the giving of them.  that's what it's all about, right?

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  1. Hello from Canada, I love these. We have lots of sticks and I think we will try this.
    Thanks and good wishes from here. Stay warm!

  2. I do believe we will have to try this!

  3. i kept reading the ornaments as "sho iz" and was wondering what kind of statement she was trying to make!