Arts and Crafts, Holidays

Christmas Creativity

This Christmas, I observed adults and children alike being crafty. Here are some fun, zany observations from Christmas 2012 –

I am always amazed when my daughters and nieces will busy themselves for hours with paper, glue, knock-knacks and do-dads. Simply with things I had on hand, they came up with homemade presents to give – this year, it was jewelry boxes.

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Note the intricate detail ūüôā – the buttons that framed the ‘S’ for my daughter’s name. The way they covered the oatmeal box with fabric and then trimmed it with ribbons.

Sure, I had oatmeal packages on the shelf for a week or two, but it was a small price to pay for creativity, cooperation, and hours of time when they were busy in activity that didn’t involve electronics. (And just imagine how much I got done while they were busy at it! Babysitting is a dream when you open up your craft supplies and let them “have at”.)

Another Christmas idea was from my cousin, Jana. She is fantastic at coming up with neighbor gifts. Never is my diet ruined by Jana! Some examples of previous year’s gifts include:
‚ÄĘ A Christmas plate for Santa’s Cookies
‚ÄĘ A small card game
‚ÄĘ Winter window decorations

Each year, it’s something fun and this year, I thought that she was especially clever.

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Wrapping paper – very handy! I used it right up.

Family friends of ours are never short of ideas for crafts. This year, they figured they better build a Chimney for Santa to come down. Look at the size of that thing!

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Complete with very detailed logs –

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Finally, I wanted to close with creativity to the extreme. We found this Lego fireman on display at a Toys —Ź Us store this Christmas.

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That took 170 hours to build and over 21,000 Lego Bricks. So impressive!

I love what creativity and group synergy can do! Now, let’s get going on those Valentine’s Day crafts.

Oh, I forgot one – my three year old figured out how to make jewelry from twine and buttons. You can’t buy the joy and satisfaction etched on her face, due to figuring that one out!

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Holidays, Sewing

Christmas Advent Calendars

I love Christmas countdown traditions.  From easy ones like paper chains, to elaborate homemade countdown items.  This post will look into some Countdown Ideas that will help children, old and young, anticipate that special day.

Missy's Advent Calendar

 Muffin-Tin Advent Calendar

My dear friend Missy Glancy, put this one together for our Relief Society Super Saturday Activity¬†(it’s a gathering where woman from our church sit down and make homemade items). ¬†It’s basically a muffin tin in which you can insert small gifts or slips of paper listing activities that you and your children can do together that day. ¬†You cover each tin with a¬†piece¬†of decorated¬†card-stock, and those papers are held onto¬†the¬†tin with a small magnet.

Missy said that this is a very easy set-up.  She puts in some big activities (going to see the lights) and some small ones (reading a Christmas story or watching a Christmas movie).  If one day they are not able to do an activity that they had planned, she can switch it out for an simpler one.

A Stocking Countdown Calendar

Disney's Family Fun Advent Idea

For this next one, I turn to Disney’s Family Fun¬†Magazine. ¬†Their idea is quite festive and fun – if you can find¬†the¬†right socks. ūüėČ ¬†You basically fill a sock for each day until¬†Christmas¬†with a treat, small present, or activity. ¬†These socks are hung with clothespins¬†across a¬†piece¬†of yarn, twine, or small rope.

The magazine also presented some fun stocking ideas for each day –

  • “Get Out of Chores Free” or “Pick a Movie Rental” cards — each good for one use!
  • A puzzle distributed in pieces among the socks; kids can put it together over the course of the month
  • Trading or sports cards
  • Special coins such as foreign currency or a silver dollar — chocolate coins are always a hit too!
  • Music or other gift cards
  • Jokes or riddles (stick the punch line in the next day’s sock; see AZKIDSNET.COM for ideas)
  • A game (a Mad Libs or Sudoku a day)
  • Art supplies, such as a mini paint kit and pad
  • A special ornament to add to the tree
  • A new pair of socks.¬†

You can see the full article here. 

Paper Chains

Simple Paper Chain

This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish it to be.

Instructions –

  1. Cut up 24 pieces of paper (red and green construction, beautiful wrapping paper, crafting paper that matches your Christmas theme, or even beautiful Christmas ribbon).
  2. Wrap the first one into a circle and secure the ends together with tape or glue.
  3. Insert the next paper through the first and secure the ends of that link together.
  4. Continue with all of the papers until you have a paper chain.
  5. You can hang it horizontally across a wall or vertically by a door.
  6. Cut off one chain each day until Christmas.

You can do the following to “spice it up” if you’d like, or leave it as simple as the chain –

  • Write an activity on the papers (do this before you begin to link them).
  • Make a treasure hunt out of them.
  • Write a Christmas poem on the links.
  • Choose a person to contact (letter,¬†phone¬†call, card, etc.) or serve each day. ¬†Write their name on¬†the¬†chain links and have fun with your family doing (RAKs) random acts of kindness for a new person each day.
Mom's Advent Calendar

Wilhelm Family Advent Calendar

When we were little, my Mom made this calendar at a RS meeting. ¬†I have such fond memories of it. ¬†We’d pin the little¬†sequinned¬†felt ornaments on the little tree, starting with a star on the first and Santa Claus on the twenty-fourth. ¬†Then a couple of years ago, my mom gave each of us (each of her four children’s families) an advent calender that she had handmade. ¬†She¬†said that she couldn’t get the little sequins on the calendar any¬†other¬†way but by hand sewing each¬†piece. ¬†It was one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever¬†received.

The great thing is, I can incorporate any of these ideas in those little pockets for my family.

Other Family Countdown Traditions

Chocolate Advent Calendar

We love the German Advent chocolate countdown calendars. ¬†Each day you pen a door and find a piece of lovely chocolate inside. ¬†When I was a young girl, we lived in Germany and my parents bought each child a Chocolate calendar. ¬†I remember having a¬†friend¬†over and for some reason, we were hanging out in my brother’s room. ¬†She and I ate all of my brother’s calendar chocolate. There is something much more satisfying (surprisingly¬†enough) to savor these each day, rather than gobbling the whole calendar of stolen chocolate in one sitting.

My girls love these calendars and I even buy one for my husband each year. ¬†The¬†women¬†at his work tease him, “What¬†are you five?”¬†¬†but, as I said before, countdowns are about helping children, both old and young look forward to that¬†special¬†day.

What do you and your family do to countdown to Christmas?