It seems to me that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. No sooner have we packed away our Halloween costumes than the streets are decorated for the holidays, the store decorations are up and the radio is playing Silent Night. The wait is long for children and it is not easy to hold their enthusiasm for baking, crafting and decorating. This year, I have some great ideas to allow the kids to start Christmas preparations early in small measure.
Early baking with Play Dough and Play Clay
Christmas baking is the highlight of the season at my house, the laughter in the kitchen and the smell of sweet treats in the oven fill our home. The kids love to measure, roll and decorate their creations one after another on the kitchen counter top. It’s not even December and already they have the cookie cutters and rollers out waiting for our first baking session.
This year, I have come up with an alternate activity to cultivate their culinary talent without filling my cookie jar with too many baked goods…. Yet!
Today, I am making homemade Play Dough and Play Clay Ornaments. The kids roll and cut the dough using the same tools and spend hours modeling and decorating. What’s more is that they can also make up packets of the play dough as gifts for their friends.
Simple Play Dough Recipe
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)
Mix and heat
Mix all of the ingredients together and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes.
When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.
If your dough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer. Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is dry and feels like Play Dough.
Try colouring the dough in holiday colours using food colouring or unsweetened drink mix. Sometimes I add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice as well.
OR you can make Play Clay ornaments that can be used year after year.
Play Clay Recipe
2 cups baking soda
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cup cold water
Mix soda and cornstarch together blending well. Add the cold water and mix well until clay is smooth. Boil for 1 minute until it has the consistency of moist mashed potatoes; stir constantly. Spoon out on a plate. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to cool. Knead dough and roll out on waxed paper. Cut out designs with a cookie cutter or shape by hand. Let dry until hard, 1-2 days. Paint ornaments with tempera paint or water colors. Dry well and coat with clear shellac or clear nail polish. Hangers may be mounted on back with glue or pressed into dough before it dries.
Crafts with Christmas Cookie Cutters
Make your own wrapping paper. Dip cookie cutters into paint and press them onto craft paper. I like to use the big roll from Ikea, $4.99 for meters of fun.
Trace the cutters onto sponges. Cut out the sponges and sponge paint a Christmas scene.
Take photos from previous years, glue them to magnetic paper (found at photo stores or the dollar store) and trace with Christmas cookie cutter shape, cut out and hang on tree.
A Starter Christmas Tree
Each year the kids are eager to decorate the tree. That is usually right after the Santa Claus parade in the middle of November. Our solution is to offer a smaller artificial tree that they can decorate and put in their rooms. We have collected miniature ornaments over the years. They still love to create new ones.
Five ways to add new life and extra sparkle to old decorations
Grab your glitter and empty it into a cake pan. Paint balls with glue and roll in glitter.
Use themed stickers or scrapbook stickers to create a scene or glamour up your old Christmas balls.
Use markers to add a message to a ball or a whole new design.
Gather up some of your old beads and baubles that you no longer use. Lightly sand your Christmas ball and stick beads on with Modge Podge.
Christmas Card Ideas
Greeting cards can be an ongoing project for young ones. Bring out the craft box. If you build the environment, they will come. It’s always a pleasure to see their works of art. Here are some ideas for great keepsakes. Reindeer – foot is the body, hands are the antlers. Christmas wreath- multiple hands attached to a cardboard cutout wreath.
Be sure to make every moment special this holiday season. Send me photos of your creations and I will post them to my Facebook or blog. I would love to learn more about your Christmas craft ideas and traditions.