When temperatures are at their lowest each year and the holidays are right around the corner, tensions between parents and their children often run high. Kids may be thrilled about being out of school for winter break, but their elation subsides quickly if it's too cold to play outside. And that's when moms and dads have to start scrambling for creative ways to keep their tots occupied and simultaneously get their houses decorated and their presents wrapped.
Baking Christmas cookies may be a great way to kill a few hours, but the aftermath-as your sugar-saturated helpers gobble icing straight off the spatula and chase each other around the kitchen-can be punishing enough to make you want to hang up your baking sheets forever. This winter, instead of relying on corn syrup to energize your children, consider stimulating them with these fun, easy, and inexpensive art projects. Cutting, painting, and gluing will keep them occupied for hours and brighten up your home at the same time. And isn't multitasking what the holidays are all about?
1. Dough Ornaments
Making dough ornaments is just as entertaining for kids as baking cookies is-and it doesn't cause that frenetic sugar high. With just a few ingredients, your little ones can design sentimental decorations that have more character than any store-bought items and will last for years to come.
1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
Acrylic paints; glitter glue or glitter paint; ribbon
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Mix together the salt, flour, and water until a dough forms, then knead it on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic.
Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
Use cookie cutters to make shapes (stars, hearts, Christmas trees, and so on), dipping cutters in flour between each use.
Poke a toothpick through the top of the shape, then widen the hole by a few millimeters by rotating the toothpick.
Place all shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for two hours in the preheated oven. Cool completely on wire racks.
Once the dough has cooled, decorate it with acrylic paint or glitter and insert a ribbon through the hole to make a loop for hanging the ornament.
2. Pinecone Ornaments
If you're lucky enough to live in a place where real pine trees grow, pinecone ornaments are a beautiful addition to Christmas trees and table centerpieces. Best of all, even very young children will have fun painting them.
Real or plastic pinecones
Gold or silver craft paint
Pipe cleaners (one per ornament)
Spread newspaper on the floor below the area where you plan to hang the ornament to dry (a towel rack is ideal).
Glue one end of the pipe cleaner to the real pinecone, or loop one end through the hole of the plastic ornament.
Paint the pinecone, making sure to cover each scale; then, while the paint is still wet, hold the ornament over the newspaper and dust it with glitter.
Loop the ornament around the handle of the towel rack and let it dry overnight. Once it's dry, remove it from the rack and re-create the loop to hang the pinecone on your Christmas tree.
3. Styrofoam Snowman
These homemade dolls are fun for tots any time of the year, but especially so during winters when a lack of snow on the ground prevents them from making the real thing.
Three Styrofoam balls in incremental sizes (for example: one two-inch ball, one three-inch ball, and one four-inch ball)
Black miniature pom-poms
One orange pipe cleaner
One small piece of felt or other fabric
Use a kitchen knife to flatten the bottom of the largest Styrofoam ball, then stand it on a flat surface. Insert one toothpick halfway into the top of the largest ball. Slide the medium-size ball onto the large ball; repeat the process with another toothpick and the smallest ball (which will be the snowman's face).
Cut a short length of pipe cleaner for the snowman's nose; insert it into the center of the smallest ball.
Glue pom-poms on to make the snowman's eyes, mouth, and buttons.
Fashion a scarf by cutting a short length of felt; wrap it around the snowman's neck and secure with glue.
Insert the two remaining toothpicks into the sides of the middle Styrofoam ball to make the snowman's arms.
For more fun holiday crafts continue to divinecaroline.com.