Crafty Kids

All kids are crafty in the mischievous crafty sense (or am I unfairly generalising based on my cheeky monkeys?). But if your child has a penchant for paper and pencils, putting together a Christmas creation or two is part and parcel of the run up to festivities.

Oh and it keeps them occupied for hours of course! Here are four ideas to keep the munchkins happy, busy, contained and will help you too – yup actually help! You will need to get a bit involved but they really are their own creations so particularly advantageous for us busy mums to be involved with.

1. Christmas cards

Cards, stickers, coloured pencils and gold, chocolate coins

Teachers love it when the children make their own cards as it practices that pencil grip and fine motor skills (as parents everywhere plead with even the most novice artist to “keep in the lines”), it helps them with their writing and importantly unleashes creativity and ownership of their creation. Yup – you are giving your child a sense of accomplishment and pride whilst feeling like an awesome parent. Then again grandparents also love that homemade touch so why not branch out with the offering?

Still cheaper than buying ready made Christmas cards, you need to buy plain card and envelopes (I favour the brown ones from art shops) and lots of Christmas stickers: Santa, snowmen, stars, Christmas trees and so on and make sure the children have some sharpened colouring pencils to unleash that extra creative flair (red, green and “gold” will have the most outings and be prepared to sharpen them multiple times or have spares at the ready).

Make a list of all the children in their class (a) so nobody is omitted – a faux pas no parent wants to be responsible for (b) so they have no reason not to spell the recipient’s name correctly (mostly important on the envelope for when teaching assistants are desperately trying to play postman).

For younger children you can always write a short message for them to copy.  However, tempted you may be to adjust a sticker or amend their laboured-over four-point-star in favour of a more accurate five-point star, try to resist unless they ask for help as this is about giving them freedom to design and freeing you up at the same time for the countless  other jobs that need attending to.

When they have finished their masterpieces get them to pop a couple of gold, chocolate coins in for a finishing, festive touch. Obviously this is the true perk of the exercise – I always make sure there is an extra bag to keep the workers (children) and their supervisor (me) in chocolate nirvana.

2. Christmas Collage

You can never have too many Santas ... but which is the real one?

My children are always drawing.  They didn’t start as early as girls tend to (boys are notoriously behind girls on getting creative) but now they would never be without paper and colouring pencils.  So I decided this year to get them involved in creating their own Christmas scene.

The internet has lots of downloadable drawing templates of all things festive: gingerbread houses, Santa, snowmen, Stars, reindeer, sleighs, presents, and Christmas trees.  Print them out in various sizes and let the children colour to their hearts content.

If they are old enough to handle scissors (and do a good enough job) let them cut out their drawings so that they can be arranged and stuck on to a larger piece of card.  I use mounting board from a local art shop but sturdy cardboard would work too.  Pick a size that you can easily frame (the picture will look even better in a frame and will be easier to display: B&Q, Ikea and the internet have smart and inexpensive frames with mounts that will do the job or you can order a bespoke from from for a full range  of choice).

The children can prep the board with a night sky and snow on the ground – black and white tissue paper is cheap and easy to stick in place with great coverage and the coloured pictures sit well on top.

The children can play around with re-arranging the Christmas scene (lots and lots and lots of times!) before deciding how they want to stick it. The sticking may require your help but a glue stick or spray glue will keep mess to a minimum.

Once the collage items are in place, spray varnish will help set the scene and give is a glossy finish.  You can then finish the scene with light touches of cotton wool and lastly, dab glue strategically and sprinkle diamond dust glitter (so much easier to clear up than other glitter) it will add a bit of festive sparkle.

The glitter doesn't show in the photo as much as in real life, but it really adds some Christmas sparkle.

3. Christmas Thank You cards

It is the easiest thing in the world getting children to open their Christmas gifts, but not so easy getting them to write thank you notes after.  This year, I will take a picture of their Christmas collage scene in natural light in order to reproduce it for the boys’ Christmas thank you cards … job done!

4. Tree and Decorations

Ok I may be stretching it a bit here calling it a tree but … all those sticks that your children are insistant on gathering up each and everytime you are out for a walk may now come in handy.  There are lots of dead branches littering the ground of local parkland or even your own garden so gather them up and tie some string (or raffia if you have some so that they make a good spray.

3D Christmas decorations available from craft shops and supermarkets are surprisingly effective

Get some silver/gold/snow spray and liberally spray the branches – kids love getting involved in this but it really should be done outside so they are not breathing in any nasties.

Once the tree is dry you can display it in a vase. I use a clear glass vase or jug (whatever is to hand) and throw in some crunched up foil for some festive ice. Now it is ready to decorate.

This is where the children can put all their home made decorations from yerster-year, as well as this year’s creations.  Pine cones are also lovely for a bit of craft and can be dressed with silver/gold/snow spray too and a bit of thread to hang them. My kids are busy writing Christmas wishes to hang on it too – goodness knows what they will write but it is bound to be worth hanging up!

This activity is particularly useful if you like your Christmas decorations ‘just-so’ but your children want to ‘help you’ decorate. Of course it doesn’t mean your children won’t still unleash their newfound festive flair on your unsuspecting and oh-so-tastefully co-ordinated tree. My six-year-old has just thrown a large bag of cotton wool balls over my tree asking “Mummy, don’t you think it looks like snow?”. I smile and say “Oh yes darling” but naturally it looks like a random shower of wound-cleaning-kit-contents has assaulted my tree adding insult to before undiagnosed injury. But my boys couldn’t be happier with all the merriment and that really is what it’s all about.

If you have any easy Christmas crafting plans please let me know in the comments below.  Happy crafting and a very Merry Christmas!

Tracey Thornton is an international mixed-media artist
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Tracey Thornton Artist

Tracey Thornton is a mum, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, Godmother, Fairy Godmother and friend. Oh and when she has time to be someone else, she is a represented artist and designer. Tracey also writes children's stories and blogs about anything and everything and occasionally something.

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