Live simply.

Grow naturally.

Love greatly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Decorations and Crafts: Enjoying the Old Standards

It’s the week after November. For many families that’s when the transition from fall and Thanksgiving to winter and Christmas take place. Why look for new and exciting Christmas crafts, when the ones we grew up doing can be just as enjoyable today and can become part of the traditions that the family looks forward to on a yearly basis.

1. Outdoor Christmas Trees. Kids will love making an edible tree for the birds. Pop some popcorn and open a bag of cranberries to string up and hang around the tree. Slice a couple of oranges and poke a clove in the center for ornaments. Slather peanut butter on pine cones and roll around in bird seed to hang as well.
2. Sugar cookies. I’ve never really enjoyed the taste of sugar cookies, but I always loved making them at my grandmother’s. We would use her Christmas cookie cutters and by the time they had baked and cooled down, she had colored icings and various decorating supplies out and ready for our use. Here’s an easy recipe if you are looking for one.

3. Ornaments. The Cookie cutters you used to make sugar cookies can also be used for creating ornaments. Use this recipe for the dough and you’ll have ornaments to paint and hang before you know it (don’t forget to make a hole in the dough before you dry it out.) You can also soak construction paper for 5 minutes in warm water, blend and, after squeezing out excess water, pack into cookie cutter forms. Place on a towel to get more water out  (watch out, colors bleed) and then place in the oven at about 200 degrees Celsius, until dry. Glue ribbon on back of ornament
4. Berry Gathering As a child, we went out in the surrounding woods to find a Christmas tree to cut down and decorate. Now that I have a family of my own, we don’t do that anymore, but we do go and gather juniper berries, nandina berries and pine branches to decorate windows and tables. My daughter loves to grab her nature treasure basket and look for the reds, blues and greens that keep nature colorful even during the colder months. Remind your little ones that not all berries are for eating. Some are just for looking at. Google any berries you find to see if they are poisonous

5. Paper Crafts.  How can snowflakes ever go out of style when the possibilities are endless? Instead of using the usual white paper, try heavy duty Christmas wrapping paper as an alternative. And don’t forget the linked construction paper. I'm not saying that this is the most aesthetically pleasing craft out there, but I am saying that cutting strips of green and red construction paper and giving them to your child with some tape will keep them happily involved for a good bit of time.

Of course, there are 100’s of great ideas for Christmas crafts and decorations out there, and I am likely to try one or two of them this season. However, I think interweaving those new ideas with these old ones will help create a tradition that your loved ones will look forward to year after year.

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