Christmas Crafts for Children
Children remember Christmas as a time filled with special activities and unexpected treats. Working on holiday craft projects will give kids something to remember—and make your house look bright and festive.
Clothespin decorations, made from long, thin, wooden clothespins with a knob on top, are always a hit on Christmas trees, and can be great fun for kids who want to make something for the holidays. Using pipe cleaners, red and green felt, cotton balls, paint, glue, and glitter, they can let their imaginations run wild. Try making reindeer, toy soldiers, and even Santa.
Since safety can't be stressed enough, here's another reminder to always carefully monitor crafts activities involving children and scissors. Safety scissors for all of the following activities are a must, and so is supervision.
The snowflake has a long and distinguished history in many families, and it’s colorful and very easy to make. Just fold colored construction paper into quarters (or more times, depending on how intricate you want the snowflake) and cut little designs in the paper along the folds and edges. Loop a string through one of the holes and hang. (You can also tape the flakes to a poster or wall; they’re beautiful on their own, too.)
These are a timeless classic, and all you need is: red construction paper; green felt; cotton balls; gold and silver glitter; glue; and scissors. Cut a stocking shape out of red construction paper. Brush some glue on the top portion of the stocking and paste down cotton balls, to give the impression of fur trim. Spread glue elsewhere on the stocking and decorate with glitter and felt as desired. Use a paper punch to poke a hole in the top of the ornament. Children can cut out names from different-colored paper or write them on with markers. String with yarn or ribbon to hang.
Construction-Paper Christmas Trees
To add to the snowflakes on the wall, many children like to make these green trees. You will need: green construction paper; glue; markers, felt; and small decorative items as desired. To make the shape, cut a green tree shape of the desired size from the construction paper. (Or cut three triangles—big, bigger, biggest—and show the child how to glue them, overlapping each to make a tree.) Decorate using felt and any other goodies you have handy.
Egg-Carton or Paper-Cup Ornaments
These are simple, but fun. Cut the individual compartments out of a paper egg carton, making a small hole at the top. (You’ll thread this hole with string later on when it’s time to hang the ornament.) Using markers, color the compartments. Some popular themes include faces, snowflakes, and stars. It’s also fun to hang a little bell inside with ribbon or thread.
You can make similar crafts using paper cups: Since you have a larger area to work with, you can glue pictures cut out of old Christmas cards or magazines, or even fabric, to the cup.
All you need are large pieces of white, red, or green construction paper, markers or crayons, stickers, and any other decorating goodies. Have children draw a large circle in the center of the paper to mark where the plate should go. Draw a smaller circle for a glass, and outlines of forks, spoons, and knives. Decorate the paper as desired until you have a set of festive placemats for your table.
You can then take the placemats to your local office supply store, many of which have laminating machines that will handle this size of paper. Laminating isn’t necessary, but it does protect your child’s handiwork from table spills.
Homemade Christmas Cards
These add a personal touch to the traditional exchange of cards. Depending on whether the card is from the family or from the child, you will need: white, red, or green construction paper; crayons or markers; pictures cut from magazines or old Christmas cards; family photos; and all the regular decorating goodies. Fold the paper in half and decorate both the outside and inside, leaving enough space to write a Christmas message.
If you're sending these cards through the mail, it's a good idea to use store-bought envelopes, to ensure that the postal service's sorting machines don't reject them. And keep in mind that they'll likely require extra postage if they're larger or heavier than regular cards.
Homemade envelopes can be made by using larger pieces of construction paper, folded and stapled or taped together on the sides. Decorate the envelopes with glitter, or use markers to make some Christmas designs.
Homemade Clay Ornaments
These can be a lot of fun, although they do involve some stovetop work—you can make things easier with store-bought clay if needed (skip ahead to the decorating part, and follow package instructions for baking).
To make your own clay, mix together three cups of cornstarch and six cups of baking soda in a big pan. Mix well; add three and three-quarters cups of water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from the heat and cover with a damp dish towel. When cool, remove the clay from the pan and knead it until smooth. Cover a tabletop with waxed paper taped securely to the underside of the table. Roll the clay to a one-quarter-inch thickness.
Cut out shapes with Christmas-theme cookie cutters. When the shapes are completed, use a knitting needle or unsharpened pencil to poke a small hole in the top of the ornament; it should be big enough to fit yarn through. Mix acrylic paint with a little water and let the children paint their ornaments. Be sure to let them dry thoroughly! Once the ornaments are hard enough, you may want to date each one and write the name of the artist on the back: These pieces tend to become heirlooms.
Another classic! Cut a wreath shape out of heavy paper or cardboard. Decorate with different pieces of uncooked macaroni, gluing them down in desired spots. For variety, use a number of different kinds of macaroni. When the glue is completely dry, spray the ornament with gold paint (probably a grownup job).
Use a paper punch to poke a hole in the top of the ornament and string with yarn to hang. You can customize this technique to make macaroni stockings, candy canes, trees, or whatever else you desire.
The paper-plate Santa is another holiday favorite. You will need: red construction paper; a paper plate; cotton balls; colored markers or crayons; glue; and scissors. On the paper plate, draw Santa’s eyes, nose, and mouth using markers or crayons. Brush some glue above his eyes and around his mouth, and paste down cotton balls to make bushy eyebrows and a beard. Cut a triangle out of red construction paper for Santa’s hat. Glue the hat to the top of the drawing; then glue one cotton ball to the tip of the hat. Let dry.
Staying with the paper-plate theme, you’ll need: a paper plate; crayons; other decorating goodies of your choice, such as small pieces of felt, buttons, glitter, confetti, or fabric scraps; and scissors. Cut out the center of the paper plate so that the rim creates a wreath. Color with crayons, glue bits of holiday magic to the wreath, and then hang in a place of honor.
These ornaments have decorated many a tree year after year, showcasing the craft skills of family members when they were still quite young! One method is to pour a small amount of glue onto a paper plate. Roll the pinecone around in the glue, then sprinkle the cone with colored glitter and let dry. Use a pipe cleaner to create a loop or hook for hanging.
You can also glue a piece of ribbon to the base of the cone, and add little decorations such as tiny presents (available at craft stores), small pieces of evergreens, or bows. The cone itself can be left natural, or can be sprayed with artificial snow or paint.
Older children can make this colorful mobile to help younger siblings join in on the Christmas spirit. You will need: small Styrofoam balls; paper plates; black, yellow, and red construction paper; dental floss or yarn; cotton balls; glue; markers; and silver paper. Cut Santa’s boots and hat out of construction paper, then cut a strip of black paper for the belt and a small square of yellow for the buckle. Draw or paint his eyes, nose, and mouth on a Styrofoam ball, then glue on his hat. Glue cotton balls to the tip and brim of the hat. Paint or color the paper plate red and glue on the paper belt and buckle.
Thread a large needle with dental floss (an adult job) and poke it through the top of the Styrofoam head and out the neck, tying a loop at the top of Santa’s head. Tape the other end of the dental floss to the back of the paper plate to join the head and body, then connect the boots to the plate by taping floss to the back of each boot and the back of the plate. Hang from the loop at the top. (You can also substitute a smaller paper plate for Santa’s head if necessary.)