Gingerbread houses, Christmas lights, mistletoe and oh so much more! Christmas is a time for family, celebration, great food and unbelievably festive, decorating fun. Below are some of our absolute favorite crafts, family activities and delicious holiday goodies that are sure to make this year's holiday bright and colorful -- and not to mention a whole lot of fun! Happy holidays from everyone here at ParentMap!
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Gettin' crafty this holiday
A merry homemade garland
A Spoonful of Sugar gives an excellent pictorial on how they created this beautiful "Be Merry" homemade holiday garland. Though this is more of a craft project for older children or parents, it is definitely one that you can reuse again with each holiday. And for the little ones feeling left out, consider letting them brainstorm on what colors and patterns will be used, or suggesting a holiday saying for the garland's meaningful message. (This garland could also make for an excellent homemade gift!)
Let there be light!
We love Filth Wizardry's idea for a tissue paper and glue window collage. Perfect for young children, this project will give your room a bright and beautiful "stained glass" effect and it can be tailored with different colors and shapes for any of this year's holidays. Like us, you might be thinking at first glance, "But how does this come off the window? Is it messy?" If that's the case, you'll be happy to hear that the glue used for this project is water soluble and comes off as easily and quickly as the little hands are putting them up! For the older children creating a "stained glass" window, consider having them make a collage of a particular holiday symbol, or even one out of many symbols that they love! The options -- and colors! -- are truly endless with this festive holiday craft.
Have yourself an eco-friendly holiday
This 100 percent recyclable holiday wreath made by Elise Blaha is absolutely wonderful. Right away we could tell that Blaha had used a Piperlime shipping box and we couldn't help but wonder why we'd never thought of that before. With only a handful of ingredients such as PVA glue, buttons, cardboard and ribbon, this eco-friendly "green" wreath can easily be made from materials found around your home. And if you don't have cute printed boxes to start with, no worries; find some colorful printed paper and glue it on top of your brown cardboard leaves. Nobody ever has to know!
Counting down to Christmas
The Web is filled with a wide variety of fantastic ideas for holiday Advent calendars -- long ago are the days of just buying a calendar filled with chocolates from the grocery store! We loved Pickles' idea for this garland made from fabric that can be hung with clothespins from your mantle for your holiday countdown. The Crafty Crow as well has a great advent calendar round-up with a wide range of crafty fun ideas.
Here comes the sun
Looking for something fun to do this solstice? A Magical Childhood has got just the thing! This giant ice suncatcher is a great craft for all ages and not to mention, it's extremely easy to make! Made completely from frozen colored water, you can create your very own ice suncatcher in any colors of your choice. Just make sure to keep it outside once it's finished as you could end up with a pool of colorful water in your warm home!
A colorful menorah to brighten up your day
We absolutely love the beautiful colors that Upper West Side Mom chose to use for her "stained glass" menorah holiday project. She also includes a fantastic pictorial on how her and her four children created this eye-catching, easy-to-make craft to celebrate Hanukkah. Juggling Frogs as well has a great idea for how to make a menorah out of magnets for your fridge. Even your littlest ones can help "light" the menorah this holiday season!
Mini wreaths all around
Scrumdilly-do!'s mini recyclable holiday wreaths are made completely from old phone books, if you can believe it! These miniature, colorful wreaths can be used as decorations, homemade ornaments or even Christmas present tags and they are a perfect project for the little artists in your home. And who says that wreaths need to be just for Christmas? Switch up the colors to create a set of beautiful wreaths for any celebration. Scrumdilly-do! includes a great pictorial for this project -- as well as a link to a much larger orange and black Halloween wreath!
Let it snow!
Who knew that making your own snow globes could be so easy? Well, that's how One Spring Day makes it look at least! These adorable snowy scenes can simply be made with the figurines of your choice, some clear-drying epoxy glue, glitter and distilled water. And as One Spring Day notes, these homemade snow globes don't need to be limited to jars -- you can make them by using any sort of decorative container with a lid! If you have younger children who would also like to make their own snow globes, consider checking Parents.com's much easier version, constructed out of a paper cup with no water inside. Their version also doubles as a cute Christmas tree ornament!
Decking the halls
If you're going for a classic decorative approach this holiday, consider decking the halls or trimming the tree with a homemade cranberry garland, such as the one being made by Small Wonders. An inexpensive, easy to make decoration, this garland is a timeless holiday favorite and your older children will love stringing on the cranberries. As an added bonus, when the cranberries start to age, you can string them on a tree in the yard for the neighborhood wildlife to enjoy!
Light my fire
Mom in Madison's festive clay tealight candle holders are a great craft project for this year's solstice, Hanukkah or Christmas celebration. Your child will get a kick out of bedazzling their holiday tealight holders and painting them with any of their favorite colors. These tealight holders can also be given away as great homemade Christmas gifts, or used year-round in your home.
Homemade Christmas ornament ideas
These homemade Christmas ornaments by Plum Pudding are cute as a button -- literally! Perfect for all ages, this DIY holiday craft project gives you a great chance to put those old buttons to use as beautiful Christmas wreath ornaments. And, since there are only a few materials needed to create these adorable ornaments, cleaning up the project is just as easy! Check out Martha Stewart's great tutorial on how to create your very own cute-as-a-button wreath ornaments this season.
Transforming your socks into snowmen
Got some old white socks laying around the house? Consider transforming them into these adorable fuzzy snowman ornaments for your Christmas tree this year. Childmade has an awesome tutorial with pictures for how you and your little ones can remake your socks into homemade Christmas ornaments -- though we would recommend washing them first! This project is super simple and only requires a handful of materials. It could also make for an excellent holiday gift for friends and family.
DIY ornament beauties
We adore Quince and Quire's idea for reusing old ribbon spools to create these gorgeous homemade Christmas ornaments. If you've got old Christmas cards tucked away from past years, now is the perfect time to bring them back to life! And if you're not a Christmas card hoarder, no worries -- simply find some colorful paper that you love and get to glueing on your used ribbon spools. Quince and Quire as well includes a fantastic tutorial for making these DIY ornaments.
Crafty ornaments from the recycling bin
Oh, Plum Pudding... again with your must-have homemade ornaments! We tried to pick just one favorite but we couldn't -- these recycled ornaments are just too great not to share! Made from Sculpey clay shapes and jars or lids found in the recycling bin, these fantastic ornaments were drilled by mama Plum Pudding and then strung with white string to hang from the Christmas tree. (See the website for detailed instructions.) We can't get enough of this idea and the best thing is, if the ornament ever breaks you can just re-recycle it!
Holiday sweets and treats
Check out these teeny tiny gingerbread houses from Not Martha -- they're absolutely genius! Including the recipes she used to create these delicious miniature houses, Not Martha also features pictures and easy instructions on how she went about making these festive little edible homes. Your children will love decorating their own gingerbread houses and perching them on a full mug of hot chocolate or warm milk, while mama has hers with a latte -- can you imagine? YUM. This is definitely one recipe we'll be trying out this holiday season!
Little holiday dippers
How cool is Alphamom's idea for hot chocolate dipping spoons?!
Set your little one up with a hot chocolate spoon-dipping area filled with sweet ingredients and we're sure that you'll see some big smiles in return. Alphamom recommends making these delicious spoon treats with melted chocolate chips (chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch!), some shredded and sweetened coconut, crushed candy canes and marshmallows. You may also consider other great additions such as white chocolate, crushed nuts, or toffee. She also includes a great pictorial on how to make her tasty snowman covered spoon (shown on the left) -- so cute!
Little Birdie Secret's reindeer cookies are so adorable and we're also sure, so delicious! With the recipes included on the site, these cute little reindeers are much easier to make than you'd suspect; simply add some miniature candy canes for antlers, licorice candies for eyes and a sour cherry candy as a nose and you're all set. Be sure to also check out Little Birdie Secret's Jolly snowman face cookies shown below as well -- after seeing these sugar cookies we're sure that, like us, you'll be planning on making your own!
This peppermint bark found on The Long Thread is super easy to make! With only a couple included ingredients such as white and milk chocolate chips and peppermint, your children will love smashing up the candy canes to place on top of the bark once it has finished baking. The Long Thread notes that they made their bark to give as gifts for teachers and neighbors, and they even include a super cute printable page of labels that you can use when packaging your own bark at home. Lovely!
Frosty the snowcake
Holy smiling snowman! This snowman cake from Family Fun is definitely one delicious dessert that will win you some extra holiday points with the sweet toothers in your home. Made with fruit leather, candy, licorice and shredded coconut, this frosty cake will be a great project for your little ones as they dress him (or her!) up with a spunky fitting personality. Full directions and ingredients are available on Family Fun.
This snowball's for you
We love Imagine Childhood's recipe for Great Grandma's Snowball Cookies. Super simple and a classic holiday dessert, these festive winter cookies are referred to as "snowballs" due to their dusting of powdered sugar that covers them. Snowball cookies are extremely easy to make and only include a handful of necessary ingredients. And if you want to take these classic cookies a step further, consider checking out Bon Appetit's Coconut-Orange Snowballs.
A delicious homemade gift
CraftPad divulges her "not-so-secret" recipe for caramel corn -- a Christmas must-have snack for many! She as well includes tips on where you can find some printable labels and gift tags if you choose to make your caramel corn as gifts for neighbors on this page. What a great gift; that is, if you can package it quicken enough before everyone eats it!
Jolly snowman treats
As The Decorated Cookie's Meaghan Mountford says, "Marshmallows are the perfect snowman canvas." And we can't help but agree! These delightful festive treats are super easy to make with a couple large marshmallows, candy and an edible pen (Mountford says that she uses Americolor gourmet writers). Your children will love bedazzling theses snowmen with candy in their favorite colors, or possibly even a fruit leather scarf as shown above on the snowman cake. Marshmallows can also be used to make these adorable dreidels for this year's Hanukkah celebration.
Heartfelt homemade gift wrap and cards
Milco Paper's Colour Me Christmas wrapping paper is not only eco-friendly, but it's also a fantastic idea to replicate on your own! The paper comes blank so that children can create their own colorful, personalized wrapping paper for loved ones. From this idea, The Crafty Crow shows how they made their very own color-your-own wrapping paper and includes cute printable designs to add to your own homemade gift wrap for this holiday season. Here is another great idea for using household materials as gift wrap.
Let it snow, let it snow...
This idea from Red Bird Crafts for homemade snowy wrapping paper is absolutely lovely -- and not to mention extremely easy! Simply find some brown paper and paint the bottom as the snowy hills before stamping on the snowflakes in the sky. Red Bird Crafts includes all of the instructions on how she created her own eco-friendly "snowflake-y night" gift wrap.
Creative Jewish Mom made these beautiful cards and wrapping paper simply by using, believe it or not, styrofoam prints! Your children will get a kick out of drawing their own personalized designs into the styrofoam and then using them as stamps with acrylic paint. Creative Jewish Mom has a great tutorial with pictures and recommends using thick styrofoam pieces such as trays or cups. So pretty!
Putting your potatoes to good use
Bookhou Crafts shows off this great idea for using potato prints to decorate your gift wrap. Though mom or dad will most likely want to carve the potatoes' shapes, your child can choose the paint colors and the perfect design to fit the occasion at hand. Bookhou Crafts includes a great tutorial, with pictures. Who knew those old potatoes could be such fun!
We can't get enough of this idea from Two Straight Lines for a teacher's Christmas present. It's always tough when considering what to get your child's teachers for Christmas and this gift is perfect -- the always-appreciated gift card, a thoughtful classroom snapshot, and a heartfelt thank you note all bound on this lovely hand-painted clipboard. Love! This Christmas gift has the perfect balance between thoughtful, homemade goodness and "go treat yourself to something that you'll like."
Mary Making shows us how she created these adorable Christmas tree cards with her children for their friends and family over last year's holiday. The greatest thing about these homemade colorful cards is that they're decorated with leftover pieces of scrapbook paper, glue and ribbon -- super easy and affordable! And if you don't happen to have scrapbook paper already in your home, consider letting your children color beautiful designs on construction paper instead. All in all, a great way to use up any extra paper that may be floating around the art table! We also really like Seven Stitches' Christmas card project for two-year-olds that uses white crayons for the picture outline before the painting begins. Such a neat trick!
Sharing the light
Kids Craft Weekly offers up some excellent ideas for making Hanukkah cards, including a tutorial for this menorah card that features macaroni noodles, dried lentils and crepe paper. Such a gorgeous idea for something that can be created easily from your pantry! We also love Art Projects for Kids' cut and tear Hanukkah candle card idea. Both of these card ideas can easily be made by small children to give away as gifts this holiday.
Matching up those gifts
We love Martha Stewart's idea for these matchbox gift boxes. Typically found in grocery or discount stores, matchboxes can work great for wrapping this year's little gifts or small presents that your child may be giving to classmates or close friends. Think of all the beautiful treasures that these adorable DIY gift boxes could hold! This idea as well could be perfect for a teacher's gift; they're just big enough to hold a unique gift card and a handwritten note or a drawing from your child.