Small Hands in the Big World

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Handmade Holiday Gifts

Spoiler Alert! Grammy and Cuckoo Grandma (my two most faithful readers), stop reading right now if you want to be surprised on Christmas Morning! Your grand-elves and I have been busy crafting this past week.

Handmade often just ends up looking “homemade” or a kind person might say “quaint” when it comes from us. Thank goodness it’s the thought that counts… however, we did find a few things this year that turned out looking pretty darn nice if I do say so myself.

Glittery Pinecones: Loose glitter is something I've been avoiding for years. It always looks so fun and pretty when the kids have used it at preschool but the mess and knowing how glitter sticks to everything had me scared. Well, this is a simple and fun activity and they do turn out sparkly and luminous but at the risk of sounding Grinch-like, I have to say that my fear of glitter was justified. I'm still finding it everywhere. Next time I'll use large grain salt instead -- it looks frosty and pretty and the finished pinecones are not just decorative but also useful as fire starters in a wood stove or fireplace. 

Painted Picture Frames:  Michaels was selling these wonderfully simple unfinished wood frames for $1 each. I bought a dozen for us to use for holiday gifts and another dozen+ for William’s Kindergarten class to decorate on an upcoming art day (maybe we’ll make a Valentine’s Day gift using them). Providing a limited 3-color palette of acrylic paint colors to the kids and letting them loose on the frames resulted in some really fun gifts and they had a great time doing it.

Oil Pastel Artwork:  I could have put photos in the frames but since both lovely Grandmothers already have their homes wallpapered in pictures of the kids, we decided to make art. Oil Pastels were perfect since the frames have no glass and Pastels don’t need them. William had winter in mind with his Icicle image then ended up with an Orca whale on another one (I think he just draws then decides what it is at the end sometimes), and finally he drew a “really tough helicopter that doesn’t even need a person to fly it.” Sara copied the icicle idea in her mind for a couple Pastel pieces then I used a self-portrait that she did earlier this month for her last frame. I can’t get enough of her pictures of herself with wonderfully wild curls atop her head.

Homemade Granola:  One of our advent calendar activities was to make something for the kids’ teachers and bus drivers. Cookies are nice but while mine tend to taste great, they rarely look pretty enough for gift giving. This seemed like a more forgiving recipe to try and what doesn’t look cute in a fun little gingerbread bag? We made a vegan variation of Cynthia Lair’s Maple Butter Nut Granola using coconut oil instead of butter and omitting almonds (better to be safe than sorry with potential allergies). You’ll find her recipe and an accompanying video on her great website. By the way, another gift idea that I highly recommend for anyone interested in kid-friendly healthy whole food cuisine is Cynthia’s cookbook “Feeding the Whole Family.”  Darn, I should have thought of that sooner to give along with the granola. Oh well… maybe next year.

Paper Stars:  Best paper craft yet. I can’t stop making these. The finished product is so beautifully satisfying. Starting with pretty paper helps a lot (even better if it’s already cut into perfect squares for you to work with). I am a little embarrassed to admit how much scrapbooking paper I have in my closet. No, I’m not a scrapbook maker, I’m just a sucker whenever I find it at TJ Maxx for a super good price and I love pretty paper. Finally, now I have something to do with it! I found this idea over at Maya Made but must also give credit to this lovely website for posting such helpful instructions (please read both posts if you decide to do this craft, the tips in Maya’s post such as when to use glue stick versus Elmer’s glue are really helpful). My kindergarten boy was able to do the folding but got a bit frustrated when it came to the cutting and gluing part. My three year old had a harder time with folding but did great with the cutting and glue. These would make gorgeous gifts but sorry, the kids are hoarding them all in their rooms and want to keep them forever.

Costumes:  At the last minute, I got inspired to make Princess Accessories for my girl and a S.W.A.T. Team vest for my boy. They turned out to be the most beloved gifts of the holiday... Sara actually took her fairy wand to preschool this morning. Joy!
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1 comment:

  1. I also fell in love with those paper stars this winter, and had the same "I can't stop making them" reaction! What is that? Lovely post, and how lucky your family is to receive all of these homemade gifts. Happy new year!!


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