Christmas holiday activities

Hands Make the Holidays
The holiday season is much more than a single day or event. It is a season of rites, traditions, and of anticipation. The remembered glow of candles on a festive table, the mysterious heft and weight of a wrapped gift are images we carry with us all year long. Parents can anchor this excitement and contribute a meaningful family tradition to the holiday season by setting aside an afternoon to make handmade decorations and presents. There is no better way for children to explore the fine art of gift giving, for these are the gifts that give twice — to the recipient, but even greater to the maker whose hands and mind are invested in every line and curve.

Yield to the disorder of making things. The table can always be cleared, and the floor washed. There will never be another moment better than now to give young hands and minds the opportunity to create.

Participate BESIDE your child.

Order pizza for dinner. Give yourself a break and join your family in making this a season to remember. Happy holidays!

Old Fashioned Hammered Ornaments
We save our juice can lids in advance for these extraordinary ornaments. Keep this in mind as a holiday party project!

What you will need:

• round metal lids from frozen juice cans
• plain paper
• hammer
• tape
• ribbon
• short nails
• newspapers
• hot glue gun and lace to trim (optional)

Place a pad of newspapers on your work space. Next, outline the juice can lid on the piece of paper and draw a simple holiday motif within the circle: a bell, holly, Christmas tree, snowman, a star of David, are just a few ideas. Cut out the designed circle and tape over the juice can lid. To make the ornament place the lid on the pad of newspapers and have your child hammer around the design on the paper with the nail. When finished, nail an extra hole near the top of the ornament to loop a piece of ribbon through for hanging, then remove the pattern. For added charm, you can hot-glue lace around the ornament (this is a bit fussy, so an adult may have to help.)

Glass Art
Using glass as your medium provides an interesting experience for your child, and a beautiful piece of art for giving.

What you will need:

• picture frame with glass: any size will work (These can be bought inexpensively at discount shops.)
• newspaper
• window cleaner
• permanent markers in a variety of colours

Carefully remove the glass from the frame and have your child clean it on both sides with the window cleaner. Lay the glass on a piece of newspaper and draw directly on it with the permanent markers. Your child can use her imagination, or when our son did this project, he laid the glass over a photograph of his favourite baseball player to trace over (more appealing to older children concerned about the way their art ‘looks’, the effect is still wonderful).

When the art is finished, cut a piece of construction paper to fit behind the glass and provide a colourful contrast to the picture. I used our preschooler’s purplish finger painting for the background of a horse scene that looks like an impending thunderstorm. Next, slip the finished picture back into the frame with the contrasting mat, and voila! A framed picture any artist would be proud of!

Holiday Countdown Calendar
Children of all ages will enjoy decorating these film canisters, and enjoy even more the opening of each one as the big day draws closer. Most photo developing shops have a stash of film canisters to give away for free.

What you will need:

• film canisters with lids (as many as the days you wish to countdown)
• gold plate spray paint (available at hardware stores)
• decorating items: wire star garland, stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, ‘icicles,’ small pieces of gift wrap, construction paper, foil stars, stickers, craft eyes for creatures, tiny pom poms, etc.
• small treasures to put inside: marbles, candies, bath oil beads, coins, stickers, tiny toys, etc.
• ribbon or green garden twine to hang
• hammer and big nail

Begin by painting the film canisters and lids with the gold spray paint on newspapers in a ventilated place. Lay out the decorating supplies and the dried gold film canisters on a table for your children to use their imaginations on. While they are busy creating, hammer a hole in the lids with the big nail and loop narrow ribbon or twine through them for hanging. (You can also use a hot glue gun to glue the loop into place.)

After the canisters are decorated, fill them with the treasures, and place on the cap. With a permanent marker, number the canisters on the bottom. (This makes it easier for little eyes to see when they’re hanging from a tree or line.) You can choose to hang them individually on a tree, or to string them like bright bells across a ribbon. They look wonderful hung in a window or on a door.

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