Have a Very Crafty Christmas
Weeks ago, Christmas decorations began popping up in windows and yards all over our area. Truly, this has been a year like no other! In the 1966 Broadway musical Mame, Angela Lansbury introduced us to the song, “We Need A Little Christmas,” and it has become a classic. No doubt we could all use a BIG dose of Christmas right now! This year has taught us a lot about what truly matters. Many of our “normal” holiday activities have been cancelled, but there are so many ways to enjoy every moment of this season.
Make merry! Most of us will spend lots of time in our homes this holiday season. To make your spaces extra festive, why not incorporate some natural elements? Evergreen, magnolia, pinecones or camellia look beautiful mixed in with your seasonal keepsakes. The variety of colors and textures can really elevate your decorating. Getting outside in search of these treasures is also great for our mental and physical health. Check with neighbors or friends if your yard lacks the materials you are looking for. Getting kids involved will make it extra fun!
Enjoy the small stuff! In a “normal” year, the season can sometimes get so busy that it begins to all feel like a chore. This is the perfect year to enjoy all the little pleasures of the Christmas season. Listen to your favorite Christmas music. Bake those favorite treats. Binge on holiday movies. Take an evening holiday walk through your neighborhood. Drive around and search for the best Christmas light display. Hold a virtual cookie decorating contest with friends or family. (Personally, I love voting on these on Facebook!) Don’t waste this unique opportunity to view the Christmas season from a calmer and quieter perspective and make the most of it.
Spread Christmas cheer! Make like an elf! Bake a special treat for friends or neighbors and leave your surprise at their door. Send a card or note to brighten someone’s day. Contact a local non-profit to see how you can help. Area shelters always have a demand for socks, hand warmers and blankets during the winter. The best way to teach children compassion is to get them involved in helping others.
Get crafty! If your kids get bored and start driving you crazy, mix up some homemade play dough! It is so easy and will last a long time if kept in a sealed container. You can add a drop of vanilla or peppermint extract to make it smell extra special. Pull out your cookie cutters and assorted gadgets to keep those little hands busy.
- My play dough recipe calls for: 1 c Flour, 1 c Water, 2 tsp Cream of Tartar, ⅓ c Salt, and 1 T Vegetable Oil. - Mix together in a medium saucepan, cooking over low heat. Stir often. Remove when it begins to turn into a ball. I like to put it in a large baggie while it cools a bit. Then, while still in the bag, add food coloring and knead until colors are well mixed. This keeps the dye off your hands. Trust me, I learned this the hard way! This is a great color mixing activity for kids as you try different combos.
- This salt dough is also a fun and inexpensive way to create homemade ornaments. You will need 2 c flour, 1 c salt, and 1 c water. - Add water slowly to flour and salt mixture, then mix well. Knead and roll out. Cut shapes out with cookie cutters. Don’t forget to poke a hole through the top if you will use them as ornaments. I have found that a straw works well for the hole. Bake at 200 for a couple of hours. Make sure to not leave these where a pet might eat them since the large salt content could be harmful for dogs. These can be painted and decorated in lots of different ways, so let your creativity run free!
Celebrate Jesus! As much as I adore everything about Christmas, I never want to forget the reason my family celebrates. Making a birthday cake for Jesus was always a favorite activity when our kids were small. You can also help your kids create birthday party decorations. Decorate hats. Create paper chains. Pick a favorite nativity themed Christmas book to read before bedtime every evening. Sing sacred Christmas carols as a family. Buy or make a kid friendly nativity set and have children tell the story of Christ’s birth using the pieces. I have seen some precious sets made of wooden pegs on ETSY for purchase. Make sure to spend some time focused on the real reason for the season.
Keep it simple! A couple of years ago, we went to a cookie decorating class at Graham Slam Bakery. It was so much fun! I bought all the ingredients, and we made the recipe. My kitchen was covered in sticky icing. By the time we were done, my daughter and I were both fed up with the whole thing. So, my advice is, “know your limits.” The slice and bake cookies from the grocery store can be just as fun and festive, especially if you add some sprinkles! Another year we made one of the five layer cakes from Southern Living. When we were done, we both agreed never again! Simple activities can be enjoyable and create special memories.
2020 is almost over, so whatever you do this Christmas, celebrate! Be grateful for the promise of the new year and plan for the wonderful times ahead. Merry Christmas!