Cover Story

‘Handmade’ Is a Christmas Tradition
Don’t Miss a Chance to Make a Memory

by Alice Haithcock
Contributing Crafter

When my sister and I were little girls we used to search high and low in the woods around our house for the perfect Christmas tree. We’d usually find a nice fat, or tall, or skinny, cedar tree and then settle into the task of convincing our mom and dad that our selection was the perfect tree for us to cut and bring into the house that year.

Once the tree was cut and settled firmly in its stand, then came the lights. While our dad put the lights on the tree, our mom helped us make handmade decorations. We’d make lots of sparkly stars, striped candy canes and long beautiful chains from colored paper. These treasures combined with a few shiny glass balls and our tree really did become the perfect tree.

More than 50 years later I can’t remember a time that our own family Christmas tree hasn’t included a variety of handmade ornaments made either by me, my husband, a family member, or a friend. We know well who made each item and treasure them all.

During our sons’ kindergarten years they began making contributions to our family Christmas ornament collection. A creative kindergarten teacher guided young hands in making a sleigh from a portion of an egg carton and two pipe cleaners. A few years later as Cub Scouts they made drums from empty spools, glittery ornaments from prickly sweetgum balls, and colorful hanging ornaments from small plastic beads and clear plastic drinking cups.

Together we’ve made peppermint candy wreaths complete with scissors for snipping, snowflakes from glue, string, and glitter, God’s eyes from yarn and Popsicle sticks — the list goes on and on. Each carefully handcrafted item has its own story and history and each item still hangs proudly on our tree each year.

Handmade ornaments don’t have to be complicated, difficult or expensive. They can be as simple as a child’s photograph that has been framed in shiny holiday trim or a garland made of buttons and torn strips of fabric. Glue and glitter and lots of enthusiasm are the only truly essential ingredients for making a holiday memory or starting a new Christmas tradition. Set aside some time this year and make something memorable and special with a child. There’ll never be a better time.

Caution: When crafting with children always use non-toxic products. Although not recommended for young crafters, more experienced crafters may choose to use a glue gun instead of a gel-type glue when making these items

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Bow-Tie Pasta Wreath
(Recommended for ages 8 and up)

Materials:

Bow-tie pasta
Spool of narrow ribbon or cord
Acrylic paint in color of your choice
Fast-drying, gel-type glue
Non-toxic fabric paint in red and green
Child-safe scissors
Cotton swabs (use for painting)

Directions: Use 5 bow-tie pasta pieces for each wreath. Lay out 5 bow-tie pasta pieces so they form the circular shape of a wreath. Glue all inside edges together so the circle is formed and the wreath keeps its shape. Use cotton swabs to paint the wreaths and let them dry. Turn wreaths over and paint the other sides. Let dry. To make the holly berries, using the green fabric paint applicator randomly apply three dots of paint on each bow-tie edge. Let dry. Using the red fabric paint, apply one red dot of paint in the center of each group of green dots. Cut a 6'' length of ribbon for each hanger. Fold the ribbon in half and glue both cut ends to top center back of each wreath to form the hanger. Cut another 6'' length of ribbon and tie a small bow. Glue the bow onto the top center front edge of the wreath.

Tip: It’s easy to make a basketful of small embellishments and trims for use in making handmade ornaments. Buy several holiday stems or picks and trim off small leaves, small pieces of pine, beads, tiny packages, berries, mini pinecones, and such. These stems and picks come in a variety of natural pine colors as well as silver and gold. You’ll be surprised how many small decorative pieces you can cut from just a very few stems or picks.

Cinnamon-Stick Bundles
(Recommended for ages 8 and up)

Materials:

Bag of 6'' cinnamon sticks
Spool of narrow ribbon or cord
Child-safe scissors
Small decorative items
Fast-drying, gel-type glue
Acrylic paint if desired
Cotton swabs (use for painting)

Directions: You can make these bundles using the natural-color cinnamon sticks or you may paint them in any color you like. Glue 4 or 5 cinnamon sticks together by putting glue in the middle of the bundle so the glue does not show on the outside of the bundle of sticks. Cut a length of ribbon or cord and wrap it around the middle of the bundle and tie in a knot. Secure the knot in place against the bundle with a drop of glue. Tie a knot in the top ends of the same cord or ribbon to form the hanger. Trim the ends. Decorate the bundle with tiny items of your choice — mini pinecones, sprigs of pine, etc.

Scallop-Shell Ornaments
(Recommended for ages 6 and up)

Materials:

Small scallop shells
Acrylic paint in color of your choice
Cotton swabs (use for painting)
Small decorative items
Child-safe scissors
Fast-drying, gel-type glue
Spool of narrow ribbon or cord

Directions: Paint scallop shells on both sides and let dry thoroughly. Cut 6'' length of ribbon or cord and fold in half. Glue the ends to the inside edge of the shell. Decorate the scallop shell with your selection of small decorative items – sprigs of pine, berries, small leaves, etc.

Buttons & Bows Wreath
(Recommended for ages 8 and up)

Make this simple and decorative wreath in a small size to hang on your tree or make it larger and hang it on a door or wall. For the holidays use red fabric strips, but if you want a wreath you can keep hanging all year long use fabric strips in any color you like.

Materials:

Artificial pine wreath
Buttons
Fast-drying, gel-type glue
Small piece of cotton fabric – handkerchief size

Directions: Tear the fabric into very narrow lengthwise strips. Tie one of the long strips onto the wreath so it can serve as the hanger. Cut all the rest of strips into 3'' length pieces. Randomly tie the 3'' strips to the pine branches until you have them spaced all over the wreath. Glue buttons to the tip ends of the pine branches. Let dry and hang.

Cinnamon-Stick Tree
(Recommended for ages 8 and up)

Materials:

Artificial pine garland
Buttons
Child-safe scissors
Wire cutter
Fast-drying, gel-type glue
8'' length of ribbon or cord
6'' cinnamon stick

Directions: Cut 5 pieces of pine garland — 5'', 4'', 3'', 2'' and 1'' lengths. Fold ribbon in half and glue both cut ends to the top of a 6'' cinnamon stick to form the hanger. Glue the cut pieces of pine garland onto the cinnamon stick beginning at the top with the 1'' piece and ending with the 5'' piece. You should leave about 2'' of the stick showing as trunk for the tree. Decorate the tree by gluing colorful buttons in place. 

Glass Christmas Critters
(Recommended for ages 6 and up)

Materials:

Fast-drying, gel-type glue
Decorative glass stones in large and small sizes
 —   colors of your choice

Directions: For each critter glue four small glass stones onto a larger glass stone to make the legs. Glue a small glass stone on top to make the head.

 

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