Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Craftapalooza

Two weeks ago we rounded up a few friends and hosted the first ever Christmas Craftapalooza at our house. I love the idea of kids giving handmade gifts for Christmas, but I'm not so much into giving out cheesy toilet paper roll Christmas ornaments or framed handprints (OK the handprints aren't necessarily cheesy, but there's only so many years you can really do those and have them mean something). I'm all about having the kids make GOOD and USEFUL gifts that aren't just pulled out once a year when the grandparents know you're coming over for a visit.

Usually Sport, Spice, and I make these candles every year for my mom and a few friends.

Photo from Family Fun

Obviously adult supervision is required, but they make a nice gift and are fun to create.

We've gotten a bit tired of those though so this year I scoured the internet to come up with some new ideas. Here's a look at what was created at our craftapalooza...

Beaded Rings:
Photo from Family Fun

Spice and I actually made one of these as a make and take on a recent trip to Micheal's. We liked them so much we decided to make more for Christmas. I found  instructions at Family Fun. Our rings were similar, but we used small pearls in place of the silver beads to give it a fancier Christmas look. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of any of the finished products. We had kids aged 5-9 at our event and some were better able to do this than others. I'd recommend it for ages 7 and up as an unsupervised craft. Some of those pearl beads are hard to string!

Cookies in a Can:

Similar to cookies in a jar, but uses Pringles cans instead. (This was one of those spur of the moment "I'm in desparate need of a gift NOW!" ideas I came up with last year.)We wrapped Pringles cans then fillled them with cookie ingredients in Zip-Loc bags. Here's our recipe:

In one quart-sized Zip-Loc bag, combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt. 
In a second bag, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar.
Fill a sandwhich size bag with 3/4 cup chocolate chips, raisins, nuts...We used the peppermint swirl chips for a festive look. They were delicious!
Place all bags inside a 6 oz Pringles can and add a gift tag with the following instructions:
To use combine all ingredients in a large bowl with 3/4 cup shortening, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Form into one inch balls and bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Altered Notebooks:

By far the favorite craft of the day was altered notebooks. My kids are still making these. I purchased three-to-a-pack memo sized notebooks at Dollar Tree. These had a plasticy type cover on both sides. One side had a second cardboard cover underneath the plastic layer so I cut the plastic cover off (I was worried the glue would not adhere to it as well) and we worked with the cardboard side. Before the party I traced the cover on a bunch of pieces of scrapbook paper and cut them out so the kids could just pick the paper they liked best and glue it on. Once they had a new decorative cover they were able to add embellishments using paper punches, stickers, and stamps. Some websites give instructions for removing the spiral wire so that the entire front of the notebook can be covered, then making new holes and reinserting the wire. Way too complicated for my tatste! We just glued the paper as close to the wire as possible, leaving a small white edge along the top of the notebooks. I think this worked out just fine and made it much easier for the kids to complete the project on their own. Oh and for all you true bargain hunters out there, I've since found more notebooks at Big Lots that come four to a pack, making these cute little personalized gifts come out to about 30 cents each.

If you're still looking for gifts to put under the tree, get the kids to work and if none of these ideas float your boat, check out Works For Me Wednesday for more last minute gift ideas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easy Teacher Gift

It's been a while since I've done a Works for me Wednesday post. I've been planning on making my comeback with this idea for two weeks now, but kept forgetting to post. Guess that's a good thing since today's WFMW topic is Gift Giving. You would think as homeschoolers, we wouldn't have to worry about teacher gifts, but you're wrong! There are co-op class teachers, piano teachers, dance teachers... the list could go on and on. We gave out our first round of gifts the week before Thanksgiving when Sport and Spice's weekly enrichment classes came to an end. Here's what the kids handed out...

a roll of Christmas wrapping paper with a note that says "May your holidays be wrapped in love." We also added a homemade flavored coffee drink mix to this batch. I tried some of it later though and found it kinda gross (guess I should've taste-tested it before we give some out) so I'm not sharing the recipe. I am not a coffee drinker though, so what do I know? Maybe that was how it was supposed to taste. At any rate, we also included a few chocolate dipped spoons with the coffee mix so that should have improved the taste. We will be giving out more of the wrapping paper gifts. They were a big hit and I like giving out gifts that can be used up rather than a cheesy knick knack that does nothing but sit around gathering dust. I found these rolls in the Target dollar spot. I like them because they are shorter than regular rolls, but have a ton of paper on them.

Here is another twist on a popular gift that I blogged about last year (scroll down to the picture at the bottom). We had friends over today for our first ever Christmas Craftapalooza. All of the kids put together a few of these kits, and made some other cool gifts that I hope to blog about in the next few days. In the meantime, head over to We Are That Family for more great gift ideas.