When I think back to my childhood, I remember spending lots of time around the holidays making decorations and food for our family celebrations.
Some of the simplest activities were also the most fulfilling because we were actively creating, not just purchasing. The time that went into each craft or treat was also a gift, a gift that said “I took the time to personally craft this for you. You’re that special to me.”
I started a shortlist of my favorite simple holiday crafts from the past, and I’m hoping that you readers will add to it in the comments.
- Salt Dough Ornaments – One of the classic kid-crafts, salt dough is cheap and easy to make, and ornaments made from it can last for years. Mix one cup of fine-grained salt with 2 cups of flour. Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (oil is optional, but makes the dough smoother). Adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon darkens the dough and adds a great scent. Mix well, then knead until smooth (5 to 10 minutes). Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to form the shapes, or shape by hand (wreathes or twists or candleholders). Use a straw to cut a hole in the ornaments for hanging, then bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 250° F for about 2 hours. Let cool, then paint and add glitter or other decoration. For kids, you can carve their name and the date on the back with a toothpick. Makes a great gift for Grandma!
- Popcorn Garland – Stringing popcorn garlands and hanging them on your outside trees will make your neighborhood birds and squirrels very happy. Simply pop a batch of popcorn, thread a medium-sized needle with cotton thread, and start stringing! Add raisins or dried cranberries to your garland every so often, or make a pattern with the dried fruit. Hanging these edible garlands onto your non-toxic Christmas tree gives it an organic look and feel.
- Pine Cone Bird Feeder – Remember this? Take a large pine cone, wrap a wire for hanging around the top, smear peanut butter into the crevices, and roll in birdseed. Dried fruit can be added to spice it up a bit. Mount these solidly to a fence so the squirrels don’t run off with it, or hang in front of a window so you get a good show at dinnertime.
- Clove Pomander – This craft is an oldie but a goodie, and it’ll make your house smell wonderful. Take a navel orange, a tangerine, or any other citrus (never tried it with a grapefruit…), tie a length of string around it, and buy a large bag of whole cloves. Check out your local health food store or co-op for bulk cloves. Insert the cloves up to their head into the orange, and repeat until the whole orange is covered. Hang these in closets, pantries, or bathrooms, or put them into your clothes drawers to scent your wardrobe.
- Snow Ice Cream – This is a craft of opportunity. If you have fresh snow, grab the cream, sugar, and vanilla and whip up a batch of snow ice cream. Mix 1 cup of cream (or milk or soymilk), 3/4 cups of sugar (or agave nectar), and 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Begin adding snow (about 6 cups worth). Mix well and serve immediately.
What are your favorite simple holiday crafts?
Image: Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons License