Christmas Decorations to Make with Your Little Elf

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Since Gv is a bit older now, we've been able to start exploring some fun craft projects.  I decided the best introduction to these projects is to create fun holiday decorations.  We're going on month three of dipping our toes into the creative waters, beginning with Halloween, continuing with Thanksgiving, and now it's time to make things festive for Christmas.

I repeated a couple of similar ideas we'd tried before (they worked and were easy, so why not?) and then we ventured into some new territory...which led to quite an adventure.

We worked on six different projects:

Foray into Finger Painting

Up to this point, we had not ventured into the world of finger painting.  I just wasn't ready to face that messy challenge yet, but for some reason, I thought trying it out on the same day we planned to create a zillion other Christmas crafts would be a good idea.


I saw this idea to use masking tape to create your picture and then after your child paints all over it, you remove the tape and have this neat "negative" image on a cool background.

I decided to try two of these - I know, what was I thinking... 

You can see that Gv was doubting the intelligence of this idea, but the taping of the snowflakes with painter's tape was successful, so I was feeling pretty optimistic at this point.  We didn't have any finger painting paper, so I just used construction paper.

That was a mistake.

We also didn't have any finger paint in the house, but that was okay, because I knew I'd rather make it myself anyway.  I researched about fifteen billion ways to make finger paint and then decided on the cornstarch method, mainly because I had a small amount of cornstarch left over from years ago, when I stopped using cornstarch.  It would be good to use that GMO junk up.

It was really easy to mix up - pour a little cornstarch into a bowl and then add about twice as much water.  Stir it well and then add a couple of drops of food coloring until it reaches the color intensity you want.

This mixing process was a pretty exciting event in itself.  Gv was fascinated by the swirls the food coloring made and loved stirring the mixture with her spoon.

I showed her how to dip her hand into the container and then swipe it across the page.  She got right to work: 

Vigorous painting from this girl.  Oh, such vigorous painting.

It was about this time that she thought it would be a good idea to dump the contents of the paint container onto her tray.  This is where I smugly patted myself on the back for remembering to put our trusty shower curtain liner to use under her high chair as a floor cover, to catch any stray paint droplets.

Droplets.  Ha.

Actually, the paint was doing a pretty good job staying within the confines of the tray.

Until she plopped her arm into a puddle of the stuff.

Drip.  Drip. Drip.

"Now how did that happen?"

Ah, yes, paint on the girl.  This is why I had been avoiding the finger painting.

Nevertheless, we pressed on.  Despite the fact that my daughter was quickly becoming a Smurf (see the blue leg sneaking up in the photo below), I pulled out another piece of white construction paper, covered it with tape stripes, and we mixed up some red paint to make some candy canes.

Why yes, those are paint droplets posing as blue freckles on Gv's face here
Gv had grabbed the snowflake paper at one point and since it was covered with a puddle of paint, it easily ripped.  Yes, we will be investing in some finger paint paper in the future.

That is, if I ever get brave enough to try this again.

Anyway, I got smart this time and ran the tape off the page so that it would hold her paper steady onto the tray as she painted.

I took a deep breath and handed her the container of red paint.

She employed a new painting technique this time - the Jackson Pollock method.  Not exactly what I would have chosen for covering candy canes, but hey, it was her vision.

This is about the point where I realized that despite the shower-curtain-liner-covered floor, finger paint gets finger flung everywhere and if we ever do this again in the future, we will be relocating our art studio to the back porch. 

Regardless, she painted up a couple pages of candy canes and I set them on the porch to dry.

Gv was now turning a lovely shade of purple, and the paint was everywhere.

Luckily, I've got a girl who likes to clean up after herself:

She was not as thrilled about stopping the fun to take a bath, but there was no way I was chancing a redecoration of our furniture in patriotic-colored glory.  I'm wondering if these shorts will ever get clean:

The mess got cleaned up, the papers were dry, and we were ready to check out the results:

So disappointing.  First of all, the papers ripped in several places (again, finger-paint paper is going on the list).  Second, you can see from the blue page that the snowflakes didn't even show up.  I'm not sure if this is because she dumped the bowl of paint all over and it seeped up from the other side, or because the tape didn't create a tight enough seal on the construction paper, but regardless, we ended up with a painting of nothing.

The candy cane paper wasn't much better.  You can actually see the stripes, but the paint was kind of thick in places and just broke off into a powdery mess (you can see a bit in the lower-left corner of the photo).

Both papers went into the trash.  Luckily, art can be all about the process, and Gv certainly enjoyed the whole experience, so I'm not considering the experiment a total failure.

A mess, but not a failure.

Plus, she really had a great time peeling all the tape off the papers. 

Christmas Tree Sticker Poster

After that great painting experience, I was ready for something a little simpler (and cleaner!)  I'd seen an idea for toddler-made Christmas cards using stickers and so I decided to have Gv create some posters that way.

First, I cut out a triangle tree from green construction paper, a brown trunk, and glued them both onto a blue background.  Then I grabbed whatever small star stickers I could find.

I handed it over to Gv and let her go at it.  I expected a few star "ornaments" to land on the blue background, but she actually managed to get them all onto the tree.

Well, the tree and the floor.

These were simple, but I think they turned out pretty cute.  For the second one, I found star stickers that were just a bit larger, because she was having a difficult time getting the tiny ones off her finger onto the page.  She did much better with the larger size.

Foil Snowscape

After the snowflake finger-painting debacle, I wanted to come up with a good frosty replacement.  I put some double-sided tape down in snowflake shapes (I first tried this with my trusty construction paper, but the tape wasn't sticking well, so I hunted down a nice piece of scrapbook paper to use instead), then I handed Gv a square of aluminum foil and showed her how to rip it up into tiny pieces.

She loved it. 

Next, I showed her how to place the foil pieces onto the tape. 

Success!  This turned out great.  I love the way it shimmers and shines.  We'll definitely be repeating this craft again next year.

Reindeer Prints

This idea was a combination of our Christmas gift from last year and the turkey from last monthI debated between the black antlers and dark brown, but I think either would work.  This was an easy project and Gv is getting to be a real pro with having her feet and hands traced.

She still giggles as the pen tickles her feet, which is an added cuteness bonus.

Santa Plate

This turned out so cute.  I had to do quite a bit of it myself with Gv at this age, but she was able to put the cotton on the glue and it's a project that will be easy for her to do all by herself in a couple years.

First, take a paper plate and some crayons and make your Santa face in the center section of the plate.

Next, smear some white glue around the perimeter of the plate.  Give your child some cotton balls (we used the cotton from vitamin bottles) and demonstrate how to stick the cottton on the glue.

Cut out a hat from red construction paper and glue it to the back of the plate.  Glue a small piece of cotton to its tip.

Handy Wreath

I liked the idea of a wreath, but didn't want to go the tissue paper route like at Thanksgiving. After making so many hand- and foot-print decorations previously, I've learned to get a really good tracing of each hand and each foot and then trace more from those patterns.

Cut out the center of a paper plate, smear glue around its perimeter, and then place the prints around the plate.

So there you have it.  Six ideas for Christmas decorations you can make with your toddler.  Will you be brave and tackle the painting project?  Which idea(s) do you think you'll try?  I'd love to hear!  Leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.  

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