Tips for homemade holiday decorating from a momThe holidays can be stressful, exciting, busy and expensive. As a mother of four, I’m always trying to come up with ways to decorate for less. I find making crafts with my children relieves some of that stress and allows us to spend time together.
By: Jesslyn Canales, Grand Forks Herald
The holidays can be stressful, exciting, busy and expensive. As a mother of four, I’m always trying to come up with ways to decorate for less. I find making crafts with my children relieves some of that stress and allows us to spend time together.
Not only do I get cute decorations, but we make memories for a lifetime. Here are some ideas and projects that have worked for me.
• Wait until after Christmas to buy decorations and wrapping paper. They’re much cheaper and when we open them next year, it’s like a mini Christmas because I’ve usually forgotten what I bought.
• Rather than one big tree, I do a few smaller trees (again, purchased after Christmas at a discount). That way, I can have different themes. I like to have a kids’ tree decorated with ornaments my children made, plus popcorn strings or a paper ring garlands. The tree topper is a cardboard star constructed to hold a current picture of the kids. I have a Nativity tree, decorated with nativity scenes and ornaments, plus some I have cross-stitched. The tree toper is an angel I bought from Avon when I was 18. My third tree changes depending on my mood. In the past, I’ve had a ribbon garland tree and a ball ornament tree.
• Here’s a really fun craft I did with my sons. We took a bunch of baby food jars and filled them with tinsel. I hot glued them into star and tree shapes. Then, we punched a hole in the lids and put a light bulb from a string of lights into each hole. They are so cute and my boys love when I hang them because they remember when we made them together.
• Last year, we made reindeer out of cutouts of the kids’ hands and feet. I traced their feet on brown construction paper (you could use tagboard, too). I then traced around their hands on white construction paper. You can glue on eyes and a red pom for a nose or draw them. The mouth can be drawn or made of a pipe cleaner or yarn. Glue the hands on the head for antlers and, voila, you have Rudolf.
• For snowflakes: Take pipe cleaners and make them into a six-point figure. Then, tie a string around the pipe cleaners, so it looks like a snowflake. Take a jar that is big enough for the snowflake to fit. Tie a string from the snowflake to a pencil, pen, chopstick, whatever you have, and place the stick across the top of the jar, so the snowflake hangs upright. Put enough boiling water in the jar to cover the snowflake. Add Borax (not Boraxo) until it has supersaturated the water. (There will be Borax in the bottom of the jar that didn’t dissolve.) You can add some food coloring if you want colored snowflakes. Leave it overnight and in the morning you will have some pretty crystal covered snowflakes.
• For Christmas cards, I take the pictures myself. I wait until Snapfish.com has a super good sale, like a penny a print, and print them through the website.
• One year, I bought a bunch of outdoor light stakes at Family Dollar and put them in my yard in the shape of a tree. It was really pretty, and it cost me less than $20. I don’t usually hang lights because, quite frankly, it’s a pain and I don’t want to. I’ve used Christmas lights to make shapes like stars or trees on the side of my house, though. My kids really like doing that one. I just use those stick-and-remove hangers from 3M, so I don’t put a bunch of holes into the house.
• This year, we’re going to make a homemade nativity with the kids. I cut the shapes out of heavy cardboard — Mary, Joseph, the manger, baby Jesus, sheep, a cow, an angel, wise men, and a shelter. If the kids want a standing display, I’ll take another piece of cardboard, cut it into a triangle and glue it on the back of the shape. My oldest son is going to paint his. My two youngest are going to use magazine cutouts and glue them to the shapes to make the people and animals. My second oldest is still deciding how he’ll decorate his.
• When I hang a Christmas decoration on the wall, I take down what’s already there and store it in the totes that hold our Christmas decorations. It’s safe, out of the way and handy when it’s time to de-decorate.
• I made Christmas flashcards for the kids to take on trips to visit family. Cut cardboard into rectangles in whatever size you want. Find pictures of Christmas items in magazines and online. Cut them out and glue them on the rectangles. If you want, you can cover the cardboard with white paper first. We have sets for counting: One Christmas tree, two gifts, three ornaments, etc. We have a set that the kids can color and a set of the 12 Days of Christmas, which we use to sing the song. We have sets that we use to tell different Christmas stories like the story of Jesus, the story of Mark the Elf (which I made up), and the Grinch. I tell the story and the kids take turns being the one to hold up the card that illustrates that part of the story.
Canales is a customer service representative at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald. She and her husband, Eric, have four children: Cayne, 14; Christian, 9; Gracelyn, 3; and Mali, 2.