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Credit: Lisa Nguyen/Ron Wirth Jr.

Encouraging kids to get hands-on with decorating not only includes them and their ideas in creating the holiday spirit at home, but the time spent together and the tactile experience of making something together are gifts in themselves. Since the arrival of my first nephew, Adly, five years ago, Christmas in my household has had a refreshing change. The predictable routine of gift-exchanging and dinners has been replaced by craft afternoons involving a lot of sprinkles and sticky glue. Making gingerbread houses and crafts are Adly's favourites, and during the season, my sister's house transforms into a gallery of his amateur artistic creations. Here are some things to consider when getting kids involved in holiday decorating:

  • Simplicity size="3"> Kids tend to have a short attention span, so it’s important to consider how long it will take when choosing a craft activity. Making sure all needed materials are gathered and preparing as much as you can beforehand will simplify the activity and help avoid any frustrations.
  • Safety size="3"> Use safe, non-toxic materials and child-friendly glues and scissors. If a craft activity involves precise cutting requiring sharp scissors, pre-cut materials.
  • Fun size="3"> Keeping the “fun-factor” up during the activity means allowing the child’s imagination to run wild and be as creative as they can be. This can get quite messy at times, so setting up a designated craft area, where the tables and floors are covered with newspaper, will create a stress-free cleaning zone for you.
The following are some creative child-friendly holiday crafts ideas. GardenWise Online invites readers to submit their own tips and ideas below in the comment box.
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MINI WREATHScolor="purple">size="3"> Bring the Christmas touch into the house by decorating bedroom and bathroom doors with these mini wreaths.
What you need:

  • 4 brightly colored, heavy-duty 7-inch paper plates
  • Scissors
  • White craft glue
  • Decorative ribbon (enough to make 4 big bows)
  • Decorations to glue on wreath - A nature-walk finds twigs, leaves, acorns and winter berries. A bag of fresh cranberries can add a festive burst of colour and texture as well.
*Makes 4 wreaths
Directions:
  • Prep before: With scissors, cut out the centre of the paper plates, leaving a rim of about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide.
  • With kids: Squeeze a thick line of glue around the plate, about 1/2-inch from the edge. Place decorations, one by one, on the line of glue. Squeeze another line of glue inside the first row of decorations. Place decorations, one by one, on the second line of glue. If desired, add your nature-walk finds like fresh greenery, twigs, leaves or acorns. Let wreath stand overnight to dry.
  • Finishing Touch:
  • Finally, thread a piece of ribbon through the centre of the wreath and tie a bow. Hang your wreath with the ribbon.
Source: About.com


WINTER BERRY ICE CANDLE color="purple">size="3"> There's nothing better than the dim flickering glow of candle light to add warmth and mood to a cold winter night. This ice candle can also make a creative table centrepiece when placed in a shallow glass bowl.
Ice candle


What you need:

  • 1 empty, clean and dried 250 ml milk carton
  • Fresh fruits (cranberries, slices of orange, etc.) and/or garden trimmings (acorns, winter berries, small leaves, fir branches, etc.)
  • 1 or 2 floating candles
  • Water
*Makes 1 ice candle
Directions:
  • Prep before:Start with a used 250 ml carton of milk or half and half. Open the carton all the way and clean well.
  • With kids:Carefully pour water and fresh fruits/garden trimmings into the carton, filling it to about 1 inch below the top of the carton. Small leaves work well if placed along the inner sides of the carton. Place floating candle or tea light on top of the cranberries and water in the centre of the arrangement. Carefully place the carton in the freezer on a flat surface and freeze overnight.
  • Finishing touch: Once completely frozen, gently peel away the carton to reveal the frozen contents. Dip the carton in warm water if needed to loosen. Place your finished frozen centrepiece in a shallow bowl or deep plate.
Safety first! Make sure an adult lights the candle. Do not leave lit candles unattended. The candle will last for a few hours, depending on room temperature. Check frequently and discard any extra water from the bowl as needed, as sitting water will increase the speed of ice thaw.
Source: Oceanspray.com


PINE CONE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTsize="3"> 'Tis the season when there's no shortage of cones falling from trees! Get some help from your kids to clean up the yard and create some fun holidays tree decorations at the same time.
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What you need:

  • Pine cones (as many as you want)
  • Paint
  • Paper towels
  • Craft glue
  • Silver and gold glitter or plastic gems
  • Colourful pipe cleaner or very thick string
  • 2 bowls for paint and glitter/plastic gems
  • Red ribbon (optional)
  • Clear sealer spray (optional)
Directions:
  • Prep before (with kids):
Gather pine cones of all shapes and sizes from the yard and around the neighbourhood. At home, using a damp paper towel, wipe off any dirt to make a clean surface for decorating. Allow pine cones to dry.
  • With kids: While you fill one bowl with paint and the other with glitter, get the child to coat the pine cone with glue. Help the child roll the glue-coated pine cone in paint, and then sprinkle it with glitter. Make a loop with the pipe cleaner or string, and glue to the top of the pine cone. Let dry for several hours. Finish it off with a bright red ribbon and hang it on the Christmas tree!
  • Finishing touch: Once the glue has completely dried, spraying with a sealer will enable paint and glitter to stay on longer.
  • Source: Sherri Osborn, About.com