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Perhaps in direct response to my desire to Marie Kondo-ify everything in my life, my 5-year-old is showing early signs of intense hoarding tendencies. She stockpiles all manner of “treasures” and gathers up anything of interest she thinks she might use: bits of glitter, rocks, beads, scraps of wrapping paper, lengths of ribbon, empty toilet paper tubes—there’s a double-digit-numbered pile of the latter in our closet right now, just waiting to tumble down.
In an attempt to keep her collection under control, I’ve practiced the delicate art of keeping a small portion of the most beloved ones and tossing the rest surreptitiously. This does not always work. I’ve made more than one trip out to the garage in search of a picture that “must have accidentally got mixed up with the recycling” in hopes of preventing a quivering lip and watery eyes from overflowing into sobs of despair.
I’ve tried the “let’s send some to Grandma”-route and the “let’s use this to wrap Grandpa’s present”-route, both of which are epic failures in our house. (Reasoning behind those responses are, respectively: “We can’t give it to Grandma, it’s for you to keep to remind you of me when I’m not around,” and “That would bend it! I don’t want lines in my picture!”)
But while I can’t do anything about what comes home from school, I can at least control what we make at home: I look for crafts that are fun for both of us, that do not create a huge mess (and consequently threaten my sanity), and that I'm okay with displaying.
If that resonates with you too, here are 9 contenders for crafts you’ll enjoy making with kids throughout this holiday season:
Garlands: for looping on a tree, or draping anywhere you might hang twinkly lights. Skip the needles for little kids and stick with chunky pasta shapes that are easy to string yarn through. Paint the pasta first if you're feeling ambitious.
Julehjerter: mess-free and customizable in any color combination—win win.
Paper chains: customizable in different color schemes and they're easy for kids (which means they're also easy for you—making them will be almost meditative). Plus, paper chains can serve as decorations or even a calendar (use them to count the days until Christmas, until you leave to visit family, until school starts again...). If you are brave like Molly Wizenberg, add glitter.
Candlesticks: Use this technique to make a chanukiah or menorah for Hanukkah, adapt it to make a kinara for Kwanzaa, or don't stick them together at all and leave them as standalone candle holders.
Pipe cleaner crafts: choose a design that's extremely simple (like making a Star of David or a candy cane) or more something more complicated, depending on the age of your child.
Clothespin crafts: A bagful of clothespins can be turned into snowflakes, trivets, or wreaths. While you antique yours in tea, your little ones can color them with markers or paint.
Stamping: try potato prints (or other types of produce!) on linens and wrapping paper, or rubber stamp on china, like a mug or little dish for jewelry (and knock out a gift or two while you're at it!).
Needle felting: older kids will have so much fun creating their own needle-felted animals, they might want to keep the kits all to themselves. (That's okay, give yourself a timeout and go read a book instead.)
Clay crafts: kids of all ages love playing with clay (and the impressive results—see those earrings above—don't hurt). Plus, even if your kids are on the young side, and are having more fun smooshing the clay than really making anything, you can make something yourself (like a gorgeous wall vase) and check a present off the list while playing.
Tell us: What kid-friendly crafts do you enjoy?