Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Let children get creative

Homemade crafts can add fun to the holidays

December 6, 2001


Handmade gifts from children are truly precious. But let's be real: A conglomeration of Popsicle sticks and glue globs tends to lose some charm when it's pulled from the holiday box after a few years.

Here are some practical, beautiful ideas for gifts that children can make.

Patriotic Ornaments

This is a great gift for preteens or teens to make for grandparents. Each ornament takes a little patience and several hours, but the results are beautiful.

Materials (available at craft stores)

Styrofoam balls (2 1/2 inches or smaller)

Red, white and blue sequins

1/2-inch sequin pins

Red ribbon

Tacky glue

Hair pin or loop-eye pin

1. Pour some tacky glue onto a piece of wax paper. Dip the hair pin or loop-eye pin into the tacky glue and push into the foam ball. This is the top of the ornament, and when you're done, you'll thread the ribbon through this to hang from the tree.

2. Separate sequins into little piles of each color. Dip the tip of each sequin pin into the tacky glue, use it to pick up a sequin and then push it into the ball. The ornaments look best if you put the sequins close together, almost overlapping.

Tip: Decide what you want your design to be, then outline it in each color before filling in. For example, outline the star and the blue half before filling in with sequins.

Business Card Holder

This is a recyclable project that's great for younger children to make for parents.


Old tape cassette case

Heavy card stock paper

Double-stick tape

1. Open the cassette case all the way back. Business cards will fit into the ledge created by the open top.

2. Cut card stock into desired shape to fit the open lid. (Decorative edging scissors are fun to use.) Attach to lid with double-stick tape. Then cut a thin strip and tape to the bottom of the ledge.

3. If desired, you can glue additional decorations around the edge of the lid, such as pasta shapes, pompoms, small foam or wooden cutouts, ribbon or rattail. Just make sure to keep them close enough to the edges so the business cards fit.

Body Glitter

Cool goodies for girlfriends.


Clear aloe vera gel


Ultra-fine glitter

Clean baby food jar with lid

1. Decorate the jar as you like. Fill jar three-quarters full with aloe vera gel. Add about a teaspoon of glycerin and a teaspoon of ultrafine glitter. Mix well.

Tips: You can find aloe vera gel and glycerin at a pharmacy. If you can't find pure glycerin, try oil-free Corn Husker's Lotion. You can find tubes of ultrafine glitter at craft stores.


Soap Balls

This is good for younger children.


Box of Ivory Snow flakes


Food coloring

Scented oils (available at craft stores)

Different colored tissue paper or plastic wrap


1. Use water to moisten Ivory Snow flakes to the consistency of a very stiff dough. Divide the dough into several bowls. Add a different perfume and food coloring to each bowl.

2. Scoop a large spoonful of the dough and shape with hands into a ball. Place the balls on trays to harden for several days.

3. Wrap the soap balls in tissue paper or plastic wrap and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Peanut Butter Cups

A perfect project for older and younger siblings to make together.


1.5-ounce bag chocolate chips, divided use

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, divided use

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

24 paper mini-muffin cup liners

For older child:

1. Have muffin cup liners set on a baking sheet or in a mini-muffin pan out on counter, ready to go.

2. Pour enough chocolate chips into measuring cup to make one cup. Pour these into a microwave-safe bowl.

3. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening.

4. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave an additional 15 seconds. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave, place on counter next to muffin cups and stir chocolate until smooth.

5. Fill a tablespoon measuring spoon with melted chocolate until it's not quite full. Pour into a muffin paper and swirl paper around until the melted chocolate coats the sides, almost to the top. Repeat with all the muffin papers. Try to work quickly.

6. When all the muffin papers are filled, put into freezer for at least 10 minutes.

7. When firm, remove from freezer and have younger child fill each muffin paper with peanut butter filling (see below).

8. Pour remaining chips into microwave-safe bowl with remaining tablespoon of shortening and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir and microwave another 15 seconds. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave, place on counter and stir until smooth.

9. Using the same technique as above, use a tablespoon to cover filling with melted chocolate. Refrigerate until firm.

For younger child: While older child is filling the muffin cups, the younger child makes the filling:

1. Put peanut butter, sifted confectioners' sugar and melted butter into a big bowl.

2. Use your (clean) hands to mix it thoroughly until it's like dough.

3. Break off marble-sized pieces and roll them in your hands until they are round. Then, flatten them a little and drop them into each chocolate-filled muffin paper.

Tips: Once these are firm, they don't need to be refrigerated. You can decorate the top with sprinkles or peanuts, but remember that the candies are already very sweet and rich.

Sand Art Brownies

Children layer all the ingredients in a jar with a pretty label so someone can make brownies on a cold winter's day.


Into a clean, quart-sized jar, layer ingredients in this order (note that you use flour twice):

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

5/8 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 cup flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup vanilla or peanut-butter chips

1/2 cup nuts

Write these instructions on a card and give it with the jar: Combine contents of jar with 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 3 eggs.

Pour into a greased 9-inch by 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 27 to 32 minutes.

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