Okay, so I’m really taking readers’ advice to heart and just covering the gamut of things – from eating disorder recovery to the futile search for a baby doll with special private parts (don’t ask). Today I’ve decided to share a triumphant moment for me in craft land! I love the idea of crafts, but the execution makes me shudder. I have a rabid need for order, and glue, glitter, paint, etc. in the hands of little ones and order are like oil and water. They don’t mix. But I want my kids to be creative. I want them to be free to sometimes make a mess in a safe place. Plus, I have my share of creativity genes and want to share my imagination with my children. I’m just not all that good at expressing it with my hands (ideas are in no short supply but, again, it’s the execution of those ideas that oftentimes leaves something to be desired). Ask my mom about sewing. I’ve joked before that I’m not much of a seamstress, but the sad truth is I still ask my mom to sew on buttons. Yes, buttons.
Then recently I was at a birthday party, and my dear friend who has the gift of craft genius (you know who you are, and you really should open your own Etsy shop!) had set up several hands-on stations for the girls. One of them included making these adorable pipe cleaner rings. Rae and I sat down together and she started bending the pipe cleaners this way and that, but then she asked if I could make her ring more “bootiful.”It looked easy enough, but looks can be deceiving. Rae could have done much better than her mom. I grew impatient with the pipe cleaners and just started mashing them around. Thankfully, my artsy friend took over and shaped a perfect bloom within seconds.
At any rate, we do our fair share of crafts around here, but usually I try to keep things fairly simple. I also believe in letting little hands do most of the work. What’s the point in having your kids watch you do some elaborate, complicated craft? I’d rather have a less than perfect finished product that was made by children instead of by me. (Besides, as the pipe cleaner ring experience shows Mommy can’t always do things better than her little children.)
During Advent we have some old craft standbys (I shared some of our “regulars” here). However, this year we decided to also make these poinsettia princesses (they’re really fairies, but the girls liked the alliteration and so did I). I did have to help out a bit with the glue gun, but my oldest made the tunics. Rae (3) helped thread the pipe cleaners through the clothes pins to make the arms, and she also drew the mouths on the fairies. The girls picked out the color of the tunics, and Madeline helped me glue on the wings, poinsettia skirt, and other embellishments. Elizabeth Foss includes detailed instructions over here. I actually just bought poinsettias where I could remove the middle flower accent. Then I pushed the clothespin through the hole and then added a bit of hot glue so the skirt would stay in place rather than gluing on individual petals (or I should say leaves; we learned after reading The Legend of the Poinsettia that the red is not really a flower but just more petals that have turned red). We had most of the supplies needed for the craft on hand and purchased the rest at Hobby Lobby: felt, clothes pins (the old-fashioned kind), fake poinsettias with green and red leaves, pink pipe cleaners (I couldn’t find flesh colored), fake doll hair, glittery green rope, and felt-tip pens to draw the faces.
I was quite pleased with the finished product even if the fairies’ heads were a bit like the small head guy in Beetlejuice. I couldn’t find bigger clothes pins. Still, the girls loved them and plan on giving them as gifts.
Something else we made on our recent craft day were these lovely angels.
Madeline made these almost entirely herself. She only burnt herself with the glue gun once and said it only hurt “just a little bit.” We always enjoy shelling when we go to the beach, and the girls always want to keep all of their treasures from the sea. I have bags of seashells and was wondering what we could do with them. Well, don’t these white shells look like the body of angel? We thought so.
Here are some how-to instructions:
Old seashells like clam shells, cockles, or scallops
Gold pipe cleaners
Wooden doll heads
Felt tip markers
Glue the head on the shell using a hot glue gun. Add hair. Make a halo out of the gold pipe cleaner (this can double as a hanger if you want to use the shell angels as ornaments). Glue on halo. Shape another pipe cleaner into a sideways eight to use as wings. Glue wings on the back of the shell. Add facial features with felt tip markers.
These crafts were simple enough for my 6-year-old, and my 3-year-old enjoyed helping, too. And we didn’t make too much of a mess either, so I was happy.
As long as I’m on a craft roll, I’ll share what we made for Thanksgiving. These started out as felt napkin holders, but we decided they made lovely bracelets.
All you need is three felt pieces: One shaped like a bone and two shaped as flowers/stars with slits cut in the middle. You thread one end of the bone through the two flowers, create a loop, and then thread the other end of the bone. Even my 3-year-old could create one of these all by herself. Detailed instructions are here.
One area that comes more naturally to me is crafts in the kitchen – that is baking up delicious treats. Every year we bake mountains of cookies and share them with neighbors, friends, and family. This year was no exception. The girls favorite cookies to make are old-fashioned sugar cookies with frosting and lots of sprinkles. I gave them complete freedom in decorating their batch of cookies, so some of them are liberally embellished with sprinkles and candies. Before baking we read Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, which defines important virtues like responsibility and perseverance. Rather than making the sugar cookies we always do (Sugar Cookies For Every Season), the girls wanted to use the sugar cookie recipe in the back of the book. They turned out well and tasted about the same.
Next up in the kitchen: Chocolate chip scones, one of my all-time favorite baking recipes.
It’s been a good Advent, and we can hardly wait to welcome Baby Jesus!
Have a peaceful end of Advent and a joyful Christmas season!