Friday, December 23, 2011

Enviro-Friendly Kids' Christmas Crafts


5 Enviro-Friendly Kids' Christmas Crafts for Your Home

At our house, the remains of the Thanksgiving turkey are barely crammed into the fridge before we're taking out the Christmas decor. Nope, patience isn't a strong suit in a home with a 5-year-old and 8-year-old (both boys, not that that makes a difference). My kids LOVE holiday decorating. Luckily, so do I.

BC (Before Children), my husband and I had a more kitschy, shabby-chic Christmas decor style. But we've learned to modify that to include all things bright, colorful and handmade. By cutting down on premade decor and using primarily earth-friendly materials, we're keeping things friendlier to the environment, too. Here are five of my family's favorite ways to deck the halls -- with a whole lot of help from four little hands.

1. Make a “chain link" advent calendar.
This is so easy and looks cute anywhere -- we usually put ours in the kitchen next to our regular calendar, but it also looks terrific on the wall next to the Christmas tree or next to your entryway.

Here's how:
Gather scraps of red and green construction paper or plain paper. Using an approximately 6" high green paper piece, cut out the shape of a Christmas tree; allow the kids to decorate it with glitter, glue, faux gems, etc. Next have them cut 3.5" long strips, all the same width, out of both green and red construction paper; you'll need a total of 24.

Glue one strip into a ring; glue the alternating color around that ring to begin your chain. Continue until all the links are on the chain. Staple the top link to the Christmas tree. Hang.

Tear off one ring each day until Christmas Eve arrives (be sure to put any paper into the recycling bin).

2. Deck the tree in boughs of gorgeous.
Wire ornament hangers can be an absolute travesty, especially around eager little hands (ask us how we know this). They also tend to get lost, making it necessary for manufacturers to mold and bend billions of these each year from resources we need.

Long ago, my family began hanging ornaments by pretty ribbons instead. The ribbons add a special look to the ornaments if you choose contrasting colors, scalloped edges, etc., so these make gorgeous decor for your tree no matter what your child's age and ability.

Here's how:
First, you remove any wire hangers that may still be on your ornaments from last year. Now find scraps of cloth material (for example, from outgrown clothes you won't be decorating) in holiday or other pretty colors and cut off lengths of about 4" each.

Have your children thread one ribbon through each ornament (you help if they have trouble with this part), then knot off the end so you have a circle. Hang on the tree.

Tip: have an ornament hanging party for your little one and her friends. Everyone pitches in with threading and tying the ribbons, then they get to select a place on the tree to hang their handiwork. Serve cocoa, warm apple cider and Christmas cookies and play holiday music to get guests in on the Christmas cheer. 

3. Make a tissue paper wreath.
We love traditional evergreen wreaths, but this soft version is definitely kid-friendly both to make and to have around (no accidental scratches). And the results are cute enough to hang anywhere indoors (this decoration won't hold up to severe winter weather, so choose a real or faux needle wreath for outside the home).

Here's how:
You cut out the shape of a wreath as large as you'd like either from cardboard or, if you're handy and have a jigsaw, from wood. (The latter is more likely to survive multiple years, but it's up to you.)

Sit down with the children and have them crush pieces of green tissue paper into balls. Glue the green paper balls tightly together all over the front of the wreath. For a natural touch, add real dried berries from around your yard or the local greenhouse.

By the way, this idea is also great for other seasons and occasions; just change the types of materials you use while keeping things natural. And remember boys and girls alike love nature and “getting dirty." A girl's 1st birthday barnyard theme, for example, looks great with haylike wreaths around the party area.

4. Take your inspiration from nature.
Kids love nature walks that involve hunting for little “treasures" along the way. Collect some and make great holiday decor for your household.

Here's how: Go on a nature walk with your children and pick up pretty, natural winter foliage along the way. Collect in paper bags. When you get home, sort through your treasures. Use springs, twigs, fallen acorns, etc. to create pretty table centerpeices. Or glue them onto thank-you notes and theme party supplies for your or your child's holiday party this year.

5. Buy and plant a real tree this year. Instead of cutting down your own tree this year or reusing an artificial one, buy a planted evergreen. (Make sure the variety you're buying will grow well in the area you plan to eventually plant.)

Here's how:
Buying from a local nursery is best, as these typically stock items that will thrive in your area. Buy a tree that's well established (at least 2.5' tall). Decorate the tree indoors; be gentle and don't use any materials that may harm the tree. Let your child help you water and care for the tree through the holidays.

After the holidays are over, go on a field trip with your child to a spot where you are allowed to plant; consult your city's forestry region for information. Or plant in your own yard. Make sure to do your research first as far as how deep the tree should be planted, what type of natural fertilizer to include and whether the tree should be in full or partial sun or shade. Plant the tree with your child and visit it next year to see how your earth-friendly investment is growing. It's a great learning experience for your child.

These projects are not only pretty and fun, they teach the entire family about being kind to the earth, reusing materials and finding the beauty in nature. Take advantage of these moments to spend time with your family and to remember what's really important: you, them and the earth you live on.
About the author:
As a mom of three boys, Melanie really knows what it is to get into nature and touch everything (including bugs and, most recently, an anole baby lizard). She, her husband and children love hiking in the mountains near their town. Melanie also enjoys somewhat cleaner pursuits, such as writing, cooking and history. She writes part-time for



Flooring Toronto on February 6, 2012 at 8:59 PM said...

your craft so nice.but some changing in so beautiful,but your idea is good thanks.

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