Issy, known to her young family, and her Instagram followers as Mummy Scrummie is a Hampshire-based mum of two and brand rep for Catkin Toys. Every Sunday, Issy will be writing a guest blog feature, covering the parenting topics and issues that interest you! Have a topic you'd like to hear more about? Get in touch!
Top DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Children to Make
When I was a kid, a homemade Christmas gift, made by a child, was a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, something plasticky, swathed in glitter and tinsel was probably about as much as you could look forward to in our house.
To be fair to my younger self, my mother and my early years teachers, the eighties and nineties, weren’t exactly known for their understated and tasteful vibe, and I don’t think ‘sustainability’ was even on the collective radar, but I do feel as if the world has come a long way since then, in terms of upping our DIY gifting game.
We’re now in an age of mason jar gifts filled with gourmet hot chocolate mixes, of hand-knitted headbands and embroidery hoop home accessories. If you’d have handed my uncle a jam jar of Cadbury’s ‘just add water’ in 1994, he wouldn’t have had the foggiest idea what to do with it, or why you’d given it to him. Times have changed!
So, this week, I’m taking you through four festive favourites: my Top DIY Christmas Gifts for Your Children to Make AND not only are they Christmassy crafts that are genuinely child-friendly, but I’ve got something for every age group AND they are all eco-friendly options too, so that’s worth triple Brownie points!
First up, something for everyone from newborn bubbas to thirty-something Welsh mummy bloggers...
Salt Dough Hanging Christmas Ornaments
God bless salt dough. It’s been a firm favourite for generations because it’s quick and easy to do, it doesn’t cost the earth and, when finished, can look really, really lovely.
So, where do you start?
For the dough, you’ll need*:
· 500g plain flour (don’t use self-raising, it’ll go all puffy in the oven!)
· 290g table salt
· 340ml water
And that’s it! Bung all that into a mixing bowl, stir and then knead it together (remember to take your rings off if you’re a bling-wearer, I appreciate that it’s a First World problem, but there’s nothing worse than walking around with dough caked into your eternity ring). If it’s a bit wet, just add more flour; if it feels dry, add more water. It’s perfectly safe to get even little children involved with mixing and kneading the dough, they’ll love the sensory element to it; but if you’re messy-hands-phobic, then wait until your dough is workable before letting small people loose on it.
*I find that this makes plenty of dough but as long as you keep the ratios the same, make as much or as little as you need!
For making the ornaments you’ll need:
· Chopping board/play dough mat
· Cookie cutters
· Rolling pin
· Ribbon or twine
· A thin paintbrush, pencil or straw
· Modge Podge/clear sealant
· Any stamps, paints and finishing touches you fancy!
· Baby wipes for (messy little hands)
· Baking paper
· An ovenproof tray and an oven!
Grab yourself a chopping board or a play dough mat (if you don’t have one, you can grab this FREE PRINTABLE one from the Catkin Toys website and laminate it), sprinkle it with some of your plain flour and roll out your dough with a rolling pin.
Roll the dough to approximately ¼ of an inch thickness and it’s ready for your small people to get creative with and design an ornament in any way they like.
For my eldest’s first Christmas, I used a circular cookie cutter slightly bigger than her hand and I just pressed her handprint into it; this year, four Christmases later, she’s used different shaped cookie cutters and stamped her own designs into them. There is a lovely snowflake cookie cutter in the Winter 30 Ways to Play Guide box that would be absolutely perfect for this!
Once they’ve finalised their design, use something with a pointed end (I’ve used a thin paintbrush here) to poke a small hole through your dough; once you’ve baked the ornaments, this is where you’ll thread something to hang your ornament with.
Pop the ornaments onto an ovenproof tray lined with baking paper, and pop in a preheated oven, for about 2 hours at 130 degrees (Celsius).
You want to keep them in the oven until they feel firm, so use your own judgement; handprints may need a wee bit longer than ornaments, but all ovens are different so work according to yours!
After they’ve baked, and cooled down, they’re ready to paint, and again, how your children want to decorate them is totally up to them! You can leave them
plain, you can use acrylic/poster paints, you could even sparkle them up with some bio glitter – it’s up to you and yours!
Then all you have to do, once your paint is dry, is cover them with a sealant (Modge Podge works well) and thread a ribbon or a piece of twine through the hole in the ornament, and you’re done! These ornaments make the perfect pressies for grandparents!
Next up: something for those pre-schoolers...
Yarn-Wrapped Hanging Letters
· A piece of cardboard
· A pen/pencil
· Scissors or a craft knife
This is such an easy-peasy craft for your small person to do; I chose this with pre-schoolers in mind, but actually, it’s suitable for anyone that’s got the fine motor skills to be able grasp a piece of string.
Taking the scrap cardboard, draw a capital letter (Little Miss and I used alphabet stencils to keep things neat) and cut it out.
Then it’s over to the kids as they wrap and wind the wool around the shape of the letter. They can use one colour of wool, or you cut off and tie-in various different yarns (which is a fab way to use up any leftover strands of wool or ribbon!)
Once the letter is entirely covered, simply tuck the yarn in and tie a knot. Then make and tie a loop in the end of the wool and you’ve got a hangable decoration! These fun and fluffy gifts are perfect for your little person’s friends from school!
For the third gift for Christmas, Mummy Scrummie gave to me...
· A glass jar
· PVA glue
· A tealight
· Christmassy paper!
I promised you eco-friendly crafts and this is perhaps one of my favourites. It’s simple to do, and recycles some Christmas leftovers. Young children will need adult supervision handling the glass jar but again, this is an easy craft suitable for anyone nursery-aged and up.
Get hold of an old glass jar; think jam jar type size and shape; when we did this, Little Miss had a good rummage in our glass recycling box and picked “the best” of the lot: a washed-up baby food jar; that’s the sort of size and shape you’re looking for.
Get your little one to cover the jar in PVA (they’ll like that; it’s sticky!) and then they can stick on whatever Christmassy paper you’ve got lying around; it doesn’t have to be fancy decoupage paper; here we’ve used last year’s paper chains, but wrapping paper, tissue paper, bits of old magazine etc all work perfectly too.
Once they’ve covered the surface of the glass, tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar. Give the outside of the jar a good coating with watered-down PVA glue and leave to dry whilst you try and remember where you keep the tealights or jump in the car and drive to IKEA.
If you have a particular aversion to tealights (or IKEA) then fill the jar with something else: sweets are a failsafe if it’s a gift for a child (or a sleep-deprived parent!); but you could use anything: Little Miss has filled a jar for her friend with his favourite sensory play base: Christmassy chickpeas!
Last, but most certainly not least, I have the sweetest (literally) Christmas crafty gift I could think of. This one is for older children, teens and grownups!
Orange Peel Decorations
· An orange, (any peelable citrus fruit will do, I’ve used a satsuma here, but any orange-type fruit will do; the bigger the better, really.)
· A Christmassy cookie cutter
· A needle and thread
Peel your orange, as you do so, trying to keep it, as much as possible, in one piece.
Take your cookie cutter and press into the peel. Repeat this any many times as you can with the peel you have; or do what I did, and eat as many oranges as you can, in order to accrue a decent stash of peel, before you start to feel ill!
Once you’ve done that, take your needle and thread some string through the peel cut-out and: Voila! You have a gorgeous smelling decoration ready to brighten up someone’s Christmas tree. Alternatively, tie them onto a wreath or a garland; or use them as an eco-friendly gift-tag on your wrapped up pressies!
As always, I love hearing from my blog readers, so let me know which of my four festive fancies is your favourite? Both my two love making salt-dough, but for me, my little satsuma stars are just too cute to pass up!
Until next week!