Looking to unleash your crafty side this winter? These inexpensive holiday projects require minimal time, money, or effort—just a little creativity. And best of all, they’re easy enough that even your youngest (or clumsiest) family members can join in on the fun.
A No-Sew Fleece Blanket
Not patient enough to teach the entire clan how to quilt? Start small, and have them help you make a simple, no-sew holiday blanket from fleece. Buy two pieces of fleece, two yards each (the more colorful and/or crazy, the better!), along with a pair of fabric scissors. Lay the fleece pieces together, wrong-sides touching, on a solid surface, and trim the ends until they’re roughly the same size. Then, use a ruler to measure and cut a 6-inch square from each corner of the fleece. You’re not done with the scissors quite yet: Use them to cut 6-inch slits at 1-inch intervals around all sides of both pieces of fabric. Then, knot the fringes together to make a cozy, double-layered coverlet.
A Hand-Decorated Christmas Stocking
Instead of buying a ready-made Christmas stocking, consider customizing your own. Most big box craft stores sell blank, oversize stockings during the holiday season. Amateur crafters can adorn them with glitter glue, puff paint, and stencils, and experienced ones can add appliques, sequins, and embroidery.
This Christmas craft is a throwback to Colonial times. Early America didn’t have Christmas trees that they decorated with tinsel and baubles. Instead, those that observed the holiday likely festooned their homes with greenery. They did, however make pomander balls—a spicy decoration that made the entire room smell good. To make your own, simply pierce a small piece of fruit—like an apple, a lemon or orange—with cloves until its surface is completely covered, and let it dry. Tie a ribbon around the finished product, and hang it from a mantel or tree.
An Unexpected Garland
This year, skip the evergreen branches, and fashion a garland using unexpected source materials. Using thread and a needle, string cranberries and popcorn together, or try hanging old light bulbs, pieces of bunched-up fabric, decorative paper, crocheted decorations, or dried fruits. The options are endless.
Gingerbread Mug Toppers
If your culinary crew makes building an entire gingerbread house look as ambitious as constructing a full-sized house, skip the complicated pastry architecture and mold tiny houses, candy canes, or other shapes from the dough. Perch them (or hang them) from the rim of a mug of hot chocolate or cider, and once they’re soggy, eat the tiny treats.
A Customized Calendar
Kick 2017 off the right way with a customized calendar. Some stores sell ones that come with a blank top page, allowing you to provide the image. (If you can’t find one, it should be fairly easy to find a printable version for free online.) Budding artists can practice their finger painting skills, Picassos-in-the-making can provide detailed drawings, and if there’s a shutterbug in the family, they can blow up their favorite photos and make them the calendar’s main images.
Expecting holiday guests? Welcome them with a festive, hand-designed door wreath. Most Christmas tree vendors sell plain wreaths made from evergreen, and if you’re looking for something a little less maintenance, craft stores typically sell faux ones. Glue on the requisite ornaments, tinsel, and bows, but don’t shy away from adding more creative details, too. (Think seashells from a beach vacation, tiny toys or figurines, or even wooden dreidels to make it Hanukkah-inspired.)
Even the most reluctant crafter can’t complain if the end result is edible. Whip up a batch of sugar cookie dough—or simply roll out a tube of ready-made mix—and cut it into festive shapes using cookie cutters. (If you don’t have any on hand, you can make stencils from cardboard, parchment, or paper, and trim around them with a small knife or pizza cutter.) Once the cookies have cooled, decorate them with frosting (peanut butter or cream cheese works in a pinch) and sprinkles, chocolate chips, and other tasty toppings.
Cozy Scented Candles
You don’t need to be an aromatherapist to make cozy scented candles.
Simply take a clean glass container (a mason jar works well), and place a pre-waxed candlewick inside. Then, pour candle wax flakes inside a heatproof measuring cup, and place the wax-filled cup inside a medium-heated saucepan, half-filled with water. Stir the wax with a metal spoon until it’s fully melted. Take the cup off the stove, and add essential oil and bits of crayon wax to the mix for added color and scent. Pour the mixture inside the prepared glass jar, wait for it to harden, and voila—an instant light source.
A Wooden Block Menorah
Raid your toy box for old wooden blocks, and paint them. Once they’re dry, glue them together to form tall columns, and use screws and a screwdriver to affix a tiny “candleholder”— an ingeniously repurposed pastry tip—atop each one. (Get full directions here.)
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a winter wonderland. If your local climate is more suited for swimming than skiing, you can still make it snow inside by cutting paper snowflakes. Here’s a quick how-to: Fold a square piece of paper in half diagonally, forming a triangle. Then, fold the triangle in half again, making an even smaller one. Fold this triangle into thirds, and cut across the bottom of the paper, lopping off the pointed edges. Cut designs into the folded papers, unfold it, and you’re left with a lacy piece of paper that looks just like the precipitation you wish would fall outside.
*Want more holiday craft fun? Check out this easy DIY Stencil Tote!*
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Originally published December 2016.