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Kids at Play - Christmas G Part 2

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

G is for 


Gingerbread House


Actually, I don't do real gingerbread houses - instead I have always made mine using graham crackers. I found the instructions for this type of Christmas holiday house many years ago I believe in Family Circle magazine and made quite a few for my little girl and her friends over the years. Now it's all over the internet, but you have to look hard to find one that is really easy, peasy to make.




Some, like Stephanie Lynn over at stephanielynn.com use hot glue to hold the structure together. And, like me, Stephanie uses ice cream wafer cones for 'trees'. But you and I know that kids are gonna eat these little houses, so forget about the hot glue gun and make the whole thing edible. I make a version of what's called royal icing for the 'glue' and also for the snow.


If there are older kids in your household, have them help you assemble the wee houses and, of course, let the little ones do the decorating. Decorating the ice cream wafer trees is easy enough for a two-year old. Just be sure that you have enough candy goodies on hand, as I am sure some will mysteriously disappear.


Royal Icing - My Version


I combine icing sugar and enough lemon juice to thicken the sugar into a nice paste and then add a quarter teaspoon or so of tartar which hardens the icing. It hardens up very quickly so if the batch gets too thick, add a little water. Use this also to create the snow on the roof and on the 'trees'.


Kelly Moore supplies complete step by step instructions (with great photos) and recipes here.


Kids at Play - Christmas G

Posted on November 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

G is for 


Ah, one of my favourite letters and I've found a ton of stuff that start with this letter. Please note that I post only what I like (okay, I hope you'll like them, too), so if you find something missing, have a wander around the web - you're sure to find plenty. Meanwhile, these I have posted are all kid-friendly but remember that they always need adult supervision. Let's start.


Garlands (Orange Peel)




I love this idea - you get to eat the orange or drink the juice and then, instead of tossing the orange peel into the compost, upcycle it into a pretty and aromatic garland. The above photo is from luluto and gives instructions in Bulgarian. But don't let that stop you, it's a lovely blog, so take a wander.



If you need instructions in English, another Bulgarian blog, Spice and Roses gives you easy ones to follow to make a citrus garland as a tabletop ornament. Another lovely site worth a visit or two. Find the how-tos here.


Gifts


I know, I know - there are tons of stuff on the internet claiming to be kid-friendly and inexpensive. If find that most of them are great but for me it's all about how nice it turns out. Both the following gift ideas are easy enough for the smallest kiddie to help make and have fun, too.


DIY Sparkle Pencils



These sparkle pencils from Rachel at Love from Ginger would be a great gift for a favourite teacher. I found I had a couple of old greeting cards that had stick-on gems decorations, so I just peeled these off and will use them for my own version of these pencils (if and when I get around to it, ha!). By the way, Rachel is full of nifty Christmas holiday ideas for both you and the kids, so take a little time to look through her gallery. Find the instructions for the pencils here.


Bath Salt Bombs



Kids like nothing better than getting their hands into something squishy. These bath salt bombs are perfect for this. So why not have your kids whip up these as Christmas holiday gifts for almost anyone - grannie, mom, sister, aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbours, etc. You can vary the herbs, using what you have on hand or what you can pick up at the grocery store. The project is from Red Ted Art, yet another great site for craft ideas for kids and not for just the holidays. The bath salt bomb instructions are here.


Gingerbread Men (Edible)



Christmas without gingerbread is like winter without snow - possible but nowhere near as much fun. Here's the best recipe I have found and every easy to make. Kids can help whip up the batch and, once baked, decorate away. For the recipe from Aussie chef extraordinaire Donna Hay, search for Donna Hay Gingerbread Men Garland recipe (for some reason I can't provide a direct click to her site).


Gingerbread (Play Dough - Do NOT Eat)


Play dough gingerbread men will last forever (I know because I still have a few even I made as a kid) and make the house smell great while you make them (not as much fun to eat, though). I looked for a site that could provide a no-cook play dough recipe that only required a few ingredients and was lucky enough to find it over at Growing a Jeweled Rose. For this fun no-cook play dough recipe, click here.


Snow Globes (Edible)


There’s something magical about snow globes and they're surprisingly easy to make. But how about one you can actually eat? The kids will love this one. 




How to do it:


If, unlike me, you know how to bake (and enjoy doing it), you could make an edible snow globe cake in a ramekin. There's a great recipe for both the base and the cookie on top over at La Receta de la Felicidad. It's a gorgeous Spanish site (but with English recipes). Even if you are not a foodie, you'll spend hours here. The recipe for baked snow globes is here.


How to do it - My Version:


The edible snow globe photo above is my version. Because I am neither a cook nor a baker, I look for easy ways to get the same effect. Instead of baking, I bought cupcakes at my favourite bakery to make my edible snow globe and then add shredded coconut for the 'snow'. I topped the cupcake with a tiny marzipan evergreen tree but you could also use a holiday cookie (your own or store-bought) and then plop the whole thing into a small ramekin. Then I recycled a small clear plastic bubble flower vase to serve as the globe. You can use any small jar that will fit over the ramekin or a stemless wine glass (you can get these at wine stores or department stores like Target). What could be easier?


More Christmas G tomorrow.

Kids at Play - Christmas F

Posted on November 13, 2014 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

F is for


Feathered Frends


Baby it's cold outside and our feathered friends need a little help keeping warm. Serve them up some flavoured treats that will keep them warm, if not snug. But be sure that you use a little common sense. I once made a peanut wreath and used boiled sugar to attach the peanuts into a wreath shape. The birds and even the squirrels weren't able to get any of the nuts because these were 'cemented' into place. I also don't get those frozen rings of ice containing berries and nuts. Birds may have sharp beaks but I think they'd need a chisel to get at those berries.


Here are a few bird friendly treat ideas.


Bird Seed Ornaments




Hmm - I think you may want to add a wooden skewer through an ornament like this to ensure the birds have somewhere to land to enjoy their feast. Kids will enjoy making these as they envolve a lot of hands-on squishing.


The instructions for these ornaments are here and also here.


Popcorn Wreath



Paul Lowe over at his Sweet Paul blog has this nice little popcorn wreath that's easy to make. You can hang this wreath where birds can enjoy it. If you can, place it somewhere near a window so you and the kids can enjoy birdwatching while they munch away. Be sure that you make extra popcorn for the kids to munch on when making this wreath. The how-tos are here.


Cranberry Hearts




No instructions but I think you could figure it out. Just thread a thin wire through cranberries and form into a heart. 


Faux Fireplace




No this one has nothing to do with birds but look, every kid knows that Santa needs a chimney attached to a fireplace to come down. If you don't have one, chalk this one up and hang it up. Santa is sure to appear. This one was designed by Brian Patrick Flynn for HGTV and instructions can be found here.

Kids at Play - Christmas E

Posted on November 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

E is for


Elves



Now that you've got your kids' creative craft corner set up, let them at it. They'll spend hours (hopefully) away their electronic gadgets and come up with tons of stuff for Christmas holiday decorations and treats! Though these projects like all the others I have posted are easy, an adult must be present on hand to help out with cutting, etc.


Here are a few ideas to start off with:


Construction Paper Wreath



Faux Tree in a Cup



No instructions but easy enough to figure out.


Paper Lanterns



Note that these lamps use battery-powered tea lights.


Holiday Garland




Envelopes


If the kids have been busy making Christmas holiday cards, they're going to need envelopes. These are easy enough to make using magazine pages, gift wrap, junk mail. comics, pages of old books.


Kids at Play - Christmas D

Posted on November 7, 2014 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

At the time I thought it was a good idea but I didn't realize how much of my time would be taken up with finding just the right idea or project to post in this Christmas holiday roundup. Ha! You realize, of course, that what I post is what caught my eye and I think is just great. You can find your own if you don't like what you see here - believe me, it takes work!!


D is for


DIY Upcycling/Recycling Craft Box




I wish I had thought of posting this idea first but it's not to late and just fits (barely) under the D category. I found it over at the Modern Parent Messy Kid (MPMK) site and its a great idea. It goes back to advice that Dr Phil gives folks who want to lose weight. Dr. Phil? What's he got to do with kids and creativity? Just stay with me here.



According to Dr. Phil, if you want to lose weight, one of the things you need to do is to create an environment that makes it easier to do just that. You put your running shoes by the door, get rid of all your junk food, stock your fridge and cupboards with healthy alternatives and this makes losing weight feasible.


So if you want your kids to be more creative and maybe learn a little about recycling/upcycling, create an environment that nurtures this. Create a work space just for the kids - one that stores all the items they'll need to create and accessible enough so that they can easily start creating without having to ask you where to find what they need. Somewhere close to where you work around the house because kids love to work near their parents. When my daughter was small, my husband built a work desk and small cabinet for her to work alongside him in his study. He stocked the cabinet with paper, pencils, crayons, etc. so when he was working, she could work along with him. Everything she needed was handy for her and, best of all, she could spend time with Dad.


For hints on how to set up a creative workstation for your kids, visit MPMK here. 


Drum




One of our most favourite songs at Christmas songs is the Little Drummer Boy. So this year I will be making my litle guy a small drum that he can play to his favourite music. The ladies over at A Beautiful Mess have a lovely little drum you and the kids can make together and bang away at your heart's content.


Click here for the instructions.


Dogs



I am not a fan of dressing up your dog except for booties during the winter when the streets are salt-ridden. Imagine walking on that in your bare feet! However, I don't have any problem with doggie toys or doggie treats. For a doggie biscuit treat that's nutritious and easy to make, go here.


Decorations


For decorations, you'll have to wait until O is for Ornaments. I'm too pooped to continue.


Ciao!

Kids at Play - Christmas C - Part 2

Posted on November 5, 2014 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (0)

More for the letter C (as in Christmas). Hope you enjoy!


C is for 


Cookies



Christmas without cookies – well, it just wouldn’t be Christmas and sugar cookies are our favourites. What kid wouldn’t love to create their own versions of the perfect Christmas cookie. And listen, if you’re, like me, not so great at making up batches of cookie dough, why not cheat a little and get some ready-made cookie dough from the grocery store.


You can choose from sugar to chocolate chip.  The dough is all set to roll and cut and decorate. You don't need to do anything to it. Kids can decorate the cookies with sprinkles, frosting, even paint them with food colouring. The important thing is you all will have fun with no hassle.


For how to use this dough creatively, click here and here.


C is for Chocolate



Remember looking forward to getting that Pot of Gold box of chocolates? I still look forward to it. If you want the kids to make their own chocolates treats, it's not hard if you plan ahead and have all the ingredients ready. Here's an easy recipe from Tea for Six.




Older kids might want to make something a bit more sophisticated - perhaps as gifts for family, friends, or teachers. You'll find a delectable recipe for chocolate dipping spoons from Instructables here. 


And, of course, don't forget those hot chocolate drinks. Our lady Martha has a great peppermint chocolate drink recipe here.


{Christmas Holiday Greeting} Cards




Because I can’t draw worth a bean, I’ve never felt I could create a card from scratch so I make them by using pictures out of magazines and junk mail. Kids, however, have no such inhibitions. So just hand them some construction paper, old greeting cards, buttons, ribbons, crayons, and tin foil, stickers, bits of gift wrap, etc. and let them get on with it.


The blog, Artful Kids, has oodles of ideas to get started, if a bit of a push is needed. Click here.


{Paper} Chains



Paper chains are easy, fun and very decorative. All you need is some attractive paper (anything will do from book pages, old gift wrap, magazine pages, newspaper comics, ribbons), scissors and glue. It will keep the kiddies busy all afternoon, leaving you time to finish wrapping up those presents.


To make a paper chain like the one shown above (these are from a kit over at notonthehighstreet.com), cut 1-1/2-inch-wide paper or ribbon into 6-inch lengths. Bring the ends of a strip together to form a circle and secure with glue stick or double-sided tape. Insert a strip of paper through the first circle and glue or tape the ends together. Continue until the chain reaches a desired length.


Crackers




Last but not least, what's Christmas without crackers. If you've been disappointed by the cost and the contents of store-bought crackers, you'll be delighted to know that you and the kids can make your own using whatever you've got on hand. Follow Tan's instructions over at her blog, Squirrelly Minds, to see how easy it really is! For how-to, click here.



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