Friday, December 23, 2011

Kids' Crafts for the Christmas Dinner Table

 I have a few fun, easy, and inexpensive craft ideas to share for the last minutes before Christmas (as if you have extra time to waste!).

We had a slight Christmas storage malfunction (the boxes containing the tree ornaments were misplaced), so last week I made a trip to the Dollar Tree to buy a few packages of colored balls (plastic ones, safe for Boo), a few packages of plastic (but cute) candy canes to hang, some tinsel, and some bows. 

While perusing the aisles, I had the thought that since my napkin rings had been misplaced, too, maybe I could make some using these inexpensive materials. 

Here's what we came up with...

Buy a package of 12 shower rings, some tinsel, some hooks, and some bows. Our store had gold, red, green, and silver tinsel. We decided to use the gold for making ornaments and the red for the napkin rings.

Wrap the tinsel around the open shower ring, making sure you catch the starting end under the wrapping to secure it. I left the tinsel on the cardboard it was wrapped around instead of trying to figure out how long of a piece I needed (so I had to leave the ring open to put the tinsel through the gap...if you cut your tinsel, you could pull it through the closed ring every time).

If you have smaller kids who are participating, you might want to take the time to do a trial ring, unwrap it, then cut pieces of tinsel for each one. Ladybug helped me make the rings and once I started them off, she had no trouble finishing them (she is 8 yo). All I had to do was to fasten the ring at the end, then she wrapped a tail end around the remaining white space, and added the bow (when we were making them into wreath ornaments).

Here is an example of a gold wreath ornament. We added a hook by wrapping the large hook end around the wreath body. The kids loved adding these to the tree, and we may make extras to give away after Christmas dinner (like party favors, right?). They take a maximum of ten minutes each to make, so you can make quite a few while singing along to a Christmas cd or watching a favorite Christmas movie.

Here is an example of how the napkin rings turned out. They are easy and fun, and look kind of cute with our colorful napkins and quilt-top table cloth (we added the leaves to our table and none of the table cloths fit, so I used a quilt top instead). 

It's not really very fancy, but fun and homey. I like it that way, and the kids are having a blast contributing to the decor this year (instead of mom doing it all herself...I like that, too, even if I keep finding candy canes hanging from my chandelier and Santa upside down in the tissue box!).

Notice that some of the candy canes that are supposed to be on the tree migrated to the chandelier. Santa tried to fit down the chimney of the tissue box Great-Grandpa made, but he appears to be having some trouble. 

You can see an example of our second craft idea in the picture above (the one with the napkin ring)'s the place mat. 

I made these mats years ago using card stock, self-laminating sheets from Sam's Club, and old Christmas cards and wrapping paper. The kids LOVE them, they are easy to wipe up, they look festive, and are fun to make.

Each child has his or her favorite place mat. Getting these mats out always makes us feel like Christmas is on its way. I am glad they were inside the one box of Christmas stuff we found in the attic (where it was all supposed to be...hmmm, I think I need to start keeping a notebook to remind myself where stuff gets put around here).

The reverse sides are all the same. I chose a wrapping paper that coordinated with my dining room colors at the time. I figured that for regular meals, we could use the fun greeting card-side, and for nicer meals, we'd use the matching fancy paper-sides.

Over the years I have collected more cards from various sources (thanks Mom!), as well as gotten some pretty Christmas wrapping paper on sale (after Christmas) just for the purposes of making more mats for our table (when I made the others, our maximum number was five, now it is eight, not including guests).

If you'd like to try doing this for your Christmas table (it would keep the kids busy today or Christmas Eve while you cook), gather the following items:
  1. card stock
  2. old Christmas cards (or falling apart Christmas books, if you can stand to cut them could also use coloring pages, or do collages from magazine articles with holiday pictures, or use your own printed photos from past Christmases...the possibilities are endless).
  3. Christmas wrapping paper (all I could find for the picture was green, but my son found the pretty gold angel paper I've been saving later, so that is what we will ultimately use on the back of our new mats).
  4. Glue sticks (or scrapbooking glue dots would be great)
  5. Scissors
  6. Self-laminating sheets (a laminator or contact paper will also work, but I find that the self-laminating sheets are easier to use and they are a bit stiffer, so they seem more sturdy in the long run...mine are about eight years old and still look like new).

Once you have gathered the materials, sort your cards into groupings by color, subject, or whatever other designations you feel blend well together. In the picture above you will see that I have found cards with snowmen and manger scenes to use to make two mats (or maybe even three, since there are so many snowmen). 

You should also pay attention to the sayings inside the cards. These can be good additions to the pictures. My kids love reading "The Carol of the Birds" on their favorite bird mat (see above). I particularly like the mat with the names of Jesus on it. I actually bought those cards to use that year with this idea in mind!

Next, start laying out your ideas on the paper. This one's theme is obviously "the manger scene" or the birth of Christ. I started gathering cards on this topic because I loved the stained glass window card. I thought the painting was gorgeous, too.

After playing around a bit, I added some background behind the stained glass window to tie it into the quote in the upper left corner. The background comes from a secular holiday card we received...I didn't find anything I wanted to save about the message, but I liked the pretty pattern. You could also use scrapbooking supplies (fancy paper, stickers, sayings, etc.) to jazz yours up.

To finish off this project, you would securely glue your pictures onto the card stock (I use glue stick as white glue can dry funny and takes too long, but you could also use scrapbooking glue tape/dots or something else crafty that works for you). Then you would cut a piece of wrapping paper, slightly smaller than the card stock, and glue it to the back.

If you are using laminating sheets, please follow the instructions carefully to avoid mis-placements or bubbles. The thing about the laminating sheets is that if you mis-place your paper, it will NOT come unstuck, so be careful. If you are using one of the other methods, well, I assume the same precautions apply, but you will have to figure it out on your own! Sorry.

I set the finished mat (the layout is finished, but it is not yet assembled completely) next to the back of one of the old mats, so you could get an idea of what the finished product would look like on both sides. I will finish these later today using that pretty wrapping paper I saved for the reverse side. I have plans to do an additional six mats, so we will have a total of twelve, for when we entertain guests during the holiday season.

This project goes quickly once you sort your cards and choose which sayings and greetings you want to use. If each child/adult did one placemat (their own??), it could be an easy project to finish in an hour. But if you make more for a larger group, or as gifts, well, I guess it can take as long as mom needs it to!

Remember to save your cards from this year, so you can do this next year, if you decide to pass on trying it out now. Just make sure you remember where you put them, so you won't wind up like me and be missing half your Christmas stuff (it's only the Christmas cds I miss...we only have one WOW Christmas collection and Michael Buble's Christmas cd, so we've had the 24 hour Christmas music radio on, but it plays more secular than classic Christian carols, which I prefer).

I hope you are having a blessed Christmas season and making many sweet memories with the ones you love, always remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season...don't forget to keep the CHRIST in Christmas.

(If you haven't seen Christmas With a Capital C yet, you might enjoy watching that movie while you do this craft. It is available for instant download on Netflix right now.)



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