Holidays

Helen is the creator of Curly Birds, a blog devoted to crafts for children and the art of play. The blog and small line of children’s play accessories are aptly named for her curly-haired twin girls.

Chalk Board Gingerbread People

Create a new family tradition: The whole family will enjoy a new tradition of decorating their own chalkboard gingerbread person to hang on the tree. At the end of the holiday season, wipe these little folks clean and they are ready for the next year. How fun is that?!

Materials:

  • Wooden gingerbread-shaped ornaments (available at craft stores)
  • Tinted chalk board paint (available at hardware stores)
  • Brush
  • Chalk
  • Glue
  • Twine or Ribbon

 Instructions:

  1. Paint wooden shapes – it may take up to 3 coats – and let dry
  2. Glue twine to the back of the ornament
  3. Decorate with chalk

Make an entire village of gingerbread people as they make wonderful stocking stuffers, tree ornaments and gift tags.

Happy Holidays – I hope your holiday is filled with family fun!

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website
Cate Anevski is an artist, illustrator, and all-around maker living in less-than-sunny Portland, OR, who recently took up the task of converting the rest of the world into crafters, one tutorial at a time. Constantly working and creating, Cate shares her work at her blog and in her Etsy shop, and she provides tutorials, patterns and other general nonsense in a side project, Bee’s Knees Activities.
Felt House Ornament
When family lives far away, it can be hard to feel truly at home during the holidays. This little handmade ornament can help bring a little slice of home to you, wherever you may roam.
Materials:
  • Felt in 3 different colors
  • Embroidery floss in 3 different colors
  • Stuffing
  • Tools:
  • Needle
  • Water soluble marker (optional)
  • Pattern pieces PDF here
Instructions:
  • Step 1. Cut out pattern pieces from felt.
  • Step 2. Pin roof piece to house piece with a 1/2″ overlap. Stitch in place with 3 strands of embroidery floss using the running stitch following the scallop shape of the roof. Repeat for both roof and house pieces.
  • Step 3. Sew door to front of house with three strands of embroidery floss using blanket stitch.
  • Step 4. Embroider window details on front of house with two strands of embroidery floss using the backstitch. You can draw guidelines on the felt with a water soluble marker, or you can freehand the lines.
  • Step 5. Sew front and back house pieces wrong sides together with three strands of embroidery floss using blanket stitch. Leave an opening of about 2″ with a long tail of thread to sew it shut.
  • Step 6. Stuff your ornament as much or as little as you like. Stitch shut the opening you left in the last step using the long tail of thread.
  • Step 7. Thread a 4″ piece of embroidery floss through the point of the roof and tie in a knot.

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Chris is a web designer and stay at home Dad of two preschool children. He is the publisher of Themeaparty.com, a site filled with birthday party and entertaining tips, including craft activities for children. Chris lives in the middle of the Prairies in Winnipeg, Canada, and no, he doesn’t play hockey. However, he loves his Tim Horton’s coffee and can whip up a fun party with some string, two paper clips, some stickers and a slice of pizza!

These snowflake patterns would be great to use on lots of different sorts of projects too…

Felt Christmas Stocking Tutorial

Hello, everybody. I’m just getting into fabric crafts, mainly because my eldest daughter, who is in kindergarten, brought home a cute felt candy cane she had made at her winter wonderland party, and asked if we could make something else. As we had just put up the Christmas tree, my wife and I thought of creating something special for the holidays that she can showcase. Christmas Stockings! After all, they delight kids of all ages with the surprises they hold inside.

This craft is certain to please, even before it’s filled with Christmas goodies. Though it’ll be too advanced for younger children (such as ours), we let her trace the stocking and the snowflake tracings. For her own stocking, we let her doodle on the fabric with glitter glue before sewing it together.

Materials:

  • Red felt (12″ X 16″)
  • Green felt, or other contrasting color (12″ X 3″)
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Carbon paper
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Seed beads and bugle beads (white, silver, gold)
  • 12″ piece of ribbon

Two templates to download and print:

Instructions:

  1. Print out the template for the stocking and cut around the lines. You will have two pieces: the main part of the stocking and the top brim.
  2. Pin the pieces of paper onto a double layer of felt (use the red felt for the main part and the green felt for the brim).
  3. With sharp scissors, cut around the paper template. You will have two red stockings and two green brims.
  4. Print out the snowflake patterns and choose which ones you wish to embroider on your stocking. You can choose to make just one snowflake, or you can change the size of your snowflakes.
  5. Using carbon paper, trace the snowflakes onto the felt.
  6. Secure the thread on the reverse side of the felt. Bring the needle to the front, and thread the number of beads you need, to create each small line of your snowflake. Bring the needle to the back and then, bring it back to the front at the point where your next small line is. Continue this way until you have decorated your Christmas Stocking.
  7. Glue the green brim to the red stocking (both front and back).
  8. If you intend to fill your stocking, then it is best to sew the two pieces together either by hand or using a sewing machine. If you plan to use it just to decorate, you can just glue the front and back together around the edges.
  9. Make a loop with the ribbon and attach it to the top of the stocking where you wish to hang it from.

You’re done! Our daughter decorated a bunch of them her own 5-year old way, so we’re thinking of making several of these in minature as a cute garland for our fireplace.

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The holidays are almost here – school is out soon – and we go camping for a few days on our way to spend Christmas with my brother and his family.

We got into the Christmas spirit early this year because we were having so much fun putting together the Celebration issue of Action Pack - we created a silvery christmas tree and decorated it with handmade baubles. We also made a nature wreath, did some pavlova taste testing and have been baking ginger snaps as gifts (the recipes and tutorials for these projects appear in the Action Pack along with 20 other projects – it’s a whopper! find out more here).

Getting into all of these projects really kick started our summer of fun (yes it’s summer here) and my son is obsessed with making wire ornaments, while my daughter is hell bent on using up all my embroidery floss to make friendship bands for everyone.

  • This past weekend as well as baking up a storm by making more ginger snaps, I also made Pfeffernüsse for the first time – and they were delicious – I used Martha’s recipe (pictured above).
  • I moved around some furniture and did a bit of spring clean in the mud room and the children’s reading space – I have a big box of things to donate to charity – and I will be adding more coming up to Christmas – its a great time for a clean out – getting ready to start the next year fresh and organised.
  • I read slow love* (a book about finding yourself – I liked it – thoughtful and meditative – this memoir is about a woman who finds solace in her creativity – gardening and cooking and writing after a busy career ends).
  • I made a few lists – we did a flow chart – so we feel more organised and less chaotic – and can plan and prepare towards our goals.
  • I researched more bauble and decoration tutorials – because the kids are so into it that we need to make something new next weekend.
  • We harvested half of the garlic.
  • I spent some time on etsy.
  • Enjoying How to dress for success** – some of the fashion advice from when this book was first published in the 60s is surprisingly still valid today (other advice is so out of date that it provides a really good chuckle)
  • We went to a party - drank a bit of jungle punch and danced to some golden oldies.
  • The boy kicked it at futsal.
  • I refashioned some clothing for the kiddos, bought some new duds at the op-shop (thrift store) and cleared out my closet of the dust gathering garments.
  • Thats about it really – what did you get up to?
Now here are some of those ornaments tutorials I have been researching … get making!
More holiday crafting

*slow love by Dominique Browning (published by Plume 2011) was sent to me by the publisher – the link to Amazon is an affiliate link.

**How to dress for success by Edith head, (was originally published in 1967, this reprint is published by Abrams 2011) was provided by Allen and Unwin Australia. Links are Amazon affiliate links.

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This week has been pretty hectic – with self-imposed deadlines and kids end of year school events. I started some holiday gift baking this weekend – what about you? Any recipe recommendations? Presents for neighbours, teachers and friends – a foodie gift is perfect and the end of the year is really sneaking up!

FOODIE GIFTS IN A JAR: 
Cookies in a jar || Candied Ginger || Lavender salt || Herbs de provence (pictured – top right) || Lavender sugar || Soup in a jar || Honey and nuts  (pictured – top centre)||

SAVOURY GIFTS:
Beetroot relish || Tomato paste || Bacon jam || Spice rub || Christmas butter ||

COOKIE GIFTS:
Polish cookies (pictured – below centre) || Wholemeal cookies || Shortbread  || Cranberry orange shortbread

SWEET TREAT GIFTS:
Raw truffles || Swirly peppermint bark || Caramels (pictured – below right) || Date and rum bonbons || Chocolate salami || Fudge in a jar ||

TRADITIONAL CAKES:
Alsatian cake: Kugelhopf(pictured top left – I am making this – this weekend) || Kerala plum cake || Stollen || Panforte || Honey cake || Panettone || Christmas london cake || Date and cinnamon tart (pictured bottom left)

KIDDO FOOD GIFTS (to make and eat) :: Give your kids the gift of food
Stained glass window cookies || Pancake mix in a jar || Popcorn || Lollypops || Coconut marshmallows || Cranberry pistachio chocolate bark || Hot chocolate stir sticks || Nutella ||

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