Christmas Is Coming, So Get Started Now
By Nancy Cavanaugh

It is a perfect time to get started on making presents and crafts for the upcoming Christmas season, as well as a great time to save on supplies as many craft stores have "Christmas in July" sales. To help you get your holiday crafting off to a wonderful start, here are five projects that you can do with your family.

Cookie Cutter Ornaments

What you need:
Cookie cutters (about 2" big)
Wax paper
Rolling pin
Baking sheet
Air-dry clay
1/4" Ribbon
Markers or paint

What to do:
1) Place a sheet of wax paper on the surface where you're going to work.

2) Divide the clay into small portions, then place on the wax paper. Use the rolling pin to flatten the clay until it is about a 1/2" thick.

3) Press the cookie cutters straight down into the clay, pulling the extra clay away before removing the cookie cutter.

4) Set the ornament on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Use a toothpick to put a hole at the top of the ornament so you can tie a ribbon to it later; you may want to leave the toothpick in place to assure that the hole will stay. Allow to dry according to the directions on the package.

5) When the clay is completely dry, you can decorate and personalize it with markers or paint. Allow the markers or paint to dry completely.

6) Thread a 6" piece of ribbon through the hole and tie with a knot at the end.


Decoupage Vases

What you need:
Colored tissue paper
Small glass vase
Decoupage glue
Paper cup
Wax paper

What to do:
1) Cover your work surface with wax paper, then pour the decoupage glue into a paper cup.

2) Cut the tissue paper into shapes about 1" big; you can use any shape you like to achieve the design you want.

3) Cover the area of the vase you want to work on with the glue. Place a piece of tissue paper on the vase. Continue like this until the vase has been covered. Allow to completely dry.

4) Cover the tissue paper with a thin coat of the decoupage glue to seal and protect the tissue paper. Allow to dry completely.

Coffee Filter Angels

What you need:
2 Coffee filters
Tacky glue
Felt or fun foam -- yellow and flesh-colored
Yarn (for hair)

What to do:
1) Take one coffee filter and fold it in half. This will be the angel's wings.

2) Take the other coffee filter, fold it in half, then into thirds with the sides overlapping in the back. Glue the sides to the middle portion near the top. This will be the angel's body.

3) Glue the angel's body to the wings, with the straight edge of the wings at the top and the round edge of the body at the bottom.

4) Cut out a circle from the flesh-colored felt or fun foam. Cut the yarn for the hair and glue it around the face. Make a face on it using markers. Glue the face on the body, covering the tip.

5) Cut out a halo from the yellow felt or fun foam and glue it to the back of the angel's head to one side.

"Hand"some Reindeer

What you need:
Brown construction paper (you can also use craft foam or felt)
Tan construction paper (you can also use craft foam or felt)
White paper or wiggle eyes
Black or red construction paper or a black or red pom-pom
Glue or tape
Crayon or marker

What to do:
1) Trace two hands on the tan construction paper, these are the antlers. Trace one foot (with a shoe on) on the brown construction paper, this is the head.

2) Cut out the shapes, then place the two hand shaped antlers at the top of the deer's head, gluing or taping into place.

3) Turn the project over to the back and write the child's name and the date.

4) Draw and cut out eyes (or use wiggle eyes) and a nose (or use a pom-pom for the nose).

5) Glue on the eyes and nose.

Snow Globe

What you need:
Baby food jars (medium or large jars)
Florist clay
Small figurine
White glitter or fake snow
Hot glue gun or aquarium sealing glue (to be used by an adult)
Garland of plastic greenery
Ribbon or paint

What to do:
1) Make sure jar is washed and clean. Note: Any jar will do if you desire a larger snow globe.

2) Attach figurine to inside of jar lid using florist clay. If you are using a small object, it's a good idea to build up the clay so the object will appear taller. Attach any optional items with the clay (greenery, berries, etc.). Use your imagination, but make sure it is waterproof and won't dissolve.

3) Fill jar with water to within 1/2" (1 cm) of top. Use cold water as warm water tends to cloud. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon (25 ml) of glitter or fake snow into water. Insert figurine in water and screw on lid.

4) Let stand overnight with the lid side up. Use glue/sealer to ensure it is waterproof, then attach decorative ribbon over lid. You may also paint the lid rather than use ribbon.

Make sure the objects are secure in the clay; you could even glue them in for added security.

Before gluing or sealing the lid, make sure you have a sufficient amount of glitter. Depending on the size of the jar, you may need more or less.

To make a more elaborate snow globe: add tiny objects to float in the water; use a drop of colored oil to create a swirling effect; use food coloring in the water, various colored glitter, etc. The snow globe can be altered in any way to be a one-of-a-kind gift.

Nancy Cavanaugh, is a stay-at-home mom and avid crafter. You can find lots more fun crafts for kids, ages three to seven, at her site: Kids Holiday Crafts

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