If you are looking for easy craft activities to do with your children of any age, that can take a flexible amount of time keeping them busy for as long as you like (potentially all the way up to Christmas!), as well as being wonderful bonding time for all the family, look no further! These crafts will also make wonderful presents for friends and family and will be beautiful Christmas decorations for your house! All these activities are also low waste and eco-friendly – enjoy ☺
This year, we got our first Christmas tree – as we felt we finally have enough space to squeeze a tree in. We bought a fake one, as real ones are so beautiful but I don’t think we’d be able to pot it and have it survive on our city balcony, so we will miss out on the smell but thought it wasn’t worth the waste. This is to say that having a tree but never having had one before, we have to ‘produce’ as many different decorations for it as possible. We decided to embark on a Decorations project, making lots of them for friends and family too.
Here are three different craft activities that you can do to make gorgeous Christmas decorations with your little helpers!
Dried Oranges –A classic that always lives!
What you will need:
5 oranges, cloves, red ribbon, rope, scissors, knife and chopping board, oven
- On a chopping board, slice the oranges as thinly as possible (3 mm thick slices are ideal). Let your children help you place the slices on an oven mat and then bake at 200C for one hour (or more depending on thickness). Make sure to turn them halfway through.
- When the oranges are dry, set them to cool. Then you and the little ones can decorate them with cloves, as they like. You can add cloves to the skin area or to the centre.
- With scissors, make a small hole at the top of each orange pulp. Now, you can make orange garlands adding many orange slices to a red ribbon, or single orange hangers. You can use rope for a more natural and neutral look. I have an orange circle hanging from each handle in the house, from my wardrobe, to the bedside table and doors! Dry oranges and cloves smell amazing and they will add a Christmassy atmosphere to the whole house! I love arranging orange garlands around our Christmas tree.
Natural playdough ornaments
This is a longer activity, that can really create a variety of ornaments for your tree depending on whether you decide to colour the ornaments, if you make incisions on them and how long you cook them for. I will explain a few variants as we go along and recommend you mix and match to make as many types of decorations as you like!
What you will need:
4 cups of flour, 1 cup of fine salt, 1.5 cup of warm water, cookie cutters, rolling pin, oven mats, oven, protective coat spray
Optional: food colouring, cloves, acrylic paint, glitter
- Mix flour, salt and water in a bowl and then use your hands to knead the dough – children will very happily help you! If you like the decorations to be of a specific colour base rather than white, you can add a few drops of food colouring in the dough. You can also make different coloured doughs for a rainbow tree!
- Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough on a table/kitchen top. The ideal thickness is about 4/5mm and certainly not more than 1cm. Grab as many cookie cutters as you like, cut the shapes and remove the excess dough.
- With a straw, cut a circle close to the top of your Christmas decorations – this is where you will later insert a ribbon and hang your decoration from! Now you can decorate the shapes using a fork poking tiny holes on their surfaces, or using any other utensil you can think of. Straws are also a great tool to make larger circles. We usually decorate this way only half of the shapes and leave the other half smooth, as those will also look cute ☺ If you like, you can add cloves to the shapes, perhaps creating snowman’s eyes, or gingerbread men’s buttons!
- Place your decorations on baking mats – you can help yourself with a spatula – and place them in the oven at 150C for one hour. You can leave them for longer if you want them to get browner (cookie colour, although you have to remind your little ones that they are not edible!).
- Let cool and then if you like your decorations natural in colour, you only need to add ribbons to their holes, otherwise it’s time to select the ones to colour! We usually pick the ones that already look perfect and set them aside as they do not need colouring. If you have some that look less symmetrical, I recommend colouring them. You can use any kind of paint – we used acrylic. Put the decorations on newspapers so that paint doesn’t spread on your table or all over your house! I love making fading shades, as they look particularly cute on star or circle shapes. If your kids love glitter, this is the time to add that on wet paint too. Let dry overnight and then spray with the protective coat spray (do it outdoors or with your windows open as it has a strong smell and is not good to breathe) and let dry.
- Now your decorations are ready and you can add ribbons to their holes and hang them to your tree. I love choosing different kinds of ribbons – reusing old ones and mixing and matching. If you like, you can use a sharpie to write the year at the back, it’s lovely for family and friends to bring out your gifted decorations the following years and remember the age of your children when they made them! My parents still have decorations made more than 20 years ago when I was a child!
For non-edible (sigh!) amazing smelling Christmas decorations, follow this guide ☺ No need to colour them once dried as their brown shade is absolutely lovely. Only downfall is you’ll have to check the little ones don’t try to eat them as these are very close to cookies in looks!
What you will need:
1 cup of applesauce (not sweetened), 1.5 cup of cinnamon, 2 tbs craft glue, 0.5/1 cup of flour
- Mix apple sauce, cinnamon and glue in a bowl to form a ball. Add flour until the dough is compact and is easy to knead.
- Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough on a table/kitchen top. The ideal thickness is about 4/5mm and certainly not more than 1cm. Grab as many cookie cutters as you like, cut the shapes and remove the excess dough. Be patient, and remould the excess dough into a ball and repeat the process until you have used up all your dough.
- With a straw, cut a circle close to the top of your Christmas decorations – this is where you will later insert a ribbon and hang your decoration from! Now you can decorate the shapes using a fork poking tiny holes on their surfaces, or using any other utensil you can think of. Straws are also a great tool to make larger circles. We usually decorate this way only half of the shapes and leave the other half smooth, as those will also look cute ☺ If you like, you can add cloves to the shapes, perhaps creating snowman’s eyes, or gingerbread biscuits’ buttons!
- Bake at 100C for 2 hours – make sure you stay home because the kitchen will be smelling amazing then!
- Let cool and add ribbons as before.
NB: you can sprinkle some flour on the decorations before baking them to make them look like snow kissed. Even once dried, flour will spread around a bit if you touch the ornament a lot, but otherwise, hang them on your tree and they will look like snowed under cookies!
Now that your decorations are ready, we want to see your creations! Use the #CocoRioCrafts hashtag to show us your creations and don’t forget to tag us in your pictures! You might get lucky and win an hour of free creative childcare!
Presents ready to be wrapped and sent to friends and family.
Corinna, Co-Founder @ CocoRio