According to a survey by Pew Research, nearly 96% of Americans say they plan to give homemade gifts over the holiday season, like baked goods and crafts. That’s good news for any parents out there who need ideas to keep their little ones entertained this season – or any other time of year.
Preschoolers go nuts for making a huge and colorful mess, especially if it involves glue and glitter. Put them to work and let them create crafts and decorations for your home to bring the season to life. And remember that nothing melts grandparents’ hearts like the Picasso-worthy creations your own kids make. So turn those crafts into meaningful, frugal, and fun Christmas gifts.
1. Hand Print Artwork
Tiny hands and paint can turn just about anything into a work of art. Happy Hooligans has a genius suggestion to create crafts that grown-ups will actually use. Painted hands turn an everyday apron into a reminder of the joys of grandkids. You can also create a garden motif with tiny hand prints as flowers on a picture, apron, or T-shirt and call it a day.
Do you have more than one child desperate to coat their hands in gooey paint? Remember to add each child’s name and date the hand prints as a visual growth chart reminder for years to come.
2. Snow Globes
A sweet little snow globe isn’t that difficult to make, and can bring cheer to the holiday season. HGTV has an inspired tutorial that requires things you most likely have around the house, along with a few specialty items, like candy coating and nonpareils. The idea is to create your own holiday backdrop filled with holiday trees. Just glue your creations to the lid of a mason jar and insert into your globe. You can also use glitter, water and a little glycerin to turn it into a snow globe shaker.
Bonus points if you want to go really nuts and include photos of the kids or random objects that remind your loved ones of how wonderfully weird your children are. You know, like those kids who take great joy in removing doll heads from the bodies and repurposing them into alien visitors.
3. Homemade Holiday Scrapbook
Some kids are so hyper-focused on crafting, that the idea of doing holiday-themed artwork just gets lost in the mountain of scraps. Soon your whole house more closely resembles a glitter and construction paper explosion than a happy, crafty home.
Take all of those crafts that your kids can’t possibly consider throwing in the recycling bin and turn them into a memorable holiday scrapbook. Add some favorite photos that your kids took themselves, like the one of their baby brother dressed up as Santa.
Next, trim the bottoms off of brown lunch bags and add holes to the side. Weave a snowflake or winter-themed ribbon through the holes and instantly turn it into a book. From there, your kids can start gluing in their existing year’s worth of crafts and adding stickers, buttons, and decorated tape to jazz up their memories. If all else fails, just add more glitter glue. After all, a preschooler’s life is fueled almost entirely by multi-colored glitter glue.
4. Button Christmas Tree Ornament
Until you became a parent, you probably had no idea how many craft buttons or how much felt existed in the world. Turn those supplies into handmade holiday ornaments for your own home, or for friends and family. Use a free printable, or hand draw a holiday stencil that your kids can work from. Preschoolers intent on wielding their own safety scissors at the expense of your nerves can cut out their own trees or shapes.
Once everything is cut out and the tears over taking away your child’s scissors have dried, use a hole punch at the top to tie a ribbon in. From there, your kids can go to town with glue and buttons. By now, buttons have taken over your home, so try storing them in those leftover baby food jars to keep them organized. Use extra ribbon as a garland, or yet again, get out the inexplicably necessary glitter glue and turn it into a sparkling ornament.
5. Egg Carton Christmas Tree
By now you probably know egg cartons are the pinnacle of crafting. There’s always something you can make with this once-regarded-as-trash staple, from bird houses to Shopkin toy holders. Repurpose those old egg cartons into your own mini holiday trees or snowmen. Cut and hot glue the cups from the egg cartons together accordingly. We probably don’t need to tell you to bring out the glue gun while your child is at preschool, lest you be subjected to the dictator’s demands to let them do it themselves.
Next, use acrylic paints or markers as a base for your holiday motif. Fuzzy and colorful pom poms, buttons, and glittery stars pull it all together into a delightfully messy craft that should keep your kids busy for at least an hour.
6. Matchbook Crafts
Those empty matchbooks littering your drawers and supply cabinets make for cute crafts and adorable holiday treat holders. Get creative and wrap your matchbooks with colored papers, stickers, and of course, crafting buttons, ribbons, and even printed photos.
Kids will love the adorable little gift packages they can make themselves, and may get inspired to make even tinier gifts to go inside. One idea is to make tiny animals out of colored clay, let them dry, and tuck them inside of your matchbooks-turned-gift-boxes. You can also include small pieces of parent-approved candy, or stickers.
7. Goody Bags
We get it. Some kids may become unhinged by the tiny space of matchbook gift boxes and hyperventilate at the thought of not adding bigger and better gifts. Fortunately, we’ve got a backup.
Create simple-yet-festive holiday goody bags. Use paper lunch bags, or tap into your Super Mom alter ego and sew together leftover felt. Decorate with Santa and ornament motifs, spare ribbon, and anything else you have on hand to jazz up these little bags.
The sky’s the limit for what you want to tuck inside your kids’ goody bag creations. Make homemade cookies and turn them into sweet little gifts for Santa. Or include some of your kids’ favorite coloring book pictures and ship off to grandma and grandpa as a twist on the traditional holiday gift card.
8. Pinecone Christmas Trees
If you’re like us, your home is littered with crafting scraps and pine cones. Despite having a “keep pine cones outside” rule, they somehow migrate into your home as can’t-bear-to-part-with treasures. Give in and turn those pinecones into holiday Christmas trees that will bring a smile to any Grinch.
Paint the pinecones or sprinkle them with glitter glue and add pom poms or puffy stickers. The idea is simple. Just cram anything you can onto these plentiful pine cones to turn them into something resembling a tree from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
9. Fingerprint Artwork
Messy fingers are the hallmark of preschoolers. So why not just embrace it? Create a holiday light motif by drawing a black strand of lights on a piece of paper. Then outline the cheery, colorful light bulbs and let your kids start filling them in with freshly-painted fingers. The messier the better with this craft. Want to try something easier? Crafty Morning suggests a super-simple but fun craft of dotting paper with red and white and making it into the shape of a candy cane.
Repurpose this idea and do the same thing to create ornaments on a hand-drawn Christmas tree. Tiny fingers dipped in red, blue, and green make fun ornaments on this work of art. You can also use fingerpaints on circle cut-outs and glue them on mason jar lids to create real ornaments that can be tied to the tree.
10. Pipe Cleaner Wreaths
This list wouldn’t be complete without pipe cleaners fashioned into some kind of holiday decoration. Ambitious parents can opt for green pipe cleaners shaped into Christmas trees, but the rest of us will stick to round ornaments and wreaths.
Once you’ve made a circle, twist the pipe cleaners together and add pom poms or buttons to dress up these little holiday creations. Add some red or green ribbon to turn them into hanging ornaments, or twist the ribbon around the pipe cleaner to make it look like a real wreath. And because pipe cleaners seem to only come in quantities of 1,000 or more, you’ll have plenty of supplies to decorate your entire tree.
What are your favorite holiday crafts to make with your preschooler? And which ones drive you crazy? Let us know by leaving a comment below: