Kids Cooking & Crafts: Make, Bake & Take Holiday Gifts
Between family, friends, teachers and neighbors, the list of holiday gifts to buy seems to grow longer as the days grow shorter, and if you're like most parents, your little ones are right there and eager to help.
What better way to show your holiday helpers that the giving can be just as fun as the getting than by encouraging homemade gifts they can make themselves? Looking for holiday inspiration? Check out these fun and easy gift ideas, perfect for kids of different ages to craft and create themselves - with a little help from you.
Cookie and Cocoa Mixes
Preschoolers can scoop and measure ingredients into large mason jars. Let them count the number of chocolate chips or marshmallows and practice their tying skills with festive ribbons.
Supplies: Small mason jar(s), ribbon, dry ingredients for your favorite hot cocoa mix (see Hot Cocoa for Two recipe below) or cookie recipe (see Cranberry Christmas Cookie recipe below)
Directions: Layer ingredients one by one into a mason jar. Screw on the lid and tie a bow. Attach a recipe card or tag
with baking/cooking instructions.
Cranberry Christmas Cookies
* Measure the following into a large mason jar: ¾ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, dash of cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, 1½ cups old-fashioned oats, ¾ cups dried cranberries, ¾ cups chocolate chips.
* Attach a recipe card with the following instructions: Cream together ½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add Cranberry Cookie mix and blend until just combined. Drop in rounded tablespoons 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 13 minutes. Makes about 20 cookies.
Hot Cocoa for Two
* Measure the following into a small mason jar: 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, 10-16 mini marshmallows.
* Attach a tag with the following instructions: Wisk together hot cocoa mix and 2 cups of milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a low simmer. Serves 2.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Cookies
Chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate chips and M&Ms turn any cookie recipe into reindeer fit for Santa's team.
Supplies: favorite cookie dough, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate chips, red M&Ms
Directions: Form dough into rounded tablespoons, and place on a baking sheet. Press the dough gently to flatten it slightly. Bake cookies according to the recipe's instructions.
Remove cookies from the oven. While they're still warm (and before they've completely set), gently press two chocolate chips into the dough for the eyes, one red M&M for the nose and two chocolate-covered pretzels for the antlers. Place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Customized Refrigerator Magnets
Turn favorite photos, words and drawings into refrigerator art.
Supplies: cardstock, scissors, glue, Mod Podge, magnet tape, photos, crayons/markers/etc.
Directions: Glue photos to cardstock (or draw directly on cardstock) and cut out desired shape. Coat surface of drawing
and/or photo with Mod Podge. Let it dry completely.
Attach a small piece of magnet tape to the back of the drawing or photo (larger images will probably need a few pieces of magnet tape, one on each end).
For presentation points, package the magnets as a set in a fun box, tied with a festive bow.
AGES 8 AND OLDER
Kids can jazz up that morning cup of Joe using paint pens and their own creativity.
Supplies: Plain craft mug (available at craft stores), paint pens.
Directions: Wash and dry the craft mug. Once it's completely dry, draw on it using nontoxic paint pens. Let the paint dry for 24 hours, and then bake the mug according to the manufacturer's instructions.
This yuletide treat is a crowd favorite. Depending on your child's kitchen skills, an adult might need to melt the chocolate, but kids can spread the ingredients, add the toppings and break up the finished product. Best suited for ages 8 and older.
Supplies: 8 ounces dark chocolate, 8 ounces white chocolate, 2 teaspoons canola oil, 6-8 candy canes.
1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, and smooth out the wrinkles as much as possible.
2. Melt the dark chocolate with 1 teaspoon of the canola oil, either on the stove or in the microwave, and pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth it out in an even layer, and place the pan in the refrigerator until the dark chocolate has set, about 1 hour.
3. In the meantime, crush the candy canes. (For an easy method, place the candy canes in a large resealable bag, seal the bag, and then roll back and forth over the candy canes with a rolling pin until they've reached the desired consistency.)
4. Once the dark chocolate has hardened, melt the white chocolate with 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Spread the white chocolate over the dark chocolate, and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle on the crushed candy canes, and gently press them into the white chocolate. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for another hour, until the white chocolate has set.
5. Peel back the foil, and gently break apart the peppermint bark into pieces. Package the bark in parchment paper in a fun tin for gifting. (Note: The bark keeps best refrigerated in an airtight container.)
Tips for Crafting with Kids
Kids will love getting their hands in the mix; just remember to embrace the mess and enjoy the process. "No craft is perfect; that's why it's a craft," says Natasha Evans, customer service manager at Michaels Arts & Crafts in Durham. "It's important to let the child be a child and let them be creative in their own way. A lot of parents tend to want it to be perfect, but it's going to be perfect to the child, so just encourage them to have fun."
Evans says to think about the following when choosing a project.
Materials: Craft foam is ideal for small children because it's soft, easy to bend and won't break. For older kids, tissue paper is great for making collages. Kids can rip different colors of tissue paper into pieces, arrange them, and glue them on paper or ornaments.
Paint: Kids love to paint, and the medium works with nearly all age groups. Try finger-painting projects with young children, or let older kids get creative with more traditional brushes and paper.
Budget: Crafters don't have to be limited by a small budget. There are plenty of projects to make with items you likely already have at home. Kids love working with construction paper, dried beans and noodles, for example. Consider using items that you have many of and are also easy to replace.
DIY Coffee Cozy
This no-sew coffee sleeve is easy to make, fun to personalize and a great green option for eco-friendly givers and recipients.
Supplies: A clean sock, felt, scissors, fabric glue, buttons.
Directions: Measure 3 inches down from the top of the sock, and cut a straight line across. Add embellishments using felt pieces, buttons and fabric glue. Allow glue to dry completely before using the cozy.
Katrina Tauchen is a freelance writer, editor and Durham mom of a busy 1-year-old girl who is counting the days to Christmas by making handprint ornaments and far too many cookies. Read about her baking and crafting adventures at splashofsomething.com.