Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two Great Christmas Crafts for Kids

By Brandi M. Seals

Christmas crafts used to be a tradition in my house. As a child, my sister and I would cut out snowflakes, make dough ornaments, and do any other craft my mom could come up with. It was a great way to spend time together and share in a little Christmas cheer.

This year, get your kids involved in a Christmas craft. They are easy to do and tons of fun. Try one of these two crafts. Your kids will love them.

Make Snowflakes
Whether you live in a warm climate that rarely sees snow or you are accustomed to shoveling your car out from under 6 inches of snow ever other day, it can be nice to decorate your home with some homemade snowflakes.

To do this craft, you will need sheets of white paper, kid-friendly scissors, and some glitter.

It can take awhile to get the hang of making a snowflake that looks good. Start by folding the paper. For a circular flake, take an 8x11 sheet of paper and fold the top (narrow end) left corner so that it now touches the right side of the piece of paper. You will notice that it does not go all the way to the bottom of the sheet. Simply cut off the unfolded portion of the paper. You should now have an 8x8 square folded on a diagonal.

Starting along the long side of the paper (where the fold is) you will want to fold the edge over. You can fold over as much of the paper as you wish, just be sure that the top still forms a sharp point. Continue this over and over again until you are left with a very narrow triangle.

Now it is time to cut. Using the kid-friendly scissors, your child can cut out any shapes his heart desires. Cut from all sides of the triangle but make sure he does not inadvertently cut all the way across the narrow triangle.

Once he is content with the cuts, your child can unfold the paper and reveal the snowflake. Lay it out flat (if it tries to curl up try placing it under a heavy book or pan until it has been pressed open). Using glue, your child should outline the snowflake with a thin line of glue before sprinkling glitter over it.

The glitter snowflakes make wonderful window decorations. Place them wherever you like. Simply tape them to a surface or punch a hole in one end and string it up. You can have snowflakes floating above your head in any room.

Whip up some Christmas Cookie Ornaments
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup butter
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cream 1/2 cup of butter and brown sugar together.

Beat in egg and molasses

In a separate bowl combine 2 3/4 cup flour, soda and spices before adding it to the butter and sugar mix.

Blend until dough is well formed

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on floured workspace. Cut out shapes and using a toothpick, poke holes so that you can hang the cookies up after they are baked.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Reform holes if necessary at this time.

For Frosting: Cream 1/3 cup butter. Slowly add in 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Depending on the ages of your children, you may have to be in charge of baking. Just be sure to let them give you a helping hand measuring ingredients or getting them out of the cupboard. Once your cookies are done, let the little ones frost them as they please. Next, insert a string or yarn through the hole you made. Tie the ends of the yarn together. Now you have the perfect ornament that looks and smells delicious. But, don't let the kids eat them. They are merely for decoration. You will need to whip up a batch of cookies just to eat.

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