Sentimental Favorites

By Chandra Orr

September 17, 2010 5 min read

Every mom has a small stash hidden among the shiny bulbs and strings of lights. And every year, the kids create more. Tinfoil stars, construction paper chains, reindeer made from clothespins, ornaments carefully woven from pipe cleaners and pompoms -- why bury those one-of-a-kind creations in the tree?

Show off your child's handmade holiday decorations so everyone can admire them. Your friends and family will relish the opportunity to see these thoughtful creations, and your kids will appreciate the extra attention from admirers.

Add magnetized frames to paintings and drawings hung on the refrigerator. Drape paper chains over doorways and mirrors. Display handcrafted ornaments on inexpensive stocking hangers. Nestle those tinfoil tree-toppers in a strand of garland on the mantel.

The key is to show off the artwork with prominence and purpose.

*Hang It Up

"Throughout my varied experiences, I have had to be very creative during the holiday season with both the making of crafts and the displaying of them," says former teacher and mother Erin Kurt, author of "Juggling Family Life: A Step-By-Step Guide to Stress-Free Parenting." "My favorite idea is to have varying-sized frames hanging on a wall and change the pictures biweekly."

Think of the wall of frames as a private art gallery, and pick a new theme each week. Show off a collection of Santa drawings, or group paper snowflakes with winter wonderland paintings for a cohesive look.

*Top the Table

"Artwork is perfect as place mats or a table runner," says organizing expert Jamie Novak, author of "Stop Throwing Money Away: Turn Clutter to Cash, Trash to Treasure -- And Save the Planet While You're at It!" "A single piece can be covered in plastic and used as a place mat, or a few can be taped together and used as a runner to make the table festive."

Larger paintings and drawings work well, as do collages of smaller pieces. Mount odd-shaped artwork on oversize red and green construction paper; add a few hand-clipped snowflakes; and have the assemblage laminated at the local copy shop.

In lieu of fancy floral arrangements or candles, construct a tablescape of paper garland and one-of-a-kind kids ornaments displayed on decorative stands, or transform that three-dimensional artwork into a hanging mosaic of miniature masterpieces. Small drawings, lightweight ornaments and tiny handicrafts take center stage when hung from above.

"Hang them off the chandelier at varying lengths," Kurt says. "This looks very festive and makes the crafts a true part of the holiday celebration, since most traditions involve sitting around the table."

*Make a Book

Show off your child's handiwork in a special holiday scrapbook that you add to each year -- and don't limit it to artwork alone. Include other holiday-themed school projects -- such as handwritten stories, poems and worksheets. Have your child create a cover and title page, and then bind the pages into a keepsake booklet.

"Punch a hole in the corner of the pieces, and use a shower curtain ring, binder circle or piece of ribbon to make a booklet," Novak says. "Hang it on the front door to be admired as guests arrive."

Even if your children are grown, these one-of-a-kind books make quite a statement. Imagine the surprise when your teen returns from college or your adult children fly in for the holidays and their now-vintage creations are perfectly preserved in a handcrafted tome. It's a great way to conjure a bit of nostalgia and build on family traditions.

*Go Digital

Mark Simon, father of twin 10-year-old boys with an artistic streak, goes high-tech with his sons' holiday creations.

"We put their art on USB drives and play the slide show on our TV and in digital picture frames," he says. "I also make photo DVDs and play them through the boys' TV so they can always see a rotating collection of their work."

Converting the kids' artwork to digital does double duty; parents can easily show off the complete collection while preserving it for the future. Plus, it's a great way to share the artwork with far-off friends and family. Digital files can be uploaded to Web-based photo albums, sent on CDs or transformed into glossy hardcover coffee table books on websites such as Snapfish.

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