Crafts For Kids

By Chandra Orr

October 7, 2011 7 min read

Keep young ones entertained during the holiday season with quick, easy and fun crafts -- no special supplies needed. Just stock up on basics like construction paper, white glue and paint, add a few kitchen castoffs from the recycle bin, and let their imaginations run wild.

"Engaging kids with hands-on projects during the holiday season gives them a sense of personal achievement," says Heather Wray, founder of, a resource for child-friendly projects and entertainment. "Plus, crafts help keep kids occupied while you're trying to complete that long holiday to-do list -- and happy kids equals happy parents."

Transform empty tissue boxes into a charming holiday snow village with a bit of paint and a big helping of glitter. Or brighten up the dinner table with one-of-a-kind napkin holders made from empty paper towel tubes and construction paper Christmas trees. Just give them a few fun supplies, let their creativity unfold, and you'll be amazed at what kids come up with.

"Set up the supplies, show the children the craft you're making, and let them be as independent as possible," Wray says. "It's so tempting to interfere, but when kids are creating artwork, it's best to keep quiet and let them take control. Remember that art is subjective and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Imagine if someone told Picasso he wasn't painting the 'right way.'"

Stock up on staples, such as construction paper, markers, white glue, scissors, washable paint and brushes. To keep them interested, add fun items, such as felt squares, ribbon, craft foam, pipe cleaners, google-eyes and glitter -- don't forget the glitter!

"Once you have these basics, you can add some recycled materials from around the house and create just about anything," Wray says.

Discarded kitchen items like straws, Popsicle sticks, small boxes -- empty cardboard oatmeal canisters are always a favorite -- and small food jars are sure to stimulate the imagination. Offer help if your child asks, but otherwise stand back.

"Kids like to combine different textures and colors, and if you let them choose their own materials you will be pleasantly surprised at the artist you have helped to create," says Sharon Pierce McCullough, founder of, featuring games, crafts and educational projects for children, and co-author of "Parenting Without a Paddle: Navigating the Waters of Parenthood."

"Kids get a real sense of accomplishment when they make something that is displayed in the home during the holidays. They also learn the value of handmade crafts," McCullough says. "In these economic times, it is an important lesson to teach children that they don't have to run out and buy things. They can help create their own holiday atmosphere and give a much more valued gift than anything they can buy."

Need a few ideas to get started? Try these quick, easy and inexpensive projects. Chances are you have the supplies on hand already.

*Marshmallow Reindeer

What you need:

--Large marshmallows

--Small stick pretzels

--Red licorice strings

--Cloves or gummy candies

How to assemble:

Assemble reindeer bodies by sliding a pretzel stick through two marshmallows. Add 4 pretzels for legs. Fold a 1-inch piece of licorice string in half, and insert into a third marshmallow to form the nose. Add half a pretzel stick for each antler and cloves or gummy candies for eyes and tail. Attach the head to the body using half a pretzel stick. Tie a piece of licorice around the neck for decoration.


*Snowflake Window Clings

What you need:

--Gallon-size zip-close bag

--Permanent marker

--White glue

--Fine glitter

How to assemble:

Using the permanent marker, draw or trace large snowflakes (about 4 inches in diameter) on the zip-close bag. Trace snowflakes with thick lines of glue. The glue will shrink as it dries, so for sturdy clings don't skimp on the glue. Sprinkle glue with glitter. Let dry 18 to 24 hours until the glue hardens. Peel snowflakes from the plastic bag, and shake off excess glitter. They will cling to windows or mirrors. If needed, lightly rub the back of each snowflake with water for better clinging power.


*Glittery Clay Ornaments

What you need:

--1 cup salt

--2 cups flour

--1 cup water

--Food color


How to assemble:

Mix ingredients, including food color and glitter, to the consistency of pizza dough. Use clay to make mini sculptures, snowman or ornaments. Clay can be rolled out flat and cut with cookie cutters or hand-formed. Leave out to air dry or bake in the oven at 250 F until hard. Once clay sets, decorate with paint, if desired. Store unused clay in a sealed plastic container in refrigerator.


*Chocolate Mice

What you need:

--Chocolate cherry cordials

--Hershey Kisses

--Almond slices

--Chocolate chips

--Candy sprinkles

How to assemble:

Melt about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in a small glass bowl. To avoid burning, microwave chocolate chips in 30-second increments on low power (50 percent power) until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth and completely melted.

Put a fair amount of melted chocolate on the top side of the cherry cordial, which will be the mouse body. Place an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss on the melted chocolate, flat side down, to form the mouse head. Hold in place for a few seconds until firm. Slide two almond slivers into the melted chocolate to form ears. Use a small amount of melted chocolate to adhere candy sprinkles for eyes and a nose.


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