Now that my babies are toddlers I thought it would be a lot of fun to have them help decorate the Christmas tree. We set up their own tree and had a wonderful time getting them involved and creating family traditions. The first thing we made was a pipe cleaner candy cane. You can find any color of pipe cleaner you want at a local craft store and simply shape them into candy canes.
Next, it was time to make some garland. I bought a few bags of cranberries and popcorn from the grocery store. It is best to have big popcorn kernels for stringing. You will want to air pop the popcorn without any butter or salt. I also got large, blunt-needle work needles that would be safer to use around the triplets. We learned very quickly that kids enjoyed eating the popcorn way more than actually stringing it up. So I suggest that the popcorn garland might be better for children that are at least three years old. (I am sure they will enjoy eating the popcorn too, but you might have better luck getting more on the tree!)
A really cool looking alternative to the popcorn ended up being loosely shaped aluminum foil balls, strung up with the cranberries. You can make patterns or have fun with random placements. When you stand back to admire your tree it will glow.
Now it is time for the decorations! Since my three are only two years old, I wanted to find something that they would like and that I could have as a keepsake. I decided to have them make handprint ornaments. Here are things you will need for this more intense project. All items can be found at your local craft supply store.
1. Air dry clay - there are several different types on the market. I used Crayola®, which comes in a few colors and sizes of containers.
2. Paint that is safe for the kids, but will stay on the clay. Ask the people at the store if you have trouble finding what you need.
3. String, yarn, ribbon (whatever you would like to hang the ornament).
4. A pointed tool to write on the ornaments.
5. Paint brushes.
6. Rolling pen. Should this be a rolling pin?
7. If you want a shape, you can get something like a patterned cookie cutter or a large bowl.
8. Wax paper.
I did a little prep work before I got the kids involved, but if your kids are older they can help with this from start to finish. I made sure the table was covered with a plastic table cloth and put a large piece of wax paper at each of the kids’ seats. The amount of clay you need will depend on your shape, the size of your child's hand, and how much you want to decorate it.
1. The first thing you need to do is roll out your clay to the thickness that you want.
2. Use your cookie cutters or presses to make your design or cut. You could use beads to make designs or other items if you want.
3. If you are doing the hand print have your child spread their fingers and help them firmly press their hand into the clay. If you mess up, just knead the clay back together and roll it out again.
4. I wrote the kids’ names at the top of their hand prints and also created a hole for ribbon to go through to hang it on the tree.
5. Once you get done with one, set it aside. You can create as many ornaments as you like. We decided to create ones for grandma too. Since they have to dry, it is more fun for the kids to create several.
6. I let them dry overnight, and the next day had things set up to start painting them.
7. After setting up the table again and putting smocks on the kids, I pretty much let them go. If you have old egg cartons, those are great to use to hold the paint for the kids, and then they can be disposed of afterward.
8. Let the paint dry. If you want to spray a clear lacquer finish over them you can - there are sprays at the craft store. I just left the paint.
9. Hang your ornaments.
I hope you find creating some of these decorations fun! Have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season.