Items Needed* Clay that can be baked (color optional; amount depends on the size of the hand) - note alternate materials below
* Baking pan
* Tin foil
* Clay knife or similar utensil
* Rolling pin for clay
* Depending on your child's age, an additional adult can be helpful
* Ribbon if you want it to be an ornament
* Access to an oven
It's not terribly expensive to buy a hand print ornament kit (the average price is $10), but you can do it for a fraction of the cost on your own, especially if you want to make more than one. In addition to making a hand print ornament as a gift for the grandparents (great for your baby's first Christmas) you can make your own hand print keepsakes inexpensively as your child grows.
Knead the clay and then roll it out onto your pan. I've done this several times so I actually have an old baking pan I use specifically for baking clay items. If you don't have a pan like that, then line it with tin foil and place your clay to be baked on top of that.
Roll the clay out to about 1/4 inch thick or so. You can make it a little thicker if in doubt. Roll out enough to have space around your child's hand. Sometimes if you flip it over the underside is smoother looking. Then have your child place - or help them place - their hand roughly in the center of the clay and push down. If the child is 3 or younger, you'll want to try and hold their hand down for a few seconds and gently push each digit into the clay just to be sure you get a full impression (of course your child's age, squirm factor and general attitude will play a large part). Then try to pull your child's hand straight out (note some younger kids will instinctively curl their fingers so pulling the hand back quickly helps avoid this).
If you don't like the impression, pull it off the pan, roll it into a ball and re-roll it for another try. If you do like it, then cut away any excess clay with the knife to make it a circular or oval shape. You can also use a clay tool or even a push pin to carve your child's name and/or the year. Also use the knife or clay tool to cut a small hole in the top for your ribbon later.
Cook it in your oven to the temp and time frame recommended on the clay package. Once it's cooled, tie your ribbon.
For an extra creative boost, wrap your gift in hand print paper.
Other tips and ideas:
* If you want to have keepsakes of your child's growth, buy the air-dry or baking clay in different colors and you can do their hand and foot prints at different milestones - 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year and so on. At the two-year mark, I did my daughter's hand impression for that milestone, 2 1/2 and 3 years and then switched to paint hand prints as they're easier to store.
* If you use the air-dry or baking clay in colors instead of plain white, then buy at least two packs per color. I liked using a different color for each milestone (ie blue for 3 months, then green for 6 months) and as your child grows, you will need at least 2 packets (if that's how you buy the clay) for one hand or foot. You can buy white in a big box but be sure to put the excess in a zip lock bag or it could dry out before you're ready to use it again.
* You can get a shadow box to display the prints or just keep them in a nice decorative box. You can also mount them on a wall or place on a decorative shelf.
Cookie cutters for creative designs
* Cookie cutters (can use one or several)
* Paint (variety of colors optional)
* Tray or paper plate for each color
This craft was initially done by my 4-year-old daughter for Veteran's Day through the Middlesex Recreation's Pre-K Art Program. At that time, they used red and blue paint and stars but I thought this could easily be adapted for Christmas or as a general craft.
The image of the stars was done on green paper and we used green and red acrylic paint. I poured the paint into separate plates and she dipped the cookie cutter star into the paint and then applied it on the page.
She did a few different ones, experimenting with different shapes and overall designs. For the last piece, she dipped the cookie cutter into one paint color and then the next and then a third paint color before applying it to the paper. The effect was kind of neat.
Personally, I think the star and tree shapes worked the best, especially when she tried overlapping them but it's really whatever your child enjoys.
This can be a fairly quick and easy craft for you child to enjoy the holidays or for any occasion (depending on your choice of cookie cutters) and can even be a gift or stocking for Mommy or Daddy or grandparents.
Below you'll see two more options. On the left we used a white background and my daughter chose a tree cookie cutter in red and green. On the right is a green paper background and she used multiple shapes and mixed the colors. The angel and snowman look "thicker." She actually meant to do that; she placed the shape on the paper and held it there and then gently pushed it along the paper about a centimeter to create a kind of shadow effect. Sometimes it looked cool and other times it looked like a mistake. An older child might have more patience
Creative Gift Wrap
* Paint - as many colors as you want
* Brown or white craft paper (large or on a roll)
* Paper plate or tin
* Cheap sponges (optional but recommended)
I read about this idea of using a child's hand prints to make unique wrapping paper years ago and finally got around to trying it with my 4-year-old daughter. Depending on how busy your holidays will be and how far behind you are - and how patient you and your child are - you might want to try this for a few key gifts or attempt it for another occasion.
But we were brave and had some time, so my daughter and I tried it. I took a big roll of the craft paper and rolled it out onto the kitchen floor. You can do Christmas colors if you want but my daughter loves pink and purple so that's what we did.
I took pink paint and poured it into a paper plate and then took a cheap sponge and dipped it into the paint and wiped off the excess. Then my daughter placed her hand on the wet sponge before placing it on the paper. You can have your child dip their hand directly into the paint but I find that this means more paint on the hands and potentially sloppier prints.
She did pink all around the paper with one hand and then we washed her hand. Then I poured purple paint onto another plate and used another sponge. Then my daughter used her other hand and repeated the process.
I don't know whether it was the type of paint (the pink was tempera and the purple was acrylic) or she got lazier over time but I thought the pink hand prints came out better. If it was the paint, then you might want to try tempera.
This is a messy craft, but fun. Also, find a place you can easily clean whether it's putting a tarp down or using a linoleum floor like ours. I also recommend you and your child wear old clothes or depending on the child's age, have them wear only a diaper or underwear to minimize clothes clean up.
You also can do foot prints as a change of pace and if you have multiple children this is a neat way to showcase the different sizes.
I think this is a creative and unique way to wrap gifts, especially for grandparents, which is how we plan to use the paper. And they can even save some of the paper if they want.
If your child is really young and you want to do this, I'd recommend taking one hand print impression (and an ink pad might be better) and scanning it into your computer. Then just copy and paste it in a word document and print. This method would work best with smaller gifts.
* Two pieces of construction or copy paper of different colors. One should be brown. The other, for the background, can be any color
* Paint - brown was used here but any color is fine
* One small pom pom
* Craft glue .
* Paper plate or tray (sponge optional)
* Googly eyes
* Black marker
* A pencil
This gift was made by my preschooler at the Middlesex Recreation Department's Pre-K art class for the Christmas holiday and I think this would make a great keepsake gift for the grandparents or other relatives. You could probably do this with an older toddler but it could take a few tries to get the hands right.
Take your brown piece of paper and have your child place his foot on it and use your pencil to trace around it. Cut out the traced foot (an older child can do this; otherwise the parent should).
Glue the foot tracing to the background paper. Put paint on your paper plate or tray. You can have your child place their hand directly into the paint or use the sponge, which I think is easier. You can use the sponge one of two ways: dip the sponge into the paint, wiping off the excess, and have your child firmly press their hand into the sponge or use the sponge to wipe the paint onto their hands. Once the paint is on their hands, help them place each hand on the paper to make the antlers. I strongly recommend you do one hand at a time.
You can do the facial features before the antlers so your last step is clean up, but I think the hand placement could determine where the eyes, etc go so I chose to do it first. If you do the hands first, you'll want to take a minute to clean their hands and then glue the eyes and the nose.
Depending on the age of the child, they can draw eyelashes and a smile or the parent can do it. Sign your artist's name (or they can do it) and you have a wonderful crafty holiday gift.
* Brown paper lunch bag
* Brown construction paper
* A medium pom pom
* Googly eyes
* Pen or pencil
* Craft Glue
Optional: Oatmeal, glitter and plastic sandwich bag for "reindeer food"
A very easy holiday craft to do with your child and it can also be a keepsake or gift bag.
Cut the open end of the lunch bag so that it is rounded.
Use your pen or pencil to trace your child's hands on the construction paper and then cut them out. Glue the hands to your bag to make the antlers. Then glue the eyes and the nose. You can choose any color pom pom for the nose; my daughter chose pink because it's her favorite color.
You can use the bag as a special gift bag, perhaps for your child to give to a friend or family member.
As an option, you and your child can make the reindeer food by mixing oatmeal and glitter together in a sandwich bag and then keep it in your reindeer bag until Christmas Eve. Then sprinkle the reindeer food on your lawn on Christmas Eve night.
* Construction paper - at least two different colors
* Scissors or paper cutter
* Tape or Glue stick
* Pen & ruler (optional)
This is a fairly easy craft to do with your child of almost any age and an inexpensive way to count the days until Christmas.
If you have a paper cutter, the adult can cut the construction paper into strips. If you don't, then you can use a pen and ruler to draw lines to create the strips that need to be cut. Or you can simply cut the paper into strips by "eye-balling" it.
The strips we made were roughly a half inch wide and about 3 inches or so long. We chose red and green for Christmas but you can use other colors or add another color.
Once the strips are cut, your child loops one together to make a ring and then use glue or tape to hold it together. Then take a strip of the other color and make a ring and attach it to the first ring. Keep going until you get to 25.
We hung our chain from a doorknob but you can hang it over the fireplace, from your Christmas tree or whatever place you choose.
On December 1, your child just tears off the first ring and each day they do this until the final ring on Christmas Day. It's such a simple thing but my 4-year-old daughter has been so excited to take the ring off each day.
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Sandra K. Lee is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom with a 8-year-old princess & a 4-year-old superhero in Middlesex County, New Jersey.