Gingerbread House Kit
All of the supplies are provided for you in one box. No need to dye the icing. Each color icing came in its own bag. Not much planning is needed. You can only use what is in the box. One low cost (usually between $10 and $20 per kit).
You are limited in how you can decorate your gingerbread house. The pieces are suppose to fit together, but often don't. The icing isn't as sticky and was a bit hard to work with.
Creating Your Own Gingerbread House
You can create your own design. You have unlimited candy for decorations at your disposal. You can make your house big or small
The cost is higher because you have to buy all of your pieces separately. It is more time consuming. You have to mix your own icing colors and gather your own supplies. It can be hard to cut the gingerbread pieces without breaking them.
After using both a kit and making my own gingerbread houses, I decided I prefer to make the houses from scratch even though it costs more and takes a bit more time. I am just curious. Which method do you guys and gals prefer?
Gather a basket of pinecones from your backyard. If you don't have any, try a nearby park. Our park has plenty of walking trails that are filled with pinecones.
Lay your pinecones out on a baking sheet. They are most likely still full of sap. The easiest way to dry up the sap is to set the pinecones in an oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. This is also a great way to open the pinecones up if they already closed up. Let the pinecones cool before continuing.
Next, you need to pick your scent. We grated fresh cinnamon sticks down so that we could give our pinecones a cinnamon vanilla odor. If you are using an essential oil to scent your pinecone, you'll need an eye dropper.
Finally, paint a little glue on your pinecone and sprinkle the spice over it. When the glue dries, the spice will stick to the pinecone. Administer any liquid scents with the eye dropper. We added about 3 drops of vanilla to each pinecone.
Now you can display your scented pinecones. You have the option of tying a string to the pinecones and hanging them as ornaments from your Christmas tree, placing them in a bowl as a centerpiece for your kitchen table, or simply setting them in the bathroom to keep the bathroom smelling pleasant.
Somehow the tradition evolved into the elf causing mischief at night when everyone in the home is sleeping. The elf may toilet paper the bathroom, remove all of the ornaments on the Christmas tree, or spill a box of cereal.
One of the things the girls and I like to do is take pictures of the elf doing funny things. You can actually use your elf along with crafts that you have made previously. Here's how:
Place your elf in the Tissue Box Choo Choo Train. The elf can be driving the train and you can put something in one of the trains cars. Perhaps the elf took all of the candy canes during the night, or your brother's collection of army men.
Set your elf up to hold your homemade Star Wars Lightsaber. You can put another stuffed animal opposite your elf to make it look like the elf has the stuffed animal cornered.
Create a little table with foods from Thanksgiving on it. Give your elf a spot at the table and then set up your Thanksgiving Pilgrim and Indian Puppets on either side of the elf.
Don't forget to take pictures of all of the adventures your elf has. This year I plan on creating a scrapbook of everything our elf does to show the kids the following year. It is a great way to make family memories and get a few laughs at the same time.
Juice a few fruits and vegetables. Use that juice to make a few flavored ice cubes. Place two ice cubes in your child's cup of water. The colors alone will attract children. As the ice melts, it also adds a bit of flavor to the water, making it more palatable.
Show your child a few different colors of food coloring. Ask her to pick out a color and then instruct her to add three drops to her glass of water. Give her time to mix the food coloring in the water. This alters the way your child sees the water. It is no longer plain and boring, but colorful and appealing. You can treat it like a little science project. Let your child see the more food coloring that is added, the darker the water becomes.
Give your child a plastic cup and allow her to decorate it. Let her know this is her special water cup. Most children are proud of the crafts they create, which makes them more likely to use the finished craft.
Cut a piece of fruit and use it to decorate the water glass. You can slice an orange wedge down the center, for example, and then place the slit over the edge of the glass. The same thing can be done with a strawberry, lemon wedge or a banana slice. This makes the glass of water a little more interesting to children, who are actually getting a small snack along with their water.
You can call Michaels to inquire about upcoming classes, or use their website. Simply head to Michaels homepage and click on the Store Events link. After viewing the list of classes, you can use the Store Locator link to find the Michaels that is closest to your home (if you don't already know). Remember that the website is updated regularly, so check back often. I visit it once per month to see if there is a class I want to attend.
Looking for craft classes for your kids? Michaels offers a club for kids. Classes are extremely cheap at $2. Just click on the Kids Store Events link to view all of the holiday crafts that are coming up. I let my kids view the list and if any of the crafts interest them, I put the event on my calendar.
Not interested in participating in a craft? That's okay too. Michaels regularly has free demonstrations in the store, such as cake decorating demonstrations. Not only can you learn by watching the experts, but the demonstrations may also get your creative juices flowing. I've gone to these demonstrations with one idea about what I wanted to do, and left with a few new ideas that I'd like to try.
Another plus that Michaels has to offer is free crafting help. If you plan on making gifts for your friends and family members this holiday season, but find yourself stuck, you can contact Michaels for free for help. You can call 1-800-MICHAELS or send an email to email@example.com.
My daughter and her friends recently started creating rubber band bracelets. I remember making friendship bracelets as a kid, so I thought it was very neat that they were doing this. The next thing I know, I spot supplies for creating these rubber band bracelets all over town.
What I learned is that you only need a few bags of different colored rubber bands and your fingers in order to make a simply rubber band bracelet. This is all my daughter has access to, but I think the simply bracelets look quite nice.
If you want to put your crafting skills to the test, you can make more complicated rubber band bracelets. This is done with the help of a loom. I found the loom at my local craft store and purchased it for my daughter for Christmas. If you have a tween living in your home, you might want to consider this type of present for Christmas. I think it will be a big hit!
Girls that already own the rubber band bracelet loom can use the loom to create bracelets for friends and family members. These can be wrapped up and given as gifts for Christmas. I always encourage my girls to make presents, rather than spend money. I want them to learn that heartfelt gifts mean more than spending a large amount of cash.
When you are ready to purchase supplies for your child to create their own rubber band bracelets, take some time to shop around. I found bags of rubber bands at the dollar store, as well as at a local beauty store. The beauty store was a little more costly than the dollar store, but much less than the craft store.
In addition to the rubber band bracelet supplies, I also purchased a plastic container with several different compartments for my daughter to store the rubber bands in. Finally, I got her an instruction booklet from my local Five Below store. This instruction booklet offers several techniques that can be accomplished with or without the rubber band bracelet loom.
For 10 days every October, American Craft Week encourages crafters to show off their American crafts. One way to get the public excited about crafting is through American Craft Week's yearly craft contest that is currently open to anyone with an artistic vision.
This year American Craft Week is looking for crafts that will promote their 5th birthday. As a result, they are seeking submissions of the number five. Artists can create the number five out of the following materials: wood, glass, fiber, metal or clay. The American Craft Week rules state you can leave your number five plain, or you can decorate it for further flair.
Once you create your masterpiece, you must take a high-resolution digital photo of it and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email you need to mention how you created the number five. You must also include the following information about yourself: your name, address, and email address. This information is necessary in the event that you become a finalist. The deadline for submissions is October 1st, so hurry up and get started on your number five prize winning creation.
The public will get a chance to vote on all of the submissions via Facebook. The submissions with the highest number of votes will be considered the semi-finalists. The ACW Marketing Committee will choose the winner from the list of semi-finalists.
American Craft Week will award the winner with $500. The lucky winner will also see his creation displayed in American Craft Week's promotional materials for its 5th birthday celebration, which will take place in 2014.
I am really excited to see how creative America is. I know I have a swarm of ideas for this contest swirling around in my head. If you entered, how would you create the number five?
My youngest daughter was born with Angelman Syndrome. Over time, I have observed that many special needs kids benefit greatly from sensory input. One way to provide sensory stimulation is to use a variety of sensory crafts.
One of the best types of crafts for kids with special needs is to make a modeling compound that the children can squish and shape with their hands. Snakes, fake food, and seasonal characters, such as snowmen, can all be made out of a modeling compound. Homemade play dough and clay is ideal because when you make it yourself, you can be certain that the ingredients are non-toxic. This provides peace of mind in the event that a child puts the modeling compound in his mouth.
Finger painting is another great option that will provide sensory input. You can dip your child's hands or feet in a set of finger paints and press them down on paper to create fun pictures. Hand prints can be used to make turkey's at Thanksgiving, or a tree for Christmas. Footprints make beautiful hearts for Valentine's Day or ghosts for Halloween. You may even want to consider framing these works of art and giving them away as gifts.
Bottle shakers and rattles provide sensory stimulation special needs kids and can be made from a variety of items found around the home. You can make small pill bottle shakers or large gallon jug rattles. Beads, beans, rice, old buttons and even pennies can be placed inside the bottles so that the bottles make noise when your child shakes them. Just make sure that the shaker tops are secure so that your child doesn't access the small items within the shaker. These may pose as a choking hazard.
Who can resist a new box of crayons? With the resources I present here, you can have hours of fun coloring a variety of pictures. Discover hundreds of free coloring pages, learn how to successfully print out those pages, and even how to assemble your own coloring books.
(Photo © 2013 Sherri Osborn licensed to About.com, Inc.)
While we were lucky enough to have a mild winter and early spring, things in our neck of the woods are not quite ready to grow yet. I can hardly wait for the flowers to start blooming, but that might still take a few more weeks. After all, it is not unheard of for us to get several inches of snow in April.
I think, to help cure my longing for colorful flowers, I will make some flower-related crafts to decorate my house until I can get outside and plant the real thing. If you feel the same way, why not explore this collection of free flower craft patterns and projects. Find out how you can make a variety of flower using different supplies and techniques. Which one is your favorite?
- Making Flowers
- Flower and Garden Theme
- Spring Crafts
(Photo © 2012 Sherri Osborn licensed to About.com, Inc.)