The holidays are all about cozy gatherings, tasty treats and merry moments. Though this Christmas might look a little different, there are lots of ways to celebrate the season. Whether your family has time-honored traditions that you’ve been enjoying for years, or you’re looking forward to creating new ones, there is no better time to spend quality time with your loved ones and make happy memories.
If you’re looking for some fun new ways to gear up for the holidays, here are some festive activities to help everyone get into the spirit of things.
DIY Tree Ornaments
Decorating the Christmas tree is a tradition that many families look forward to all year long. Making personalized ornaments adds an extra-special touch! Salt dough ornaments are one of the easiest DIY crafts to try. Here’s the recipe:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup table salt
- 1 ½ cups warm water
First, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then slowly add the warm water. Knead the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. Roll the dough out onto a surface between two large sheets of wax paper, as if you were rolling out cookie dough. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, letting everyone choose their favorites! You can use a fork to create textures, like small dots or crimped edges. Just be sure to make a larger hole at the top of the ornament with a wooden skewer. This is for a hook, ribbon or string to go through.
Place the dough shapes onto baking sheets and bake at 300℉ for an hour, or until the salt dough has hardened. Once the salt dough ornaments have fully cooled, you can decorate them with paint, glitter glue or any other craft items you like. Allow the paint to dry, then hang on the tree and admire your handiwork!
We love the classic, timeless charm of popcorn garlands! Making them is a satisfying project, especially for older children to help with. Start by popping a big batch of plain popcorn and letting it fully cool. Thread a thick sewing needle or tapestry needle with sewing thread or fishing line. Carefully push the needle through the thickest part of the popcorn kernel and move the popcorn down onto the thread. Repeat, adding in fresh or dried cranberries along the way for a pop of color, if you like.
Some of the popcorn kernels will split or break and that is to be expected! Continue threading the popcorn until you’ve got a long garland to decorate the tree, mantle or doorway.
Nothing says Christmastime like a warm, welcoming fragrance wafting through the house. Stove-top potpourri is an easy, natural way to capture the essence of sugar, spice and everything nice, and it makes a great gift! There are many ways to make stove-top potpourri, and you can customize the mix to reflect your favorite scents.
The idea is that you want to make a mixture of dried and fresh ingredients that, when simmered over the stove, will fill the air with lovely, cozy aromas. Some ideas include fresh or dried cranberries, fresh sprigs of rosemary, fresh oranges sliced into rounds, lemon rind, cinnamon sticks, dried cloves, fresh or dried apples, fresh or ground ginger or gingerbread spice, vanilla extract, nutmeg, pine needles and mint leaves.
Once you’ve made your mix, put it into a small saucepan filled nearly to the top with water and simmer on the stove. Replenish the water as needed.
To turn your stove-top potpourri into presents, put the mixture into pretty jars, add a ribbon and a name tag, and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to exchange gifts.
Recycled Advent Calendar
Advent calendars make it so much fun to count down the days until Christmas! Traditionally, a little window is opened on the calendar each day to reveal a small treat or toy. Making your own using recycled materials is a festive DIY craft, and the whole family can enjoy it all December long. You’ll need these materials:
A paper shopping bag or large piece of cardboard
24 empty toilet paper rolls (so, save up!)
Ribbon or string
The idea is that each toilet paper roll becomes a little tube that the gift nestles into (pieces of candy work well). Start by painting each roll with festive colors and letting them dry. Then, using the craft glue, affix each roll to the paper bag or piece of cardboard. You can do this in rows, or in a traditional Christmas tree shape. Allow the glue to dry.
Using another toilet paper roll, trace its circumference onto a piece of construction paper — this will become the cover for each tube. You’ll need to cut out 24 of these, and can decorate them as you like. Make sure each one is numbered 1 through 24. When the glue on the cardboard rolls is dry, tape each paper circle to a tube, starting with 1 at the bottom and working up to 24 at the top. Fill each tube with a treat, then punch two holes at the top of the calendar, about 8 inches apart, and add the ribbon or string, creating a sturdy knot at each end. This is how you will hang the advent calendar on the wall or over a doorknob.
If Santa gets cookies, shouldn’t his reindeer get sweet treats, too? Making reindeer food is a perfect activity for the whole family, smaller kids included. Gather everyone’s favorite snacks, and make a delicious mix. Some things to try are cereal, granola, dried fruit, white or dark chocolate morsels, gumdrops, red and green sprinkles, red and green M&Ms, mini candy canes and popcorn. Put the mix into a few small bags and tie them with a ribbon and note for the reindeer, and leave the bags beside Santa’s plate of cookies on Christmas Eve. Keep the rest as a snack for everyone to share during your next movie night!
For toddlers, consider this fuss-free craft. You’ll need:
- Paper plates
- Construction paper
Draw a reindeer face on each plate or let your children try. Then, have everyone paint his or her paper plate. Brown is standard for a reindeer, but a more colorful palette is fun, too. While the paint dries, trace your children’s hands-on brown or black construction paper. Cut those out to be the reindeer antlers. When the paper plates are dry, glue the antlers at the top. You can use the finished reindeer as decorations, or as masks during playtime. Older children may have fun making more elaborate reindeer and turning them into place settings, personalized with each guest’s name.
We hope these activities provide you and your family with many merry moments leading up to Christmas. And remember - your neighborhood Food Lion is your destination for many of the ingredients to make these holiday crafts — plus plenty of festive meals — at low prices. Being together during the holiday season is special, so make the most of this time of year!