Homemade Holiday Decorations

Homemade Holiday Decorations

The holiday season is the perfect time to do a few craft projects. Winter weather and short days make outdoor activities less pleasant for playing. Instead, spend some time making your own holiday decorations. Your beautiful creations are sure to inspire your family to decorate the entire house for the holidays.  They also make great gifts for your friends and family.

Clove-Orange Decoration

This little decoration is fun to make and smells amazing. Traditionally called pomanders, clove-stuck oranges were popular among medieval nobility.  You will need some adult supervision to make these, but for the most part you can do this project all on your own.

You will need:
An orange
Lots of cloves
A ribbon

Take the cloves and begin sticking them, stem first, into the orange. You can put the cloves into the orange in any pattern you want. The cloves can be arranged in spirals, in lines, or any other shape you can think of. If you're having trouble with the cloves breaking, try using a blunt needle to make holes in the orange peel first, then stick the clove in.  When you are finished, your orange will be completely covered in cloves. After you have all of the cloves in, use the ribbon to hang the orange as an ornament.

At this point you will probably need some help from an adult. The best way to attach the ribbon to the orange is to sew the ribbon together; otherwise it is very difficult to get the ribbon to stay on the orange. Once your ribbon is sewed together around the orange with a loop on top for hanging, you are ready to find the perfect place for your new holiday ornament. Make sure you find a place where everyone can enjoy the delicious smell of the cloves and orange.

gingerbread-ornamentsBaker's Dough Ornaments
Baker's dough is similar to cookie dough, but it is made only with water, flour, and salt. Although Baker's Dough seems like cookie dough, it cannot be eaten. The dough can be cut into shapes, painted, and - once cooked - will last forever. This project will require adult supervision and help since you need to use the oven.

You will need:

Cookie cutters
Paint (acrylic paint works the best, but you can also use tempera paints or watercolors)

To make the dough:

Boil 3/4-cup water, put 1/2 cup salt in a bowl, and pour boiling water over the salt and stir. Cool the salt-water mixture; add 2 cups flour and mix. Knead the dough for approximately five minutes or until the dough is smooth and workable.

After you have the dough made, roll it out as you would regular cookie dough. Use holiday cookie cutters to cut the dough into the shapes you want. You can also cut out shapes by hand. Poke a hole into the top of each shape.  This will allow you to thread a ribbon through the ornament so it can be used as a hanging decoration.

Have an adult preheat the oven to 350 degrees and, when you are finished shaping your decorations, have your adult supervisor place the ornaments in the hot oven on a cookie sheet. Bake the decorations for approximately one hour or until they are hard.

Once the dough is baked, it can be painted. You can use whatever type of paints you want.  The decorations provide a great opportunity to express yourself through art. After you are finished decorating and the paint has dried, spray the ornaments with a clear shellac or polyurethane to preserve the paints and make the decorations shiny.

Get the Gingerbread cookie recipe.

Baker's Dough Hand Print

Baker's dough can also be used to make childhood handprints. Little handprints in baker's dough will be a true treasure for your parents. To make a hand print in the dough, you will need to make the same dough as used for the ornaments. Instead of rolling it out thin, shape it into a large, thick circle. Press your hand into the dough to make a nice, clear, deep hand print. Once you have your hand print, you can write your name into the front or back of the dough along with the year that you made the print, so everyone will know whose hand print it is and how old you were when you made it.

You can also poke a hole into the top of your hand print dough.  This will allow you to add a ribbon to the hand print decoration, so your parents can hang it on the wall. You can also help younger siblings put together one of these hand print ornaments.

Adult supervision is still needed for the baking of the dough. The thicker hand print ornament will take much longer to bake than the thing cutout ornaments. If you don't want to bake the handprint, the dough can be air dried, but this will require that you leave the dough alone in a place where it can dry for multiple days.

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