My Chicago Home

My Chicago Home
How can we best live as modern, active contemplatives where prairie meets city?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas crafts can heal

Origami crane my daughter crafted with paper she
decorated with markers. A cheap option for the expensive
paper you find in stores.
We have to think of the children. No matter if economic woes, natural disasters, and the madness of the Sandy Hook tragedy is finding us crawling, rather than leaping toward Christmas. We have to carve out time to engage the young in something that will turn their minds to something seasonal and beautiful. Crafting can turn our minds from tragedy -- and toward how we might be a gift to others. And handcrafted items can not only be more thoughtful and healing for those both making and receiving them, these items ease the burden on families, costing just pennies to make. 

Making something beautiful out of nearly nothing can be a virtue. My Grandma stowed old buttons, wrapping paper, fabric remnants, etc, and turned out gifts of necklaces, gift tags and cheerful bedroom slippers. Depression and World War II generations knew not to throw useful scraps away they could use later. Austerity mixed with creativity can yield great results.

1)   Clothespin crucifix. Fine crucifixes are expensive, but children can create a nice crucifix for their or a loved one's room by gluing the wood parts of hinged clothespins to cardboard. For more color, decorate pins with crayons and markers.
2)   Paper Chain garlands. Contact paper or gift wrapper strips make great paper chains, but kids could even use crayons, markers or paint to color newspaper strips to get the same effect. Hang garlands around thresholds or on the tree.
My daughter taught me to fold these 
cranes, which make great 
ornaments strung on thread. 
Challenging but fun.
      3)   Jesse Tree ornaments. See post below and find a link here for designs that could be drawn on a paper circle or felt to make colorful ornaments.
      4)   Origami ornaments. Even adults and older teens love this one. My daughter makes her own origami paper by using watercolors or markers to decorate white paper with Asian-inspired designs. Origami designs can be found at the library or online.   
   5)   Wallpaper crafts. Ask for castoff sample books at wallpaper stores for an endless supply of high-quality craft paper. Make outfits for hand-drawn paper dolls, glue to cardboard to make picture frames, cover cans for pencil holders, and make book and binder covers.
Wallpaper-covered binder.
   6)   Pressed flowers. Ten days of pressing between paper layers yields spectacular patterns from common flowers and foliage. Even early December in my Chicago-area climate, I was still finding usable leaves and ferns to press. Use boards and layers of cardboard and paper. Screws tighten the layers through the week. Or, sandwich flowers between paper layers and tuck them in a telephone book or dictionary. Use plenty of weight. Use flower pressings for simple gift tags and cards. Glue on flowers, then add a layer of glue or “Mod Podge” on top to seal the design.
Gift tags out of hand-pressed foliage,
even in December.
Pressed flower card.

Handmade gifts are often best! Leave a comment with your own crafting ideas for Christmas.

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