Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homemade Christmas with Simplicity

In our family, Christmas is a time when we focus on others more than
self. We never ask what the children want for Christmas, but what they
would like to make for someone else. This, to us, is critical in
teaching them to put others before themselves. Too often, children get
a massive case of the "I wants" or the "What did you get me" attitude.
In our focus upon the birth of Christ, we teach them that Christ gave
His all to others without expecting anything in return. In our walk
with the Lord, if we have His Spirit residing within us, shouldn't we
also want to bless others' lives and do for them with the same selfless

We strive to give handmade gifts and to decorate with handmade
decorations. Often, the gifts are simple in nature, but ones that are
appreciated. One year, I made fleece slippers for Joe and the kids.
They loved them. Yes, there are some gifts that are purchased, but most
are homemade. We are trying to teach the children, through our example,
to give of themselves and their talents to others.

There are many gifts that can be made easily. Some are much faster than
others to make. It is not difficult to find instructions on nearly any
gift you may want to make. Books at the library as well as searching
online can yield a wide range of options for both gifts and decorations.

One of the first decisions to make is that of the tree. Large or small,
fake or real, indoors or outdoors, the tree is one of the focus points
in your holiday decor. We have a large desk that I am going to place a
small, potted tree on this year. We can then plant the tree later. It
will make a nice tradition with the kids to plant our holiday tree each
year. With it being a small tree, the amount of decoration needed is
minimal. One of the simple decorations that I have the supplies for is
a garland.

Raffia garland: I saw this idea on Shepherd Hill's website a couple of
years ago. You start with a length of string to serve as the base of
the garland. Onto the string, you tie on lengths of raffia until the
string is no longer showing. You can either tie the raffia in knots or
fold a length in half, wrapping it around the string and thread the ends
of the raffia through the loop of it's fold to tie the raffia onto the

Using cookie cutters as a pattern, you can make felt ornaments. Trace
around a Christmas themed cookie cutter onto 2 layers of felt. Cut out
the shape. Using a blanket stitch, sew the 2 layers together. Glue
sequins, buttons, or other odds and ends to decorate. You may also
decorate them with dimensional fabric paint to give them a frosting look.

Applesauce-Cinnamon ornaments are easy to make. They are a great way to
give fragrance to the room also. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough
into shapes. Using a straw, make a hole to thread a ribbon through.
Bake the dough until hardened and let cool. Decorate with dimensional
paints and when dry, tie on ribbon for hanger.

Looking at websites such as the Pack-o-Fun or Family Fun magazine
websites, you can find many easy ornaments for kids to make.

A really nice way to display extra ornaments is to decorate a pine
wreath. You can even get clever and make them into a theme such as a
cookie cutter and decorated "cookies" for a kitchen wreath, for example.

In making gifts, I try to make ones that are things the person really
can get use from. My mother-in-law likes to wear a specific type of
apron, so that may be a good gift option for her. Being that Joe is out
on the truck a lot, he would better enjoy something he can use there.
One year, I made him a simple 2-layered fleece blanket for his bunk in
the truck sleeper. He still uses it. The kids also receive handmade

One lesson that we are working on teaching the kids is to make their
gifts for others. Abbie has a potholder loom kit and has made
potholders on it. She was so excited to give her very first one that
she made to our pastor's wife, Miss Juli. Now, she is wanting to make
more to give others. Miss Juli was awesome when she got the potholder.
She made such a fuss over Abbie making it that Abbie's fired up to make
other gifts. Micah will be making his gifts also this year. I have a
couple of ideas in mind, but have to work out the details first since he
has a few sensory issues where textures are concerned. I am planning to
incorporate their holiday crafting into the homeschooling. Just put
into a shoebox the materials needed for that craft and have it ready to

Through the next couple of months, I will be posting links to holiday
crafts that we will be making. I will post these links at least once a
week. Hopefully, these will also inspire you and your family.