The holidays are a great time to get creative when it comes to decorating, baking, and making gifts.  From ornaments to cards to cookies and cakes, there are tons of activities that can do double duty by giving you some much-needed quality time with the kids as well as creating items that can be placed around the house (and saved for next year) or gifted to friends and family.  As a bonus, many homemade items offer an eco-friendly alternative to store-bought (and they can cost you a lot less).  So if you’re looking to save this holiday season while you have some fun with your family, there are quite a few activities that may pique your interest.

1.       Sugar cookies and chocolate covered pretzels.  While you may be tempted to make some truly sensational (and complex) holiday cookies, why not stick to something that is fun and easy for the kids?  Sugar cookie dough can be whipped up and chilled ahead of time for easy rolling and cutting later, so let the kids use the holiday cutters to get the shapes they want.  Then, when they are baked and cooled, have them decorate with colored icing and an assortment of toppings.  As for the pretzels, get a bag of the large stick variety, dip them in melted chocolate, cover with seasonal sprinkles, and set them to chill in the fridge on a tray covered with wax paper.  You can gobble them up or give them as gifts.

2.       Homemade cards and gift wrap.  These are easy enough to create with just a few simple items.  Get some recycled paper stock for the cards and use newsprint or butcher paper for the gift wrap.  Then cut a number of shapes out of sponges (stars, trees, dreidels, etc.) and pour some tempera paint into plastic bowls.  Then have kids dip and decorate to their heart’s content.  You’ll not only save on cards and wrapping paper, but this is also a nice gift for the environment, considering how much non-recyclable paper goes into the landfill every holiday season.

3.       Ornaments.  While you can find plenty of sets of directions online for unique ornaments, some of the neatest ones are also the easiest.  Paper snowflakes and simple and beautiful, while crafts made from pine cones (paint them or spray on glue and then cover with glitter) have a rustic feel.  And you can get the old-school look for your Christmas tree by skipping the lights and stringing up popcorn instead (just make sure it’s out of reach for pets).

4.       Decorations.  Again, it’s not too hard to get crafty with the decorations considering how many ideas are floating around on the internet.  A simple search for “holiday crafts” will net you more results than you can shake a stick at.  Some notable standouts when it comes to items you can place (or hang) around the house include wreaths, gingerbread houses, and papier-mâché ornaments or figurines (you build, kids decorate).

5.       A Christmas story.  Your kids probably have several favorites when it comes to Christmas stories, so why not create your own using your family members as characters?  You can write out a holiday adventure, then create the book with graphic software or by drawing pictures (just print some family photos and cut out the heads to add to drawn-in bodies as a way to personalize).  Make copies to send to friends and family for an instant holiday classic that will get read every year.

Jennifer Kardish writes for Santa’s Quarters where you can find artificial Christmas trees and other great decorations for the holiday season.

Image source:  wenatex.com.au

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