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The holiday season is the most wonderful ... actually, scratch that. It's the busiest time of the year. There are sweets and treats to be baked in the kitchen; decorating to be done; gifts to be wrapped; and cards to be written, addressed, and mailed out. Your little helpers can help and have loads of fun doing it!
Candy Snails and Mushrooms
Visions of these sugar critters will dance through their heads: Ours are made with colorful sprinkles, gooey gumdrops, and sweet gummy rings. Candy is reenvisioned as lively kid-friendly decorations.
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Send some holiday cheer to friends and family by making Christmas cards from household materials like cookie cutters. They can outline a jolly shape on paper and color it in, or they can cut out shapes and glue them to the front of a card.
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Making a batch of holiday presents for class? You can make these teeny-tiny boxes (don't worry, they are pretty simple) for your kids to fill with small treats, holiday notes, candies, or trinkets for friends, classmates, and teachers.
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Smaller kids can outline their hand on a manila folder, then use the template to inspire a batch of baked sugar cookies. Translucent parchment works well for the heart stencil; it will allow you to see the shape of the cookie through it.
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Turn your toddler's art into a hand-drawn gift. It works like magic: With fabric crayons, kids draw on an ironed handkerchief. You can then press with an iron to set the image.
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Decorating the tree? Little ones will love stringing their favorite candies -- Swedish Fish, Life Savers, and gummies of all sorts -- and hanging their creations from the boughs. But be warned: They might nibble more than they string!
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Something as simple as a button can be reimagined into the fantasies of a winter wonderland: A bundle of bright-red holly berries, the roly-poly shape of a snowman, a festive wreath. These simple cards are made of folded card stock.
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Small children can lend a helping hand in the kitchen -- mixing dough ingredients, using a cookie cutter, and stringing them from a very merry mobile -- to make a batch of these colorful cookie ornaments.
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These colorful carolers can sit in a windowsill winter scene, a shelf amid a windfall of sugary snow, or placed by the front door of a gingerbread house. If desired, you can help kids attach wires for hanging on the tree.
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Leftover wrapping paper? Kids can punch shapes from decorative papers using a craft punch to make their own stickers! Once backed with glue and allowed to dry, they can be remoistened later and stuck on notebooks, lunch bags, and stationery.
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Here's a new tradition you can start with your little ones: making colorful ornaments. They pour red, yellow, and blue tempera paint into a clear ornament, and it results in a swirly pattern.