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Gifts Kids Can Make
By Donna Beadle

(FeatureSource) You can help your friends and family avoid long return lines at the department store this year by helping your child create thoughtful, homemade gifts.

“Crafting as a family is a wonderful way to slow down the pace of the hectic holiday season,” says Sue Hannah, author of “Crafty Concoctions” (Meadowbrook Press.) “Your children will love creating, wrapping and presenting gifts of their own.”

Trish Kuffner, author of “The Arts and Crafts Busy Book” (Meadowbrook Press), agrees that a crafty gift can display love and care for your family. “Gifts from your children are gifts worth keeping,” she says.

“Crafty Concoctions” offers step-by-step instructions for more than 100 cool concoctions kids can make with minimal adult supervision. The book offers a variety of the concoctions such as the ”Jewels & Gemstones” recipe to make gift necklaces or “Tasty Glue” to stick pieces of a gingerbread house together.

“The Arts and Crafts Busy Book” is the fourth book of the highly successful “Busy Book” series. Parents of toddlers and preschoolers can find an array of gift ideas their children can create in the “Holiday Arts and Crafts” section of the book. Gift ideas include “Sand Art Brownie Gift Mix,” “Kwanzaa Cutouts” and directions to make a Menorah.

The instructions for all these wonderful gift ideas are found below.

Crafty Jewels and Gemstones
From “Crafty Concoctions”
Add sparkle to any craft project with these beautiful imitation jewels and gemstones. They are perfect for making all sorts of crafts sparkle and shine.

Here’s What You Need
Small glass jar
1 tablespoon Epsom salts
1 tablespoon hot water
Mixing spoon
5–10 drops of food coloring (optional)
Paper towel
Clear-drying glue

Here’s How You Make It
1. In a small jar, mix the Epsom salts and hot water with a spoon. Add food coloring if you want to make colored crystals. Stir the mixture a few times until most of the salt dissolves.
2. Set the jar aside in a place where it will not be disturbed. Do not cover it.
3. Beautiful crystals will grow in about 1 week. Gently scrape the crystals from the jar with a fork, and lay them on a paper towel to dry.

Here’s How You Use It
1. Use a paintbrush to spread clear-drying glue on your artwork. Sprinkle the crystals on top of the glue to add a twinkling effect to your artwork.
2. Throw any unused mixture into the garbage.

Crafty Idea
To make a beautiful sparkling necklace, fill a clear glass or plastic necklace pendant with the crystals. (Make sure the pendant closes securely to contain the crystals.) Thread the pendant onto string or yarn to make a necklace.

Tasty Glue
From “Crafty Concoctions”
This tasty, edible glue is perfect when you need to glue pieces onto gingerbread houses or other edible crafts. It also works well for gluing paper.

Here’s What You Need
Small saucepan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
Mixing spoon
1 1/2 tablespoons Jell-O mix
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Popsicle stick

Here’s How You Make It
1. In a small saucepan, mix the cornstarch and cold water with a spoon.
2. Add the Jell-O mix and corn syrup.
3. Ask a grownup to help you place the saucepan on a stove and bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Ask the grownup to help you stir the mixture until it’s thick and gel-like.
5. Ask the grownup to help you remove the mixture from the heat using a potholder.
6. Let the glue cool slightly before use.

Here’s How You Use It
1. Spread the glue with a Popsicle stick when gluing edible or paper crafts.
2. Store the glue at room temperature in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate it.

From “The Arts and Crafts Busy Book”
A menorah consists of nine candles, one for each day of Hanukkah and one, called the shammes, to light the other candles.

10 empty thread spools
Strip of heavy cardboard
Aluminum foil (optional)
9 birthday candles
Play dough
10 large marshmallows
Ornamental Frosting
Pretzel sticks
Drill and tree branch or piece of driftwood

Help your child make a menorah in one or more of the following ways:

1. Line 9 thread spools in a row on the cardboard and glue them into place. Glue the last spool on top of the center one for the shammes. (If you like, cover the outsides of the spools with aluminum foil first.) Insert the candles into the spools. If they’re a little loose, pack play dough around them to make them fit snugly.
2. Line 9 marshmallows in a row on the cardboard and glue them into place. Glue the last marshmallow onto the one in the center for the shammes. Insert the candles into the marshmallows.
3. Make an edible menorah by using Ornamental Frosting to stick the marshmallows onto the cardboard. Use pretzel sticks instead of candles.
4. Shape play dough into 9 Hanukkah designs or interesting shapes and insert the candles into the shapes.
5. Fill a shoebox with sand and insert the candles into the sand. If you like, cover the outside of the box with paper and decorate it with Hanukkah designs.
6. Drill 9 holes into a tree branch or driftwood and insert the candles into the holes.

Sand Art Brownie Gift Mix
From “The Arts and Crafts Busy Book”

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-quart canning jar with lid
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Scissors and Christmas fabric
Pen and decorative tag
1/2 cup butterscotch or peanut butter chips (optional)

1. Mix the flour with the salt in a small bowl. Help your child layer the ingredients in the jar, beginning with the flour/salt mixture, continuing in order, and ending with the white chocolate chips. (You may not need as many chips if there’s little room left in the jar.) Screw on the lid.
2. Cut a circle of fabric about 4 inches wider than the diameter of the jar. Tie on the fabric circle around the lid with ribbon.
3. Write the following directions on a decorative tag: “Sand Art Brownies: Combine the contents of the jar with 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, and 4 eggs. Beat until just mixed. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes.” Attach the tag to the jar.

If you like, substitute butterscotch or peanut butter chips for either of the chocolate chips.

ART: A jar of brownie mix, ingredients layered as described in step 1. Include the fabric and ribbon on top, and include the gift tag with “Sand Art Brownies” written on it. (The rest of directions should also appear, but they don’t have to be legible.)

Kwanzaa Cutouts
From “The Arts and Crafts Busy Book”

Scrap paper
Black, red, and green construction paper

Show your child how to cut a design from the scrap paper by folding the paper over and cutting a shape out of the fold. Have her cut out a shape from black construction paper (geometrical shapes like circles, squares, and triangles work well). When her design is complete, give her red and green construction paper. Show her how to cut out pieces from it and glue them behind each space to create a colorful piece of art.

See Also:

How to Make a Menorah Candle Necklace
Celebrate the festival of lights with this fun craft idea from Penny Warner, author of “The Big Book of Party and Holiday Fun.

Santa on a Shoestring
According to a recent survey, American families intend to spend an average of $483 on gifts this Christmas. To help keep the costs down this Christmas season, Sue Hannah offers some money-saving gift ideas.

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