Make paper decorations

The year 3 students at our school recently made some Christmas decorations – and I think they are lovely!

paper Christmas decorations hanging in a window overlooking greenery

I spotted them on a bench outside the classroom and couldn’t resist grabbing some photos before ours arrived home a few days later.

collection of children's hanging Christmas decorations

How to make hanging Christmas decorations

You will need:

  • one A4 sheet of thin cardboard per decoration (obviously you can use a bigger sheet of cardboard to make lots of these!)
  • scissors
  • staples (and stapler!)
  • decorations – glitter glue, stickers, textas, glitter
  • shiny string (or plain string or thin ribbon) for hanging

cardboard, ruler, pencil, stapler and scissor to make a Christmas decoration

You then need to cut the cardboard into strips. For each hanging decoration, you will need to cut 7 strips about 5 cm wide based on:

  • 2 x full length
  • 2 x 2/3 length
  • 3 x 1/3 length

{This makes it a good maths activity, too, and will stretch the kids brains as well as building their fine motor skills while having fun and being creative!}

red and green cardboard strips

Strips cut for the alternative, wider decoration (see below)

Arrange the strips from biggest to smallest to biggest. That is, make a pile of

  • 1 full length
  • 1 2/3 length
  • 3 1/3 length
  • 1 2/3 length
  • 1 full length

Make the pile neat, with all strips meeting at one end of the pile. Staple the ends together.

stapled strips of reed and green cardboard

Bend the strips towards each other so all the loose ends line up together, and staple again.

Put a hole in one end and thread string/ribbon through (or just staple on the string or ribbon if you prefer) so the decoration can hang.

Now make it beautiful with textas, stickers and glitter glue.

Alternatively, staple a few decorations together to make a longer decoration, and just add string/ribbon at one end. Or attach some string to two decorations so there is a little room for them to sway independently. connected hanging decorations hanging in a window

They can hang on a tree, in a window or from a ceiling. Somewhere that catches an occasional breeze gives a pretty effect.

child-made hanging decorations hanging in a window

Many of the children at school chose to use black card so the glitter and stickers stood out more, but I also like the colourful cardboard ones. What will you make – colourful or black?

An alternative is to have 2 1/3 lengths and one 1/6 length to have a decoration that is much wider than it is tall – this is what happened when I followed my kids’ instructions initially!

red and green card decoration

Dealing with left over Christmas wrapping

I went for a walk yesterday and was surprised to see a roll of Christmas wrapping paper sticking out of a bin.

Christmas wrapping paper in a rubbish bin in February!

Christmas wrapping paper in a rubbish bin in February!

Obviously, being towards the end of February, I was surprised to see something Christmassy in the bin – I would have thought left over Christmas rubbish would be long gone by now!

But I was also surprised at someone throwing out a roll of wrapping paper – it seems like such a waste to me. It could easily be used to wrap presents next Christmas, so why throw it out?

Many people feel obliged to use new wrapping paper (that is, not so many reuse wrapping paper), but this was a new roll someone had put in the rubbish.

I guess if you like having all your gifts wrapped consistently each year, a small amount of one year’s paper may seem less useful for the next year. But there are other ways to use it…

  • give it to a kinder or childcare centre – they can use it as wrapping or just give it to the kids as a craft material
  • keep it as a back up in case you run out next year
  • use it for some surprise Christmas in July gifts!
  • use it in various Christmas crafts – or give it to someone crafty so they can use it
  • donate it to a charity that provides Christmas gifts to the needy – the less paper they buy, the more they have to help people in other ways
  • use it for wrapping pass the parcel items at a party
  • recycle it! Rip it up and put it in the compost, line a bird cage with it or just put it in the recycling bin (to be fair, this picture does show the roll in the recycling bin)

So what do you do with left over rolls of wrapping paper after Christmas?

Do you have any other ideas on how to use up old wrapping paper if you don’t keep it for next year’s wrapping?

Making cute Santas

a craft kit of Santas

The Jolly & Joy Christmas Santa craft kit

A paper Santa made by a 6 year old
I made some Santas with my kids recently from a kit I had grabbed, so I thought I’d share the results as a review for anyone else thinking of getting this kit.

Jolly & Joy Santa kit

I actually got this kit a while ago so I can’t remember the price but I don’t think it was particularly expensive as I got it as a back up activity to do with the kids.

The kit

Laid out contents of the paper Santa kit

Kit contents plus scissors

The materials to make six Santas were in a simple plastic bag. Most things were counted exactly (eg there were 36 ‘diamonds’ for Santa’s belt) or are cut from larger pieces of paper (we used less than half a sheet of each colour). Note we just got little jewels whereas the packet mentions holographs.

Making the Santas

I helped a four year old and two six year olds make these Santas, so adjust my comments as need be to suit the children you have.

Craft glue

Young fingers squeezing a tube of glueMy biggest complaint is the glue. One little tube was included in the kit.

One tube of glue for three kids meant a lot of waiting and stretched patience – in the end, the older two went and played until the four year old had finished with the glue. Which was admirable of them and made helping easier!

In addition, there was not enough glue in the tube to finish three Santas, let alone the six the kit promises. I had more craft glue but if you were relying on the kit to be complete, it would be a problem.

Figure it out for yourself

The kit did not come with instructions or even an image of the individual pieces. Overall, it’s not something you need instructions for – but kids doing it alone would need help.

I realised that the belt, boots, mittens, nose, mouth and face all had to be cut out of the provided paper. I had to use the Santa cut out as a sort of template to cut out the shapes which was a bit too tricky for the kids.

The actual creation

Child's fingers gluing a pompom onto SantaGluing the pieces onto Santa was fun and easy enough. It kept the kids happy for quite a while and they were very proud of their results – I think they did a good job, too.

Yes, a bit of glue was all over their fingers and they had trouble gluing on the pom poms (because they stuck to their glue fingers better than the cardboard!) but that’s all part of children’s craft work.

The verdict?

Despite a couple of disappointments, these were fun to make and we ended up with some very cute Santas. We attached them to the wall above each child’s bed where they looked really nice.

Certainly a nicer result than making these from scratch and the kit would suit a fairly wide range of age groups. So I’d say they’re worth a look if you want a Christmas craft idea or some Santas to decorate with.

If you’ve used one of these kits, or go on to use one, what do you think of them? Would you consider getting another one?
three Santas made by children

Wrapping presents

Following on from Santa’s Elf ‘s question this morning, when do you wrap presents, I want to know what people use to wrap gifts…

Pile of Christmas gifts in purple and silver bows

Different shapes and colours – the wrapping adds to the excitement of Christmas 🙂

For many years, we’ve collected wrappings each year and recycled them the following year where possible (kids tend to rip them apart so not everything is reusable!) It’s interesting that a number of people used to give us funny looks about collecting and keeping the paper, but with more ‘green’ sentiment around now, people seem to accept it.

Reusing the paper does save us money, but our real incentive is to save some trees and reduce pollution in the printing and transporting of wrapping paper.

A few times we’ve also used alternatives to paper for wrapping – like when giving some picinic items, we wrapepd them in a light tablecloth and when we use a tea-towell to wrap kitchen tea of house warming gifts.

And young children bring home a wealth of wrapping paper when they do paintings at kinder and childcare! We enver used their favourite artworks, but they were very proud to see presents wrapped in their paper so it was win win all round!

Does being green come into your Christmas wrapping or do you like the pretty, sparkly pile of presents?

Wrapping paper reuse

Who else collects and reuses wrapping paper? Just at Christmas or year round?

We always fold up the decent bits of paper (those the kids have ripped to shreds go in the recycling bin!) and keep them for future use. Some relatives look down at us for it, thinking we’re being cheap and lazy. Yes, it does save us money (some of which goes into buying better presents for said relatives!) but more importantly, it saves the environment.

The creation of wrapping paper involves chopping down trees, processing the paper (which uses fossil fuels and huge amounts of water) and printing the paper. Then add in the footprint of wrapping paper – how far does it travel to reach your Christmas tree? And if you collect enough paper, it is one less thing you need to worry about buying next Christmas (potentially saving pollution of driving to the shops, too!)

Other ways we save on wrapping paper are:

  • using paper we already have (e.g. from the deli) and getting the kids to decorate it – saves paper and money, entertains the kids and provides a personalised wrapping paper
  • using something practical instead of paper – tea towels and ribbons in particular wrap gifts nicely

What does everyone else think about green gift wrapping?

Paper chains

Did anyone else make paper chains for Christmas?

We made them at school every year during Primary school, plus I attempted making some at home. We didn’t have strips of paper so I tried cutting my own and I never did get the cutting quite straight! The home made ones were a bit boring, too, as we never had coloured paper and my attempts to colour them with pencils were a bit faint and dismal.

child made paper chains strung across a ceiling

Paper chains – cheap and easy to make for instant colour in a room for Christmas!

Our classrooms were always decked in paper chains – and I always looked back on the previous year’s room and wondered why the kids made chains instead of using the ones we had made (never occurred to me that the year above me probably had done some too!) I wanted to know where they stored them all…

No more paper chains?

I don’t think my kids have ever made paper chains anywhere but at home – they don’t do them at school or childcare, or even at Joeys (the craft hub of our lives right now.) I wonder why?

Maybe they try to make things so each child gets one to take home, and maybe they prefer things that last better than paper chains so they can be stored and used for Christmas after Christmas. All very reasonable but paper chains were a fun part of Christmas each year!

Might have to start cutting some strips for this weekend – but I’ll use a cutter instead of scissors this time!

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