Sunday, December 23, 2007


My kids like making stuff. We paint, we experiment with home-made playdough, we draw and colour, some of us do origami, but most of all my kids love making ornaments at Christmas time. For my kids there is something so exciting about making little Christmas trees, tiny snowmen, reindeer, stars, and even little Santas, painting them, and then hanging them on that lovely, fragrant tree right before Christmas Eve.

With the advent of the internet we have way more exposure to different sorts of stuff, and we've made cinnamon/applesauce ornaments, paper chains, window Bon Ami designs, and others, but in the end, the old favourites are still, well, the old favourites. Two of our favourites are: the salt dough ornament, and the paper snowflake.

Here are the dough ornaments:
We used the usual salt/flour/water mixture, then baked them (tip: prick them lightly with a fork so they don't puff in strange places when baking), then, after priming them (with regular old white paint), we adorned them with finery, using those little plastic containers of acrylic paints you can get at places like Michaels, which means that you can get a huge array of colour. Then we sprayed them on both sides with a light dusting of urethane. You don't need to use urethane, particularly if you have a nice dry storage place, but for us it ensured that the more treasured ones have lasted through our at-times-rather-damp-basement storage-and-then-moving-to-other-countries-in-less-than-ideal-containers periods. You can see the spread of the years in just these four: the Traditional Period, represented by Santa and the Tin Soldier, the Woodland Pagan period (when we started incorporating the solstice), and the kid years when Max was small and utterly obsessed with all things train-like. One year, I even cut out several ornaments using train cookie cutters, printed out some faces from a Thomas the Tank Engine site, painted them to resemble Thomas trains, and used them as gift tags on his presents. I think he might even have gasped when he saw them, he was so delighted. Now they represent our Nostalgia Period.

I took a few pictures of the snowflakes, but despite my (quick!-take-a-picture-for-the-blog-but-haven't-had-my-morning-coffee-yet) efforts I was unable to get anything that really captured how lovely they are. Here is one shot:

These look truly lovely glittering in the white of our fairy lights, but what is even more amazing is how easy they are. You take your generic snowflake pattern (we used three from Martha Stewart's Kids 2002 magazine; this link gives one of the designs), cut it out (we used printer paper), flatten it so you don't see the folds afterwards, get some spray glue and superfine glitter, then spray and sprinkle each side, letting one side dry for at least 5 minutes before you turn it over and do the other side. We have experimented with regular glitter, and it looks very pretty, but the superfine glitter makes the snowflakes look unbelievably unearthly. And that's what we want in the Greenridge House this time of year - something gorgeous and unearthly!

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