Turn a holiday chore into a time of creativity and memory-making with the wee ones in your life by making holiday cards together.
Whether your kiddo is three or 13, he or she can get in on the December festivities. According to Heather Hutchison, co-founder of C.R.E.A.T.E Community Studios in Saratoga Springs and Schenectady, kids of all ages can contribute to holiday card making and sending and express their individual creativity at the same time.
“Kids want to make cards for people they love,” Hutchison said. “It’s a very natural thing kids want to do around the holidays.”
Making cards can be a great way to help children express themselves. Hutchison said by letting children take the lead, time making cards can also be fun for littles and bigs alike.
Hutchison herself has two children, ages eight and 10, but she says as long as a child can hold a pencil or a crayon, they can make a card.
“When you encourage children to express themselves, their personalities come through,” Hutchison said.
If the children in your life enjoy making things for others, it doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling.
Make a list
No need to check it twice, just make a list of people for whom you want to make cards — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, babysitters, teachers. Unless your little one is an Olympic crafter, try to keep the number of cards to a reasonable number.
You might talk about prioritizing the list in case halfway through the package of glue sticks interest wanes.
If you child is too young to prioritize themselves, do it in your head and you can encourage or guide them later.
Go hunting for inspiration
Some kids know instantly and exactly what they want their card to look like while others may need some inspiration.
Hutchison advised to let children go and be creative, even if it results in a mess of scribbles. Do not worry about perfection, particularly when younger children are involved. As long as children are expressing affection, the resulting piece need not resemble Botticelli’s “The Annunciation.”
If you do have a Type A kind of kid, get online for some inspiration, just make sure you manage expectations.
“(These projects) always look easier online,” Hutchison said. “Knowing your child and having realistic expectations about their interest level makes it more fun.”
Pinterest is a great place to start if you’re looking for some direction. A search of “holiday cards kids can make” resulted in several cute ideas ranging from thumbprint reindeer to stylized Christmas trees cut out of paint swatches from the hardware store.
Chat with your crafter about how many different designs they want to use. Does every recipient get a unique card or is it thumbprint reindeer across the board? Staying on the same page is key to keeping the fun alive.
Consider the child’s age and ability. Older kids can have just as much fun making cards. Maybe instead of pipe cleaners and googly eyes, your middle schooler may prefer intricate rubber stamps and multi-colored ink.
Some online suggestions include materials you may already have in your house while for others you may need to go shopping at the craft store. When considering what kind of design you want to use, consider how much time and money you have to spend on the project.
Finally, when choosing a design, consider the delivery method. Do you need something that will fit in a standard envelope and send with a regular amount of postage? Do you need to buy a larger envelope and take it to the post office for proper postage? Will the card be hand-delivered?
Make a list of the supplies you need and how much or many you need. Check around the house first to make sure you didn’t forget about any supplies you may already have on hand.
Also, check to make sure the supplies you do have on hand actually work. Are the scissors sharp enough to cut a crisp shape? There may be 34 markers in the drawer, but how many of them have dried out? Is the double-stick tape still doubly sticky?
Before you head to the store, make sure you look online for coupons that can save you some cash at check-out. Then, hit the road.
Prep your space
Glitter plus four-year-olds usually spells messy. If you’re the kind of person who would be stressed out if you’re still picking glitter off your socks in two weeks, put trash bags or a tarp under your work space.
Make sure the tabletop or countertop is wiped off and dry - no one wants a bacon-greased greeting card. Ensure the kids can sit safely at a comfortable height for working.
Set up a drying station if necessary. Cover a flat surface with newspaper to set any wet projects on to dry.
Get to it!
Make sure you read all of the directions through before you start. Then, roll up those sleeves, don the paint shirt and jump in.
Make sure you’re working with your child, not just giving verbal instruction. Make a card of your own; it can be a grown-up card of your own design if you’re so inclined.
Give some grace. Your child may want to make 50 cards or they may be done after just one. It’s okay. The main point is that the child has fun and is able to express affection through art and craft.
For extra help and encouragement with your card-making endeavors, check C.R.E.A.T.E Community Studio’s calendar (createcommunitystudios.org) for a schedule of open studio time where kids can make gifts and wrapping paper and holiday cards as well as other classes offered both in Saratoga Springs and Schenectady. The studios will offer card and wrapping paper making on Sunday, Dec. 10, from noon to 2 p.m. The cost is $5.
- If you are mailing a card and your child is school-aged, talk about addressing an envelope — return address, where the stamp goes, what information goes on each line. Help your child memorize their address.
- If you are working with multiple colors of the same thing (pipe cleaners, beads, etc.), have you child sort by like colors or size before you start.
- If you have leftover supplies, talk to you child about donating them to their classroom teacher or their school.