With the holidays in full swing and Christmas right around the corner, it might be easy to forget to spend a little down time with the family. But with the help of artists at the nonprofit arts organization Capital Arts, a few family craft ideas could be just what you need to spend time with the children.
"Why the crafting to us is so important especially during the holidays is while those kids are out of school, you're continuing their skills with certain aspects of motor skills, physical, mental and emotional, and on top of just spending good family quality time together, it's really rewarding for the kids to be proud of the things they make," said Leann Porrello, executive director of Capital Arts, as she showed off a few holiday crafts they've been creating in the gallery this year.
Keep in mind all of these crafts are kept simple, easy and cheap to make. The best way to save some cash is to repurpose items already lying around the house.
"We have one craft here that is an old light bulb so when that light bulb burns out at your house, take it down and instead of throwing it away, all you need is some ribbon and some paint and you can make penguins from it and some different things too," Porrello said. "That's one of the easiest ones because another person's trash is another person's treasure.
"The other thing to that we used a lot is we have some examples of these rugs or basically dreamcatchers that you can make from old T-shirts."
After cutting up old shirts into multiple strips, stretch a few of those strips around a hula hoop to create your base and then weave the rest of the strips through the hula hoop strands to make the circular pattern as large as you want.
Whether you choose to make a rug or a dreamcatcher, this activity can give new purpose to those holiday sweaters you've been collecting throughout the years.
Some other crafts children might want to try are DIY ornaments, which can be used to accent the tree or become last minute gift ideas. With one ornament, Porrello suggested making a snowman face and earmuffs out of pompoms and a pipe cleaner.
"This ornament basically is a little snowman and all we needed was the clear plastic or glass ornament and what we did is we used pompoms, a pipe cleaner and put some little pompom balls inside," she explained.
You can also fill the ornaments with hot chocolate powder, mini marshmallows or both to use as a gift.
For a second ornament idea, try pouring different colors of paint inside the ornament and then shake it up to see what design you can make.
"This is such an easy craft, and these are really fun because one thing we really promote for the crafts especially for holidays and all year-round is that it's all about the kids doing it themselves," Porrello said. "We want the kids to have self expression and that's what's great about the painted ornaments is that they pick the colors, they shake it as hard or as little as they want, and they put their own touch on it. So I feel like when the kids are able to take a little more control of their craft, they're going to be proud of it."
However, if you're looking to craft some larger piece of home decor, Porrello suggested making giant lollipops similar to the ones Porrello helped create for the mayor's Christmas tree this year.
"You probably aren't going to have a Styrofoam ball at home, but what's great about this is it doesn't have to be Styrofoam," she said.
For this project she suggested using an old dog toy, bouncy balls or sports balls that you aren't using. If the ball already has a pattern on it, paint it a base color and then use another color to give it a nice swirl starting at the top. After the paint dries, all you have to do is poke a circular yardstick through the ball and then wrap the ball with clear plastic wrap securing it with a ribbon.
"One thing that we really tell parents who come in for crafting with their kids is 'make it a tradition,'" Porrello said. "So many traditions are made between wearing pajamas on Christmas, having hot chocolate — and it's very easy to incorporate craft as a tradition. When you incorporate it as a tradition, what becomes great about it is every year you become a little bit more prepared for it, and so as your kids grow, your crafts will grow with you."
If you find that you would rather craft with your family outside the home, Capital Arts also offers an Imagination Station. For $1 per person, craft these DIY projects or try other holiday projects such as a clay pot Santa, brown bag paper trees and drinking glass snow globes.
The Imagination Station is open year-round from noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, but it will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
For more information about Capital Arts and the Imagination Station, visit capitalarts.org or call 573-635-8355 during business hours.