Christmas Ideas: Craft Ideas for the Holiday

Christmas Ideas & Mother's Day Gifts

Folks have been coming to Incredible Art Department for Holiday Craft ideas. There are some pages devoted to holidays on IAD located here:

Here are some suggestions from Art Education list serve members. On Decorating for a Holiday Show  | Christmas Ornaments.



Wallpaper books, Construction Paper., gold paper (You can also get Gold Tooling Foil., Scissors., White Glue., Cotton Balls,.floral wire,.


Ho-ho-ho. Denise made these projects with her Kindergartners and wanted to share. They are inspired by a Christmas card she received last year (ideas can be found anywhere!) This year, they ran out of time and didn't get to make his stocking cap. (Next year she will start sooner - maybe we will have an update to share). They used patterns for the pieces, but older students could certainly make their own pieces of clothing. She added the hangers, made of florist's wire. Enjoy & Merry Christmas!

- Denise Pannell, Defiance, Ohio


Santa's Closet - Suit Up Santa! By Denise Pannell


Now if this doesn't make you smile - try this Holiday Greeting. (thanks Sharon Henneborn)


Get your students to add more to the "story" What can they add to make Santa's closet unique. Use Mary Ann Reed's Santa Doll Sculptures (archive) for inspiration. Make a PowerPoint and talk about the stories her dolls tell.


Mary Ann Reed Santas by Mary Ann - These are not your ordinary Santas - they are treasures and they have stories to tell. Think of a the lessons you can do. You will want one of your own.




Art Parody Cards Adaptation for Elementary: Try Denise Pannell's idea. Santa's Closet. Have your students create their own Santa Stories from Collage materials (they photograph very well). Use Mary Ann Reed's Santa Dolls as inspiration. Photograph your favorite Santa Story Collage and print out card sets for sale. They will sell like hotcakes! You won't be able to print them fast enough. Every teacher in your building will buy them. parents will buy them for gifts.

More Christmas Ideas

(See even more ideas on the Christmas page)

Santa's New Look - from Laura Carey

Well... if Santa's clothes are handing in the closet (See Denise's lesson idea), then what is Santa wearing?

My 5th grade is usually pretty wound up this time of year and they definitely do not want to work on any drawing project. I have them re-dress Santa. This is such a simple project and can take a class or two to finish. The main requirement is that somewhere in the drawing the viewer must be able to identify the figure as Santa (white beard, large belly, etc.). I have had hip hop Santa's, beach/vacation Santa's and many many more!


Origami Boxes - from Linda Hofflet

A gift of giving, appreciation and love. I have the kids decorate paper (marbleizing, etc.), then cut the paper into squares, have them fold the boxes, take them home and put a note inside -- such as: offering to do a job around the house, a note of love and appreciation, etc. Do the best you can to follow this pattern. Patterns are available online, too, and in books.


Origami Boxes by Marilyn Brackney

Origami box instructions (Archive) by Morris Goodwin School in New Jersey

Note from Leah: I've been teaching my third graders to make the origami boxes (from Linda Hofflet). They are loving it. I've even had children thanking me for the lesson when I see them in the hall. How sweet. We have school on Monday and Tuesday, so I'm using the lesson with some fourth graders, too. (From Judy: Now I am thinking... Wouldn't these be nice gifts for the classroom teacher, too? Put a special thank you in the box for a lesson that was meaningful to them.).


Gift of Calligraphy - from Christa-Maria

Here is a good Christmas or Mother's Day gift idea -- or anytime of the year gift. Remember the quotes we collected? One of my projects in school was to teach calligraphy and I had a floppy disk of quotes the kids could peruse, or find their own... Then they used calligraphy to write them out. Nicely matted, they looked great in the hallway and parents liked them for a present.

Maybe even tie in Illumination and have them do a decorative first letter? - Try different marbling techniques for the paper? or maybe a painted or chalk stencil background? One of our elementary teachers did stunning calligraphy on handmade paper one year. Start with good character traits and find quotes for those. Make sure the quotes the kids find on their own are "worthy" of their time. Many good quotes can be found in song lyrics (and some not so good).

Here is the Painters' Keys site - many quotes over their heads - but I am sure you can find some that will work.


Art Theme of Mother and Child - from Ann Heineman

From Judy: Christmas time is the perfect time to introduce the theme of Mother and Child in art. Show some examples of Renaissance art and Medieval art. Even though most of you are not allowed to discuss religion, there is no reason why they can not learn what the meaning of Christmas is. They get off school for up to two weeks - I think it is OK for them to know why - regardless of their family religious views.


Introduce young children to the art of Mary Cassatt, who did many paintings with the theme of mother and child. Compare to the painting of Mary and the baby. The students create a picture of themselves and their mother doing some activity they enjoy the most with their mother. This would make a wonderful gift anytime during the year.


Mother Face Pins - Maude Ruesch
My kids (pre-K) make Sculpey. pins of their mother's faces. Always a big hit. They have to try to remember their mother's hair and eye color and how long her hair is. It's a really good thinking exercise and some of the pins are spectacular. We just made them today and they'll be ready by tomorrow at noon. They start with a flat circle about two and a half inches in diameter and just add the features with colored Sculpey.. Cathy Gaul has done a similar lesson with kindergarten student making animal faces. They learn how to draw the animal face in a previous lesson - the Sculpey pin project reinforces that learning.


"Queen Mother" Foil Repoussé - Copper/Brass Tooling -Christine Sumner-Lyman

One project I did using repoussé and African art was Obas- Queen Mothers - Royal Art of Benin. Kids drew their moms on 4" x 6" (10 - 15 cm) paper, traced onto Tooling Foil. with magazines under for cushion with pencils retracing the drawn lines, then going over them w/ pointed wood or plastic modeling tools. Students can work both sides of the metal to create relief areas. Patterns in the negative space can be similar to the Benin Bronze wall plaques. Students painted bronze pearlescent paint over them. A great mother's day gift!


Self - Portraits at any age - from Maggie White

My drawing students  (high school) just finished pastel self-portraits; I mentioned they would make really nice Mother's Day gifts (or Christmas gifts), so several have taken up the idea and we will cut mats and cover them with acetate this week. I agree with you about "cheesy holiday art" --why not just a gift of ART?


Message in a Bottle - Mary Ann Kohl

My apologies to Mary Ann, I do not have her post handy so I am writing this from memory. Find some small glass (or plastic bottles) of similar shape and sizes. Have students write a special message to a loved on and roll it up and put in the bottle (make sure message is same height as bottle so it can be removed). Decorate the message anyway the child chooses. Add some sequins - gems - ribbons - hearts - whatever you choose to decorate the inside of the bottle. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the bottle - Maybe dangle some Beads. too. Make them as fancy as you want. You could also Tissue paper. designs on the outside of the bottle with Mod-Podge or gloss medium. These "special message" bottles can be gifted any time of year (Valentines Day, Mother's Day - Christmas). They can be personal self portrait bottles, too. come up with your own creative ideas on how to do this. I think Mary Ann got the idea from her daughter - but I may be mistaken.




You will love the little boxes. Print off one or two and make your own templates for the kids to decorate. Share the site so they can make their own special gift boxes to give with promises inside or a special treasure. Students would love to make the mini theater or toy box, too. Have some fun! An idea: Print one of the box patterns onto Tag board.. Make a collage of pretty papers on the other side (wrapping papers - handmade papers - textile cultural patterns - whatever). When dry - cut out and fold so the pretty papers are on the outside of the box. Option two - trace the box pattern on top of the collage paper and cut out. If the patterns were already printed using the Riso-graph machine it would save time.


Paper Cast Hearts - Tricia Anders For Christmas - Valentines' Day - Mother's Day



Paper cast hearts can work for anytime of year - Think Teacher Appreciation days, too. Heart "medals" for teachers to wear. Molds are so easy to make. Have the children form a heart out clay to the desired finished shape. Put a paper/cardboard collar around the heart and pour in plaster to make a mold. Allow to dry. Discard used firing clay as that can no longer be used for firing (plaster bit may cause the clay to explode). Plastilina Modeling Clay. may be used again. Molds can be kept from year to year.


Make paper pulp in desired colors. Student can cast several small sheets using window screen. Beads. and sequins can be placed in the mold first. Layer the cast sheets - strips or shapes into mold.

Press out water with Sponges.. Add a wire for hanging at top and add strands of beads to dangle if desired. Layer more pulp to secure wire and bead stands. Heart can be painted or enhanced with Rub 'n buff - or metallic powders.


See all of Tricia Anders wonderful fine art hearts. More art from Tricia - Art Propensity


Holiday Ornament Ideas

Dannon Yogurt Lid Ornaments - from Brenda Robson

Take a Dannon yogurt lid. The design challenge is to draw a line through the printed expiration date with a Sharpie. Use that line to create a Christmas design.  We turned it into a horizon line for the manger and shepherds with a star.  Wise men on camels worked too. It could be a Christmas tree or Candy cane or a cross in stained glass. After drawing the design in Sharpie Fine Point Markers., color with Washable Markers. (all I had, I didn't try any others - Permanent Markers. may work better). Then cut out a circle from the shiny side of foil. Put Glue Sticks. glue on the edges, not Elmer's- and secure to the lid. It becomes a beautiful ornament when you add a paper clip to hang. I was amazed at how many loved this lesson. It's good in a pinch in December, too.

Pet Angels (or People) - from Linda Woods


For "Pet angels" - (or people) you need a photo of the head of a dog or cat or person, or whatever, that can fit inside a sprayed gold or silver bottle cap. We used copper, brass, aluminum, and Gold Sheets,. colored Twisteez Wire., and those metallic/translucent ropes. that are sold by the yard and can be untwisted (they were the wings). We used Gold Pipe Cleaners. for the halo, siliconed onto the back of the bottlecap.  Before the bottlecap was siliconed to the dress, we poked a hole and made a metallic wire loop for hanging. The angels' dresses were cut from metal sheeting that is thick enough to repousse but thin enough to cut with scissors. We sometimes cut holes in them with Hole Paper Punch. and used colored and metallic bits of wire to weave through the holes, "sew" metal together, and so on. We also used sequins to decorate the angels dresses.

Bonnie is now an Angel Dog - Meet Linda Woods
St. Johns Lower School - Keep clicking Arts at top



Sculpey Ornaments - from Denise Pannell

Denise made these samples herself - but kids CAN do this. Try from 3rd grade on up. She wrapped the Sculpey around glass balls, baking them, and painting. I have made several Christmas ornaments this way and by cutting shapes out with a needle (make thin slabs of Sculpey.) and adding silver wire and Glitter. - snowman with earmuffs attached together by a wire, iridescent glitter. for the "snow". Try these with an Art Club group first... maybe as a fundraiser. Check the Dollar Store for cheap ornaments to cover. Use any Polymer Clay. - or try Paper Clay. - or Model Magic. (air dry clay would shrink too much).

Foil Tooled "Lantern" - Symbols of Iowa - from Liz Cooperrider
Heyburn Elementary School, St. Maries, Idaho


Capital Tree Christmas Ornaments for the tree from Idaho....

The project we ended up doing was a metal tooling project with 38 gauge aluminum and permanent markers. (grades K-5) The requirements were tough: the ornaments had to be light weight, weatherproof, 3-D, and colorful. I think we did pretty well considering the requirements, even the kindergartners did a nice job. They turned out great! My only misgiving is that they are fragile because the metal is so soft. We tried a heavier gauge metal but it was too hard to tool. (this was done with classroom teachers -they experimented with several list member ideas --then came up with this original design)


First we came up with images that have something to do with Idaho, and St. Maries in particular. The images were of: a tugboat, white pine tree, moose, bear, mountain blue bird, star garnet, mountain/river scene, etc.. we also threw in some Christmassy images too. We made simple line drawings of the images that would fit in a 5" x 5" (13 x 13 cm) square.


Next we took the metal foil and cut it into 6" x 6" (15 x 15 cm) squares and folded the edges over twice to make a frame, and to make the square more rigid.


Then the students taped a copy of one of the images to the back side of their metal and traced the line drawing on to the metal. (We gave the kids a carpet square which has a quality of boiled wool to tool on.)


Next they took the paper off the metal, and worked from both sides of the metal with wooden Clay Modeling Tools. to create a relief pattern on their images. (We didn't have the little kids add texture and relief - just the older kids.) Then they colored the images with permanent markers. (Note: the markers did not work on the colored foils- only the silver-aluminum)


Next we took a 20 gauge copper wire and a 1/8 inch hole punch to wire the individual squares together to make triangular lantern two squares deep (total of 6 squares per lantern)


(Note: Liz needed a no-fail lesson. Every child needed to be included. They provided images for the children to use - but you could allow for personal creativity. Liz is not an art teacher - but a very dedicated classroom teacher - and she did come up with this original idea!)





* More Christmas lesson ideas on this page!!

Note from Sharon Henneborn on Decorating for a Concert.



Students at work

I enjoyed a team relationship with the music department so it was a big team effort to produce a good show every year. Good exposure for the Visual Arts production as well as the music. I was glad to have equal billing with the Music Department. Our community was also very diverse. ~ K-5 school. We filled the walls with large banners done on the Kraft rolls paper. The theme which has stayed interesting through many years is Snow Musicians. We worked in groups to plan and produce huge snow people playing instruments. Occasionally a tree or reindeer or penguin would join the snow folks with an instrument or in a chorus. Each separate piece could stand alone as a creative contribution from the artists and hung all together could be an amazing show! When I bought a Digital Cameras. I printed and the artists attached a snap of themselves in production in the studio. The only requirement was winter season, music - no holiday/religious symbols, and large enough to be easily enjoyed from across the room. Rubric was a little more complex. Some students added symbols after taking down the show and before taking home. I kept a favorite that hung over and covered the storage room door with a large snow lady enjoying playing a sax. She wore a flowing scarf designed with piano notes. This was an easy to make a lesson plan that was rich in representation of the art standards both visual & performing. Rubric could be simple or complicated depending on the grade level.


Decorating Suggestions for Performances

Here are directions on how to make a Star of David:
This was shared in Riverdeep Newsletter.

More How To links:

These paper relief stars are nice too:




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