Magical Childhood Newsletter
2003 Holiday Issue
December 2, 2003

Happy Holidays!

I've put together some crafts, decorating ideas, etc. in honor of the holidays.  I've tried to include things for all faiths and lots that work for everyone.  If you have crafts, traditions or links about other holidays please send them in and I'll put them in future newsletters.

I wish you and your families a magical, memorable holiday season!



Holiday Traditions from around the world.....
From Sweden to Israel to Mexico, here are pages of information on holidays all over.  There's history, traditions, recipes and more.

12 Days of Crafts:

1)  Candle painting

If you've ever tried to paint a candle, you know that most paint slides right off the wax.  Here's a way to prevent that and make your own decorative candles with the kids.


white candles (wider ones are easier for kiddos)
watercolor paint
dish soap or a bar of soap
brushes (smaller ones work better for detail)

1.  Dip brush in the dish soap (or wet them and get them soapy with the bar of soap) and then dip them in the watercolor paints and load the brush with paint.  Paint onto candle.

2.  Rinse in water, dab dry and dip in more soap and more paint.

3.  Allow to dry for 2-3 days until no longer tacky to the touch.

These are vivid, pretty and burn like normal candles.  Try personalizing a few and burning them throughout the holiday season.

My kids loved painting their candles and painted every candle in the house.  They do stay sticky for quite some time, so use care if you're going to wrap them for gifts.

2)  Star of David tin cut-outs

Trace a star on a disposable aluminum pie plate or roasting pan and cut out with scissors.  Punch a hole in the top to hang and let kids poke dents into the star with a nail or pen.  They can follow a pattern or just make random marks.  Hang with a ribbon.

This can also be done with other shapes, of course.

3)  Gift magnet

Here's a super easy craft that uses up those free advertising magnets in a pretty way.

one advertising magnet or magnetic tape
cardboard scraps
wrapping paper, cloth scraps or children's art
glue and/or tape
embellishments (ribbon, tiny bows, glitter glue, etc.)

Wrap a small square of cardboard with the decorative paper.  Add ribbon & trim.  Make a tiny gift tag or write who it's to and from on the front or back.  Glue the magnet to the back.

4)  Soft and sweet no-sew fleece blanket

This craft is simple enough for small children to do (or help with) but looks beautiful when finished.  You simply cut fringe all along two large squares of fleece and tie the strips together.  For full instructions, go here:
You can also use the same principle and make a no-sew pillow.

5)  Hand print ornaments

Trace your child's hand on felt or craft foam, punch a hole through the top, write the child's name and the year and hang with ribbon.  Make new ones every year to track their growth in a fun way.

6)  Make paper snowflakes out of pretty wrapping paper.  Use to decorate windows and walls.

7)  Cotton ball snowmen
Have kids trace cups, saucers and other round shapes to make a snowman on a piece of construction paper.  Give them a dish of white glue and a paintbrush to paint glue onto the snowman's body, and then a pile of cotton balls to cover him with.  Add scraps of felt or buttons for eyes, nose, hat, etc.

8)  Hand print wreath

Trace each child's hand onto a piece of cardboard and cut out.  You can trace with fingers open or just trace a mitten shape around the fingers to save time on cutting.  Have the kids trace around the cardboard onto construction paper.  For one child, use green paper.  For two or more, use a different color for each child (like green, orange and black for Kwanzaa).  You'll want at least 10 hands.  The more you cut, the fuller the wreath.

Cut the center out of a paper plate and have the kids glue their hands all around the plate, fingers pointing out, to make a wreath shape.

Cut out red circles for berries or tiny ornaments and cut a curled banner shape to write the year or Happy Holidays or whatever you like.  Glue to the bottom.

Attach a length of ribbon or yarn to the back with tape to hang.

9) Jingle bell jewelry

Let the kids string a few jingle bells and beads on a length of ribbon or yarn and tie them to make anklets.  Tie between each bell and bead if you want to keep them separate.  These are great fun to dance around in and get you in a holiday mood on the dreariest of days!

10)  Hand print towels
Here's a good baby keepsake for loved ones.  Dip the tot's hand in fabric paint and stamp it on a dish towel, facing down.  Then use a fabric pen or paint to write "Best Grandma Hands Down!" or a similar message.

11) Origami Ornaments
Here are instructions for darling little origami trees, Santas and bells.
I would recommend the front page but it launched into hyper little Christmas music that woke my baby and made me very grumpy so I won't.  ;)

And here is an Origami Dreidel:

12)  Baby sock advent hunt

25 old baby booties or small socks (find them cheap at thrift stores or make small stocking shapes yourself from felt or scraps)
1 8x11 square of felt in whatever color you like
fabric or craft glue (or a needle and thread)
decorative trim, buttons, bows, fabric paint or whatever decorations you like
25 tiny treats or notes

1.  Trace numbers 1-25 onto the felt and cut out.  You can do this freeform or use a stencil.  (You can also use fabric paint and simply write the numbers on.)

2.  Glue a number to the front of each sock or tack it on with needle and thread.

3.  Let the children decorate the socks with trim.  Encourage them to be really elaborate and make each one unique.

4.  Put one small treat in each sock.  Alternately, write a joke, silly poem, promise for a fun outing, etc. on pieces of paper and tuck one of those in each.

5.  Hide the socks throughout the house.

6.  Each day of December until Christmas, children must search for that day's sock.  If they find one for a future date, they can try to remember its location for next time.  When they find the day's sock, they get the treat inside and put the sock in a basket to see the days pile up.

** If you have more than one child, assign a different color for felt numbers for each so each one gets her/his own set.

Check out the newsletters from past Decembers for lots more holiday crafts and activities.

What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is an American holiday tradition started by African Americans to celebrate their African heritage.  This holiday is based on 7 principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith (in ourselves, others and goodness).

Traditional Kwanzaa colors are green, orange and black.  Kwanzaa is celebrated over 7 days, starting December 26.  It is not a religious holiday and does not replace Christmas.  This is a wonderful holiday to research with your children, no matter what your heritage.

Here's a page with info, crafts, activities and more about Kwanzaa.

Homemade Glitter.......
Add 5-6 drops food coloring to 1/2 cup salt and stir well. Cook in microwave for 1-2 minutes or spread on waxed paper and let air dry. Store in an airtight container. Use as you would use glitter.

December marks the start of a new website, Natural Family Online, with articles about attachment parenting, cloth diapering, gentle discipline, natural health and more.  Oh yes-- and me!  I'm writing a magical childhood column for them as well.  You can check it out at:

Here's a page of fabulous sounding Christmas books.

Here's one of the new articles on the Magical Childhood web site....

Perfect Pictures:
How to take your own family photos

It includes suggestions for props, locations and poses to take special holiday pictures.  You can check it out here:
I've also written several more in the articles and crafts sections, as well as put up two thought provoking articles by magical mama Teresa Lhotka.

This family started a business based on a sweet little family tradition they made up.

Here are all sorts of wonderful Hanukkah crafts and many, many links:

Magical Mama Susan has started her own newsletter, Leap of Faith.  She shared a copy of the Christmas issue with me and it is full of great crafts and ideas for Christian mothers.  Like the Magical Childhood newsletter, it is not for profit.  You can subscribe by visiting here:

Eat a snowman or winter scene!

Here's a fun way to get kids to eat their veggies.  Make a snowman on a platter with 3 ice cream scoops of mashed potatoes.  Peas, carrot sticks and corn make great eyes, noses and buttons.

To make a winter scene, use a large platter or baking dish and lay a foundation of snow (mashed potatoes).  Hollow out a lake (light gravy) and add trees (cooked broccoli spears).  Parmesan makes nice snow.  You can get as elaborate as you like.  Let the kids come up with their own ideas.  Then reheat in the oven and eat!

This site has lots of information about the solstice and many sweet suggestions for celebrating it with family.

             Homemade Tree Decorations

Some easy inexpensive ornaments and decorations are...

--Hot glue a ribbon to the top of a pine cone and tie a bow.  The pine cones can be spray painted or left natural, depending on your decorating style.

--Make up a kids' dough recipe, cut out shapes with cookie cutters, pierce a hole in the top and bake, then paint.  Make sure kids know they're not edible.  Alternately, you can make actual cookies and let the family munch them.

--large candy canes

--ribbons tied in bows throughout the tree

--silk or dried flowers

--You can buy unfinished flat wooden shapes like  hearts in craft and sewing stores for about $2-$3 per 50 or so.  Paint them and personalize them, then either drill a hole to hand or hot glue a ribbon on.

--You can use plastic canvas and yarn to quickly make little 2" boxes that look like presents.  Simply use any stitch you like on 6 squares and then join them in a square and form a bow on top and hang.  I stitch in an alternate color up the sides so it looks like they're really tied with ribbons.

--Small children's toys or booties can be sentimental ornaments and cute.

--Rip up old, outgrown or ruined clothes into strips and tie onto the branches to form bows.  This is an especially nice way to reuse a ruined holiday children's outfit or favorite piece of clothing.

--Jewelry works, especially with Victorian trees.  Anything from drop earrings to gold bracelets can add sparkle and charm.

--You can buy beads and fake pearls by the yard in sewing stores for much cheaper than garland in stores. Besides draping it the traditional way, you can cut smaller lengths and drape them over branches like icicles.

More fun ways to decorate for the holidays....


I tried very hard to get this out to you Sunday so y'all would have plenty of time to get little baby booties set up for the advent project.  :)  Alas, it was not to be and I lecture you folks enough about taking care of you that I figured I shouldn't give up all my sleep to get it done.  So in the spirit of Flylady (anything worth doing is worth doing poorly after you played with the kids... or something like that), we'll all just have to have children finding 3 baby booties at once the first day and getting extra treats.

That sounds kinda fun, actually.

For goodness sakes, don't get sucked into the shopping hysteria and waste this wonderful season with grumpy masses in malls.  Duck out of the mayhem with your kiddos and go look at some lights, read some good books, dress silly, talk about holidays when you were a kid, make some crafts, light some candles, say some prayers, eat some treats, count your blessings, and remember what it's all really about.

Ho ho ho.  Take care, all.



A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2003, Alicia Bayer

A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and those who love them.  To subscribe, send a message to or  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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