Being creative with the kids doesn’t have to be heavy on the wallet, writes Angie Gough

I do love when the festive season rolls around but, oh lordy, the consumption levels send me over the edge. The kids can’t cope with all the stuff they get and this year I’m keeping it really simple with one big gift – something they can wear and something to read.

With wishes of a simpler Christmas in mind, I’ve got some cracking little giftables that you and the kids you love can make together without dipping into your pockets. All you need is items you can forage or dig out of your recycling bin, a little paint and some imagination. 

Pine cone garland

You will need: string, pine cones, paint, glue and glitter (optional).

Step 1:  Go to the park and collect pine cones (Epping Forest is epic but if you don’t fancy a trek, there’s a guy on Ridley Road Market – in front of Mister Donut – who’ll sell you a full bag of cones for a couple of quid. You’re welcome ;))

Step 2:  Paint the pine cones as you please. You can use paintbrushes, but straight up dipping and finger painting is a lot of fun. Add glitter, pom poms, teeny rolled up tissue paper or tinfoil balls.

Step 3: Allow to dry, then twist your colourful cones at intervals around the string.

Voila! A gorgeous garland you can use year after year.

CultureArts_AngieGough5Bum prints

I’ve nicked this idea from Hackney’s brilliant lostmy.name blog, brought to you by the super creative people behind those personalised Lost My Name books (a magical gift for little ones if you happen to be stuck for ideas). It was a highlight of of our artyfarty endeavours this year and we’re rolling it out again this holiday season.

You will need: paper (any kind – even newspaper will do), paint, paintbrush (optional), marker pen. A bum.

Step 1:  Whip off your baby’s nappy and clean that bum bum.

Step 2:.  Cover bum cheeks in paint (you can do this with a brush OR squeeze some paint onto a paper plate or inside of an old cereal box or whatever and dip the baby for double the delight).

Step 3:  Plonk baby onto paper. Bum side down of course. Repeat.

Step 4:  Remove baby. Possibly to the bath 😉

Step 5: When the prints are dry, add smiley angel faces, kissing reindeer, an elephant trunk, or whatever else you dream up.

Step 6:  Cut them out, pop in a frame or mount on some coloured card.

Hang on wall or send to grandma. Oh! Be sure to take photos of this experience and keep for the 18th / 21st / wedding party.

SnowmanThumb-print snowmen

Coloured card and white paint work great for this, but go crazy with coloured snowmen on white if you fancy. Simply pop some paint onto a jar lid or saucer, let the kids dip their fingers and fill the page with prints. Thumbs work great for the body, index finger for the head, but hey, don’t be afraid to mix it up – the best snowmen come in all shapes ’n’ sizes.

Add coloured paper shapes for noses / hats / scarves and use a sharpie or any old marker for the eyes, mouth, buttons. If you’re more of a penguin person, or fancy a robin redbreast, take a look at my Pinterest for more ideas.


DIY (design-it-yourself) wrapping paper

Got a lot of kids’ artwork you need to recycle? Spare their feelings and instead of chucking it in the bin when they’re not looking, use it as wrapping paper! Simples.

If you want to spend quality time or just need to buy yourself some, set the kiddos up with some newspaper, leftover wrapping paper, old scraps and a load of paint and let ‘em rip. Add some loo roll inserts, empty bottles and jar lids for printing with, some Washi tape for painting over and ripping off, and some glitter and stickers if you have them handy.

Easy peasy, and your gifts will look ace with a nice ribbon or piece of string.

You’ll find more festive inspiration on my Instagram and Pinterest, come find me @TheArtsCrusader.

Wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season, hope yours is totally #artskicking.  Swoosh!

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