Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Haul Out the Holly: Day 10 with let's go fly a kite

Hi! I am KJ. I live in Toronto, Canada and write a little blog called let's go fly a kite. I like to sew and craft with my two daughters (age 2 and 5).   My blog has a collaborative aspect as I often feature projects and the creative adventures of my friends and family. I also try to post an equal amount of girl and boy posts, or at least gender neutral ones.   I have never guest blogged before so this is a new experience.

When Gwen offered me a spot in her Haul out the Holly event, I wasn't sure what I would post about. My favourite Christmas decoration is a popcorn garland, which needs no explanation and I am a traditionalist: my background is half Scandinavian so I lean toward a red and white Christmas, I love Nativity sets (the older the better), Christmas carols, cranberries and paper whites.

I also love gingerbread men.   Each year, my sister and I celebrate gingerbread and today I am going to show you a few ideas to host a gingerbread celebration for young children. This year's party was a no-bake portable one as we brought it to my dad's house (about 350 miles away) to celebrate.

Decoration: Easy Gingerbread Garland

I strongly believe that every party needs a garland. This is an easy one.
Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out about a dozen men from brown felt.  
Stitch them together with a single running seam, as shown (photo below, top right).
Next, have fun and decorate each gingerbread with Scribbles 3D paint in brilliant white.  If you want to add a little colour, there are some terrific felt stick-ons at Michael's.  I added some candy canes.

Decoration: Easy No Bake Cookie Wreath

Cut out a circular wreath form out of cardboard and wrap with strips of brown kraft paper. 
Purchase some gingerbread cookies and hot glue to the wreath form.

Sensory Experience: Gingerbread Play Dough Mats

Before you get started with your gingerbread houses, you might want to have an activity for the kids while you are waiting for any late comers.

This year we created a little play dough center with gingerbread play dough mats (essentially these are a gingerbread paper cut out laminated).  My girls love to use play dough in this way and it keeps things fairly tidy.

You can use store-bought or homemade play dough and it is nice to use a peppermint extract to enhance the sensory experience.

Sensory Experience: Cinnamon and Sandpaper Ornaments

This is an easy and interesting ornament.
Cut out a gingerbread shape out of sandpaper.  If you want the shape to be an ornament, punch a hold and thread a string or pipe cleaner.
Depending on your age group, you may want to discuss what cinnamon is first and then start rubbing the stick on the sandpaper.  It should give the sandpaper a nice scent.

What to Wear

My girls like to wear hats. For our gingerbread celebration, I hit the restaurant supply store and picked up some paper chef hats.  The hats usually have vent holes on top, so for this party I threaded handmade pompoms.  The kids also wore their Christmas aprons (not shown).

No Bake / Non Edible Gingerbread Houses

One of my earliest Christmas memories is making a graham cracker gingerbread house at my best friend's house.  For young children, I prefer to use a milk carton as a form and hot-glue the crackers to the milk carton, this way the child does not get frustrated as the house does not collapse.  (Realizing I didn't have enough milk cartons at my dad's place, I hit McDonald's).
It is a good idea to place each house on foil-covered cardboard for easy transport.

For decoration, I like to use a lazy susan to display the candy.  IKEA's SNUDDA lazy susan can easily be transformed with some gift wrap and pompom fringe.

Reading Activity: Gingerbread Baby

This year, we read Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby. The kids loved it. The illustrations are beautiful too.   I highly recommend it.
"I am the Gingerbread Baby,
Fresh from the pan.
If you want me,
Catch me if you can!"

Favour Bags

We made easy treat bags from small paper bags, stamped with a gingerbread man.  Each bag contained a melt away bead gingerbread ornament, a cookie, a cookie cutter, and gingerbread crayons.   There are all sorts of ideas in blogland about making crayons.  Back in October, I found a gingerbread silicone cake mold for approximately $3 at the Christmas Tree Shop (Boston area).  I found it took close to 35 minutes in a 200 F oven for the crayons to melt.

So, I hope you take away a few ideas to celebrate gingerbread with your kids.  You don't need to be an expert or baker or a crafter to have fun with gingerbread.  The gingerbread man is such a simple shape and has so many applications to satisfy all the senses! 

So turn up the carols and have fun with your celebration. In keeping with the collaborative aspect of my posts, my middle sister created this little keep calm parody that I thought you might enjoy.

Merry Christmas to you and yours,

These are some fantastic ideas, KJ! I love the cookie wreath and the favor bags, and that printable is so fun! I am constantly amazed by the projects that KJ shares over at her blog let's go fly a kite. Her ideas are so clever and unique. She shares some incredible projects for kids and great recycling/repurposing projects, too. And she can sew! Thanks, KJ, for sharing your gingerbread party ideas with us!

Click HERE to see more Haul Out the Holly tutorials!


My GREEN Life and Real Estate said...

So many great projects in one place! I think I might take the gingerbread garland and intersperse it with another form....not sure what yet...but I'm hatching a plan! Thanks for sharing Gwen and KJ!

Kindra-At Home With K said...

We're doing the carton gingerbread houses at school this week! Loved all the fun ideas you showed here today!

Pattycake Manners said...

What a great bunch of ideas!!!I really wish my Mom and I had thought of the milk cartons a number of years ago! We used the graham crackers and some kind of hot sugar "glue" and both burnt our finger tips trying to get the tiny pieces to stay together!! Lovely post !! ;)

Andi said...

WOW!!! This is fantastic! So many cute crafts and awesome tips! The milk carton idea for little ones making a gingerbread house is so clever! Thanks for sharing!

chris said...

So many fun ideas...a whole party's worth. Thank you!

Kristin @ Yellow Bliss Road said...

Wow, all great ideas, love that I can do them with my son!

Fowl Single File said...

So many great, kid-friendly ideas! I want to try the cookie wreath first!

Unknown said...

wow KJ! What an amazing post that was! I don't know if I've ever seen a more thorough post about gingerbread! Fantastic and chock full of great (and great tasting) ideas! way to do your first guest-post, i'm so impressed!

Unknown said...

What a fun party! And I love the look on the keep calm gingerbread man's face :)

Anonymous said...

Cute! I love the gingerbread house form. The one time we tried them, it was disasterous. The "Keep Calm" poster is cute, too :).

Maya Kuzman said...

Wow KJ! So many fabulous ideas! I love the gingerbread house, the wreath and the chef hats!!
Thank you for sharing!

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

Gwen, Thanks for letting me guest post over here today and readers thanks so much for the kind words. It's made my day.

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

What a fun party. I love all the details! Thanks for sharing. And Gwen, thanks for hosting such a fun time- you've done a terrific job!

Tanya said...

Such great ideas! I'm going to make a garland for my cookie exchange, and maybe a wreath, too, if I can keep hubby out of the gingerbread long enough to heat up my glue gun!

Ashley said...

What an adorable party idea! I love the crayons and the wreath.

Katie said...

Great ideas, love the printable saying...that's my favorite one for the holidays that I've seen yet!

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