Last year it was still November when Christmas decorations began in our house! Usually, we do loads of Christmas crafts, but last year we were exceptionally creative…

It was a bit sad to think we couldn’t travel and meet our family in Italy, nor to visit friends due to the confinement restrictions. I thought that making things together waiting for Christmas could help our mood and bring some magic to our home. It worked: doing activities together getting ready for the festivities was fun, exciting and joyful.

I am sharing with you our favourite creative projects, past and most recent – mostly made using recycled materials – hoping to inspire you and your kids during these festivities!

Giant cardboard gingerbread house

The highlight of our creative projects done last year is definitely a giant gingerbread house made from a large cardboard box. I prepared the structure, then my little girl helped me to draw and cut doors and windows, and finally decorate it with white paint.

It was fun, daddy contributed too, creating a simple circuit for the interior lighting!

As you can see in the pictures, we made it in the kitchen… only in the end I realised it was too big to fit through the door!!! So, our cardboard house was stuck in the kitchen for a month!!!

Make your very own wrapping paper

Every Christmas we spend a very pleasant time creating personalised wrapping papers to wrap gifts for friends and family. The techniques we used over the years reflect my kids’ skills in painting and decorating. The element that unites all the projects is the use of recycled materials, for the most part.

Potato stamp printing

One beautiful December morning four years ago my daughter (she was nearly 3 years old) wanted so much to paint that we started decorating metres and metres of packaging paper. I offered her some washable paints in basic colours and stamps made from potatoes cut in two, as I used to do with my sister when we were children. We printed stars, trees, candles and holly leaves.  Then I let her go free painting on paper, with some incredible outcome!

Washi-tape paper decoration

Another day, that same year, I involved my elder son, 9 years old at that time. He decorated recycled packaging paper using festive washi tape (cheap materials from Flying Tiger). His creativity had no limits!

Cardboard scraps and tubes stamp printing

This year we created our very own stamps simply using cardboard scraps shaped into triangles, toilet rolls and paint, and we used them to print shapes onto recycled packing paper.

Then we added details with acrylic paint markers (posca pens). Which is your favourite?

Finger printing

Another art technique popular among kids: finger printing! We used it to make lovely reindeers and colourful Christmas lights as motifs of our wrapping paper.

Linocut printing

Now that my kids are a bit older, I can offer them techniques more elaborated to create our personalised wrapping paper, such as printing with ink and linocut stamps (in this post the basics of lino printing).

A subject that we love are leaves!

Personalised wrapping paper with leaves at

Diy Christmas tree ornaments

Our Christmas tree is decorated with all the colourful trinkets made by me and my kids over the years. Maybe it’s not very classy, but we love it so much! It tells about us and the lovely moments we spent together to create handmade ornaments!

Hanging from our Christmas tree you can spot lots of different diy decorations, from cross stitch stars to golden pinecones, from felt softies to paper mache baubles, but our faves are those made of salt dough and Hama beads.

Salt dough ornaments

I made them with my son almost ten years ago but are still perfect! For my little boy it was fun kneading the dough, rolling it, cutting shapes with cookie cutters and making a hole with a straw. Once baked and cooled, we painted our ornaments with tempera paint. Here you can find my salt dough recipe.

Hama beads ornaments

Got as a present years ago by my boy, this open-ended toy is so popular with my kids and so versatile! Both my children loved to create stars and other Christmassy items with all those colourful beads! Infinite, creative combinations of shades and shapes! Here are some past creations by my children.

Cardboard tube Elves on the shelves

Found on internet last year, Missy wanted to create these lovely Elves. This is the link with the instructions we followed,

We used only paper instead of felt, but the result is still great. What do you think?

Gingerbread house

The sweetest memory of last year’s Christmas holidays: a gingerbread house made with my two kids’ collaboration! Found a recipe on the internet, I asked my son to draw a house plan, he did it and I transferred it to baking paper, using it to cut the different parts of the house out of the pastry dough.

Once baked, he assembled walls and roof using a very thick icing. My youngest helped in decorating the smallest parts, like gingerbread men, trees, door and shutters.

This time I prefer not to share my recipe with you because… the house lasted the time to take a few shots!

Anyway, never mind! We had a good excuse to eat it right away!!!

Eco-friendly nativity scene

To conclude, a throwback to 2012…

Christmas was approaching, we were all alone on that first December in the country we had moved to a few months earlier. I liked to involve my son – he was 4 years old – in a preparatory activity for Christmas. I didn’t have many materials available, but the school proposed recycling of cartons and plastic bottles. Here was the idea: to create a nativity scene by reusing materials from the recycling bin!

The characters were born from bottles of liquid yogurt filled with pebbles and then lined with scraps of fabric. Ox and donkey from toilet paper rolls. Smaller cardboard tubes lined with cotton wool turned into sheep. The cave? Obviously a cardboard box! The following year the Three Kings arrived (they got lost!?) and the new location was our fireplace no longer in use.

It is still in use!

Thanks for reading this far! I hope to inspire you with some creative projects with your children! And… Merry Christmas!

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