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Keeping the children entertained over the holidays can be tricky, so we put together five fun and crafty things for children to make and bake. Use these to decorate your Christmas tree or to add sparkle to the table, or you can give them to someone as a gift.

 

Start off your crafty Christmas with things to bake (and then make)

Fairy cakes

Little cupcakes are easy to make and fun to decorate.

Here is a basic recipe that makes about 24 mini cupcakes, or 12 big ones.

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a muffin tray, or use paper muffin cups.
  • Beat together 1 cup (250ml) white sugar and 250g butter until fluffy and pale.
  • Lightly beat 4 eggs and whisk into the mix, then add 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla essence
  • Sift together 2 cups (500ml) self-raising flour and a pinch of salt. Alternately, add flour and 50ml milk, folding the mixture together as you add.
  • Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown

To decorate the cakes, pick up some frosting or make your own icing. Ice the cakes in white to look like snow, or add a bit of red or green food colouring. Top them off with glazed fruit, silver balls or cake glitter. Cake and party shops often stock edible Christmas decorations.

Paper chains

You can make a variety of paper chains that will add colour to your tree or around windows.

To make a gingerbread man chain, fold a strip of paper as many times as possible accordion style. Trace a cookie cutter shape, or draw a gingerbread man shape and cut out. Don’t cut where they are holding hands. Unfold the paper to reveal a chain of gingerbread men.

For a traditional chain, cut strips of paper. Use old wrapping paper, different coloured cardboard or any colourful paper. Staple or tape the ends of the first strip together. Pass the next strip through this circle and fasten its ends together. Keep going until you have reached your desired length.

Papier-mâché

You can make any shape you like, but you need to find an object in that shape so that you can paste the paper over it. Dishes work well, or try to find something that would work as a Christmas decoration, such as a star or bell.

  • Get some scrap paper or newspaper and tear it into strips
  • For the paste, mix one part flour to one part water and stir until smooth. Add a few teaspoons of salt to prevent mould from growing. It should be the consistency of thick glue.
  • Dip strips of paper into the mixture, pass through fingers to get rid of excess mixture and place over the shape you are using. Cover the shape in a layer and leave to dry.
  • Add another few layers and leave to dry. Do this until the papier-mâché is the desired thickness.
  • Paint or decorate your object.

Play dough

Making your own play dough is a fun and easy way to keep children entertained and you probably have everything you need in your kitchen cupboard.

Mix together one cup of flour and one cup of salt, and slowly mix in 1 cup of water. You might need to add more flour or water until the mixture is the right consistency. Add a few drops of food colouring. Children can make decorations or a nativity scene from the dough.

Pompoms

Add some colourful decorations to your tree, or sew one onto a hat for dad’s Christmas present. Here’s how to make them:

  • Cut out two circles from cardboard and cut another circle in the centre of each shape.
  • Place the two circles together and wind wool around the circles. Use a large needle to pass the wool through the centre if necessary.
  • Carefully cut the wool around the outside edge.
  • Pass a length of wool between the two pieces of cardboard and around all of the wool. Tie it off.
  • Remove the cardboard, shake out the pompom and trim the edges so that they are even.

Tamlyn Vincent

Read more on how to enjoy a budget-friendly Christmas and how to green your Christmas. If you enjoyed the crafty Christmas – things to make and bake, then find more: Fun activities to do with kids.