Just hear those sleigh bells ringing and your tot is whining too (ring-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding!). Yes, the holiday season is full of cheer, but no dose of Christmas spirit makes it easy to entertain a restless toddler on a frigid day. What to do when your kid is climbing up the walls (literally), an outside romp just isn’t in the cards and the novelty of those new building blocks has worn off? Sure, you could put on Home Alone or another family-friendly holiday flick, but that’s not exactly the most energy-busting or stimulating toddler activity. Here’s an idea: Get creative with an age-appropriate art project instead. Try one of these Christmas crafts for toddlers—from bouncy ball paint creations to your standard cardstock and glue projects—you’ll both be feeling jolly again in no time.
1. Felt and Candy Cane Christmas Tree
Design these Christmas tree candy cane holsters with your tot for an easy kid-friendly craft that requires nothing more than a foam start sticker, a swatch of green felt and a handful of brightly colored pom poms. Grown-ups will need to handle cutting the felt into the shape of a Christmas tree—complete with slits for the candy cane—but from there toddlers can take the lead gluing down pom poms decorations to give the evergreen some extra pizzazz. (Note: If you bust out some silver glitter glue for tinsel, your toddler will thank you.)
2. Christmas Leaf Painting
The leaves may not be as vibrant as they were a month ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still put that nature collection to good use. Case in point, this Christmas craft, which involves transforming a withered fallen leaf into a festive Santa face. Some non-toxic paint, a brush and a piece of string are all you need to pull off this kid-friendly craft. Of course, your toddler might not be able to do justice to Santa’s jolly visage—so if you’re invested in the outcome of the craft (i.e., something that looks nice hanging from the tree), you might want to set out a few extra leaves so your kid can do abstract art while you make the Christmas magic happen.
3. Paper Bag Reindeer Puppet
Depending on the dexterity of your child, a grown-up might need to do the scissors work on this brown paper bag craft. That said, the rest of the project involves little more than gluing pieces in place—an excellent exercise in visual-spatial reasoning. Little kids will enjoy the hands-on activity and the experience of watching the drab paper bag turn into one of Santa’s trusty reindeers. Best of all, once craft is complete, your tot will walk away with a charming (and jingling) reindeer puppet to use for holiday-themed imaginary play.
4. Fizzy Christmas Presents
Good news: You can find nearly all the materials needed to pull off this toddler-friendly craft right in your own kitchen—all except the tiny trinkets. Little hands can get to work mixing water, food coloring and baking soda to make these festive parcels, and the grand finale is hard to beat: Once the presents have frosted over, toddlers can start ‘unwrapping’ them with a splash of vinegar for a STEAM experience that’s sure to inspire some oohs and aahs.
5. Christmas Stocking Craft
This Christmas stocking craft comes with a free printable template and the foolproof (i.e., toddler-proof) finished product comes together with minimal supplies. Yep, all you need are some scraps of paper (you know, the kind you’re constantly collecting off the floor), a glue stick, a pair of scissors and some red or green cardstock. The scraps of paper will be the decorative touch, but honestly anything goes with this stocking: Equip your tot with some printed wrapping paper or just give her some strips of plain white printer paper and a sheet of stickers—either way, this craft is a mess-free Christmas miracle.
6. Reverse Fingerprint Christmas Tree Cards
Any craft that involves dipping tiny digits directly into paint is an instant hit, and if you can score a few attractive Christmas cards out of the project, it’s a double win. Try out this holiday card craft with a little kid for an engaging activity that promises to inspire creativity while providing a sensory experience to boot—and set an older sibling up with it, too. (Tracing and cutting are the only skills required for a kid to fly solo). Your kid’s fingers might look a mess when the project is complete, but the finished product will be a personalized work of art worth the extra handwashing.
7. Handprint Christmas Peace Dove
News to no one: Your kid’s handprint can be transformed into basically anything—in this case, a Christmas dove. This craft is sweet, simple and ideal for the little kid crowd (assuming you can get that little hand to...just...stay...still) and the materials used—paper plate, pipe cleaners, glue stick, paint—are easy to come by and particularly toddler-friendly. Plus, if you swap the paint out for some tempera paint sticks, you’ve got yourself a mess-free art project.
8. Glittering Popsicle Stick Christmas Trees
Grab some popsicle sticks and some bling (rhinestones,) and you have the makings of a craft that even the youngest can accomplish. This one is exceedingly simple—as any toddler art project should be. That said, we suggest you buy plain craft sticks so your tot has the chance to slather them with green paint to make the creative joy last a little longer. Next, your kid can exercise his fine motor (and aesthetic) skills by gluing the sticks together into the shape of a tree and bedazzling them just so. Easy peasy.
9. Christmas Handprint Art
Borrow your toddler’s mitts to make this super cute and exceedingly simple handprint craft. Little kids will get a kick out of having their palms and fingers slathered in non-toxic acrylic paint and the final product is just as pleasing as the process. There are six different handprint pictures to make, too, so your toddler can enjoy three rounds of crafting fun from this one easy art project.
10. Pom Pom Sweethearts
Some special equipment—namely, a pom pom maker—is required to craft this smiling snowball Christmas tree ornament, but the process itself is straightforward and toddler-friendly. Although little kids will need help when it comes to cutting the facial features out of the colorful felt, your child can participate by stuffing the wool into the pom pom maker (little kids will be impressed to see the perfectly packed snowball that emerges) and gluing the pieces of felt into place to complete the ornament.
11. Glue Snowman
‘Just a dot, not a lot’ is a concept that doesn’t really stick (so to speak) until at least kindergarten. Fortunately, using a whole lot of glue isn’t always a bad thing so bust out the Elmer’s and let your toddler go to town making this adorable snowman ornament. Wax paper, white glitter, glue and a handful of pom poms are all you need to pull it off—just keep in mind that really little kids will need considerable guidance to make sure the ornament doesn’t end up looking more like a polka-dotted glue glob than a snowman.
12. Marble Christmas Tree Ornaments
There is no shortage of homemade ornament crafts out there, but precious few are toddler-friendly. This painting project, however, is easy and entertaining for even the tiniest tots and the resulting ornament boasts a marbled effect that’s easy on the eyes. A trip to the craft store might be in order to scoop up some marbling medium, but other than that all you need is a cardboard cut-out and acrylic paint for this foolproof craft. Best of all, because the paint gets poured, not brushed onto the cardboard, absolutely no precision is required.
13. Grinch Slime
Truth: Making slime is just about the easiest thing you can do with a toddler. For this reason and more, we strongly suggest you give this grinch slime a try. The crafting process is full of sensory fun and the majority of ingredients are things you likely already have in your home. Bottom line: As long as you keep an eye out to ensure no sequins make it to your tot’s mouth, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
14. Sticky Contact Paper Christmas Tree
There are few things as nerve wracking as watching a toddler attempt to hang a fragile ornament from the tree, which is why this ingenious craft is a true life-saver (for your heirloom ornament collection that is). A large roll of green contact paper and multi-colored pieces of felt are the only materials you need to craft a kid-sized Christmas tree that toddlers can decorate and redecorate to their hearts’ content. Note: The actual crafting is mostly a grown-up job, but the project is quick and easy and the result promises to provide hours of creative fun for littles.
15. Christmas Bleeding Tissue Paper Art
Complete this simple craft by cutting a Christmas tree shape into a piece of white cardstock while your child glues colorful bleeding tissue paper down on a second sheet of cardstock. There’s no wrong way to arrange the tissue paper so your toddler can pull this one off independently. Bonus: Once the gluing is done and the cutout cardstock placed on top, your toddler will have a blast spritzing their art with a spray bottle and watching the colors meld together.
16. DIY Potato Printing Christmas Cards
Have your toddler get artsy with a novel new technique: Potato printing! Yep, a humble spud and some acrylic paints are the only supplies needed to stamp the silhouette of a chubby and ridiculously cute penguin (or snowman) onto paper. Your tot can add details with a brush—you might want to help with that part, depending on your child’s fine motor ability—and if you opt to use cardstock instead of construction paper, the finished product is a kid-made Christmas card that friends and family will be thrilled to receive.
17. Paper Plate Christmas Angels
OK, so this one isn’t entirely toddler-friendly, but it does allow for toddler participation at certain stages and the resulting ornament is truly impressive. A grown-up will have to handle the cutting and origami-style assembly of these angels, but even the youngest child will enjoy the opportunity to paint paper plates with vivid colors, and although that’s only one step of this craft, it will feel like a full art project to your kid.
18. Toddler Glue-free Christmas Tree Craft
Good old Elmer’s glue is a toddler and preschool crafting staple, but boy does it get everywhere. If you prefer not to be stepping in sticky stuff and picking dried bits out of your tot’s hair for the next few days, try a mess-free alternative: A craft that relies on contact paper instead of glue. Once you cut-out a Christmas tree into a piece of regular paper and stick it on top of the contact paper, your kid can take the reins and start decorating with buttons, pom poms, sequins and more. Young children will benefit from working with a variety of different decorating materials while simultaneously honing their fine motor skills, too.
19. Salt Painted Christmas Tree
If you haven’t yet tried a salt painting craft with your toddler, you’ve both been missing out: This magical technique produces aesthetically pleasing art, and the crafting process provides an enriching sensory experience to boot. Best of all, you don’t have to be an art school graduate to successfully guide your child—just pour some salt on top of glue and then stain it with liquid watercolors and your masterpiece is complete.
20. Paper Plate Melted Crayon Ornaments
Quick heads up: This craft requires a special, adults-only tool—a crayon melter—to complete, but it’s worth nothing that said tool is so nifty that you are likely to get plenty of use out of it for future toddler crafts. (You might even find yourself busting this thing out after bedtime for some adult doodling time, just sayin’.) Once you have the equipment, the rest of this art project is a cinch—and since it basically just involves scribbling with a fancy tool, it’s completely kid-friendly. Best of all, this one makes use of broken crayons so it’s basically the ultimate parenting victory.
21. Toilet Paper Roll Crafts
Toilet paper rolls aren't just for throwing out after you’ve used up all the tissue. Sometimes they’re for placating cranky toddlers by turning them into little snowmen, Santa Clauses and even elves. All you need is a steady hand with the scissors, some glitter paper, black buttons, and cotton balls and you have some unique ornaments on deck.
22. House Christmas Tree Topper
This craft involves glitter, so keep an eagle eye on your tiny human because this can get very messy, very fast. Perfect for when a regular ole star at the top of the tree just won’t cut it, this house Christmas tree topper is an even more dramatic spin on the tree topping tradition. You’ll need a box that your Christmas tree can hold—a small cereal box should do the trick—some embroidery thread, felt, paint brush and stem tinsel, among other supplies.
23. Jingle Bell Ornament
If you’re going to attempt this untidy albeit gorgeous craft, we encourage you to do so outside or lay some newspaper down because though you’re supposed to use washable paint, one little mishap and your carpet is never the same again. Nonetheless, because this is a bouncy ball craft, it can be a world of fun for you and your kids. Main supplies needed include a printable template of a jingle bell, the aforementioned washable paint and a bouncy ball. To really drive the project home, you can attach a real jingle bell to the finished product and hang it on your tree.
24. Santa Claus Card
The holidays are all about showing your loved ones that you love them, and what better way to do that than by hand-making a Christmas card? Outside of cutting out Santa’s beard and of course, directing your toddler on the placement of everything, this craft is mess-free and not time consuming, so really, you’re the real winner here. In order to make the cutest card grandma and grandpa are going to receive this year, all you need is some cardstock, red pom poms as well as googly eyes.
25. Wooden Christmas Tree Forest
Listen, no matter what anyone says, everyone secretly loves over-the-top Christmas décor. And that’s why this wooden Christmas tree forest courtesy of Studio DIY is perfect. It requires all the supplies that are a kid’s crafting dream—we’re talking stars, beads, glitter and multiple colors of paint. And since it’s conceived mostly from wooden materials, it also requires the use of a hot glue gun or wood glue as well as Mod Podge, so to be safe, you’ll be handling all the sticking.
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