Cheapest, Easiest, and DIY-est: 7 Winter and Holiday Crafts for Kids and Adults

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Once Thanksgiving passes, everyone gets really serious about two things: shopping and decorating. You may be one of the brave shopaholics who chooses to venture out on Black Friday for a shopping extravaganza, or you may be the quick and quiet Cyber Monday shopper who never leaves home.

Whoever you are, you probably know when you’re shopping and what you intend to buy. But between all the fuss of Thanksgiving and the two best deal-days of the year, you may not have thought as much about decorating. Since everyone wants to hold on to their cash for buying gifts, what better way to celebrate the entire month of December by exercising your DIY skills?

The holidays are closer than you think, so let’s get the décor-athon started! This post has everything you need to start decorating your front porch, the interior of your home, and even your tree. The best part? Everything is cheap, easy, and DIY, which means you and your family can spend time—not money—creating these projects together.

Being the avid crafter I am, I am always on the look out for new ideas and I can spend HOURS scouring the internet for things I would love to make. Here are some of my favorites this year. All picture credit goes to the originator of the craft – click the link if you want to see the full instructions and/or more from them.

DIY Outdoor Holiday Decorations

Porches and Windows: Peppermints from Marie McGrath, Joy of Fashion Blog

How cute is this paper-plate peppermint? Marie McGrath created a bunch of these to make an adorable Christmas photo booth in her home, but you can paste these around your front porch, on your garage door, or on your windows for instant holiday cheer.

This project is so easy and fun! All you need are paper plates, some acrylic paint (or markers), cellophane or oversized bags, and some ribbon to tie off the edges. If you draw the design for your kids on the plates, they can help paint and wrap, making it a great project for the upcoming winter break.

And, if you’re feeling really creative, why not do some winter-green peppermints or even sky blue? Adding glitter, outlining the stripes in white marker, using different colored cellophane—there are so many ways to make this project your own!

Front Yard: Lollipops from Leah Leatherby, The SITS Girls

If you’re planning on decorating your porch with those cute peppermints, you may want to go with an outdoor, gingerbread house theme and make these giant lollipops by Leah Leatherby! Outside of the Christmas season, these larger-than-life treats could be used for a Willy Wonka-themed Halloween or even a candy-themed birthday party.

This project utilizes pool noodles, so if you have old noodles from the summer you intend to throw out, use them for this project instead. The rest of your supplies are easy: colored duct tape, wooden dowels or PVC (for the “stick” part), cellophane wrapping, ribbon, a glue gun, and lots of hot glue.

Be aware that rolling these noodles up can be tricky, so you may want some extra hands to help. Leah notes that the glue takes about five minutes to dry, and you have to hold the noodle together as you roll to keep the spiral tight. If you have kids who’re around 10, this is a good project for them to do with you.

DIY Interior Holiday Decorations

Wall-Hanging: Advent Calendar from Christine, DIYDreamer

Christine’s DIY advent calendar is the cutest, and biggest, I’ve seen, and I love that you can reuse it for years to come! This project is sort of a 2-in-1—first you can make the wooden calendar, and then you can work on the treat bags for it.

For the calendar, you’ll need varying lengths of wood, regular nails, antique or distressed nails (for hanging the bags), wood glue, a hammer, a wall-mounting kit, cork pads (to keep the tree from sliding when hung), and decorations (Christine used a star and a ‘Noel’ ornament, but I’m thinking a family photo ornament would be so cute!).

For the treat bags, you’ll need some muslin treat bags, foam brushes, paint, a number stencil, and some wax paper (to keep the paint from soaking through the muslin bags).

You could easily do this project in an afternoon, but I like more time intensive projects, so I would spruce it up by adding lights (add small hooks to the back of the wood pieces so you can string your lights across) and by painting it (if you want more holiday colors or simply don’t like the ‘rustic’ look of it).

You could also make your own holiday stencil and paint little Santas, reindeer, gifts—whatever you like!—on your treat bags to give this calendar a nice personal touch.

Fun Around the House: Crackers! From Yumi Sakugawa, The Secret Yumiverse

How cool is this hand-drawn diagram for crafting your own seasonal cracker (the gift container, not the food)? Yumi’s design is so easy to do, and it really doesn’t cost anything other than the price of the small trinkets you choose to place inside your completed crackers.

You can pick up these trinkets from a value store or dollar shop, or you can find inexpensive ones online. Everything else you need for this project you likely already have in your home—tape, glue (hot and regular), toilet paper rolls, wrapping paper, ribbon, and a ruler. Yumi says you also need a cracker snap, but that’s only if you want the traditional ‘pop’ sound you get when you break them open.

Crackers can also be a fun New Year’s thing, too, especially because it gives you the opportunity to use up those scraps of leftover wrapping paper. So, if you’re already way too busy on Christmas or holiday projects, save this fun project for ringing in the New Year!

DIY Holiday Ornaments

Great Gifts: Hot Cocoa & Dip Mix Ornaments from Rachel, Sprinkle Some Fun

How adorable are these things?! I love Rachel’s DIY ornaments because these would be so cute to give as gifts to teachers, classmates, or even bundled together as an ornament set! The best part? They’re reusable! Once you, or the gift-receiver, uses the cocoa, you can simply refill it with your favorite cocoa recipe, or make your own DIY ornament with paint and glitter.

You can purchase clear, glass ornaments in circular or disc shapes, depending on your cocoa recipe (I think homemade recipes fit better in the disc-shaped ones. In general, go smaller with your ornaments if you don’t want to add marshmallows, peppermint pieces, chocolate chips, etc.).

But wait, there’s more! Rachel also has this awesome DIY dip mix ornament project. When you go to purchase your circular ornaments, go ahead and pick up a few bulb-type ones, too. You can use any dip recipe you like, but be sure to attach instructions on how to prepare the dip (mix with yogurt, sour cream, etc.) if you plan to give these out as gifts.

I recommend combining both ornament types to give as gifts, especially if you’re going to someone’s home for a holiday party. You can secretly hang these delightfully festive ornaments on their tree and wait for them to find them!

Fragrance: Cinnamon Clay Ornaments—No Bake! From Crystal, Growing a Jeweled Rose

I love Crystal’s clay ornament project because it’s cheap, easy, fun, and it makes your whole house smell so good! For this project, you take your typical salt dough recipe—1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, ¾ cup of hot warm—and add a ½ cup of cinnamon. Depending on how the humidity is where you live, you may need to add less water to keep the dough from being too sticky.

You’ll need to knead this dough a good bit to make sure everything is well-combined, but your kids will absolutely love using festive cookie cutters to make their very own Christmas tree ornaments. These are also nice to use as “rustic” looking gift tags on gifts.

The best part is that you can leave your kids to do this project themselves since it’s a no-bake recipe. Simply let the ornaments dry out for about 24 hours, and then everyone in the family can decorate them however they’d like.

I know that these crafts inspired me to add some new projects to my holiday crafting repertoire; and I hope they did you too!

By the way, my fall craft blog post has a few projects that would work for the winter holidays such as the Woody Wonderland Votive Candle Holder (maybe use a few pine branches along with the twigs?) and the Salt Clay Bowl (except I would replace the fall leaves with either real holly ones, or cut out some bigger ones from cardstock and manually add in the “veins” with a knife). The salt clay recipe can also be used to make ornaments and gift tags, for people who don’t like the smell of cinnamon (or just want them unscented).

Have you started decorating, shopping, and running around like a madman trying to prepare for the holidays? Me too! To make my shopping purchases easier, I use TopProducts.com. The research is already done for you, so all you have to do is add the item to your cart and check out. How awesome is that?

August Wright, TopProducts Staff Writer