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Happy, happy holidays to everybody! This is such a special time of year- don't allow yourself to be so busy and overwhelmed that you forget to spend quality time with the people who are special to you! Here are some great ideas for holiday crafts and activities, books and activities....

Easy "Gingerbread" Houses

This is my very favorite Christmas activity because its easy to do, inexpensive, and it encourages the kids to be creative!

You'll need a small milk carton, some graham crackers, frosting, and candy and goodies for decorating.

Wash and dry the milk carton and tape it back shut. Place it on a paper plate, cookie sheet, or another flat surface. Now, using the frosting, stick graham cracker "walls" on the sides of the carton. Apply 2 crackers on the top to form the roof. Use lots of frosting so your house stays together!

Now, decorate with candy! You can use candy canes, gumdrops, M&Ms;, Skittles, licorice, sprinkles, lollipops, etc!

Unique Holiday Gifts for Kids!

Check out our wonderful gift ideas for kids! We are still guaranteeing delivery in time for Christmas- but hurry- there's not much time left!

Special gift ideas for girls- check out the new Fashion Angels from The Bead Shop, our paper dolls kit, or our adorable tea party basket!:
Gifts for Girls

Unique gift ideas for boys- including spy kits, "dirt" cake baking kits, solar car kits, and more!
Gifts for Boys

Clay Ornaments

You can shape your own Christmas tree, candy cane or star ornaments with this easy-to-make clay! Use acrylic paints, glitter and ribbon to add the finishing touches!

Here's what you do: Boil 1 � cups of water (adult assistance required), remove from the stove and stir in 2 cups of salt and 1 cup of cornstarch. Now heat the mixture on low. Cook the dough until its hard to stir.

Pour the dough onto waxed paper. Let it cool and then knead it. Use a rolling pin to roll it out until its about 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out Christmas shapes from the dough. Use a toothpick to poke a hole at the top of each shape. Let the dough shapes dry for a few days. Paint and decorate your ornaments!

Beaded Ornaments

You can make beautiful bead ornaments to give as gifts, or to hang on your Christmas tree!

All you need are pipe cleaners and transparent crafts beads (5-10 millimeters) Hook the end of a pipe cleaner and thread on beads from the opposite end, stopping about a half inch from the tip. Twist together the two ends and your bead strand is ready to be shaped into a star, candy cane, or other holiday shape!

You can twist multiple strings together to form three dimensional shapes and unique ornaments!

Mail for Kids!

Why not give a gift this holiday season that keeps giving all year? Kids love to get mail, and our unique kids' mail packages are full of stickers, activities, a personalized letter from you and everything they need to make a simple craft!

Send a 3-month, 6-month or 12-month package and we'll send a free holiday gift card!
Mail for Kids!

No-Cook Fudge!

Fudge is a holiday tradition, and this recipe is super simple, and very yummy! You'll need � cup of butter, � cup of sweetened condensed milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, a pound of confectioners sugar, � cup of cocoa and � teaspoon of salt.

Melt the butter in the microwave (about 10 seconds). Stir in the milk and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, cocoa and salt. Add the sugar mixture , a little at a time, to the milk mixture. Mix well until it is creamy and smooth.

Grease the inside of a pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and chill in the refrigerator until it is solid. Cut into squares and eat!

Creative Gift Wrap Ideas!

Try some of these easy and inexpensive ideas for wrapping presents!
  • Place the gift in a brown paper bag that you have decorated with markers, crayons, paints and glitter. Use ribbon to tie that top closed.
  • Wrap a box with aluminum foil. Tie yarn around it and make a bow, You can draw on the foil with permanent markers.
  • Cover a box with different colors of construction or tissue paper to create a collage effect.
  • Wrap small gifts in colored tissue paper. Place the tissue paper in a small plastic bag so that the tissue paper sticks out of the top. Tie with yarn.
  • Hide the gift. Write out clues to help the person find the gift. Hide that clue to help the person find that clue and on and on. You can have many clues. Hide them and have them lead from one to another!

    Craft and Activities Kits for Kids!

    Encourage creativity and quality family time with one of our craft or activities kits! Make funny face pizzas, create shrinky dink jewelry, design dough faces or build structures with prism bricks or toobers & zots! Browse by category, occasion or age.
    Craft & Activities Kits!

    Santa Centerpiece

    This is an adorable centerpiece for your holiday table! You'll need a clean milk carton with the top cut off, 1 piece of white construction paper (large enough to fit around the milk carton), cotton balls, twigs, holly leaves and evergreen pieces.

    Glue the white paper around the milk carton. Cut off any excess paper. Use markers to draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth on the carton.

    Glue on cotton balls for Santa's beard and around the top of the carton for Santa's hair. Arrange some twigs, holly leaves and evergreen pieces in your centerpiece!

    Rudolph Surprise Pops!

    These are adorable snacks to feed the kids this holiday season.

    You'll need some Ritz crackers, peanut butter, a small bag of chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of vegetable shortening, mini pretzel twists, M & Ms and craft sticks.

    Line a cookie sheet with foil or wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Use a craft stick to spread peanut butter on a cracker. Place the craft stick across the top of the peanut butter, so it is nearly to the top of the cracker. Place the second cracker on top, so the craft stick is sandwiched between the crackers. Repeat until you have as many crackers as you would like.

    Place chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl and melt in the microwave. (about a minute and a half) Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the peanut butter crackers until the entire sandwich is well covered.

    For antlers, slightly press the ends of 2 pretzels into the peanut butter sandwich. Use M & Ms to make eyes and nose.

    Kid's Baking and Cooking Kits!

    Have some fun in the kitchen with these great baking and cooking activities! Make homemade pretzels, funny face pizzas, sea animal cookies, "cub" cakes, "dirt" cake with "mud" frosting, and more!
    Cooking Kits!

    Easy Christmas Candy Jar

    This is a cute sleigh craft that you can make and fill with holiday goodies! Just take a lidless box and wrap it with Christmas wrapping paper. Set the box open-side up on the table and glue candy canes to opposite sides of the box for the runners of the sleigh.

    You can make a mouse for your sleigh by taking a large gray pompom and gluing wiggly eyes to the front of it. Add a small black pompom for a nose and some felt cut-out ears. Use yarn to make a tail! Now your mouse can guard the candy!

    Magic Reindeer Food!

    Mix together in a small bag: oatmeal, sugar, and shimmery glitter. On Christmas Eve, remember to take this magic reindeer food and sprinkle it on the lawn. The sparkling glitter and the smell of oats will guide reindeer to your house before dawn.

    Sprinkle on the lawn at night
    The moon will make it sparkle bright
    Santa's reindeer fly and roam
    This will guide them to your home.

    Clothespin Reindeer

    Decorate a box with these homemade critters, or use to decorate the tree! Just take a wooden clothespin (the kind without the spring) and paint it brown. Allow to dry. Place the clothespin upside down (so the 2 "pinchers" form the ears), and glue on 2 wiggly eyes. Ad a red pompom for a nose and let dry! Make a whole "team" of reindeer!

    Wrapping Paper

    Handmade wrapping paper makes any gift more special! There are many options for making your own gift wrap- here are a few that we suggest:

    - Cut Christmas shapes out of kitchen sponges (outline cookie cutters for best results) Dip in tempera paint and apply to art paper, or shipping paper

    - Cut Christmas shapes out of sandpaper (again, use cookie cutters for best results) Paste the cut-outs (scratchy side up) to a piece of cardboard. Lay a piece of paper over the cardboard and rub crayons back and forth over the surface until the shapes appear. Repeat until the entire sheet is decorated!

    - Or, for smaller children, simply use crayons to draw on and decorate a large piece of paper!

    Frosty the Snowman

    Here's an easy craft for all! Glue a small white paper plate to the top edge of a larger one. Let kids decorate with magic markers, pom poms, fabric scraps, and construction paper!

    Bakers Clay ornaments

    Make ornaments using this recipe and your imagination! Finished ornaments look great on your tree, and also make very special gifts!

    Bakers Clay
    4 cups flour
    1 cup salt
    1 1/2 cups water
    food coloring

    Mix all ingredients until dough forms a ball and cleans the bowl. Divide into equal sections and color with food coloring as desired. Knead for 5 minutes. Shape dough with fingers and toothpick (or use cookie cutters) and place on cookie sheet. You can use buttons, fabric, etc for decorating- just be careful not to use anything that may melt. Use the toothpick to make a small hole at the top so that you can thread a ribbon through to hang your ornament! Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Allow to cool.

    Recommended Christmas books:

    One Christmas Dawn, Candice F Ransom
    The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patricia Polacco
    The Twelve Days of Christmas, Anne Geddes
    Christmas Fun, Deri Robbins

    Holiday Fun!

    Create some special moments, and maybe some family traditions this year....!

    - Pile the family in the car and drive around the neighborhood to check out all the holiday light displays. Your local paper may list especially decorative streets. Don't forget the Christmas music to play while you drive!

    - Have a cookie decorating party! Make sugar cookies cut-out in Christmas shapes (for the shortcut method, use Pillsbury prepared cookie dough!) Put out frosting and decorations and invite the kids over!

    - Make an annual video night! Watch Frosty, Rudolph, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street or Its a Wonderful Life!

    - Get a small tree (fake or real) that your child can decorate themselves with homemade ornaments & decorations

    If you haven't sent one of our special e-mail postcards yet to send your holiday wishes, take a moment to spread some good cheer! Mail Just 4 Me e-mail postcards are always free and never contain any ads!

    Recommended sites:

    The Noradsanta site has fun facts about Santa, Christmas and more! On Christmas Eve you can follow Santa around in his virtual sleigh as he delivers gifts to children around the world

    Learn the history behind Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more at the Worldbook site. Send Santa an e-mail, and get a quick response back at Santaland. Also offers holiday crafts, recipes and more!

    Twas The Night Before Christmas....Mom Style

    Twas the night before Christmas, when all thru the abode
    Only one creature was stirring, & she was cleaning the commode.
    The children were finally sleeping, all snug in their beds, while
    visions of Nintendo 64 & Barbie, flipped through their heads.

    The dad was snoring in front of the TV, with a half-constructed
    bicycle propped on his knee. So only the mom heard the reindeer
    hooves clatter, which made her sigh, "Now what is the matter?"

    With toilet bowl brush still clutched in her hand, She descended the
    stairs, & saw the old man. He was covered with ashes & soot, which
    fell with a shrug, "Oh great," muttered the mom, "Now I have to
    clean the rug."

    "Ho Ho Ho!" cried Santa, "I'm glad you're awake."
    "your gift was especially difficult to make."
    "Thanks, Santa, but all I want is time alone."
    "Exactly!" he chuckled, "So, I've made you a clone."

    "A clone?" she muttered, "What good is that?"
    "Run along, Santa, I've no time for chit chat."
    Then out walked the clone - The mother's twin,
    Same hair, same eyes, same double chin.

    "She'll cook, she'll dust, she'll mop every mess.
    You'll relax, take it easy, watch The Young & The Restless."
    "Fantastic!" the mom cheered. "My dream has come true!"
    "I'll shop, I'll read, I'll sleep a night through!"

    From the room above, the youngest did fret.
    "Mommy?! Come quickly, I'm scared & I'm wet."
    The clone replied, "I'm coming, sweetheart."
    "Hey," the mom smiled, "She sure knows her part."

    The clone changed the small one & hummed her tune,
    as she bundled the child in a blanket cocoon.
    "You're the best mommy ever. I really love you."
    The clone smiled & sighed, "And I love you, too."

    The mom frowned & said, "Sorry, Santa, no deal."
    "That's my child's LOVE she is trying to steal."
    Smiling wisely Santa said,
    "To me it is clear, Only one loving mother is needed here."

    The mom kissed her child & tucked her in bed.
    "Thank You, Santa, for clearing my head.
    I sometimes forget, it won't be very long,
    when they'll be too old for my cradle & song."

    The clock on the mantle began to chime.
    Santa whispered to the clone, "It works every time."
    With the clone by his side Santa said "Goodnight.
    Merry Christmas, dear Mom, You will be all right."

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