I am dedicating today’s blog entry to all the people who, like me, love to look up beautiful and creative Christmas crafts that – let’s be honest, here – they will never, EVER, actually make. I am always finding great ideas in craft stores, on Pinterest, even in other people’s houses, that I would love to do, that I am perfectly capable of doing, but that I am quite certain I never actually will do. I can’t claim that it’s because I don’t have the time, because some of these projects could easily be done in an afternoon, many of them with the help (well, “help”) of my children. I can’t claim it’s because I don’t have the supplies, because many of them use common household materials. I suppose I should just come right out and admit that it’s probably because I’m lazy. Or at least because I would feel guilty about spending time making these projects when I have a sink full of dirty dishes and a laundry hamper full of dirty clothes and a husband who’d like to have some adult conversation with me sometime this month. But whatever the reason, I still enjoy looking at the pictures and pretending that someday I might possibly create these items to decorate my home for the holidays. So if you enjoy looking and dreaming, too, please enjoy these creative holiday projects which will never, ever grace your home unless someone more motivated than you makes them for you as a gift.
Progressive Nativity Scenes
The wife of my former pastor collects nativity scenes. She must have a hundred of them. At Christmastime, her husband’s church is filled with her nativities, tucked into every nook and cranny imaginable. She has painted wooden ones, carved stone ones, gilt-trimmed ceramic ones, crystal ones, straw ones, rustic ones, artistic ones, simple ones, detailed ones. Her collection would be perfect for making this progressive nativity. Instead of a single scene, as most of us have, this corner cabinet has carefully printed verses and corresponding scenes that begin with Mary being visited by the angel, then giving birth in the manger, then the Christ Child being worshipped by the shepherd, and finally the arrival of the Magi. It’s lovely, it’s meaningful, and even if I had four different (or four identical, which is what the original creator seems to have had) nativity sets, I would never manage to set this up. It’s about all I can do to hang my tinfoil-covered cardboard star over my manger scene. The fact that my husband and I have spent 8 Christmases together and only got an angel for our nativity scene last February should be proof enough that this will never happen in my house. But it’s a nice thought.
Fridge (or Door) Snowman
I love this idea. I think it is incredibly cute. And really, all you need is a few circles cut out of black construction paper, a few rectangles made of green and red construction paper, and a carrot cut from orange construction paper. The hat isn’t even necessary!! But here’s the problem: I have a stainless steel fridge with French doors and a bright green front door. I cannot be bothered to cover either one with huge pieces of white paper. I guess my kids will have to be content with making real snowmen or taping tiny black paper circles to an ordinary-sized sheet of white paper. It’s another cute idea that will just never happen in my house.
Oh my goodness, there must be 100 times the number of homemade advent calendar options as there are days in the advent calendar. Back when I was single and childless and many of my family and friends had young children, I found directions for an adorable DIY felt advent calendar and made sets for several families. Now that I have my own children, I admit that I am grateful to the friend who gives me two chocolate-filled, store-bought advent calendars every year. As much as I would love for my children to read a pithy Bible verse each day in December and add a character to the manger scene, I am relieved that they can eat a Hershey’s kiss and see a picture of Santa and his reindeer every day instead. I want them to know the Bible story, but I have no problem with Santa presenting them with chocolate if it means I didn’t have to cut a thousand tiny shapes out of felt and attack them with my glue gun. I love my glue gun and all, but I have other things to do between Thanksgiving and December 1st. If Hershey’s gives me a shortcut, hooray for Hershey’s.
The first year I was married, my husband and I debated whether or not we would start a tradition of sending Christmas cards. My parents always had; I had sent a few, although mainly I sent “virtual cards,” preferably the Jacqui Lawson interactive cards. Sending a physical greeting card, with a family photo or a Bible verse or a lovely winter scene, was just not our thing. We ended up not bothering and just sending friends Facebook greetings or emails or posting a cute family photo on Google Plus for all to enjoy. Christmas cards have become rather passé, and we have let them fall by the wayside, for better or for worse. I often have wonderful ideas of how we could dress everyone up and take a lovely photo to use for a Christmas card, but even when that has actually happened (grand total of times: 1), it ends up just being posted on Facebook with love for all. I can live with that.
I have a very large bag of unmatched socks on top of my clothes dryer; I certainly have enough orphaned socks to make an army of sock snowmen. But as adorable and as easy as they are, this will never happen. Hope springs eternal that every sock in my “orphan sock bag” will find its mate. I simply can’t bring myself to admit defeat and use any of these poor lost socks as a project. I just know that the instant I do, their mate will magically appear in the next load of laundry. So as cute as these snowmen are, I can never bring myself to make them, for fear that their mates will then appear, and the sweet smiles on their faces will turn into accusing stares of betrayal.
Ornaments with children’s fingerprints and handprints are a lovely keepsake that parents love to pass on to the children who made them, many years later. However, the number of attempts required to result in a single, usable, non-disastrous ornament is at least in the double digits, if not the triple. Convincing a small child to dip just a fingertip in paint or to stand still long enough to coat his or her entire hand evenly with paint is next to impossible. And, of course, once the child’s part is finally done, the parent needs to have a steady enough hand to add the required details: reindeer antlers, eyes, a red nose; snowmen’s buttons, coal smiles, carrot noses, and stick arms. Any parent who has not started drinking heavily by the time a successful part A is achieved is a better human being than I. I’ll leave this type of ornament to brave preschool teachers.
Anything Involving Glitter
I blame Martha Stewart for this “cover everything in glitter” trend. Ornaments, bottles, mugs, branches, popsicle sticks, the family dog…you name it, someone on Pinterest has directions on how to cover it in glitter. But here’s the problem with glitter: IT NEVER GOES AWAY. If you use glitter in your house once, you will find bits of glitter hanging around for the next century. You’ll find some, days later, stuck in your belly button and in your hair. Weeks later, you’ll still be sweeping it from the kitchen floor. Months later, it’ll still be appearing in the carpet. Years later, you’ll pull up a rug or bring a box down from the attic or empty out the tank of the hot water heater, and BOOM! More glitter. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. Nope, no glitter for this mama if I can avoid it.
If you were alive during the 1970s, you know the words “Mod Podge.” You may even have watched a craft show on television called “Mod Podge Lodge.” In this show, chirpy, cheerful hosts used industrial quality paper mache (brand name Mod Podge) to adhere bits of wallpaper, old greeting cards, Epsom salts, glitter, or old photographs to every smooth surface imaginable. This technique, officially called “decoupage,” has fallen somewhat by the wayside, yet it still reappears during the Christmas season every year. You can decoupage old tiles to create drink coasters, you can decoupage Styrofoam balls to create tree ornaments, you can decoupage old plates to make serving platters, you can decoupage wine bottles to create “elegant” vases. Unfortunately, as lovely as really good decoupage can be, most of the world’s population is capable only of mediocre, at best, decoupage. And mediocre decoupage is…well, not so lovely. Not to mention that it is very, VERY messy. I think I’ll leave decoupaging back in the 70s, where it belongs.
But there is one cute, creative, and festive Christmas craft that I can manage: a snowman kit. Three marshmallows, a handful of chocolate chips, a few pretzel sticks, a candy corn left over from Halloween, and a spoonful of white frosting.
You don’t even have to put it together – you just dump all the pieces into a Ziploc baggie, give it to someone as a gift, and let them do the work. That’s about what I can handle for crafts in December.