Kids’ crafts are the greatest, but can we all admit that they can also be head-scratchers? I have found myself talking to my daughter after a burst of inspiration like, “Yeah, this is such a cool tiny house made out of cardboard and masking tape… but what do we do with it?”
Enter the DIY holiday ornament — it’s crafty, it’s fun, and best of all, it has a practical annual use (and can be stored away after a brief display period). Here are three fun ways for you and your kid to create their own special festive decorations to keep in the family or give as gifts.
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With a modeling app like SolidWorks for kids, little ones as young as four can create a personalized ornament for the season based on a drawing, a photo or simply their imagination. They’ll begin by “capturing it,” which means creating an inspiration board that can include pictures, video or even sound. Then they shape it or turn it into a 3D design.
Next comes the styling — colors, stickers, and even paints for the background make this phase extra fun. Finally, they “mech” it, which means they add moving parts or snap-together components into the design. All of these steps happen within the app! Then, a 3D printer at home can make their vision a reality (a 2D printer will also give you a slightly less hang-able version). Another option is a site like Shapeways, which also offers cool 3D design software and will let you upload the 3D model and order it IRL.
Make a collection of 12 or more ceramic ornaments, complete with glossy finish and satin ribbon, at Harmony Designs. There, kids are able to upload images of their creations that they can then resize and crop to fit a three inch ornament. This option is great for when you’ve saved a particularly stunning piece of art your kid brings home from school, but have zero idea how to keep it for the next few decades. Have them make one for your family (they can add text or change background colors too), and order copies to thoughtfully fill lots of family stockings in one go!
Snapfish, Shutterfly, Minted, TinyPrints … wherever you like to upload photos and create personalized cards, you’ll find a section for creating ornaments. Let kids use the building tools on these sites to choose shapes, materials, background colors, text and, of course, images. If you’ve uploaded a bunch of family photos throughout the year, you might try letting your kids work on their own and choose the images that touch them the most for an ornament collage. They just might surprise you with funny or heartfelt picks!
Melissa Walker is a mom of two, a magazine writer, and the author of 9 novels for young adults and pre-teen readers. She grew up in NC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
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