A little midweek creative fun for you if you have little people around (or just a very large sheet of paper if using your own hands and feet; well, why not?).  Harry and I like making homemade Christmas cards, but unless you make them all in one long afternoon, it’s an activity you have to start early and do in fits and bursts of enthusiasm in order to have your finished beauties ready for posting in good time.  Harry has a typical toddler attention span so we will usually make 2 or 3 cards before the temptations of lego / the biscuit tin / muddy puddles lure him away, leaving a glittering array of half-glued creations and festive painty footprints in his wake.

This year we’re making hand and footprint reindeer.  It sounds – misleadingly –  like possibly the easiest project ever, as it simply involves painting your child’s hands and foot and pressing them onto a sheet of paper.  If you have a baby who can be strapped into a highchair for this, it’s ideal.  If you have a mischievous toddler who makes it his mission to evade your clutches and is slippery as an eel, then it is a battle of wits and cunning.  Huge fun, but wait for a clear day and try this outside if you can…

To make this, you’ll need child safe paints (fingerpaints, powder or poster paints are ideal; anything that won’t cause a reaction on the skin and will be easy to wipe off), eyes, red pom poms or buttons and scraps of gift wrap.  We also used little paper snowflakes cut with a craft punch, and glued on a bell. Brush the paint onto your child’s hands and one foot (a tip; do this one at a time, or your child will turn into a paint octopus and you will have no hope of co-ordinating anything).  Press each one firmly onto a sheet of white card stock.  If your child is old enough (or very young), you can probably get the placement right first time, but if not just get them to stamp lots of handprints and footprints, and you can cut out the good ones and arrange them collage-style afterwards.

Fig A: When crafting with a calm and cooperative child who has not consumed any sugar lately:

Fig B: with a more conventionally unpredictable toddler, just cut out 3 good prints and arrange them onto a fresh piece of card in the shape you want.

Once you’ve made your reindeer head, you can embellish it however you like – this is great fun for older children, or something you can do yourself if your toddler has lost interest, or is not yet dextrous enough to do the sticking and decorating.

We trimmed ours and mounted it onto a sheet of A4 sized red card stock.  It’s a picture rather than a stand-up card, but can easily be propped on a mantel or pinned to a kitchen noticeboard to add some festive cheer.

When we’d made a couple of these big pictures (and before we glued on eyes and embellishments), we took a photo of the reindeer, uploaded it and used it to print off lots of smaller ones onto pre-folded A6 blank cards – this is a great way of mass-producing your original art without the stress…

As you can see, using different sized eyes gives some very different and comical expressions.  Each reindeer will look very different depending on the print and the size and shape of your child’s hands, so make them look as original as they are!

I’ll be back later in the week with some festive stars and also the results of my weekend willow-weaving course (but really, there’s no need for bated breath and huge anticipation of majestic willow marvels I assure you; let me manage your expectations in advance ;-) )