Quick crafts: DIY Santa!

DIY Torn-Paper Santa

Harry and I are beginning to feel a bit festive (if you’re in Bah Humbug-mode, look away and shush your tut-tutting…).  Perhaps it’s the steady thud of Christmas catalogues arriving in the post, or the relentless holiday music playing in every retail space we wander through.  By December, we’ll probably be fatigued, but right now we’re loving it.

We’ve been discussing what our home-made Christmas cards should look like; last-year’s button tree cards went down a storm so the bar is high.  Harry is keen that we should feature the iconic Big Man himself, so we’ve chosen Father Christmas as our focus.  Or Santa Christmas as H calls him, in one of those 4yr old linguistic mash-ups I want to remember always.  I was inspired by these fun gift bags with their simple graphic image, and had a play to try and create a picture which could be made very simply, involved some fun tearing and ripping, and would be very forgiving if one of us got distracted by Lego (him) or wine (me).

DIY Santa face giftwrap and cards

To make these you’ll need:

  • Red paper
  • White watercolour paper (any white paper will do, but textured paper like watercolour paper looks great for the beard and hat)
  • Pink or flesh tone paper; I used this
  • A black marker pen
  • Make-up blush or a pink crayon
  • Glue

Firstly, decide on your base / background; we used white cardstock for making cards, and also decorated a brown kraft paper bag and a gift tag, to practice and see how they looked.  Here’s the bag, step by step…

1. Cut a wide strip of pink paper and paste across the centre of your bag.  Trim at the sides to fit.

Step 1

2.  Cut and glue a wide strip of red paper above, to the top of the bag (or card, or tag, or whatever).

Step 2

3.  Tear a thin strip of watercolour paper; do this roughly, don’t use a ruler, and don’t worry if it’s irregular.  Glue it over where the red and pink paper meet; this is the trim of Santa’s hat.  Now tear a wider piece of the white paper for the beard and moustache shape; aim for a shape which curves up in the middle like this:

Step 3

4. Now take your marker pens and dot two eyes and sketch a little smile (play around with expressions; each one can be different!).  Use a pink pen to ink in a nose.

Step 4

5.  Finally, dip your finger in some blusher (or use a crayon if you’re a dude), and swirl on two rosy cheeks.  You could dab some on the tip of the nose too if you like; it gets cold out there on the sleigh.  Ta-da; you’re done!  Now just repeat  - or you can scan your work of art and print it out instead; the lazy crafter’s guide to mass-production at Christmas.

Step 5

If you use a red base, as we did with this gift tag, you can skip a step and it’s even simpler; just add the pink and white papers on top.

Santa Gift Tag

Our living room is now adorned with smiling Santas, who are partially stuck to various surfaces as they dry.  The rain is beating down and we are slowly beginning to think about work and school bags and clean clothes, with that small heartsink that comes with the end of a lovely weekend and the prospect of Monday morning.  An open fire tonight, I think – let the weekend linger just a little bit longer.

Have a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

handbag logo

Printable North Pole Telegram


On Christmas Eve, Harry will come down to breakfast to find a telegram from the North Pole wedged in the hearth, delivered by elf post from the big man himself.  ’Flying over tonight’ it says, together with instructions for how Harry should prepare…

North Pole Telegram in the Grate

We’re lucky enough to have a huge fireplace right next to the breakfast table, so I imagine it will catch Harry’s eye over the Cheerios and build the (already high) anticipation!

North Pole Telegram in the Hearth

I designed this based on pictures of old British and US telegrams, and then used the Traveling Typewriter font which you can download free here for the text. If you want to print and adapt one of these for the little people in your own life, I’ve added printable versions below; this first one just needs you to add the child’s name;

North Pole telegram 2013

And for the second one, I’ve left it blank so that you can add whatever text you like to customise.

Blank North Pole telegram 2013

When you’ve printed it, you can mount on cardstock (red would look lovely), or simply use pinking shears for a decorative postal edge.  If you don’t have a hearth, the doormat would be a perfect alternative…


Kate x

North Pole telegram 2013

Blank North Pole telegram 2013

Hand & Footprint Reindeer Cards

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 ;-) )