What better to do while counting down the days to Christmas than do some baking. My mom, Mummo (Grandma in Finnish), really wanted to make a gingerbread house with Sophia this year.
There are many different ways to make gingerbread houses but this recipe is fairly close to what Mummo makes. For recipe click here. If you want to make the yard and all the trees and animals then double the recipe.
Sophia used cookie cutters to make some cookies while Mummo cut out the gingerbread house pieces.
The best part of baking is taste testing 🙂
Bake the house pieces and cookies as the recipe states. After the pieces are cooled off you can glue the pieces together.
Mummo used melted sugar to glue the house together. She also did a bit of pre-decorating of the house pieces.
Decorating with candied cherries, candies, sprinkles, and icing. Use the icing to “glue” the decorations on.
Of course it’s important to taste all the decorations 🙂
Sophia’s and Mummo’s finished gingerbread house.
TIP: You can even dust it with powdered sugar for a light snow effect.
It’s the time of year to get your Christmas cards sent. We decided to make some this year. I figured for the most toddler participation, potato stamping would be the best option. (I didn’t want to have Sophia only be interested in making one or two cards and all the rest left to me)
Instead of doing the traditional advent calendars I really liked the idea of getting a book a day instead. I saw an idea posted about (not able to relocate it now :/ ) where you wrap 25 books and have them in a basket and have your child pick a new one every night before bed. Well that concept, I felt, was a bit complex for a 1.5 year old so instead I crafted this mail box (with the help of my dad) last year. Every morning she would wake up and go get her mailbox and bring it to our bed and she’d unwrap the book and we would read it as a family in bed. She would check the mailbox after her naps too but to her disappointment the books only manifested in there in the mornings 🙂
I chose to do all Christmas and winter themed books. You could do any topics that interest your children.
Next year I think I will pick through all our most favorite Christmas books and re-wrap them and only get a few new ones to add to the bunch. I don’t need to end up with hundreds of random Christmas books after all. 😉
We also started Elf on the Shelf last year with Sophia. She named her elf Snowflake. We are doing a modified version of Elf on the Shelf and sticking with only part of the story. For us she tells Santa about all the good things Sophia does but not the bad. We don’t focus on any negativity with her, shes just for fun. We move her to a new location every night for Sophia to find. We did keep her up high and out of reach last year as we didn’t think she’d remember not to touch her… she might be staying high up this year too.
I’ve done salt dough handprint ornaments the last two years (Sophia was 6 months and 1.5 years old). There is a good recipe and instructions for the salt dough handprints here on The Imagination Tree. I did a few things a bit differently like adding water a little at a time so it doesn’t get sticky plus they dry faster the less water there is.
The first year I made these I didn’t trim off the excess dough. I found that those were really heavy. So this time I trimmed the dough around the edges with a kitchen knife. Below are a few more helpful tips.
I set Sophia up to work on top of the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This keeps the dough from sticking to the pan when cooked and you wont have to worry about moving their finished master piece.
TIP: If you want to smooth down cracks and rough edges, you can do so by dipping your finger in water and smoothing them out, adding water as needed.
TIP: If you are making the dough by yourself, as I did, have it all set up before inviting your toddler to join you. This is very helpful since little ones have short attention spans so it’s best to use it doing the project instead of them watching you set up for it.
TIP: Also we did the handprints first as quickly as I could crank them out, maybe took 4-5 minutes. After which I allowed Sophia to explore the dough with different tools as she wanted.
DON’T: Forget to poke holes in the ornaments (for the ribbon to go through when done) before baking
After the salt dough ornaments had cooled off and I was certain they had fully dried off (the next day) I set Sophia up for painting them. I had originally thought about painting them my self and making these cute Santa’s out of them. But then figured that family getting the ornaments would like them better if Sophia had her own hand in painting them.
TIP: You can do this in one day if you make the ornaments first thing in the morning and get them baking. If you make them really thick they take a lot longer than the 2 hours recommended bake time.
Look of hard concentration 🙂
Paint a layer of mod podge on them after the paint has dried. This will help preserve them longer. The mod podge dries clear so don’t worry about it looking cloudy when you put it on.
On the red “sun” ornament we sprinkled red glitter on top of the wet paint.
The instructions for the handprint bauble ornament pictured below will be posted soon. Check back soon 🙂
Only 48 days until Christmas! It’s the perfect time of year to start making ornaments. (Sophia was 1.5 years old, since this is from last year.)
Setting up for projects properly is the most important part when working with a toddler. You want to have everything you may need at arms reach. Tip: Tin foil is super easy for cleaning up afterwards, so I use it a lot.
Chris helped me with this project and it helps immensely to have an extra pair of hands and eyes. This year I would tackle this with just Sophia and I, since she follows instructions (most of the time).
What you will need:
-pine cones (you can buy them if you aren’t able to find any)
-white, glitter red, and glitter green acrylic paints
I found really nice pine cones on one of our walks in our neighborhood and picked them up. I cleaned them off, screwed in the eyelet screws, put strings on and painted them white. I hung them up to dry (put something underneath to catch the paint drips).
Once they were dry I set it all up for Sophia to paint. Since this was her first time painting, we didn’t know what to expect, so we prepared for the worst. We took off her shirt, had a packet of wet wipes, paper towel roll, towels… well you get the idea.
Really all it took was to be in control the paint and give her more when she wanted it but keeping it out of reach other wise.
Once the glitter paint was all dry I painted a thin layer of mod podge over the pine cones to help preserve them longer. Ps it dries clear so don’t worry about it looking cloudy when you put it on.
Sophia really enjoyed the experience and they made super cute presents for family 🙂