This past Tuesday, for our advent activity, we made beaded snowflakes:
I thought this craft was much better for the four-five-six crowd than the paper snowflakes from last year. The kids had a great time pawing through our big bin of beads looking for matching sets of six beads to put around their snowflakes. They sometimes needed help threading the beads but even Little Miss Sunshine liked playing with the beads and sorting them. I bought a bunch of really pretty beads from Michaels for this craft but they were way expensive and not really worth it — we had a bunch of plastic and wood beads here from various sets of Gal Smiley’s and they were just as nice and easier to work with. Next year I’ll save some money and just buy a big bag of cheapy beads from Zellers.
We also made gingerbread houses this week, always a popular activity that leaves my kids completely hyped up on sugar. Our houses are simple creations made from graham crackers, that are totally meant to be consumed the very second they are finished (although we do try to spread it out over a few days just to contain the sugar a bit).
Reminder to myself for next year, because I always forget this part: the glue-icing that holds the house together takes time to dry. It would be better to make the basic houses the evening before so they can dry/harden in time for decorating the next day.
This year I tried a new Vegan Royal Icing recipe and it worked much better than last year at holding the houses together — in fact, once it was dry, the houses were rock solid. Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons water or rice milk
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon clear vanilla
Mix the sugar with the water/rice milk until smooth (if it’s clumpy, do NOT add more water, just work it in as best you can). Beat/mix in the corn syrup and vanilla. If still too thick, add more corn syrup, but remember, this is for glue — it should not be runny at all, and should be more like dough than spreadable icing.
I found this easiest to work with by scooping out a small ball with my fingers, molding it or rolling it into a worm-like string, then pressing the string along the seam I was trying to join. It held quite well right away but pressure from little fingers pushing candies onto the house did cause it to give way a bit; letting it harden for an hour or two before decorating would be better.
Oh, and I almost forgot, we also added a Christmas tree in front of each gingerbread house this year — a sugar ice cream cone covered in green icing. Here’s Little Miss Sunshine’s creation, moments before being devoured:
Last night, we cleared the furniture from our family room and had a dance party — probably my favourite activity to date. Today, we’ll be making a mural of pictures of toys and Christmas-y stuff I’ve cut from magazines and flyers – sounds simple but again, the kids love it because there’s a huge pile of things to sort through and paw through. It’s always exciting when they score something from the heap that they think is particularly special.
Man, Christmas is coming soon!