Holiday Crafts: Thanksgiving Decorations Kids Can Make

Bored? Look at These Hobby Ideas!

Have you ever played one too many computer game or watched one too many old rerun?  You just can't get into another mystery and you just feel flat?  Maybe you are suffering from boredom, that familiar accomaniment to our automated, precooked lifestyles.  If so, you need to check out these hobby ideas.  Hobbies have been found to be therapeutic as they relieve stress and get the mind active.  In this article, you'll find hobby ideas for every sort of person, from the intellectual to the athlete, from the homemaker to the attorney.

Many times we are bored because we have become too inactive.  If this is your problem, you might like a sports hobby.  Have you ever tried tennis?  How about golf?  Many people simply love bowling until it becomes an important part of their lives.  Sports hobbies get you out of the house and often are a way to make friends with others.  Then again, some active hobbies can be enjoyed in our own homes, such as weight lifting and doing aerobic dance to a video.

Speaking of aerobic dance, dancing is another great pastime.  When you think of hobby ideas, don't forget the many forms of dance.  Square dancing is fun for people who like getting together with groups, while ballet and modern dance appeal to the more contemplative souls.  And while we're on contemplation, you might enjoy doing yoga stretches as a hobby.

Maybe we're feeling bored and listless because we've been cooped up in the house too long.  If that's the problem, here are a few hobby ideas to get you out in the fresh air.  Have you ever thought of taking up canoeing, hiking, or trapping?  How about getting involved with an environmental group?  In many states, you can form groups to clean riverbanks and monitor water quality, and the state will provide perks such as t-shirts, work gloves, and first-aid kits.  Or maybe you'd like studying the flora and fauna of your region.  It can be great fun to stroll through the woods and fields with a field guide, learning to identify each wildflower, insect, tree, and bird.

There are almost as many hobby ideas as there are bored people in the world, because everyone puts their own spin on their favorite hobbies.  Maybe you'd enjoy decorating your house with antiques, or learning to bake specialty breads from around the World.  Maybe you'd like to take part in a little theatre production, or learn to play guitar.  What about the fine arts of weaving tapestries or painting with oils?  Candle making, soap making, and many other old-time crafts are being enjoyed again.  Truly, with all these hobby ideas, there is no reason to stay bored for long!

Handicraft Gift Idea: Make an Apron

If you are looking for a handicraft gift idea to make for someone special, perhaps that person would like an apron.  When we think of aprons, we often think of mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen, but men can often benefit from having an apron as well.  They often enjoy barbecuing, for one thing.  They also can use an apron in the workshop.  Children, too, can use an apron for many of their activities, such as arts and crafts.    Here are simple instructions for making a handicraft gift of an apron that can be adapted for anyone.

Start with a piece of sturdy fabric suitable for the individual for whom you are making the handicraft gift.  The fabric needs to be wide enough to wrap 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around them and long enough to cover them from collar bone to just above the knee.  For a large adult, 25 to 30 inches wide by 36 to 40 inches long should be about right.  A slimmer adult can use a narrower apron, but if they will be wiping their hands on the sides of it, they might appreciate the extra width.  An apron for a child of 10 could start with a piece of fabric about 18 inches wide by 25-30 inches long.

The best types of fabric to use are sturdy cottons, such as medium weight denim or twill.  Soft cottons such as broadcloth or muslin are all right in the kitchen, but will not last long, and would not hold up in the garden or workshop at all.  Other materials you'll need are thread and a sewing machine.  You will also need enough extra fabric to make a strap to go around the neck, ties for the back, and pockets.

When designing the handicraft gift, you can be as creative as you like with pockets.  Every apron is more useful with pockets.  A person who cleans houses, for instance, can use pockets for odds and ends they pick up as well as for their spray bottles, sponges, and scrub brushes.

To make the apron, fold the piece of fabric lengthwise.  This will allow you to cut the shape with one cut, making the two sides symmetrical.   What you will be shaping when you make the cut will be the bib section of the apron.  The bib for an adult sized apron will need to be about 9 inches wide.  Measure from the fold about 5-1/2 inches.  This is half the width of the bib plus an inch to fold under twice to form a hem.  The piece you will cut off the side to shape the bib will be a half bullet shape with the tip of the bullet being where the ties will be attached.  The length of the half bullet shape should be about a foot, and the width will be from the spot you marked 5-1/2 inches from the fold to the outside edge of the fabric.  When these pieces are cut off, the result should be an apron shaped piece of fabric.

Now decorate the apron with pockets and any other decorations you desire.  After this it is time to fold under the edges all around and stitch down with sturdy stitching for a nice hem all around the handicraft gift.  Cut two pieces of fabric a yard long by two inches wide.  Fold lengthwise and fold raw edges to the inside.  Press and stitch down along the length to make the ties.  Attach the ties at the waist of the apron handicraft gift.  (If these ties seem a little long, it is because a lot of people like to bring the ties to the front and tie them there.)  Cut another piece of fabric 18 to 20 inches long by 5 inches wide fold in half lengthwise and press.  Press again with the raw edges of the long side tucked under 1/2 inch.  Stitch down the open side.  Attach this piece to the sides of the top of the bib, sewing it to the back of the bib and topstitching on the front side of the bib.  Be careful not to twist it when you attach it.

People who work hard at homemaking, barbecuing and in the workshop will appreciate a handicraft gift of a sturdy apron.  Mostly they will appreciate the effort and design you have put into making a handicraft gift that they can use.

Foam Sheet Glasses Case

Are you a camp director, teacher, or homeschool mom looking for a new arts and crafts idea for your kids?  Or maybe you are a recreation director at a senior center or nursing home and could use a new project.  Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting and fun for all.  This glass case can be used, given as a gift, or converted into a necklace purse.

To make the glasses case, you will need the following simple materials:  a square of craft foam, plastic or large blunt needles, lanyard lace or thick yarn.  Cut two rectangles from the foam, each 3-1/2 inches (9 cm.) by 6 inches (15 cm.).  With a hole punch, make holes on three sides of each rectangle, leaving one short side unpunched.  Make the holes 1/2 inch apart and allow at least 1/4 inch between the hole and the edge of the craft foam.  The holes need to line up so that the two pieces can be laced together.  If you are preparing the craft for small children, you should make the holes yourself.  Otherwise, the crafters can do this step if you have enough pairs of hole punches.

At this point the crafters can cut decorative shapes from other colors of craft foam, or you can buy sets of ready-cut foam shapes.  If you are doing the craft at a special event, like vacation Bible school, choose shapes that echo the theme of the event.  For instance, if the Bible school or camp has a cowboy theme, find shapes that fit well, such as boots, cowboy hats, and stars.  Let the kids choose the shapes they like and glue on as desired.  You might also like to provide beads or sequins to glue on as well, especially if the crafters are a little older.

The next step in this arts and crafts idea is to thread the plastic needle with the yarn or lanyard lace.  Yarn might be a little easier to handle, but lanyard lace is shiny and attractive.  In a pinch, some teachers of small children use a bobby pin as a needle.  It is certainly a safe alternative.  Simply loop the yarn through the opening and use the open end of the bobby pin as if it were the point of the needle.  The children can now begin to lace the front and back of the glasses case together.

To turn this arts and crafts idea into a necklace purse, simply attach a piece of lanyard lace to each corner making a long handle.  Kids will enjoy using this case as a place to store secret notes and small objects.  If they'd rather, they can give the glasses case to a parent, grandparent, or friend who wears glasses.  Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting for all.

How to Come up With a Craft Idea for Kid Programs

Are you a camp director or Sunday School teacher looking for a craft idea for kid enrichment?  Maybe you feel like you are just not the creative type, and you struggle with coming up with craft projects.  It is true that some people just have a knack for finding or even inventing craft ideas, but your creativity can be improved.  There are ways to make it easier to find a craft idea for kid needs.

First, lay aside any perfectionism.  Locking yourself into thinking there is only one right way to do something makes every decision harder.  Regardless of the kid program you are helping with, there are always many suitable craft ideas out there.  Don't worry about picking the wrong one!  If you've taken into consideration the age and skill levels of the kids involved, your choice will be adequate.

Next, consider your budget.  When choosing a craft idea for kid programs, you need to be aware that some of them are expensive.  Prepackaged kits to make a fun foam picture frame or a craft stick cross are affordable for a few kids, but if you are needing to do a craft with a lot of kids, these kits might cost too much.  It's often easy to do almost exactly the same project by just looking at the craft kit components and buying the same materials in bulk at the discount store.  You may have to do some preparation, like cutting out shapes ahead of time, or at least making cardboard patterns for the kids to use in cutting out their own.  The savings will be worth it, however.

Another consideration is this:  in spite of years of indoctrination from women's libbers, the fact remains that boys and girls like different sorts of crafts!  If the craft seems a little girly, don't use it at boys' camp.  Stick with lace-up leather billfolds, Indian artifacts, dinosaur art, and similar projects.  Girls will like beads and anything that's pink or purple.  For a craft idea for kid camp where there are kids of both sexes, keep it on the boyish side and provide some pink materials to keep the girls happy.

An aspect of creativity that the non-creative types don't realize is that ideas spring from other ideas.  That is, if you look over a book or website of craft ideas, maybe none of them will appeal to you, but if you let them, they will spark an idea for a similar project.  Use what you can and change what you must in the craft directions.  For instance, the craft may have a slogan to be written across the front.  If you need to change the slogan to fit your own needs, it's perfectly OK.  For instance, the pictured project might say "Girls rock!"  You can change that to "He is the Rock!" if that meets your VBS needs better.

A final suggestion is to realize that you don't have to change the instructions or create something new to have a good craft idea for kid use.  Feel free to follow the instructions to the letter if that works better for you.  The kids will have a great time either way.  Just pick a craft idea, for kid creativity beats adult creativity everytime!  The kids will make it creative, even if you have doubts about your own ability in this area.

Craft Idea for a Group: Make a Mural

Most craft ideas are geared to individuals, whether kids or adults.  Sometimes you'd like to have a craft idea that works for a group of kids working together.  Making a mural together is an idea that works for a group.  By working together, you are creating something to decorate a shared area.  Individual crafts can be displayed, but one unique item is often more effective than a group of items that are almost identical.  In addition, sometimes kids' crafts, like it or not, just become clutter when they are taken home, and it isn't long before Mom throws it out.  This craft idea of making a group mural can be displayed for several weeks and will not become clutter in anyone's home.

The basic materials for a kids' group mural is freezer paper.  Freezer paper is about 18 inches wide, and it is very tough.  One side is plastic coated.  That is the side that is designed to be placed against the food.  You will have better luck drawing on and gluing things onto the other side.  Class or group murals can feature a number of different design elements.  You can mix up some finger paint and let the children make hand prints (or even foot prints!) on the paper.  You can let them scour old cast-off magazines and color catalogs for pictures they like and let them cut the pictures out and glue them on.  They can add scribbles, designs, signatures, slogans, or pictures using markers, crayons, or gel pens.  They can attach stickers to the mural as well.  This craft idea is very flexible!

For making the mural, choose a topic that relates to the group in some way.  If the group are girl scouts, for instance, and have been learning to camp, the mural can feature pictures of items related to camping.  If you've been learning about dinosaurs, you can use them as a theme.  If you want a really messy project that makes a cute mural for fall, mix up finger paint in fall colors.  The children can each make a tree by first laying their forearm in brown paint.  Then they lay their arm on the paper to make the trunk of the tree.  They should spread out their fingers so their arm print has five short branches at the top.  To make the leaves, the children make fingerprints all around the top of the tree using paints in other fall colors.  If you add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to finger paint when mixing it up, it will be easier to clean off the children's arms.  Do make sure they have old clothes or smocks for this craft idea.

Little preschoolers will like making a mural with an animal theme.  You should probably find and cut out animal magazine pictures to start with, and then let the children choose the ones they like for gluing down.  Glue sticks are neat to use with small children.  They will paste some of the pictures upside down.  Expect it and do not scold them.  It is the process that is important in this craft idea.  The children can also use animal cookie cutters dipped in finger paint to stamp animals on the mural, too.  You may need to tape the paper to the table so it doesn't slide around while the children work.

An elaborate form of this craft idea that adults often make is a quilt around a theme.  Each person in the group creates a quilt square to represent some aspect of what the group stands for.  These quilt squares can be colored with fabric pens or crafted of patchwork or applique.  Again, the craft idea is to build group solidarity and not to highlight one artist's skills over another.  When the quilt top is completed, it can be a group project to tie it or quilt it.  It can be hung in a special central location or given to an appreciated leader or member.

Clay Pot Crafts: Make a Bell for the Porch

Clay pot crafts are a cute way to make home decorations.  In clay pot crafts, clay flower pots can be crafted into a variety of decorative things that appeal to gardeners.  Usually, the crafter begins with new pots.  The pots are often decorated with paint as well as being tied together with rope or cord to create things.

Pots for clay pot crafts can be purchased in many different sizes, from tiny ones not more than 2 inches in diameter, to huge ones over a foot across.  For a beginning project, start with smaller pots.  The beginner should also choose clay pot crafts that don't use too many pots in too elaborate a design.

An example of a good craft for someone new at clay pot crafts is to make a bell from two clay pots.  Buy one pot that is about five or six inches in diameter, and another that is very small.  You will use the small one as the clapper for the bell.  You will also need some decorative cord, two large wooden beads, and paint in desired colors.  You may also wish to purchase some glue-on jewels to decorate the bell.  The bell makes a nice decoration for a front porch.

Cut the cord two feet (60 cm.) long.  Fold the end over 3 inches (8 cm.) and tie in an overhand knot, making a loop.  This loop is for hanging the bell from a hook or a nail.  Now turn the larger clay pot upside-down.  Pass the loose end of the cord down through the hole in the pot.  Lay the pot on its side and slide one of the large wooden beads up the cord until it is about 10 inches (25 cm.) from the loose end.  Now tie the cord around the bead so that the bead cannot slip from its position on the cord.  If you have done this correctly, you can lift the pot by the loop.  In clay pot crafts, the beads must be large enough to stop the cord from going through the hole in the bottom of the pot.

On the loose end of the cord, you are going to attach the small pot in the same way.  Slide the small pot up the cord to make it easier to tie the other large wooden bead on the end of the cord.  Now when you lift the entire arrangement by the loop, the smaller pot should hang freely inside the larger pot, making a pleasant sound when it claps against the larger pot.

Decorate the outside of the larger pot with paint as desired.  You may like to paint it in black and white patches for a Holstein cow theme.  You may also like to decorate the top of the bell with silk or dried flowers and greenery and a ribbon bow.

For a variation on this craft, make three of the bells and hang them from a horizontal piece of driftwood or other interesting piece of natural wood.  When making hanging clay pot crafts, always make sure the beads are large enough and are tied tightly in place, because the clay pots will break if they fall to the ground.

Other clay pot crafts include making a large doll or scarecrow of nested pots strung together and painted.  The doll can sit on a chair or a step of the front porch.  Paint his face to look like a scarecrow, a jack-o-lantern, a gnome, or a child.  Clay pot crafts are especially suited to being displayed outside.