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DIY Holiday

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It's funny how some holiday memories can lie dormant for years, through all the gift giving and receiving, family dinners and holiday toasts, just to bubble up one day in a burst of unexpected nostalgia. For instance, I had forgotten how much joy and wonderment was found in the simple holiday crafts of childhood. It's the kind of holiday spirit that is singular to kids and comes in the form of a glue stick and construction paper. It had been the furthest thing from my mind until now. With three children under four years old, I suddenly find myself knee deep in paper chain garlands and up to my head in childhood reminiscence.

As the owner of a high-end home furnishings store (Canvas) introducing traditional vintage touches into our holiday decor has always come easily: mid-century candlesticks on the dining table, an antique carafe by the fire; the warmth and nostalgia were built in. But there is something about creating your own retro holiday crafts and sharing the tradition (and mess) with your kids that really makes it feel like Christmas. I mean who doesn't love popcorn garlands and coffee filter angels? Of course, now its organic gluten-free popcorn garlands and recycled brown paper coffee filter angels. Either way, the little monsters get to revel in the simple joy of creating something, and we get to relive our cherished holiday memories (probably blocking out the sibling arguments over the washing up).

Such a great way to spend time as a family and share our enthusiasm for creativity, DIY holiday! I love the idea of sneaking in little life lessons this way, too, whether by challenging my oldest to use items already hanging around the house (like repurposing the cardboard loo rolls, which make great bases for tree toppers!) or encouraging him to use all the bits and pieces left over from the gift wrapping towards other decorations (it's amazing how an inch of ribbon can capture the imagination). And let's not forget all the fun to be had with popsicle sticks -- a whole spectrum of holiday ornaments await, from trees to stars to miniature sleds.

So far, our favorite DIY craft has been creating our own wrapping for holiday gifts. We pull out all of the extra paper we've been saving throughout the year (paper shopping bags, tissue paper from previous gifts, even old newspaper is fun!). My son then delights in using his markers and crayons to personalize the wrapped gifts with his yuletide greetings and impressions (usually of the family dog, Blue).

To embellish the wrapping, we collect small pinecones and winterberries, found strolling outside on Shelter Island, attaching them to the twine used to tie off each gift. This is my favorite part, stepping outside and making a connection between the holidays and the natural world. And yes, our decorations usually resemble something akin to Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, but isn't that part of the fun? The great thing is my kids will never see a Popsicle stick as just a Popsicle stick ever again. Instead, they get to imagine a world where everything has creative potential. Together we create a more personal and meaningful holiday, traditional, budget-friendly and fun!

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