Involving every member of the family in preparation for the holiday season can be challenging if one of them is a well-meaning but little baby, not yet one-year-old. That’s why a year ago I felt particularly happy whenever I could think of a Christmas activity for my baby boy to do. I remember how Budster made his first Christmas craft – he painted a bunch of ornaments to give as gifts.

Baby's First Christmas Craft: a cute and simple gingerbread man ornament for a Christmas tree decoration - children of all ages can make it!

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Wood absorbs water well, but at a slightly slower speed than paper, which makes it possible to work paints for longer. It is my favourite surface for painting on, and I also like using wooden cutouts for crafts with Budster. He like to use a lot of paint and rub it into the surface he is painting on. Craft paper gets thin and rips under such artistic pressure, but wood does not. It is also durable and perfect for turning into crafts: magnets, key-chain charms – and Christmas ornaments.

Materials

gingerbread man cutouts (or other Christmas themed cutouts – they can often be found in various Dollar Stores, or simply cut out of thick cardboard)

gouache or tempera paint

polyurethane varnish (or other non-water-based varnish)

 Baby's First Christmas Craft: a cute and simple gingerbread man ornament for a Christmas tree decoration - children of all ages can make it!Ten-month-old Budster is painting the ornaments.

 Tutorial

1. For setting up an activity for babies, attach a big sheet of paper to the table with some masking tape. This is a precaution against having the table painted, which is something you can see happening in my photos.

2. Temporarily attach wooden cutouts to the piece of paper with double-sided tape. It if difficult for babies to paint and hold the objects in place. Budster did not even try – how could he if his artistic sense told him to hold brushes in both hands!

3. Give paints and paintbrushes to your baby and show how to cover the shapes in brown shades and colours. Budster had three paint jars here: two shades of brown and one white. He had a lot of fun, smearing the paints around, and created some very unique textures.

4. Let the ornament dry. If you have older children, ask them to decorate the gingerbread man. If not, it is up to you to finish the masterpiece: draw a pair of eyes and a mouth with white, then add buttons and scarf. To preserve the paint, you may want to cover it with varnish.

5. Drill a little hole in the top of the cutout, then put a thread through for making an ornament. Alternatively, you can make it into a magnet by gluing a magnet to the backside.

We gave these ornaments as gifts from Budster to relatives and friends. We kept one and put it into a special box that holds keepsakes from the first year of Budster’s life. This year we will take it out and put it on back on the tree, along with new ornaments we are planning to make. I hope that we can make at least one new ornament every year, and make it a fun family tradition.

What is your favourite family tradition for the Christmas season?

If you liked this craft, you may also find these related activities interesting:

– Christmas Shadow Play: make a simple shadow puppet theatre and stage The Gingerbread Man with our free printable puppets

Painting a Cutting Board: another idea for a gift that a baby can make

Picture Books that Make the Best Gifts: find ideas for Christmas gifts for children

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Baby's First Christmas Craft: a cute and simple gingerbread man ornament for a Christmas tree decoration - children of all ages can make it!

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