Painted Snowflakes and a Simpler Holiday Season

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CoffeeFilterSnowflakes_JV_3We've been enjoying a simpler, quieter December than usual. I made a decision to take it easier this Christmas and not try to do quite so much. We didn't make our own advent calendar as we have in the past, which means we don't have an ambitious activity-a-day plan for this month. Many things are not getting done. Cards didn't go out and probably won't, handmade or otherwise (maybe we'll aim for Valentine's Day cards…). And the handmade gift bug didn't quite get me this year. That's not to say we're not enjoying the season, but just that it's all unfolding a little more slowly, a little more naturally.


We've been cutting and painting coffee filter snowflakes (more vibrantly than usual!), making our salt dough ornaments, of course, and the studio has kept busy with various arts and crafts projects (most recently Maia's paper chains). I'm also sure we'll catch up with some holiday baking very soon. We have our traditions after all and small people clamoring for gingerbread men…

But overall? It's felt much more peaceful, and for that I'm grateful.

How about you? How is your holiday season unfolding?

If you liked these candy cane lollipops, then you might like the other winter and holiday crafts and recipes in The Artful Winter ebook:

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  1. Peace Love and Rainbows says

    We are doing the same rhing this year, letting the art happen whenever they feel like it. We usually do an activity a day the month of Decmeber but tbis year. I have to say Iam loving this relaxed approach and so are the girls. Pretty much we are cearting art when ever the whim hits which is hiw we do our art around here normally,so why stress out over the holidays,right? :) Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  2. says

    I think these things go in rhythms, Jean, and you’ve had a very hectic year so it’s natural you’d want to pull back right now. I like our Advent calendar activities precisely because most of them are simple activities that are special because we do them together. A local agency is collecting new, unwrapped toys so that client parents can go “shopping” for gifts for their kids (I think this is such a better idea than just delivering toys with no idea if the child will like it), so Monday’s activity was for us to go shopping, and Tuesday’s was to drop off the toys. I’m pretty good by now at keeping our holiday simple, too, and about being home together, not running around like crazy. :)

  3. says

    Us too. I would really like to get Christmas cards out this year but I am not stressing about it. We have a birthday right in the middle of all the chaos as well so we try to focus on that and make it special, then move on to Christmas. It is still my favorite time of the year!

  4. says

    These are beautiful. Pari loves cutting snowflakes every now and then and painting them, too. She used one of her painted snowflake to decorate an envelope yesterday in which she posted a letter to a friend.
    Her birthday just went by so we normally have the big celebration around that time with lots of handmade decor and invites etc. After that, it’s little bit of a lull before we finally catch up with Christmas and New Year – but nothing elaborate…
    And then, being homeschoolers, we always have something going on; so, doing anything extra – beyond it – becomes stressful and I try to avoid that…

  5. says

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been thinking a lot about the activity-a-day advent trend, and while I like the idea behind it, I’m resisting the urge to try it. It strikes me that the holidays are already so busy and filled with activities. Do we really need to add the pressure of a scheduled family advent activity every single day? (C’mon, moms, give yourselves a break!) We’re working on homemade gifts (contact paper suncatchers in black cardstock frames) and cards for my daughter to give her friends and family, building a gingerbread house, baking cookies. We have tickets to the Nutcracker. But I am also trying to let it all unfold naturally, and not stress about whether we do every holiday activity on the list.

  6. says

    Kristin, it really depends on how someone chooses to look at it. I like to take the activities we do anyway–including things as simple as planning Christmas dinner together–and slip them into the envelope. Very few of our countdown calendar activities are a specially scheduled family activity. (I wouldn’t have time even if I wanted to do that, what with school and homework.) The reason I like ours is because it turns what could be mundane–sending out cards, planning dinner–and makes it special. It’s not just another chore to cross off the list, it’s doing something together, and there’s the fun of peeking into the envelope every morning. I am very much *not* an advocate of making holidays more stressful for the parents, but of finding ways to make even the little things meaningful. (We are also *not* baking a gingerbread house or going to the Nutcracker, two things that would definitely cause me stress!! It’s really all about doing what works best.)

  7. says

    I did Christmas cards early, which made me feel really good! I had them by Thanksgiving and sent them out shortly after. For our family that lives across the country, I sent their gifts in November too. So, it feels like our Christmas is nice and quiet this year as well. The key for me was to do those things early, and not feel rushed or obligated in December. I will definitely repeat that next year :)

  8. Dena says

    I didn’t get to the holiday cards either, but I am mailing out presents to my husbands family in Canada and that feels good!! In them I have coffee filter snowflakes, dough ornaments and painted leaves. Yes, it’s an artful parent holiday around here. Truly, your blog is a gift to me and my family, big thanks are in order from us!!!
    So, a few questions: how are you getting the snowflakes so bright? Also, how do I get Naomi to not ALWAYS mix all the paint colors to brown?
    By the way, our winter trip to NC is tomorrow. I don’t think it’s going to snow while we are there, but I am hopeful, maybe need a trip to Maggie Valley so Naomi can be in the snow, we’ll see.
    Happy slowed down, peaceful holiday,

  9. sienna says

    the same seems to be true for me…
    i did see a profound version of the Nutcracker at the movie theatre last night and for those of you that get kqed or its equivalent, you may be able to see it…
    live from the lincoln center…the new york city ballet company produced it…the arrangement of music was one of the best i’ve heard!
    we also usually get the san francisco ballet company’s version on kqed…love that one too.
    love to check in to this blog often…lots of ideas… which has me shopping in the art store…and that is about the extent of my shopping!
    merriest of seasons to all.

  10. says

    So glad you like my blog, Dena, and find inspiration here! The brighter snowflakes were painted with a different brand of watercolors than the other ones. I think they were just painted with Crayola watercolors, in fact.
    How old is Naomi? If she’s three or older, you can probably remind her to dip her brush in the water first, then on the paint, then on the paper, then in the water, etc. (and she’ll still mix them sometimes!) If she’s younger, I’d either just not worry about it or provide premixed watercolors in individual dishes — either liquid watercolors or watercolors from tubes that you mix with water yourself to make it liquid. If you do this, provide a separate brush for each color.

  11. says

    When we did the activity-a-day advent calendars, I added a lot of activities that we would do anyway too(decorate cookies, make salt dough ornaments). Maybe not all though.

  12. says

    I like Pari’s idea of using a painted snowflake to decorate an envelope. We used doilies (and stickers etc) to decorate our gift packages that we’re sending to our families. Snowflakes would’ve been fun, too.

  13. says

    Sounds like you’re still creating and doing a fair amount. :) It’s funny. We’re taking the relaxed, unscheduled approach too, but are probably creating just as much as usual. It just feels like less — maybe because it’s happening a bit more naturally.

  14. says

    Jean — It really was just luck! I hope to do it next year too though. We won’t talk about the year where we had packed up gifts in a box to send to family but never sent them. They were still all packed up in the box -never sent- when our family visited in October of the following year! Christmas in October :) I didn’t want that to happen again so I lucked out this year. It is hard to stay on top things.

  15. says

    by the way I ordered some of the Jumbo Felt Pens you talked about, from the stubby pencil studio! So excited to get them. Hopefully I can contain my excitement and wait to put them in my daughter’s stocking for Christmas.

  16. Carly says

    I went back to work this fall after three years at home so I was worried about not getting to all of our holiday traditions – decorated cookies, homemade ornaments, ice wreaths, kid-decorated gift bags for teacher presents, coffee filter snow flakes, Christmas dinner placecards, etc. We’ve already done a bunch of them and seem to be finding the time to do the rest. This year, we did one gift bag at a time in the morning before daycare, which actually worked really well because, being older, they wanted to put more effort into their colouring. It’s going surprisingly well, with minimal stress. This weekend will be ice wreaths with my dying flowers and coffee filter snow flakes.
    Happy holiday Jean. Thanks for continuing to inspire.
    PS. My daughter is turning 5 at the beginning of January and we’re doing a watercolour theme for her present – good quality watercolours, watercolour paper, good brushes and watercolour pencil crayons. I can’t wait to see what she creates.

  17. says

    It might not fit in her stocking! The package is pretty big and doubles as a marker stand (super cool in itself). But if they don’t make it into her stocking, they’ll be great under the tree!