Crafts get kids in the giving spirit

Help your little ones experience the gift of giving by having them make presents for family and friends. Five local experts created projects for our readers and their children to do together this month. The results? Five wonderful ideas, from Christmas tree ornaments to fruity jam, that kiddos can present to everyone on their list -- and leave out for Santa, too.

Eat and be merry

Halloween and Thanksgiving might be long gone, but that doesn't mean your loved ones can't still enjoy a pumpkin-themed gift. Provided by Market Street's cooking school in Colleyville, this delicious recipe duo of spiced pumpkin butter and pumpkin cornbread is sure to be a culinary hit among the food lovers on your children's gift list. Because using the stove and oven are involved, these projects are recommended for older children. (Tip: For an added touch of personalization, package the butter in mason jars and the cornbread in cellophane bags, then let children decorate them with holiday-themed ribbon, stickers and other embellishments.)

Spiced pumpkin butter

Makes 4 1/2 cups

2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin

1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup

1/2 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cook uncovered over medium heat (stirring frequently) for 25 minutes or until mixture is thick. If it spatters, reduce heat to medium-low. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pumpkin cornbread

Makes 12 servings

6 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter, divided

2 cups cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons masa harina or corn flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup buttermilk

1 container (8 ounces) sour cream

1 egg, slightly beaten

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons butter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.

3. In another bowl, combine 4 tablespoons butter and remaining ingredients. Whisk into cornmeal mixture and pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted off-center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

-- Dish Event Culinary School at Market Street, 5605 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, 817-577-5020;

All I want for Christmas

Thanks to the creative minds at Van Grow Art Studio in Fort Worth, children can leave a lasting "imprint" on their gift recipients this year. Personalized with your child's own handprint or footprint, this precious ornament will be a gift loved ones will cherish.

Imprint ornament

Round ceramic bisque ornament or round wooden ornament


2 or 3 acrylic craft paints in your choice of colors

Assortment of paintbrushes

Glaze (optional)


1. Lay the ornament on a flat surface. Sponge paint onto your child's hand or foot.

2. Making sure to hold the ornament firmly in place, press your child's hand or foot into the ornament to create an imprint. Hold it for a couple seconds to make sure the imprint takes, then slowly remove the child's hand or foot. Let paint dry.

3. Using another paint color and a paintbrush, write your child's name and the year on either side of your imprint. Let dry.

4. Once you've done this, use a brush to paint dots in the white space of the ornament. Let dry.

5. If you want, you can brush a glaze on the ornament after the paint is dry. This will make the ornament waterproof and give it a polished look.

To finish the ornament, thread a piece of ribbon through the hole at the top to create a loop.

-- Van Grow Art Studio, 3434 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-348-0505;

O, Christmas tree

Let children help their loved ones trim the tree with the gift of an ornament. Created by Paper Planet in Fort Worth, this homemade gift is guaranteed to secure your tyke a spot on Santa's nice list.

Christmas tree ornament

Card stock


Handmade paper or construction paper


Glue stick

Hot glue or Super Glue (adult supervision needed)



1. Cut a triangle base out of card stock.

2. To create the texture of the tree, cut pieces out of the handmade paper or construction paper. Each piece should be 2 inches tall. The first piece should be 5 inches wide, and each piece cut after that should go down in size by a half inch (so, 5 by 2 inches, 4 1/2 by 2, 4 by 2, etc.). Stop once you get to 1/2 inch by 2 inches.

3. Roll the width of a piece of paper around the pencil. When you get close to the end, use the glue stick to glue the edge down, and hold it until it seals. Then pull the pencil out. Repeat until all pieces of paper are rolled.

4. Then, starting with the longest paper roll and ending with the shortest, glue your rolls from bottom to top on your triangle cutout. You can glue each roll individually, or put glue all over your triangle base and then lay your rolls on top. We suggest using hot glue for this, but a glue stick will work.

5. Flip your tree over to its backside and hot-glue a piece of ribbon down the middle. Make sure that you leave room at the bottom so the ribbon looks like a stump, and leave a little room at the top so you can make a loop. Finish the tree by gluing on embellishments such as charms, bows or rhinestones.

-- Paper Planet, 6515 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, 817-451-8898;

Deck the halls

Great for hanging on fireplace mantels, across doorways or even on Christmas trees, this handmade holiday garland project, offered by Paper Planet, can be as colorful and creative as the child making it.

Holiday garland


Paper straws

Circle punches

Handmade paper or card stock


Glue stick


For variation:

Needle (parental supervision needed)

Foam glitter balls

1. Cut the straws to your desired length (we cut ours to 1 1/2 inches).

2. Using the circle punch (we used a 1 1/4-inch punch), punch circles out of your paper. You will need two circles to create one circle on your garland.

3. Leave about 8 inches on one end to tie later, and start stringing the garland. Start with a straw, then add the paper circles. To do this, lay the garland down flat. Put glue on one side of a circle; lay it down, glue side up, then position the garland's string over it and press. Put glue on one side of another circle and glue it on top of the string and circle just glued together. Press them together firmly. Alternate adding straws and punched paper circles to the garland.

3. When you reach your desired length, tie a bow using the ribbon on each end.

Variation: For garland using foam glitter balls (shown), string in this order: straw, glitter ball, straw, glitter ball, etc. To string the balls, you will need a needle. Thread the string through a needle and carefully feed it through the middle of a straw, then through a glitter ball. Repeat until you reach your desired length. Tie a bow with ribbon after the items at each end to keep them from falling off.

-- Paper Planet, 6515 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, 817-451-8898;

Art of the gift

Children will have a great time making their loved ones a piece of personalized artwork. This project comes from Artful Mayhem in Keller.

Wall art

Papier-mache or wooden letter, number, symbol or other form

1 or 2 acrylic paints (craft or artist grade) in your choice of colors




Collage glue (like Mod Podge)

Foam brush

Glaze (optional)

1. Cover your workspace with newspaper to protect it from spills. Next, discuss the focus of the gift you are making. Who is it for? What theme should you use? What colors would be best?

2. Paint the entire letter or form, including the sides (this can get messy).

3. While your form is drying, cut out words, phrases or images from magazines that describe the gift recipient or that go with the theme. (Since these will be used later, have a dish or tray nearby to keep them neat and organized.)

4. When the form is dry, check for any missed spots that still need paint. If there are any, repaint. If not, begin arranging the cutout words on the form. Make sure to trim any edges that do not fit flat on the front. Lay the snippets exactly as they'll be displayed on the form.

5. Making sure not to skimp on the glue, paint an even layer onto the form. Lay the snippets out on the form, ensuring all sides and edges are secure. Once everything is arranged, use another layer of glue to paint the entire surface, to seal everything down.

6. When the form is dry, add a glaze layer to it, if desired, for a custom, cohesive finish. Add a drop of your paint to the collage glue and paint a light coat over everything, making sure that each word remains visible.

-- Artful Mayhem, 228 S. Main St., Keller, 817-653-1703;

A taste of the holidays

Perfect for slathering on toast or scones, this carrot cake jam provided by Young Chefs Academy in Fort Worth is an excellent (and easy-to-make) gift idea for any child in the gift-giving spirit. Since this project involves the stove, it is recommended for older kids. (Tip: For more personalization, let children decorate the jars with holiday-themed ribbon, stickers and other embellishments.)

Carrot cake jam

Makes 6-7 jars

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots

1 1/2 cups pears, peeled and chopped

1 can (14 ounces) crushed pineapple with juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 package of fruit pectin

6 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups toasted pecans (optional)

1. Combine carrots, pears, pineapple (including juice), lemon juice and spices in a large, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Cover and reduce heat. Boil gently 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Whisk pectin into the carrot mixture until dissolved. Add sugar, stirring constantly. Return mixture to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Stir in pecans, if desired.

3. Remove from heat and skim foam. Ladle into hot mason jars to within a quarter-inch of the top rim. Remove air bubbles and wipe rim. Secure the two-piece jar lid.

4. Put the jar in a bath of hot water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes (start timing after the water returns to a boil) and remove.

-- Young Chefs Academy, 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Suite 260, Fort Worth, 817-989-2433;