Christmas Cinnamon Roll Reindeer Breakfast {Or, The Illusion of Being Busy}

Reindeer Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

Well, it’s that time of year again . . . when it’s actually NEXT year (January) and I still have yet to post any of my Christmas projects or recipes. Never mind Halloween or Thanksgiving . . .

And when I took a close, sobering look at my blog, I see that I haven’t updated it in over six months.

Six MONTHS, people.  And not just that, but I haven’t been updating my Facebook page either, let alone Twitter or Pinterest.

I seem to be a tad behind.

So here I am:  feeling the need to make arguments for how busy I am.  And of course I’m busy – but aren’t we all?  I could make a very long list mentioning my full-time job and my two young kids, and how I moved recently and adopted a new kitten and how my schedule and stress levels were completely thrown off when Hurricane Irma rolled through . . .

But those are all just excuses.  We find time for the things that are important to us.  And this blog is important to me.  Sharing crafts and books and recipes that connect me to my children is important to me.

So here I am.  I also realized that this past holiday season I remade a lot of old recipes (already posted here) with my kids and don’t have a lot of new things to post, but there ARE still things to share.  And I’m going to make the time for it.

Starting with these Cinnamon Roll Reindeer, because, I mean, aren’t these just the most adorable cinnamon rolls EVER?

Reindeer Christmas Cinnamon Rolls 2

This past holiday season I spent a lot of time striving for recipes and crafts that embraced simplicity.

These yummy treats are a representation of that.  In the picture below you can see the 3 things I used to make them:  Grands cinnamon rolls, miniature candy canes, and M&Ms.

I made sure to unwrap the candy canes ahead of time, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the plastic wrappers before my coffee kicked in, but other than that task, these were thrown together in no time.

I used the Grands because they have little pockets, so to speak, to slip the candy canes into.  They’re made in a roll shape instead of the little cake-like cinnamon rolls that are one solid piece.  This way the candy canes just slid right in and were supported with no problem.

After baking the rolls according to the package directions, apply the icing.  Before the icing hardens, add two M&Ms for the eyes and a red M&M for a Rudolph-like nose.  Put two candy canes on each side of the “head” to represent the antlers.

You’ll need 4 candy canes per roll.  So if you have a package of 5 rolls like I did, then you’ll need 20 miniature candy canes.

Reindeer Christmas Cinnamon Rolls 3

I served these with some sausage and fruit.  They were a lot of fun and certainly enjoyed by the kids.  I plan to make these a regular tradition.

Happy Baking ;)

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Mini Soft Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

So my daughter came home from school with one of those individually wrapped, soft, iced gingerbread men cookies that had red and green sprinkles on it.

I love those things.

And I suddenly realized I hadn’t made gingerbread cookies in years.  Seriously:  years.

So I tweaked an old recipe, rolled out the dough thickly, and dipped them in some royal icing that got a touch of sugar sprinkles.

Uh… YUM.

And I made them miniature.  I did this mostly because I was looking for an excuse to use the miniature cookie cutters I bought on clearance last year, but it turned out to be a wonderful idea.

Bite-sized deliciousness.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Look at all the spices and all that sweetness!

You can just tell they’re going to be awesome.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

It’s a soft dough.

This means it needs to go in the fridge for at least 2 hours before you roll it out.

And you’ll need to sprinkle lots of flour over the counter before you roll it out, and flour the rolling pin, and probably add a little more as you’re rolling.

But that’s okay:  there isn’t that much flour in the recipe itself, so using the extra flour to roll it all out without sticking makes it just the right consistency.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

And you really need to roll them out quite thickly to get that pillowy softness in the finished cookie.

Nearly a half-inch.  At least a quarter inch.  At minimum.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Once the cookies are cooled, just dip them in the royal icing.

Use a fork to stir the icing in between dipping the cookies, and also to scrape excess icing off of the cookies just after dipping them.  You don’t need to scrape the fork directly across the surface of the cookie – just close to it.  If there’s too much icing, it’ll ooze all of the edges and make a mess.

A thin coating is really all you need.  And it spreads as it sits.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Be sure to add the sprinkles before the icing starts to harden.

I usually dip about 3 or 4 cookies before sprinkling them.

To make my red and green sprinkles, I simply mixed some red and some green sugar sprinkles together in a small bowl ahead of time.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Don’t they look yummy?

I could seriously have eaten all of the cookies by myself.

Luckily, I had help.  :)

But the recipe makes a ton.  Like 12 dozen miniature {1-inch} cookies.  Enough to feed an army.  Or 2 or 3 over-stressed moms.

Either way – seriously worth a try.

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing:
2 cups confectionery sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
Red and green sugar sprinkles

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well combined. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg with a mixer until creamy. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, switching to mixing by hand. Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Generously sprinkle flour over prep space, including the rolling pin. Remove one portion of dough from refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/2-inch thickness, using extra flour if necessary to avoid sticking.

Use mini cookie cutters (or regular sized cutters, if desired) to cut shapes from dough. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies sit on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Mix together the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and vanilla extract. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach a consistency where a thick line of icing slowly and smoothly drips off of the fork when lifted from the bowl. Dip cookies into icing, wiping off excess with fork while cookie is still upside down over bowl. Immediately sprinkle with a mixture of red and green sugar sprinkles.

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For the free printable PDF version of the recipe, click here:  Mini Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Enjoy!

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How to Make “Snowy” Floridian Reindeer Footprints

How to Make Snowy Floridian Reindeer Footprints from RoamingRosie.com

These fun “Snowy” Floridian Reindeer Footprints were inspired by a conversation with a friend.

He was telling me about how they used to make reindeer footprints in the snow on Christmas Eve when they lived up north, which reminded me of when one of my other friends made Easter Bunny footprints with flour across her living room floor last year, and I realized………

Whoa.

I could totally make reindeer footprints with flour!

And glitter!!!

And my kids were even more excited then I was once they saw them.

You see, I’d had quite a few conversations with my 4yo about Santa.  One of her main concerns was how he was going to get into the house without a chimney.  Which was clumsily explained away with some mutterings about him climbing through windows or something.

That led to her insisting that we not only cover the lawn with the “reindeer food” that she got in school {a combination of oatmeal and green glitter meant to attract the attention of the flying reindeer}, but that we also leave open the window and glass door blinds to make sure that Santa could see inside.

And after all of her worrying, I thought it would be nice to leave some “proof” behind that Santa – and his reindeer – DID, in fact, make it to our house on Christmas Eve.

I used flour to represent the snow that stuck to the reindeer feet when they were up north where it’s cold, and the glitter was because the reindeer are magical.

How to Make Snowy Floridian Reindeer Footprints from RoamingRosie.com

What I did was mix together some flour and glitter, and then sprinkle it over the front walk with a small mesh colander.

To Make the Reindeer Footprints, you’ll need:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup fine silver glitter
small mesh colander
cardboard cutout of reindeer feet

And I would totally upload a reindeer foot template if I had one, but as you can see in the photos, I simply took a thin piece of cardboard, drew a couple of circles on them, drew a triangle in the tops of those circles, and used a box cutter to very carefully cut out the shapes.

Grandmas wasn’t fully convinced that that’s what reindeer footprints would actually look like, but I thought it was pretty spiffy.

Anyway, mix together the flour and glitter, and cut out your cardboard template ahead of time.  If it’s not going to rain, you could make the footprints late Christmas Eve – especially if you think your children will awake before you on Christmas morning.

To transfer the footprints to a sidewalk/patio/balcony/etc., scoop the flour mixture out of the bowl with the small colander and shake it gently over the template until the cutout hole is covered.  Lift template and there’s your footprint!

Ours lasted for about 4 days.  And there’s still a bit of glitter floating around.  :)

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Do You Wanna Build an Olaf Doughnut Snowman?

Do You Wanna Build an Olaf Doughnut Snowman?

For a little winter fun, I made some snowmen doughnuts for my girls that mildly resembled Olaf.  Vaguely.

Anyway, these little guys were made by placing 3 small white powdered doughnuts on a plate, smooshing some broken pretzel pieces into the sides of the middle doughnut for arms, placing some milk chocolate chips upside down inside the bottom two doughnuts for buttons, and an orange peanut M&M inside the top doughnut for a carrot nose.

I then added mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.  Since they don’t stick, what I did was make a hole with a toothpick where I wanted the eyes and mouth pieces to go, and then I could gently push the miniature chocolate chips into the doughnut where the holes were, with their pointy tips facing down.

It may not be my finest piece of artwork, but the smiles on my girls’ faces were enormous.  :)

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When I Love You At Christmas {a book review}

When I Love You At Christmas:  a book review at RoamingRosie.com

Really, to be perfectly honest, I could talk about books every day.  But today I wanted to share with you a Christmas book that we’ve been reading quite a bit, because, you know … it’s Christmas!  :)

The picture book When I Love You At Christmas, written by David Bedford and illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, with its brief but charming text and adorable paintings is a delightful read for young children.

It’s a cute story narrated by a stuffed lamb telling us about how much he loves his little girl.  He goes through all of the activities that the little girl engages in around Christmastime, such as when she is wrapping presents, baking cookies, writing out Christmas cards, acting in a nativity play, and getting excited about Christmas day.

The double-page spreads are decorated with bright watercolor artwork and the text itself if very simple, but also very sweet.

One of the aspects I love about the story is how the girl gets so excited about Christmas, but she’s always thinking of others.  The book demonstrates things that are sharing activities, like wrapping presents, baking cookies, and sending out Christmas cards.  Things that emphasize a spirit of love and giving.

Even though the girl has trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve because she’s anticipating the big day, and even though she rushes quickly to find her own presents on Christmas morning, she takes the time to share a present with her stuffed lamb, too.

The lyrical text is short enough to hold the attention of toddlers and preschoolers, the illustrations are detailed enough to give their eyes plenty to explore, and the underlying message is subtle but lovely.

My girls, who are about 2-1/2 and 4-1/2-years-old, love it … but so do I!  This is definitely going to be a regular for us around Christmas, but is still worth a read throughout the rest of the year, too.

*Update:  I know the picture says you can get the book from my Usborne site, but it has been discontinued.  There are, however, sometimes copies available on Amazon.

Merry Christmas!!!

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How To Make Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments … with Glitter!

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

I wanted to make some homemade Christmas ornaments with my kids this year, and I LOVE cinnamon, so these were kind of a no-brainer.

But… something seemed missing from the traditional cinnamon ornament recipe… OH!  I know:  glitter!!

Yup.  Glitter makes everything better.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

I love the smell of these things.  And not all recipes use cloves, but it helps enhance the scent, so I totally used them.

I even used cinnamon applesauce instead of regular applesauce.  Don’t know if it made much difference, but, you know, they’re the same price and all, so why not?

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

It’s great because you just mix everything together.  Super quick.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

Admittedly, they were a tad bit difficult to roll out.  I would suggest that this is a job for an adult and not a young child.  The dough is a bit stiff and you have to be careful not to roll it so quickly or roughly that you end up with too make cracks.

This isn’t like cookie dough where you can smooth it out easily.  If there are big ol’ cracks in your ornaments when you put them in the oven, there will be big ol’ cracks when you take them out.  Cracks that will probably make your ornament snap in half when you pick it up.

You’re only using the oven to dry these and not to bake them, so make sure that when you put them in they look how you’ll want them to look when they come out.

You could actually air dry them….. probably.  But I live in Florida.  Hello, humidity.

We used the oven.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter
Also be sure to be GENTLE when removing the ornament dough from the cookie cutters.

Let your Little Ones cut out their shapes, but make sure either you or a kid with LOTS of patience slowly pushes the ornament out.  Or it will break before you even get it to the pan.

And – another warning – ovens + these guys = STEAM.

So when you open your oven door to check on the ornaments, please, please, please stand back so that you are not hit with a face full of cinnamon-and-clove-laden steam.  TRUST ME.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

You can decorate them before baking them, too.

I only did a couple:  you can see the star that I traced with a dotted pattern I made with a toothpick, and also in a couple of ornaments, I used the end of the wooden skewer to draw my daughters’ initials.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

Oh, and don’t forget to make a hole in the ornaments before you bake them.  So you’ll have somewhere to hang the string.

We used “metallic tinsel cord” but you could use kitchen twine or ribbon or a thin hemp cord.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

Aren’t they adorable?

They’re even better in person.  The glitter is much more prominent, and the aroma – ah, the cinnamon!

*sigh*

Christmas bliss.  :)

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon glitter
1 cup cinnamon applesauce

Preheat your oven to 200°F.

Mix the cinnamon, cloves, and glitter in a bowl. Stir in the applesauce.

Knead gently to make sure everything is incorporated. Sprinkle some extra cinnamon on the counter (like you would flour before rolling out cookie dough) and roll out the cinnamon dough to about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and gently transfer ornaments to baking pans lined with parchment paper. Use a wooden skewer to very gently make a hole in the ornaments for hanging.

Gently reroll and knead scraps of dough. Roll out and cut more shapes, being careful there are no large cracks in the dough.

Bake for 2 hours, flip and bake for another hour. Allow to cool on pan.

Thread pieces of twine or ribbon through the holes to hang ornaments.

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And click here to print the PDF version:  Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments with Glitter

 

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“Thanks a Latte” Teacher Christmas Gift Tags

Thanks a Latte Gift Tag for Teachers:  FREE PRINTABLE from RoamingRosie.com

This is really one of those posts that should have been finished waaaaaaaay before Christmas, but, well … it wasn’t.  Things are, you know:  busy.

I’m sure you know.

And there will totally still be some Christmas-themed posts appearing after Christmas, too………

Anyway, when I was shopping around for a gift for my daughter’s teachers, I was having a hard time deciding what to do.

I thought a Christmas themed mug filled with coffee would be nice… but what if they didn’t drink coffee?

I kept the mug idea, but added some tea and hot cocoa to the coffee.  And candy, of course.

But what about a gift tag?

There are a ton online, but none said exactly what I wanted.

So I made my own.

Thanks a Latte Gift Tag for Teachers:  FREE PRINTABLE from RoamingRosie.com

Here you can see that I got these adorable snowman mugs {at Target} and filled them with Starbucks VIA Christmas Coffee packs, a couple flavors of individually wrapped tea bags, and some hot cocoa mix {with mini marshmallows}.

I also stuck in a couple of candy canes and 3 or 4 Lindt chocolate balls.

Then I put the whole thing into a “cookie bag” and tied it off with some curled ribbon, tying the tag onto one of the ribbon strands.

It looked pretty cute, and I’m kinda kickin’ myself for forgetting to photograph the finished gift.

Thanks a Latte Gift Tag for Teachers:  FREE PRINTABLE from RoamingRosie.com

Anyway, if you need a tag that mentions “latte” {for coffee} and “tea,” then these are for you!

Thanks a Latte Teacher Christmas Gift Tags

Oh, and I purposely didn’t add an outline shape to the tags on the PDF printable.  That way you can cut them out in the same shape I did, or as squares or circles or whatever compliments your gift.

Enjoy!

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Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

These birdseed ornaments are a project I did with my kids around Christmastime, and so we used Christmas shaped cookie cutters, but it’s a project that can be done any time of the year.

There are a ton of options, but I let my girls pick and we used cutters shaped like a tree, snowflake, gingerbread man, candy can, shooting star, and an angel.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

There are a few recipes out there for birdseed ornaments that include flour and corn syrup.  These ingredients aren’t really healthy for birds and, besides, they are unnecessary.

Just the water and gelatin are sufficient.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Small birdseed works best.

Make sure you stir the mixture so that the gelatine covers all of the birdseed.  The gelatin is what holds the ornaments together.

But if there is still a little puddle in the bottom of the pan after you mix the birdseed in, then go ahead and add a little more birdseed.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Place your cookie cutters upon some waxed paper and fill them with the birdseed.

We used little milkshake spoons because the smaller size fit better into the spaces.  But I guess you could use your fingers, too.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Add a piece of string or twine once the cookie cutter is half full.  Then scoop more birdseed on top of the string and press it all firmly in the cutter.

I knotted the middle of my sting and stuck that knot inside the ornament for greater support, leaving the other end of the string open so that I could tie it over the larger tree branches in our yard.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Allow them to sit overnight.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Then remove them from the molds by very gently pressing them out.

Try to press them out evenly:  putting too much pressure in one area will break them apart.

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Above you can see our angel and below our snowflake.

There were little bits and pieces that fell off because there wasn’t enough gelatine in a certain spot, but they mostly held their shapes.

Until the birds and squirrels got a hold of them … but then, that was kind of the point.  :)

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

Ingredients:

1/2 cup birdseed
2 packages (.25 ounce each) Knox gelatin
1/2 cup water
Thin rope or twine

Simmer the water in a saucepot. Add the gelatin and stir until fully dissolved.

Remove from heat and stir in the birdseed until all seed is fully coated. If the mixture is still wet after stirring well, add more birdseed.

Place medium to large cookie cutters on top of waxed paper. Scoop birdseed mixture into cookie cutters and fill halfway.

Place a piece of string into the cookie cutter and scoop more birdseed mixture on top of the string, making sure that part of the string is buried into the center of the ornament (I knotted the twine here for support) and part is hanging out. Use a spoon to press the birdseed down firmly.

Allow to sit overnight. Very gently push birdseed ornaments out of cookie cutters and hang where desired. Makes about 6 large shapes.

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To print the instructions, click here for the PDF copy:  Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

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Decorated Rice Krispies Treat Marshmallow Christmas Trees

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

My girls love Rice Krispies Treats, but, then….. I’m pretty sure everyone else does, too.

I wanted to do something a little different with them this holiday, though, so we made Decorated Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees.

And they looked kinda cool.  :)

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

Anyway, it’s the normal base recipe for the trees, plus some food coloring, and then some royal icing and candy to decorate them.

For our Christmas tree “ornaments,” we used miniature M&Ms and Confetti Sprinkles.

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

I think the easiest way to color the trees is to mix the food coloring into the melted {melting} marshmallows before mixing in the cereal.

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees
Doesn’t that look neat?

And you can see I made the icing ahead of time.  If you do, too, just make sure you cover it with some plastic wrap to avoid the top layer drying out.

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

I drizzled the icing onto the trees with a spoon, decorating only 2 or 3 of them at a time.

The icing hardens pretty quickly – which is great for storing and eating them, but you have to decorate them quickly if you want the sprinkles and candy to stick.

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

Mostly, for the shaping of the trees, I did that part myself.  My 4yo didn’t really like the feel of it.

You need to coat your hands {quite heavily} with a nonstick cooking spray so that the marshmallow mixture doesn’t stick to you.

Then grab a handful of the stuff and shape it into a cone.  Voila.  Time to decorate.

THAT part my kids loved.

How to Make Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

Decorated Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

Tree Ingredients:
1 package (10 oz., about 40) marshmallows
3 Tbsp. butter
6 cups puffed rice cereal
Green food coloring

For the Icing and Decorations:
2 cups confectionery (powdered) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
Green food coloring
Miniature M&Ms candies
Large or “confetti” sprinkles

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Stir in green food coloring (I used about 25 drops of liquid food coloring) and continue to stir until the marshmallows are completely melted and the color is fully incorporated. Stir continually to avoid burning the marshmallows at the bottom of the pan. (Alternatively, you can heat the butter and marshmallows in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl for 3 minutes, stirring after 2, then mix in the food coloring.)

Stir the cereal into the marshmallows and mix well with two spoons until all the cereal is coated. Allow to cool for a minute before handling – it will be hot!

Liberally spray your hands with a nonstick cooking spray. Grab a handful of the cereal mixture and shape into a cone. Allow to sit for a few minutes to continue cooling and to harden into shape while you make the icing.

Combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a bowl with a fork. Stir in the extract and water, starting with 3 tablespoons and increasing the amount of water until you reach a consistency that is still slightly thick but easily pourable. Stir in green food coloring. (If you make the icing ahead of time, simply cover bowl with plastic wrap until you’re ready to use it.

Use a spoon to drizzle the icing over two or three cereal trees at a time, and sprinkle on some M&Ms and confetti sprinkles. Place a yellow M&M at the top to represent a star, if desired. Allow icing to dry.  Store covered at room temperature for a few days or in the freezer for 6 weeks. Makes about 15 trees.

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Click here for the free, printable PDF version of the recipe:  Decorated Rice Krispies Treats Christmas Trees

Enjoy!

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Easy Christmas Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Ornament Painting

Easy Christmas Craft Toilet Paper Roll Painted Ornaments

Painting Christmas ornaments with toilet paper rolls was another fun craft for my kids that was super easy to set up.

We just used the rolls to stamp red and green circles of paint onto a piece of white paper, and, once the paint was dry, we colored in the “ornaments” with colored pencils.

And hung the finished product of the fridge.

Easy and super fun.

But then, paint is always fun for kids.

Easy Christmas Craft Toilet Paper Roll Painted Ornaments

My suggestions include:  covering your creating space with newspaper to catch extra paint, put some paint into tiny paper plates, and suggest making patterns with the colored pencils when they color in the “ornaments.”

And don’t forget to check out these other Christmas crafts:

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Easy Christmas Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

Crystal Snowmen

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