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Easy, Fun Christmas Craft: Gnomes!

Every year I am more obsessed with these adorable gnomes. Not only are they a wonderful and versatile way to decorate your home for the holidays, they are also a really fun and easy Christmas craft idea for the whole family.

Why Craft Together at the Holidays?

As you probably know by now, I am a huge fan of doing craft projects together over the holidays. To be honest, I think that cooking and/or crafting together should be a part of every family gathering, which is why I’m always keeping an eye out for easy, family-friendly craft projects. There are so many important reasons why people should incorporate crafting projects into family get-togethers, but here are my favorites:

  • Fun group activity. Even when you love your family, a few days hanging around the house together can often get boring, especially if you have kids or young people in the group. Doing craft projects together is a great alternative to watching another movie or playing another board game together.
  • Teaches important soft skills to kids. Working together on shared projects is a great cognitive exercise for kids. It models communication, cooperation, creativity, and problem-solving, and gives them a safe space to try out those skills for themselves. It also helps to develop manual dexterity and teach practical skills like cutting, gluing, painting, or mixing.
  • Positive alternative to consumption. We spend so much of our time passively consuming products, content, images, and media that are made for us by others. Making something, anything, helps us learn and grow as individuals in a way that passive consumption does not.
  • Make memories. Even when craft projects go wrong, you’ve done something distinctive, interesting, and memorable. These experiences can last a lifetime.
  • Make your own stuff. It’s always cool to make your own stuff. Even that lopsided ornament or funny little stocking will be something that you will remember and treasure. When you spend your time making something, you have something to show for it. And you can customize the size, style, color, etc to your own taste.

Naturally, when you engage in craft projects together, the secret is to relax and not worry about the outcome. The point is to have a good time during the process, and not get fixated on perfect results. But these gnomes are impossible to get wrong, so there’s no worry.

Christmas gnome by Jim Shore

Get Your Gnome On!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed more and more of these gnomes every Christmas. In reality, they aren’t called gnomes: they are nisse. They are Nordic household spirits especially associated with winter and Christmas. They are guardians of the home and farm, and they are treated with respect and honored with gifts (a bowl of porridge with butter on Christmas Eve). When they are displeased or disrespected, they cause mischief and trouble for the household.

Traditionally, a nisse is always solitary, with one for each household. However, we love them so much at the holidays that we are collecting them in groups to enjoy them more.

One of the things I love most about them is that they can look like anything. While we often see them in red and/or green at Christmas, they can be any color scheme. They can have legs or not, arms or not, a body or not… as long as you get that conical hat and round nose and bushy beard, you have a gnome!

Christmas Gnome Projects and Inspiration

You can make Christmas gnomes out of anything. I made some this year out of air-dry clay, and made a taller one out of rolled-up paper. Here are some cool Christmas gnome projects:

Free crochet gnome ornament pattern by Winding Road Crochet:

Crochet a gnome by Winding Road Crochet

DIY no-sew beanbag gnomes from The Navage Patch:

Make a gnome from beans, fake fur, and old socks courtesy of The Navage Patch

Air-dry clay gnome tutorial from Claire’s Crafty Corner:

Clay gnome tutorial by Claire’s Crafty Corner

Tips for Kid-Friendly Christmas Gnome Craft Projects

As I mentioned, I made my own out of air-dry clay, then decorated with paint and decoupage. If you were making these gnomes with kids, remember that they don’t all have to be so elaborate as the ones pictured above – some great gnomes are very simple:

If you don’t want to take the time to make air-dry clay, you can make a super-fast clay for kids with:

  • 2 parts flour
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part water (add the water gradually; you may not need all of it)

Just mix the ingredients in a bowl and then knead to make a clay. Form the clay into your desired object, then bake at 250°F until it is golden brown and completely hard and dry. Then paint. If you want your gnome to last longer, seal the finished painted object with varnish or Mod Podge to protect it from moisture.

There’s just no wrong way to make a Christmas gnome, and they are so dang CUTE! I hope you and yours find some time to craft together this holiday season.

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