Christmas Workshop


Crayon Pencil Holder

To make this gift, you will need: a ruler, scissors, a 3″ (7.5 cm) square of cardboard and enough aluminum foil to cover it, a cardboard toilet-paper tube, 19 new crayons; newspaper to protect your work area, glue, pens, pencils, and ribbon (optional).

  1. 1.

    Neatly wrap the cardboard square with the foil, shiny side out; set it aside.

  2. 2.

    Cut the toilet-paper tube so that it is no taller than the crayons—about 3″ (7.5 cm).

  3. 3.

    Working on the newspaper, place a long, thin strip of glue on each crayon.

  4. 4.

    Stand the tube on the newspaper, and glue one crayon onto it (see illustration). Continue gluing the crayons next to each other around the tube until its surface is covered.

    Glue a crayon on the tube
  5. 5.

    When the glue has dried completely, glue the bottom ends of the crayons to the center of the foil-covered cardboard. Let dry.

  6. 6.

    Fill the holder with pencils and pens, then tie a ribbon around it, if you wish.

Holiday Gift Basket

To make a gift basket, you will need: scissors, a ruler, two white paper plates with fluted edges, glue, one paper doily, a 10″ (25 cm) square of colored cellophane or tissue paper, and wrapped treats to put into your gift basket. (See the “Finnish Christmas Stars” and the “Pumpkin Fudge” recipes on these pages.)

  1. 1.

    Fold up the edge of one paper plate 2 1/4″ (6 cm) as illustrated in the previous column.

  2. 2.

    Bring each side corner up about 2″ (5 cm) so each corner meets the top of the folded piece, crease in place, then glue, being careful to not glue the folds to the rest of the plate (see illustration).

    Gift basket
  3. 3.

    Cut the other paper plate in half. (You will only need one half.) Cut off the fluted edge to make a handle. Glue the ends of the handle to the back of the basket (see illustration).

    Fold the paper plate
  4. 4.

    Line the basket with colored cellophane or tissue paper, and a doily.

  5. 5.

    Fill the gift basket with wrapped treats of your choice.

Finnish Christmas Stars

12 ounces (340 g) dried apricots or other dried fruit available in your area

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup butter/margarine (2 sticks)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

  1. 1.

    Chop the dried fruit into small pieces and place in a medium saucepan; add the water. Stirring occasionally, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the fruit is soft.

  2. 2.

    Drain off the water and mash the fruit with a potato masher or fork, or in a blender.

  3. 3.

    Add the sugar and mix well; set aside.

  4. 4.

    In a large bowl, mix the butter/margarine and flour with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture is crumbly.

  5. 5.

    Add the milk, salt, and baking powder; stir with a fork until the mixture becomes a soft ball of dough.

  6. 6.

    Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and place the dough on the flour.

  7. 7.

    Rub flour on a rolling pin, and roll the dough into an 18″ (45 cm) square 1/4″ (6 mm) thick.

  8. 8.

    Cut the dough into thirty-six 3″ (7.5 cm) squares.

  9. 9.

    Cut four diagonal slits in each square, starting with the corners of the square and stopping 1/2″ (1.25 cm) from the center.

  10. 10.

    Spoon a mound of fruit filling into the center of each square.

  11. 11.

    Fold every other point of dough into the center of its square to form a four-pointed star (see illustration).

    Christmas star
  12. 12.

    Use a pancake turner to lift the stars onto an ungreased cookie sheet, then bake them at 400° F (205° C) for 7–10 minutes or until the dough turns a light golden brown.

  13. 13.

    With a pancake turner, remove the stars from the cookie sheet and cool them on a wire rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Fudge

1 cup milk

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup canned (or steamed and mashed) pumpkin

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped nuts

  1. 1.

    Combine the milk, sugar, pumpkin, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan and, stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil over high heat.

  2. 2.

    Reduce the heat to medium and stop stirring. Let the mixture boil until it reaches softball stage. (Test this by dropping a drop of the mixture into a cup of cold water. If the mixture sticks together in a soft ball instead of dissolving in the water, it’s done.)

  3. 3.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, butter, and nuts.

  4. 4.

    Let the mixture cool until it is lukewarm, then beat it with a spoon until it becomes very thick and no longer looks shiny.

  5. 5.

    Butter an 8″ (20 cm) square pan and pour in the mixture.

  6. 6.

    When the fudge is cool and firm, cut it into 1″ (2.5 cm) squares.

Handy Gift Card

To make a fun gift card, you will need: a pencil, an 8 1/2″ x 11″ (22 cm x 28 cm) piece of heavy paper, scissors, scraps of colored paper, glue, stickers (optional), crayons, and a wrapped candy cane, lollipop, or stick of gum.

  1. 1.

    Trace your hand on a piece of heavy paper and cut out the traced hand.

  2. 2.

    Cut two slits 1″ (2.5 cm) long and 1/2″ (1.3 cm) apart in the palm (see illustration).

    Gift card
  3. 3.

    Decorate the hand with colored paper cutouts, stickers, and/or crayons (see illustration). You might want to write a Christmas message on it, too.

  4. 4.

    Slip a wrapped candy cane, lollipop, or stick of gum through the slits.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brad Teare