Toby is getting started on his Christmas crafting, too.
It's hard to find craft projects that are kid-driven and still end up with a product that is gift-worthy. Not that the grandparents wouldn't be happy with any old construction paper doodle--but it's fun for Toby to create something that he knows is special enough to give away.
So I picked up some Ikea pillar candles and I ordered up some Stockmar Decorating Wax (the picture below is of another brand, but same idea). Unlike modeling wax, decorating wax comes in thin sheets. It's easy to cut, and because it's thin it's easier for small hands to warm and mold than the larger chunks of modeling wax.
I thought that I'd end up cutting out geometric shapes and Toby would do the placement, but he grabbed the scissors away from me right away. Turns out this stuff is easier to cut than paper, and if you're two and the scissors are getting you down, you can tear it apart easily, too. So he set to work chopping and sticking. We set a few ground rules--the top of the candle is for fire so we are not decorating it, and only small pieces stick to the candle (otherwise he would have happily stuck whole sheets to each candle). And then he got to work. (I did need to give the pieces an extra squeeze to make sure they were secure after he went to bed.)
While Toby was working, I used the decorating wax to add little holly berries to some beeswax candles (shown here) and used a hole punch to make the berries. Toby was immediately curious about the new tool. It worked, for him and for me, but I'm not quite sure I'd recommend it. It's a bit gummed up now, and I'm not exactly sure how to clean it. But it does make circles, and it's a new tool to explore--if your hole punch is as old as mine, give it a try.
And then there was the lesson for me in letting go--of my treasured art supplies. I am definitely a cut-from-the-corner-of-the-fabric kind of girl, and Toby methodically punched a whole right in the middle of every single sheet, and cut or tore many sheets in half just for the fun of it. Stockmar wax is quality stuff, and you get a lot of candles out of that little box--but it is a bit pricey. So I needed to remind myself that this was his project and his space to explore--and that the now disheveled box of wax is still 7/8 full and perfectly usable.
He has decorated three candles so far, and we're hoping for eight before Christmas to be able to give to all the adult relatives we'll be visiting. That's another key to repetitive gift projects with little ones--start early, give them time to work on a few a time, and give them time to have some weeks where they don't work on it at all. The more he initiates the project, the more he'll feel like these are treasured works that he's proud to share.