Christmas Snow craft Things You Need: 1/3 cup liquid starch 1 cup soap flakes or detergent granules 1 to 2 tablespoons water Blue food coloring Mix liquid starch into the soap flakes. Add the water and beat with a rotary beater until the mixture has the consis- tency of marshmallow fluff or thick meringue. Beat in the blue food coloring drop by drop to achieve a white, icy effect. Using a clean paintbrush, dab the snow onto the tops of your green branches in various artistic pat- terns. You can also sprinkle sequins, glitter or confetti over the Christmas Snow. CAUTION: Make certain that children realize the snow is made of soap and should not be handled or played with. Scented Waxed Pine Cone Fire Starters craft Plan to make these in several colors, perhaps dark blue, Christmas green and Christ- mas red! White would make an interesting accent. Cinnamon and pine essential oils are great for this project. Things You Need: Pine cones Candle wax or paraffin Candle coloring or old candle stubs Essential oil Double boiler or large metal coffee can and a large pot Tongs Wax-coated wicks Wax paper Melt wax in top of double boiler over boiling water or melt the wax in a coffee can in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Make sure that there is enough candle wax or paraf- fin so that pine cones may be dipped. Use extreme caution as paraffin is extremely flammable. After wax has melted, stir in the candle coloring (or old candle stubs) and essential oil. Lower the heat. Thread a wick through the petals of the pine cone, letting about one inch hang over the tip of the pine cone. Using the tongs, dip the pinecone into the wax. Hold over the pot for a couple seconds to let the wax harden slightly. Re-dip the pine cone into the melted wax. Re-dip as needed until the pine cone is well-coated. Set on wax paper to harden completely. To light a fire, put a pine cone fire starter between the logs and light the wick. To give as a gift, put fire starters in a large basket. Tie a fancy ribbon around the bas- ket and attach a gift tag with instructions for use. White Christmas Bars in a Jar recipe 1/4 cup white chocolate or vanilla milk chips 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted* and cooled 1/2 cup sweetened dried cherries or cranberries 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed** 1 cup buttermilk biscuit baking mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed** 1 cup buttermilk biscuit baking mix In 1-quart wide-mouth glass jar, gently layer and pack ingredients in the order listed, beginning with the white chocolate or vanilla chips. If there is any space left after adding the last ingredient, add more white chocolate or vanilla chips to fill the jar. Place lid on top. Cut an 8-inch circle of fabric to cover lid. Place fabric over lid; secure in place with ribbon or raffia. Decorate as desired. Make a gift card to attach as follows: To make White Christmas Cherry Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Empty contents of jar into medium bowl. Stir in: 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Press into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until bars are light golden brown and center is almost set. Makes 16. * To toast pecans, place in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring every minute. ** After measuring the brown sugar, crumble it between your fingers for uniform texture. Be sure to pack the brown sugar firmly in the jar to prevent the baking mix from sifting down through it. Chocolate Cakes in a Jar 8 pint-size wide-mouth canning jars 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 cups granulated sugar, divided 4 eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 2 cups unsweetened applesauce 3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 1. Pre-wash canning jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, then dry and let them come to room tempera- ture. Grease insides of jars well. 2. Beat together butter and half of the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and remaining sugar, vanilla extract and applesauce. 3. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the applesauce mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. 4. Pour one cup batter into each jar and carefully remove any batter from the rims. Place jars in a pre- heated 325 degree F oven and bake for 40 minutes. While cakes are baking, bring a saucepan of water to a boil and carefully add jar lids. Remove pan from heat and keep lids hot until ready to use. When the cakes have finished baking, remove jars from oven. Make sure jar rims are clean. If they are not, jars will not seal correctly. Place lids on jars, and screw rings on tightly. Jars will seal as they cool. Cakes will slide right out when ready to serve. Unsealed jars should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 2 weeks. Sealed jars may be stored with other canned food or placed in a freezer. The cake is safe to eat as long as the jar remains vacuum sealed and free from mold. Use all canned cakes within 6 months. Christmas Crackers Craft These were popular in France before the middle of the 1800s. The idea is to loosely wrap gold or silver paper around small candies and tie at each end with ribbon. Two children tug at the ends until the cracker bursts, scattering the candies on the floor, where the children scramble to pick them up. Gift wrapping paper, gold or silver Small candies, individually wrapped Small gifts or toys (to fill larger cardboard tubes) Self-sticking tape, gold, silver or clear Brightly colored ribbon, 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide Start with about 12 candies and a sheet of paper 10 x 6 inches. Overlap 1/2 inch on the two 10-inch edges, and hold the edges together with either matching tape or clear tape. Slip the candies through one end so they are in the middle. Twist each end of the paper, 3 inches in from each end. Tie at each twist with ribbon, knotting before tying a bow. Open each end so it flares outward, and push inward on the twisted part so the center puffs up. Candies should rattle inside the puffed center section. To break the paper crackers, each child holds a twisted end, then tugs and shakes the cracker until the paper breaks, spilling the candies. Another variation of this would be to recycle a cardboard paper towel roll and cut the wrapping paper large enough to cover it and exceed the edges by at least 2 inches. Wrap paper around cardboard paper towel roll and glue in place. (you can also cut the roll in half before wrapping and make 2 smaller crackers) Then, carefully tie a ribbon at one end of the base of the paper towel roll, crimping the paper closed. Fill the roll with small gifts, toys, candy, etc., then tie a ribbon around the open end, crimping the paper and holding in all the contents. Trim the paper edges if needed. NOTE: You can adapt these for any occasion during the year - birthday parties, Easter, Valentine's day, etc. These are fun for kids to make for school parties too!
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