Home for the Holidays


Hands On Dec2016

 As the owner of Smartypants Art Studio, I’m constantly amazed by the creativity and ingenuity kids bring to any craft project. Give them some sparkly, colorful decorations, and in no time your kids will be creating a whimsical winter wonderland fit for the Sugar Plum Fairy herself.


For a timeless decoration that will add sparkle to any holiday décor (but won’t contribute to the tummy aches and sugar highs of the season), think outside the candy box and craft some sweet-as-can-be gingerbread houses with your kids. In addition to your gingerbread village, you’ll make some cozy memories sure to last well into 2017.


  • Cleaned out milk or juice cartons
  • Brown acrylic craft paint
  • Foam brushes
  • Foil (or pie tin) for a paint palette
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Buttons, sequins, pom poms, gems, pipe cleaners
  • and any other dazzling decorations you have
  • White paint pen
  • Cotton batting, optional


1. Cover table surface with newspaper, and wear clothes that can get messy. Paint cartons of various sizes with the brown paint. You may need two coats of paint to get full coverage. Let paint dry. (We let ours dry overnight, and returned to the crafty fun the next morning).

2. Use a hot glue gun to stick decorations however you like on your gingerbread house. Hot glue guns can be very empowering for young artists to use, but be sure to review hot glue gun safety first. Don’t forget to mention that the glue is hot even after it comes out, and never to touch the metal tip.


3. Use the white paint pen to add details like doors and windows. Maybe shingles? Icicles? Snow flurries? Use your imagination!

4. If your carton has a spout, turn it into a chimney by adding some cotton batting to be smoke billowing out.

5. Display your gingerbread village as a charming centerpiece on the dining room table, or a merry mantel topper in the living room. 

Amber Gauntlett is the owner of Smartypants kids’ art space in North Portland. She delights in the craftiness of the season, from DIY decorating to making homemade gifts. Witnessing the joy that kids find in the art-making process brings out the kid in her. For more information visit smartypantspdx.com.


Amber Gauntlett
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