Hands-On Crafts: Sweet Treats for Giving

In the spirit of the holiday giving season, why not put your own little elves to work making gifts for their family, friends and other important people in their lives? The kids will enjoy a fun activity and be proud of something they’ve created themselves. These easy kitchen projects are fun for the whole family to create and even more fun to give and enjoy!

 Ages: 3 to 12

">Time: 1 hour

">Skills Required: cutting, painting, following directions

">Materials: one-quart glass jar, heavy-duty plastic spoons, measuring cups, recipe ingredients, zippered plastic bags, bowl, wire whisk, fabric scraps, acrylic paints or markers, ribbon, construction paper or gift tags

Make a Set of Sweet Spoons

These special spoons are much more than just a utensil to stir a steaming mug of coffee, tea or cocoa. When one of these homemade stirrers is dipped into a warm beverage, the goodies melt into the drink, adding fun and flavor. To make a set of sweet spoons:

">1. Crush 20 small candy canes into broken bits. Your young kitchen elves may have their own idea for a crushing method, but for minimal mess, place the candy canes in a zipped plastic bag and roll a soup can over them.

">2. Melt a 12-ounce package of milk chocolate chips in a double boiler. Make sure young children know the rules for being around the stove and warn them not to touch the burners, the hot pots or the melting chocolate. When the candy is completely melted and creamy, remove the pot from the stove.

3. Dip a plastic spoon into the melted chocolate so that about three inches of the spoon is covered with a thin layer of chocolate.

4. Before the chocolate sets, quickly roll it in the broken candy cane pieces.

5. Lay the spoon on a piece of wax paper until the chocolate has set.

6. Gather several spoons together and place them in a clear cellophane gift bag. Tie the bag with a cheerful holiday ribbon and a message of warm wishes for cold winter nights.

Mix Up the Makings for a Mug of Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa mix is an essential provision for wintertime. Family and friends are sure to love receiving this rich cocoa mixture in a uniquely decorated jar or container:

1. Decorate a clean, one-quart glass jar. During the holidays, many fun shapes and sizes of glass jars are available at craft stores. Children can paint holiday images on the jars using acrylic paints or paint pens. Or, skip the paintbrushes and decorate the jars with hand or thumbprints.

2. Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl with a wire whisk:

• 2 cups dry milk powder

• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 3/4 cup white sugar

• 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

3. Little ones longing for summer days at the beach or sandbox will have lots of fun carefully scooping the mixture into the jar. Tip: Make sure the paint is dry before filling the jar with the cocoa ingredients.

4. When the jar is full, seal it tightly with the lid. If the jar is a two-piece canning jar, place a 4-inch fabric square between the lid pieces for a decorative touch.

5. Add a big bow and attach a note with instructions for making the perfect mug of hot chocolate: “Add 1/4 cup of mix to 3/4 cup boiling water.”

For more recipes for your busy kitchen elves, check out The World's 5 Best Holiday Cookies

For a complete list of Jill Jolton's Hands-On Crafts, click here.