Kids Make the Holly Jolliest Things

BY JESSICA ROYER OCKEN ON DECEMBER 22ND, 2016

In a home brimming with seasonal decorations, the addition of countless pieces of school-aged art sent home in your child’s backpack can turn a carefully crafted holiday home into a mess.

“I love to transform the house, but I usually feel a bit overwhelmed trying to find room for all of our decorations,” confesses mother of three Tina Jacobs, an artist and illustrator who operates Tina Jacobs Designs in St. Louis. “While our collection of standard holiday/party décor rarely expands, the children’s collections of art and crafts grow each year.”

“I absolutely love children’s art and think it is important to display it in a beautiful way your home,” says Lauren Hufnagl, a Pennsylvania-based mom of two who blogs about children’s design ALovelyLark.com. “Not only does this show your children that their creations are valuable to you, it is also very beautiful and can really add life to any space.”

Mix ‘n’ Match on the Tree

“Around the holidays, I use the decorations my kids made just like decorations I’ve purchased at the store,” says Cathy MacArthur, a mom for 30 years and nine-year veteran art teacher in public and private New Jersey schools. Over the years she’s kept a box of each child’s handmade crafts, and although she sent the boxes with her older kids when they left home, she kept the Christmas ornaments, marked carefully with their names, the date of creation, and the teacher who helped. “My tree is a hodgepodge of handmade and purchased ornaments,” she says. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Put the Spotlight on Kid-Made Creations

However, items other than ornaments require further imagination. Jacobs reserves mantle space in her home for holiday canvases her children have painted, “and they look brilliant with candles or Christmas lights illuminating them.” She also likes to display ceramics and handmade trinkets on her buffet and sofa table, because this puts them right at kids’ eye level. “Their art comes to life when surrounded by the rest of our standard decorations,” she says. “We all have memories associated with each piece too, so many sentimental conversations come up during these times.”

Jacobs has framed some of her kids’ very favorite holiday creations over the years, and she swaps some of her home’s usual wall hangings for these pieces during the season. “In our house we have we have framed children’s art hanging right next to old Italian oil paintings. In my eyes they all hold the same precious value.”

Get Creative

You also might consider hanging arty offerings from a wire or curtain rod, clipped onto a sheet of chicken wire with clothespins, or tacked up around a doorway as you do with holiday cards. Hufnagl has compiled an assortment of options for displaying children’s art – holiday and otherwise – on her blog,

ALovelyLark.com (search “children’s art”).

And finally, when you’re physically out of home gallery space, consider virtual storage for these treasures. The Artkive app ($4.99, iOS) not only keeps a shareable catalog of kids’ creations, it offers an easy interface for printing custom hardcover books that just need a coffee table to sit on. (Kendall’s Kindergarten Creations, anyone? A Holiday Retrospective from the Gardner Family?) Or visit www.artsonia.com, the world’s largest kids’ art museum, to create an online gallery presence for your munchkins’ masterpieces.

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