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Holiday DIY Activities for Teens

We asked for inspiration from our LIFT Middle School Program Director for thoughts on DIY activities. Kiley is our DIY queen and these are only a few ideas from her big book of programming fun.

1. Bird Feeders

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard tubes (paper towel or toilet paper rolls)

  • Peanut Butter

  • String

  • Bird Seed

With the warmer winters we’ve been experiencing, many more bird species are sticking around longer and longer, particularly songbirds. They need help when the snow gets too heavy to find seeds on the ground, and that’s where you come in! This can get a little messy so maybe put some newspaper down on the table or wherever you’re creating these masterpieces.

First, spread some bird seed out on a plate or baking tray. Next, poke two holes in cardboard tubes and run a string through them for hanging later. After this, it’s easy, slather the tubes in peanut butter and then roll them in the birdseed until they’re entirely covered! Next, hang from trees you can see from your deck and watch the birds flock. It’s best to hang them a bit higher in trees if possible, as passing deer may want to come nibble too, but these creations are for the birds!

Look for black-capped chickadees, the scarlet flash of the cardinal, and the majestic royal blue jays in particular!

2. Wax Ornaments

What you’ll need:

  • Wax (Michaels or Hobby Lobby will have these)

  • Baking sheet & parchment paper

  • Cookie cutters

  • Cooking spray

  • Ornament hangers

This is another inexpensive activity that mainly uses household items! You can order paraffin wax or beeswax online, though you can purchase them in places like Michaels’ etc.

Melt the wax in a pot until it has the texture of honey (feel free to add colored dye to it as well for an extra kick). Next, placing wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet, gather your favorite holiday-themed cookie cutters (I often go to places like Goodwill to get cheap pots and used cookie cutters). Using cooking spray or oil, spray the inside of the cookie cutters, place them on the baking sheet, and carefully fill with wax.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes before gently pushing the new wax ornaments out. When they are completely dry, thread an ornament hook or even a paper clip through so they can hang on the tree!

3. Crossword or Word Searches for the Family

What you’ll need:

  • Paper

  • Marker, pencils, crayons, paint , or pens

  • Creative energy

Write them a letter or secret note within the word search or crossword puzzle. To stay connected this holiday season, you can create holiday and family-themed crossword puzzles or word searches!

As an example, for grandparents unable to see their grandkids, you can create a word search or crossword puzzle with the clues relating to their parents, siblings, kids, grandkids, cousins, hometowns, pets, honeymoon spots, etc.

Get as creative as possible! It is guaranteed to make them feel a little more connected to home this year.

4. Family Recipe Book

What you’ll need:

  • Pens & markers

  • Any sort of notebook or scrapbook.

  • Love of making delicious food

Let’s be real, a huge part of the holiday season is the FOOD. In the weeks leading up to holidays, you can reach out to others in your family and ask them to send in their signature recipes and include pictures of them making them.

You can compile all of this and send it out as an affordable and meaningful holiday gift, and you get to try making these recipes with your little one!

5. Outdoor Ice Ornaments

What you’ll need:

  • things you find in nature like leaves, acorns, pine cones, cool sticks, etc.

  • Things from around the house, like trimmings or indoor plants

  • String

  • Used and washed plastic containers

Using old plastic containers (yogurt, for example), fill them with water and drop the different gathered objects in them, leaving a bit of space on top for the water to expand. Next, fold a long piece of string in half and place gently in the water, with the two ends extending outside of the container. Place in the freezer, and when it is all the way frozen, gently remove it from the plastic container and hang the finished product from a tree outside, perhaps nestled amongst some colorful lights.

You can also add a small amount of food dye for an extra touch, and if you would like to shape the ice ornaments into different shapes, gently rub the sides with a warm washcloth until they are the desired shape. A beautiful alternative to this activity would be to use balloons: fill them with water, food coloring, and your found objects. Tie them closed and leave them to freeze.

Afterward, you simply remove the balloon and you have beautiful festive orbs - I usually put them along the deck railing where I hang my lights, and they look amazing!

6. Puzzle Remake

What you’ll need:

  • Old puzzle

  • Paint, markers, or pens

  • Art supplies of any kind of have at your house

Many of us have puzzles lying around, taking up space on the board game shelf. This activity allows you to reinvent them with your kids! You can easily find blank puzzles online or in craft stores, but a cheaper way is to assemble the puzzles you already have and flip them over, so the blank cardboard is facing up.

Now it’s a blank canvas! You can use sharpies or fragile paint to create a new puzzle all on your own as a family. When it’s done, take a picture, break the mystery up, and reassemble! You can even send it off to other friends and family members so you can keep the fun going for them.

7. Colorful Snow Fort

What you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle

  • Water

  • Food coloring

At least for my family and friends growing up, a time-honored practice was the building of snow forts or barricades before an epic snowball fight. This simple step makes it a lot more colorful and unique. You can buy food dye at any local store, washable, and 2-3 empty spray bottles such as Windex, etc.

Then, adding a few drops of color and water to the bottles, you spray the forts and gather snowballs with whatever color your team has chosen. That way, when the battle is over, you can see the victor who landed more snowballs! Think of it like snow fort paintball! You can also use the colored water on snowmen to create favorite characters to get a little more creative!

Let us know if you tried any of these DIY activities! Post your picture on Insta and tag @liftsb and use the hashtag #liftsb! We can’t wait to see what you create!


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