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I'm with you on your philosophy....but since you must do something,
consider making potato prints of any design, or really prints with
anything at all, on white wrapping tissue. Use paint, foodcoloring, or
ink in holiday colors like red and green, maybe some gold paint tossed in
too. Then, they can really use the paper to wrap gifts later.
If you could get a copy of my book, Preschool Art, you would find lots of
art ideas for younger ones that can be made into Christmas projects just
by changing the "shape" to holiday symbols or the "color" to holiday
One last idea for kind of a table decoration:
Place homemade playdough in an aluminum pie tin.
Put a votive candle in a glass jar, and press this into the center of the
Press in "whatever" collage materials around the candle, but nothing too
big and flammable. I would suggest nuts and pinecones (though flammable,
they are not "large). You can tie ribbons or bows to bobby pins and push
them into the dough too.
I'm sure you can think of things to add to this.