Shopping. Cooking. Cleaning. Gift Wrapping. Travel. The happiest time of the year can also be the busiest! As the holidays approach, excitement can reach a boiling point. Between all of the sugary treats, presents, and focus on the commercial aspect, the true meaning of the season can be lost. Aaron Goldschmidt, founder and director of Shine, is available to share 20+ years of experience cultivating stimulating activities that inspire a true holiday spirit.

Shine is New York City’s leading provider of pop-up enrichment classes and camps for children six months to twelve years old. As one of the city’s most prominent childhood educators, Aaron Goldschmidt has designed a body of classes based in hands-on experience and creativity. Taking his lead from traditional teaching philosophies— while focusing on the modern child— Aaron’s curriculum features art, cooking, creative writing, music, performance, science, fashion, language (and more) to unlock every child’s individual potential. Each of shine’s offerings is a one-of the kind experience, custom built for each client.

Here are some of our favorite holiday crafts and tips. They are all sure to emphasize important skills and lessons as well as provide some good old-fashioned family bonding and remind us the importance of helping others.

1. Recycle old art into wrapping paper

Old art work makes fabulous one-of-a-kind wrapping paper. Not every piece of art your child brings home can be archived and saved forever so use some of them as wrapping paper for gifts.  If you don’t want to part with any of your child’s masterpieces, then have them decorate a large piece of easel paper with crayons, markers, stamps and stickers.

2. Make homemade ornaments

We love to paint pinecones, add sparkly glitter and hang them from a tree.  But there are countless ways to create homemade ornaments.  Styrofoam balls from the craft store rolled in glue then glitter.  Clothespin reindeer. And many stores and websites sell small, round wooden picture frames that can be decorated and hung for a keepsake that will be sure to adorn the tree for years.

3. Decorate a piggy bank and use it to collect charity

At Shine, we spend a lot of time doing charitable projects.  Teaching young children the importance of giving back can be daunting.  We love the idea of ordering plain piggy banks and having children decorate them with acrylic paints and rhinestones.  We use these special banks to collect money for charity.  When the bank is full, take the money out, count it together, and donate it to a charity of your choice.

4. Give homemade cards

A homemade card means a lot to the recipient. Paper supply stores sell plain white cardstock cards and envelopes.  Have children decorate them with holiday stickers, ink stamps, a paint handprint or any other creative idea you can come up with.  Tape them to presents or have children help to address or stamp the envelope and bring them to the post office together.

5. Bake together

Everyone loves a homemade treat, especially at the holidays.  And cooking introduces important skills for a young child: mixing, measuring, math and even color concepts by adding food coloring to white frosting.  There’s chemistry in the kitchen, and cooking always provides yummy, instant gratification while satisfying so many areas of development. But the family bonding is best!

We are proposing a story about home-based activities for kids and parents that inspire the true giving spirit of the holidays.