Throughout the month of November, the kids and I worked on an “extra special Christmas present project” that we couldn’t share until after all our Christmas gifts had been given.
We made calendars for each set of grandparents — and instead of using pictures, we created 12 different handprint and footprint paintings for each of the 12 months.
It was a labor of love (and a huge mess at times) but we had lots of fun and I’m so glad we did it.
I figured that we all had plenty of photos of the kids… it might be fun to do handprints and footprints for a change… and I was so surprised that Nora didn’t speak a word of our special project to any of the 4 grandparents (she sees them all regularly).
I did include a collage of pictures on the front cover, but the monthly photos were replaced with cute handprint and footprint artwork.
Here’s a look at our calendar pages:
It’s definitely not perfect… but I was really happy with how it turned out, especially considering how squirmy Simon and James were!
Nora had SOOOOOOOO much fun working on this calendar, and I’m glad I ordered an extra one to keep at our house. I also think I’ll laminate the original paintings so they last for a while (they are just so stinkin’ cute!)
I know it’s already past the Christmas gift-giving time — but there is still plenty of time left to order a 2016 calendar (either for yourself or for a family member). I’ve seen a bunch of “free calendar” deals popping up here and there as well, so you might even be able to get a great deal!
Also, you can certainly still do some fun handprint and footprint crafts even if you don’t turn them into a calendar. If your kids love to paint, this could just be a fun indoor project during cold weather months.
If you’d like to attempt the whole calendar deal, here are a few of my tips 🙂
My Tips To Simplify The Process:
I had NO idea what I was getting myself into — and honestly, there were moments when I wanted to trash the whole projects because it was turning into a huge mess and the kids weren’t cooperating.
However, there were a few things that seemed to help the process go a bit smoother — maybe they’ll help you if you decide to make a handprint calendar too 🙂
1. Plan out your designs ahead of time.
I just searched for “handprint calendar ideas” on Pinterest and instantly found hundreds of ideas. Also, Life Your Way has a bunch of cute ideas.
I wrote down what design I wanted for each month, and then what colors I would use for that design.
2. Work with one child and one or two colors at a time.
If you’re like me, you’ll naturally just want to do one month at a time — but this is a really bad idea (especially if you have small children!)
Instead, I’d suggest working with ONE child at a time, and focusing on one or two colors at a time.
I worked with Nora first (when the boys were napping). I looked over my list of designs from step 1, and started with one color. I went through every month and did all the red, then blue, then green, etc. This cut down on wasted paint and lots of time spent washing off her hands and feet.
I did James’ footprints next, and Simon’s feet + hands last as he was the most difficult to get to sit still!
3. Have water and rags ready to go before you start painting.
Nora was fine with sitting still and holding her hands until I had a washcloth ready to wipe her up — but anyone younger than Nora might have issues sitting still (and if they can’t sit still, you’ll have a BIG mess on your hands.)
For Simon and James, I had a wet rag ready and waiting before I even started painting their feet and hands. I would paint, press, and immediately wipe the extra paint off.
I also made sure Simon and James were somewhat confined while I painted (either in their high chair or in the swing).
4. Use washable paint!
I would assume that anyone attempting any painting project with kids would use washable paint — but just in case, I thought I should mention it as one of my tips!
We used Crayola finger paints that Nora got for her birthday and they worked really well. I don’t think anything was stained in the process — so they really ARE washable.
5. Use thick paper.
If you use regular printer paper, the paint will bleed and the pages will get very wet and probably curl up quite a bit.
We used paper that was a little thicker than construction paper, but not as thick as cardstock.
6. Brush the paint onto the hands and feet.
Even though we used finger paints, I still used a brush to apply the paint to the hands and feet. It was MUCH less messy this way and I could be more accurate with the different colors of paint.
I squeezed a little of every color onto a paper plate and then used that to brush on. This method worked really well.
7. Don’t worry about “perfect” or “pretty”.
If you have ANY perfectionist tendencies at all, I wouldn’t suggest doing this craft (seriously).
There are so many blotches and drips and smears in our pages — if I was worried about making everything perfect, I would still be working on January!
Even though I would not consider myself “crafty” or “artistic” I was surprised how quickly and easily it was to cover little imperfections with more paint and turn them into something else.
I turned paint drips into falling leaves, flying birds, snowflakes, flowers, etc. I made smudges look like they were supposed to be there, and I dealt with any other “mistakes” that I couldn’t cover up.
In my opinion, there is no way you can do a painting project with small children without being willing to accept a few mistakes and a few oopsies 🙂
8. Press the finished (and dried) pages between a heavy book to flatten them out.
Even though we used thicker paper, our painted pages still curled up a little.
I waited until the paint was REALLY dry, and then I pressed the pages inside a phone book to flatten them out a bit. This will make it easier to scan them in (or take pictures of) if you want to turn them into digital art.
9. Scan in drawings (or take pictures of them) and upload to calendar program.
If you’re printing a digital calendar like I did, you’ll need to scan in your paintings or take pictures of them. Then upload those pictures to whatever program you’re using to print the calendars (Shutterfly, Snapfish, Minted, etc.)
However, you could also just make a handmade calendar by glueing the paintings to printable calendar pages (like these ones).
I probably won’t attempt another large-scale handprint or footprint project any time soon, but we will certainly do lots more painting projects this winter as painting is one of Nora’s favorite ways to spend Simon and James’ nap time!