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Save Time and Memories By Combining Crafts With Keepsakes

When you're juggling a million mommy tasks, it can be difficult to fit in time for making keepsakes and creating crafts with the kiddos. So, why not combine the activities? Here are a few easy crafts that let you enjoy time with your child now while preserving memories for later. As a bonus, these crafts can be repeated multiple times throughout your kids' childhood, so you can create an artistic growth record of their development.

Salt Dough Keepsakes

What mom doesn't fawn over her munchkin's teeny-tiny toes and itty-bitty fingers? Someday you'll hardly remember how small those little piggies were, so creating salt dough handprints and footprints is a classic way to preserve tiny impressions forever. Plus, they're fast, easy and super-cheap, so you can make them often to track growth and even give as gifts to Grandma and Grandpa. Salt dough is non-toxic and non-messy, so you can try again and again until you get the perfect impression.

Salt Dough Recipe
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour

Mix all ingredients until they form a ball. Knead by hand about 5 to 10 minutes until the ball is smooth and the consistency of dough. Add small amounts of flour or water as necessary if the dough is too sticky or too dry. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and make your impressions. Bake dough for 4 hours at 200 degrees to harden.

Tips and Variations
  • Use a round cookie cutter or bowl to create a nice even circle on which to make impressions.
  • Add food coloring to the dough for fun colors, or paint it after it has been baked and has cooled.
  • Parents can use sharp objects, like pencils or skewers, to inscribe children's names or dates on the impressions before baking.
  • Use a straw to poke a hole in the dough above the impression before you bake it. After it cools, string a ribbon through the hole to create a wall hanging or ornament.

Decorative Stepping-Stone

Decorative stepping-stones can freeze your kids' milestones in time and grace your garden for years to come. Many craft stores sell kits that have everything you need, but you can DIY just as easily. Simply fill a cardboard box with quick-dry cement, then let your children stick their tootsies or hands in the wet cement, a la Marilyn Monroe. Stepping-stones are better than writing names in wet concrete out by the garage because they are portable, and you can take them with you if you move.

Tips and Variations
  • Mark names and dates so you remember when they were made.
  • Add glass beads, marbles or other small objects for decoration.
  • Fill a long, narrow box with cement and have every family member place one hand or foot in it to create one large family stone.
  • Even infants can participate, but to protect their delicate skin, rub a drop of olive oil on their hand or foot before dipping it in the cement.

Family Time Capsules

Ongoing time capsules allow you to add items every year. You can list your children's important stats, such as height and weight, and include a list of their favorite things, which are certain to change yearly. You could also include a newspaper clipping from the day you "seal" your time capsule, family snapshots, a list of important milestones that family members achieved, and maybe even a toy that your child will not miss, such as an extra binkie, a toy car or a recently outgrown doll. You could also add a lock of each child's hair and include the salt-dough handprints and footprints you made above.

Tips and Variations
  • New Year's Eve or another annual event is the perfect time for this activity so you can reflect on the past year and set goals for the upcoming year.
  • Younger kids will be excited to open their time capsules, so you may want to open them every year when you are creating the new one rather than sealing them for several years.
  • Use a new container every year and label it, so you know which mementos were from which year.

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