Gifts for Kids: Cozy Christmas Cottage

Every kid likes to have a hide out, a special space. Growing up we had an amazing playhouse in our backyard built by my Grandpa and Dad. We aren't ready to make anything quite that elaborate for our Thing One & Thing Two, but I still wanted them to have a little play house. I considered sewing one, like this, but I was pretty sure it would mean a lot of one on one time with the sewing machine. If you sew you may sympathize with my predicament: sewing projects = me squirreled away in my room, alone away from everyone and the TV. Sometimes I'm fine with that, but around the holidays we like to work on projects while we watch Christmas movies, or eat cookies or whatever : ) So I decided on this cardboard play house. I didn't want to get it, let Thing One scribble on it twice and throw it away, no, I saw potential in this giant coloring box. So I roped my husband into the project and we went to work.

A few Christmas movies later here it is. We added the snow (from a big box of fiberfill I bought for all my little stuffed toy projects) just to give it to him Christmas morning, because everyone loves a white Christmas. Sorry all the pictures are a little dark, a giant project like this isn't easy to throw under the bed so we only got to work on it at night. 

The roof is covered with brown burlap. It gives it a great texture. The door and window trims are painted with red craft paint. We added two little wooden knobs to either side of the front door, because it's so hard to open the door without a knob! The light, bush and some of the bricks were colored with crayon. My husband is a wizard with crayons. The light really looks like it glowing. Pretty sweet shading (he's so Napoleon Dynamite!).

For more texture and to make it feel more real, we bought some cheap greenery at Hobby Lobby (their silk flowers go 50% off all the time). We hot glued the ivy vines on top of the drawn ones (after we colored them green). I cut all the leaves off some other stems and hot glued them to the tree, also covering the trunk with  brown burlap. We glued flowers in the window box, and cut out some felt flowers for the bottom.

Like I said, some of the bricks we just colored different shades of grey, but for the rest we painted some grey or cut out light and dark grey felt bricks and hot glued them on.  To keep the rest of the house from looking so pure white we dabbed on grey craft paint with a crumpled paper towel. I think this is called stippling?  We did it very loosely just to take away the stark white. Here's the other side, with another tree. I hung some little ornaments in this one.

We got the house on sale, and all the materials on sale, or we had them on hand, so it was a pretty cheap project. When making things I know they will outgrow within a few years I don't like a huge investment. Sure we invested some time, but it was fun doing it together; our secret Santa project.  The impact of seeing a little Christmas cottage in the living room on Christmas morning is pretty fun, and totally made it worth it.

We did this house two years ago and it's still holding up fine in our basement. The boys played in it yesterday. There are all kinds of projects like this now. Pirate ships, castles, trains. You can have a lot of fun with this big surprise. I hope you've found a new idea or two during kids gift week. Next week I'll be doing handmade stocking stuffer ideas.

Have a wonderful weekend!
- Haley


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