Meet the Schildknecht family: DIY expert Melissa, kitchen extraordinaire Calvin, 6-year-old Jamie and 4-year-old David love to create and cook together. Check out their family recipes and giftable crafts for hours of at-home fun.

“I grew up making stuff and taking art classes,” said Melissa.

Between parenting and a career in law, she continues to pursue her interest through art courses at the Arkansas Arts Center. She also loves sharing her crafty side with her kids, and each year they make Christmas gifts together.

“I want them to get into the spirit of giving gifts and want them to have ownership and pride in what they give.”

We love the sentiment behind DIY holiday gifts, and we’re so thankful the Schildknecht family shared a couple of their tried-and-true projects with us.

Cardboard Christmas Ornaments

Here’s a great way to reuse all of the Amazon boxes you (probably) have lying around.


• Cardboard or poster board

• Box cutter

• Paint and paintbrushes

• Glue

• Found objects (yarn, buttons, beads, stickers)

• Ribbon


• Use a boxcutter to cut triangles and circles in the cardboard. Cut smaller circles in some of the circles. These will be Christmas trees, wreaths and ornaments. Those skilled with a box cutter or using a material like posterboard might try gingerbread shapes, bells, candy canes, etc.

• Paint the cutouts with an opaque paint and let dry.

• After it dries, decorate with found objects. We wrapped them with ribbon and yarn, glued on beads and buttons and added stickers.

• Glue on a ribbon to hang the ornaments.

Giftable Coasters

The first time I made these, my kids were toddlers. I collected my kids’ scribbles and cut them into the shapes of coasters, and it was a great way to gift kids’ art to family. We tried this again recently, and my daughter loved cutting and arranging Christmas designs.


• Coasters for crafting. You can get cardboard ones off Amazon. You can also use tiles for a heavier coaster. You’ll want to add felt or cork to the back of tiles.

• Mod Podge

• Water-resistant clear acrylic spray or shellac finish and sealer

• Kids’ drawings, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper scraps or stickers

• Paint

• Foam brush and scissors


• If you want to use existing drawings, trace the coaster around whatever drawing you are going to use. Or you can have them draw something directly onto a circle of paper that will fit onto the coaster.

• And/or cut out triangles, circles, stars and other shapes from Christmas paper (wrapping paper and scrapbook paper work) and have kids arrange them. If you are doing this, it looks better to first paint the background. Stickers would also work well.

• Use Mod Podge to put the shapes on the coaster pursuant to Mod Podge directions.

• Let dry, then spray the whole thing with the acrylic sealant.

More gift-worthy project inspiration from Melissa:

  • Bookmarks. You can get pre-cut bookmarks at a craft store and have kids decorate them with stickers, drawings, etc., then punch a hole at the top for colorful strings.
  • Picture frames. I got wooden ones and we painted them and decorated them with found objects (buttons, beads, stickers) and put professional pictures of the kids in them. You can get all kinds of craft frames in different materials — foam ones, acrylic ones, ones from the Painted Pig — that kids can decorate.
  • Framed Art. Have your kids pick out a favorite piece of art they've done and have it professionally framed.
  • Terra cotta planters. These are great for painting. You can get small ones to have the kids paint and then plant a succulent in.
  • Magnets. We got a Melissa and Doug kit from The Toggery that had unpainted wooden butterfly magnets and a paint set. You can also get magnets from a craft store and glue on the back of any kid creation.

Tastes of Tradition

The Schildknecht family shared three of their most-beloved recipes with us. Try their family favorites to create your own decadent holiday memories.