As the temperature drops and the days grow shorter, parents everywhere are looking for indoor activities to entertain their children. Crafts are fun and educational, but there’s a downside that often causes parents to hesitate: the mess! We’ve rounded up some great craft ideas and tips to minimize the mess and set your mind at ease when it comes to crafting with kids. With our tips, you won’t have to endure paint stains on the table and glue on the carpet for the sake of your child’s creative expression!

Simplicity is Key

Sometimes, less is more. Don’t feel pressured to get out all of your art supply every time that it’s time to create. Kids can feel overwhelmed by too many choices and may focus better on the task at hand when only a few necessary supplies are set out for them. Plus, it’s easier for you to clean up! Consider opting out of (messy, difficult) pumpkin carving and spend a fun afternoon decorating pumpkins instead. Adhesive felt is an inexpensive and easy option for all ages of children to cut into creative shapes to stick on their pumpkins. 

Use What You Have

The easiest crafts involve supplies that exist already in and around your home. Instead of bothering with messy paint brushes that are obnoxious to clean up, search your fridge for unused produce; broccoli, cauliflower, apples, and more! These fruits and vegetables make great stamps. Draw a simple tree outline, and invite kids to “broccoli stamp” with washable paint to decorate the tree with autumn leaves. The best part? You can just toss the paint-soaked veggies when the craft is complete! And don’t forget, Autumn offers great craft inspiration that can be found right in your backyard. Send children outside for a pine cone hunt, then spend the afternoon wrapping the pine cones in yarn to use as a colorful and seasonal centerpiece.

Keep it Contained

Before a craft session, preparation is key. Provide each child with a sheet pan or narrow-lipped tray to have as their craft station. This will keep supplies from rolling off the table, contain the mess and tiny scraps, and give you a smaller surface to clean up when they’re finished. Crafting with paint can be risky, but there are many ways to keep paint under control without taking the fun away! For toddlers, consider making a “goo bag”; fill a sealable freezer bag with 1 cup corn starch, ⅓ cup sugar, 4 cups cold water, and food coloring. Kids will enjoy playing with the sensory colorful bags and feel as if they’re finger painting – without the mess! For preschool-age and up, make pour-paint rockets. Help the child select paint colors to pour into an emptied plastic bottle. Once all the paint is poured, hot-glue the lid back onto the bottle and let the child twist, shake, and move the bottle until all the colors have painted the inside.

We know messes are inevitable when it comes to life with kids, and we hope these tips will give you the confidence to try engaging crafts and seasonal activities with your little ones. By doing our best to minimize the mess, we’re all likely to enjoy craft time more than ever!


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