The holidays and winter months are upon us, and libraries are looking to schedule activities and programs that are both educational and engaging. However, as Youth Services Librarian Abby Johnson warns, holiday programming choices “have the potential to offend and exclude, just as they have the potential to educate and enrich.” That is why it’s important to think critically about your holiday programming. The following are five ideas you might consider for your library during the month of December — and throughout the winter season.

1. Make Your Own Greeting Cards

Invite patrons to make greeting cards to share with friends or loved ones. This is a fun project for adults and children — whether they choose to make cards for the holidays or another occasion. Participants will need cardstock, wrapping paper scraps, ribbon, stamps or stickers, scissors and craft glue. Patrons can bring their own scrapbooking supplies or you can ask your community to donate these materials. Here are the steps:

  1. Start with 5 ½” by 4” ivory cardstock. (Consider having these pre-cut.)
  2. Cut a 5 ½” by 2” strip of red cardstock (or any color) and attach near top of card.
  3. Trim three 1 ½” squares from patterned wrapping paper and attach to the red strip.
  4. Stamp sentiment with ink at bottom of card, or use sticker letters/words.
  5. Attach ribbon to bottom of red strip.
  6. Add stickers if desired.
  7. Optional: Send cards to deployed troops, veterans or first responders to thank them for their service, or send uplifting cards to children in the hospital.

Step-by-step instructions for thousands of paper craft projects can be found in Hobbies & Crafts Source.

2. Knit Hats for Charity

In December, temperatures across North America begin to plunge. Many cities have large homeless populations — men, women and children who struggle to keep warm during the winter months. Encourage patrons to get into the spirit of giving by knitting hats, mittens, scarves and blankets for charity. Host a makerspace event and invite accomplished needlecrafters to share expertise and other “purls” of wisdom with newbies. Both Flipster and Hobbies & Crafts Source offer dozens of magazines devoted to fiber crafts, many with step-by-step instructions for knitting all styles of hats.

It’s important to think critically about your holiday programming.

3. Learn About Canning and Preserving Food

Pickled beets, anyone? Or maybe folks prefer jams and jellies. The evolution of canning and preserving food involved many cultures and centuries of experimentation. Invite a local historian to the library to discuss the hobby of canning and preserving foods, such as meats, fruits and vegetables. Provide information and tips for getting started. Dozens of articles on canning and preserving foods are available in Hobbies & Crafts Source.

4. Create a Family History Book

Holiday traditions are an important part of a family’s history. Patrons looking to create a meaningful gift for a relative should look no further than the library’s genealogy resources. MyHeritage Library Edition contains millions of historical documents and photos that can be included in a custom-made family history book. To drum up patron interest in exploring family roots, host an introductory genealogy session that offers tips for getting started and a review of available resources. Hobbies & Crafts Source includes a hobby profile with advice on how to trace and compile family history.

5. Brighten the Holidays with Snowflakes for Seniors

For some senior citizens, the holiday season brings memories of lost loved ones and other feelings of sadness or loneliness. Invite adults, teens and children to cut hundreds of paper snowflakes to decorate the windows of assisted living facilities and nursing homes in your community. You can even hand out paper snowflakes to seniors who visit the library. It’s an easy way to spread winter cheer — even in warmer climates!

Participants will need white paper, scissors, toothpicks, craft glue, silver glitter and thread.

  1. Start with a square piece of white paper.
  2. Fold in half diagonally.
  3. Fold in half again.
  4. Fold triangle into thirds.
  5. Cut across the bottom of your paper so it is straight.
  6. Begin cutting away from the sides of the paper. Cut small triangles and other shapes, but don’t cut all the way from one side to the other. Otherwise, you’ll cut the snowflake in half!
  7. Unfold the paper carefully. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect – no two snowflakes are alike!
  8. Optional: Use toothpick to apply light coating of glue (or use a glue stick). Sprinkle glitter over snowflake and let dry.
  9. If needed, press snowflake between pages of a book to flatten.
  10. Hang with thread and enjoy!

Does your library offer a database to support your community’s makers? Give Hobbies & Crafts Source a try!