Friday, January 12, 2018

Quick Canva Tutorial: Transform A Weather Map

When the weather outside is slated to be frightful, I often fiddle with a local weather map and let our patrons know that "it's predicted you will need 3-6 books to ride out this storm." Of course, this map will only work for this storm, in this region - but it's super easy to make your own, and it always gets a lot of great interaction on social media.

Here's my completed map for Winter Storm Benji (which hit in December, 2017). Total time to make: about 10 minutes.

For the sake of this tutorial, I am assuming that you're already familiar with the basics of Canva, but if you're a beginner, you may want to take a look at our Introduction to Canva articles here and here.

Getting Started: Picking a Map

The first thing to do, of course, is to find a weather map for your local area. Local news agencies are always the best place to get your forecast, of course, but you also have a few things you'll want to look for.

Since this was a large winter storm, there were several maps to choose from. Let's take a look at our options.

 This map has too much going on. We're going to want to adapt the map to change accumulation to number of books needed, and this has a big red circle on it, and numbers for all over the state - it's too much.

This map is much better than the first one. It's cleaner, and easier to adapt. It's clearly New England, but it's not covered in writing that would be hard to write over. The problem is, though, that there is a fair amount of writing that is right over town names and color changes, and there aren't a lot of different colors to play with. We could use this map, but there may be a better option out there.

This map is a winner! The angle is a little unusual, but the writing is big and bold, and the colors are in solid bands, making it easier to color match and change as we need. Perfect for what we need.

Getting Started in Canva

This will be fun. First, you open up a new page in Canva and upload your image. You *can* figure out the exact size of your image and then open a document that's the exact dimensions, but I usually just open a Facebook App sized image, and then crop around the photo when I'm done playing with it. Much less hassle.

This is also the time to crop your image to your local area. Had we used the second map above, I would have cut out much of New England and focused on the Boston area, which makes things seem more personal. This map is just fine how it is, so we can skip that step.

Erasing Unnecessary Text

The first thing we need to do is get rid of the inch marks and any other unnecessary text. The easiest way to do this is to make small colored boxes that are the same color as the background. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, since we're going to be writing over it, but we want to do as best we can. From the "Elements" menu, choose a square and size it down to cover the . (I also tilted mine to make it line up with the writing, because it was easier to get just the inch marks this way. Depending on your map, you may not have to do this step.) Using a color picker of your choice (I have ColorZilla installed as a Chrome extension), choose the right color from your background image, and change the image of the square to match.

A note about color pickers: ColorZilla is a free downloadable extension that allows you to choose the exact color from an image, website, photograph, etc. The HTML color code (in this case, it's #33BEE5) will be automatically copied to the clipboard.

When you have the code copied, simply click to change the color of the box element, and click the + sign to add a custom color. Then, you can paste your chosen HTML color code into the box, and you're done!

Extra Credit:

This map had an added issue, because the good people who made it took the time to make the ocean patterned. With just a regular color, it's a bit obvious that you've put a block over the writing, so I took the extra step of taking a screenshot of a slice of the ocean background and superimposing that over the inch marks, so it's not just a blue block.

Would anyone notice except me? Probably not. But it took an extra 2 minutes, and it looks nice to me, so there we have it.

Adding the Words

So, we have erased the inch marks from the text. Now, we add text to say BOOKS (as in, you will need 1-3 books to survive the storm). The text here is white with a black drop-shadow, which is frustrating, because one of the few drawbacks of Canva is that adding an effect to text, like a shadow or an outline, is not an option. But that's okay!

First, we make the text in black, and make sure it's the font we want, and the right size. Then, copy and paste it over top of the black text, and change the text color to white. By scootching the text over just a little, we've created a DIY drop-shadow. Be sure to tilt the text to line up with the accumulation numbers - in this case, the writing is sloping upwards.

Now, all you need to do is copy and paste this text as many times as you need for the different accumulation levels. And you're done!

The Finished Product

There we have it! According to this map, you need anywhere from 0-6 books to weather this storm.

We would love to see any book accumulation maps that you make! Please share with us in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter. You can also post your finished maps, and any other Facebook marketing that has done well for you, in the Shareable Clique Facebook Group, where it may be picked up and shared by other libraries. Have fun!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Literary Holidays to Celebrate All Year Long - 2018

It's the new year, and we're filling up our calendars with literary holidays! I love planning almost as much as I love celebrating, so I've updated last years's list of holidays to celebrate all year long, so I can get my 2018 calendar in order. If you have more literature-based or library-friendly holidays, please let me know and I will add them in.

Please note that, while many of these holidays are officially sponsored by (and you can purchase posters and such from) the American Library Association, many of them are made up just for fun, and there is no official, cohesive, governing body. As such, you can celebrate them however you like. I have linked to official sources where I was able.


National Braille Literacy Month (Louis Braille was born 1/4/1809)
1/18 – Winnie the Pooh Day (A.A.Milne’s Birthday)
1/19 – Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday
1/25 - Burns Supper/Burns Night (to celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns)
1/29 – “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is first published


Love Your Library Month
2/3 – Take Your Child to the LibraryDay (first Saturday of February)
2/14 – Library Lovers’ Day2/16 - Reading Rainbow Day (LeVar Burton's birthday)


First full week – Return of Borrowed Books Week
3/2 - Read Across America (Dr. Seuss’s Birthday)
3/4 – National Grammar Day
3/4-10 (First full week of March) – Read an eBook Week
3/15 – The Ides of March (Julius Caesar is stabbed, 44 B.C.)
3/25 - Gondorian New Year - the day that the One Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom
4/1 - Hatching Day - celebrate the Dragonriders of Pern series on Anne McCaffrey's birthday by enjoying bubbly pies and coffee!
4/2 – International Children’s Book Day (Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday)
4/4 - 1984 Day (the day that the protagonist of the book started writing his diary)
4/12 (Thursday of National Library Week) – Celebrate Teen Literature Day
4/12 – D.E.A.R. Day (Beverly Cleary’s birthday)
4/18 – National Columnists Day (in memory of well-known columnist and 1944 Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle, who died in WWII)
4/23 – Shakespeare’s birthday
4/23 – World Book Day
4/26 – Poem in Your Pocket Day
4/27 – National Tell a Story Day


5/2 - Harry Potter Day (May 2 was the day of the Battle of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series; many also celebrate July 31, which is both Harry's and J.K. Rowling's birthdays)
5/4 – Intergalactic Star Wars Day ("May the Fourth be with you.")
5/5 – Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday in May)
5/9 – Peter Pan Day (James M. Barrie’s birthday)
5/25 – Towel Day (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Day)


LGBTBook Month, Audiobook Appreciation Month
6/12 – Anne Frank’s birthday (on which she received her diary)
6/16 - Bloomsday (the day on which most of James Joyce's Ulysses, whose main character is Leopold Bloom, takes place)
6/19 – National Garfield the Cat Day (strip is first published, 1978)
Bonus: Any beautiful Wednesday in June can be Mrs. Dalloway Day


Read an Almanac Month
July 10 - Clerihew Day (in honor of the poet Edmund Clerihew, who invented a fun style of poetry)
7/15-21 (third week of July) – Hemingway Days takes place in the Florida Keys
7/30 – National Paperback Book Day
7/31 – Harry Potter Day (July 31is both Harry's and J.K. Rowling's; many also celebrate May 2, which was the day of the Battle of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series)


8/9 – Book Lovers’ Day
8/20 - H.P. Lovecraft's birthday


 Library Card Sign-Up Month, Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month
9/6 – Read a Book Day
9/22 – Hobbit Day
9/22 – Dear Diary Day
Last week of Sept. – Banned BooksWeek
Wednesday of Banned Books Week – Banned Websites Awareness Day


National Book Month (no longer sponsored by the National Book Foundation, but we can celebrate anyway)
10/6 – Mad Hatter Day (because his hat says 10/6)
10/8-13 (week of Columbus Day) – Teen Read Week
10/16 – Dictionary Day (Noah Webster’s Birthday)

11/6 – National Non-Fiction Day (it's "national" in England; let's spread it internationally!) 
11/10 - Neil Gaiman's birthday
11/14 – Astrid Lindgren’s birthday (author of Pippi Longstocking)
11/18 – High-Five a Librarian Day
Third Saturday of November – International Games Day


Read a New Book Month
12/1 – Sherlock Holmes Day (“A Study in Scarlet” was said to have been first published 12/1/1887 - this is actually in dispute, but we can still celebrate)
12/16 – Jane Austen’s birthday
12/24 - Jolabokaflod - the "Christmas Book Flood" is an Icelandic tradition, in which people open gifts of books on Christmas Eve, and retire to bed early to read them. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

5minlib's Best Posts of 2017

As we say goodbye to 2017, we thought we'd highlight our top posts for the year!

Literary Holidays to Celebrate All Year Long
A year ago, Kat created a list of literary holidays for 2017. This was by far our best post and Kat will be making a new one for 2018! Stay tuned.

3 Quick Banned Books Week Ideas
Kat shares easy ideas and free printables for the busy librarian to participate in Banned Books Week.

5 Myths of Facebook that Libraries Should Know
Jess highlights five misunderstandings libraries have about Facebook and how to use these truths to your advantage. Links are provided to outside sources for more information.

18 Excellent Podcasts for Librarians
What better way to stay on top of library news and build up your RA toolbox than listening to podcasts while you work?

Summer Reading Scratchies - Some New Ideas
A new twist on the scratch tickets, Kat shares her take with scratchies.

5 Ways to Stay Passionate Working in Libraries
It is easy to get burned out while working in libraries, so Jess covers five different ways to keep the passion alive.

9 Vital Ways Facebook is the Best Partner for Libraries
Jess argues that Facebook is the best place on social media for libraries to be and she has nine reasons why.

Holiday Craft Ideas for All Ages
Kat shares lots of different ideas for holiday crafts. Get a head start on 2018 craft planning!

8 Lessons Learned from the 2017 Eclipse
No one knew what to expect from the 2017 Eclipse. Jess compiles multiple experiences in a guide for the next eclipse.

The Ultimate List of Nontraditional Items You Can Check Out From Libraries
What are libraries circulating besides books, music, and movies? Jess created the ultimate list, linking to at least one library for each item.

7 Useful RA Websites
Where do you go for RA help? Jess shares a list of seven websites to get you started.

Why I Play My Ukulele At Storytime
Kat talks about her love for the Ukelele, how to get started, and why it is awesome for storytime.

Ready to Go Display: Read Dessert First
Every month, Allie publishes a "Ready to Go Display" for all age groups. The best one from this year was on desserts!

5 Easy Tips to Organize Your Library Life with Trello
Feeling disorganized? Think that you can structure your day better and save some time? Jess shares how she uses Trello to stay on top of it all.

Presidential Budget Cuts, and How They Could Impact Libraries
Kat investigated how the proposed Presidential Budget Cuts could impact libraries. Thankfully, that did not happen!

My Life on a YALSA Committee
Ever wondered what it is like to be part of a library association committee? Or how they decide on which books win awards? Allie shares all in this article!

Ready to Go Book Display: Twins
Need a new topic for your display? Our second popular list created by Allie was on twins!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Like this article? Check out our best posts from 2016 and 2015!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Library Stories that Give us the Warm Fuzzies

As the year comes to a close, we thought it might be a nice way to wrap things up by thinking of some library- or book-themed stories that gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling over the last year or so.

Of course, this is far from a definitive list! Please let us know what stories gave you the warm fuzzies this year by posting here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Denzel Washington Visits His Librarian
In December 2016, famous movie star and all-around good guy Denzel Washington took the time to go visit his childhood librarian for her 99th birthday. That blue scarf he's wearing? She knitted it for him!

When they spoke on the phone before the visit, Washington told her, “you don’t know how much you helped me. You helped me so much.”

Kat's note: I hope that when I am old and gray, I'll get visits from the kids I knew at the library. I don't care if they're famous, but I'd like to know they remember library visits fondly, and hopefully are still big readers and good people.

The link here is to the CBS News article; this photo is from the same article.

The Laundromat Library

Kids at a Wash & Learn eventSummer 2017 saw a new kind of library in Detroit, Michigan. Libraries Without Borders, along with many community partners, set up pop-up libraries in three laundromats across the city, complete with books, Wi-Fi access, laptops, and more. Their goal is to have libraries in every laundromat in the city.

The link here is to the Model D Media article; the photo is from the same article.

Free Haircuts for Book Readers

Barber Courtney Holmes has been promoting literacy by giving free haircuts to children who read to him while he works at his shop in Dubuque, Iowa.

Mr. Holmes told USA Today, “To be honest, I was amazed. The line started with four kids, and next thing I knew it was like 20 kids, all waiting for a haircut and eager to read.”

The link here is to an article from People Magazine in 2015; the photo is from the same article.

The Tiny Librarian

When four-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana read 1,000 books (as part of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program), her mother contacted the Library of Congress - which is Daliyah's "most favorite, favorite library in the whole wide world" - and asked if she could visit. Not one to let an opportunity pass by, new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden had Miss Arana come be a Guest Librarian for a day.

The link here is to the article from Smithsonian Magazine; photos are from Ms. Hayden's Twitter.

Max the Cat
Image result for max library cat

Max the cat is not allowed into the university library in St. Paul, Minnesota, but he desperately wants to be inside! There's even a sign on the door. After a library user posted a photo of the sign to Twitter in November 2017, the Internet exploded with support for Max - everyone wanted to let him in! Many Twitter users even wrote poetry about Max, including limericks, epic sagas, and (Kat's favorite) a take on "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams.

The link and photos are from an article from the Washington Post.

Browser the Library Cat

PHOTO: Browser the cat sits among a group of children being read to in the citys public library, June 30, 2016, in White Settlement, Texas.Browser, a long-time resident of the library in White Settlement, Texas, had been "fired" and evicted from his library home in 2016, despite having been adopted (or, hired) to take care of a rodent problem in 2010. Due to public backlash and international news attention, as well as a petition with over 1,000 signatures, and 1,500 emails from around the world, the city council unanimously decided that Browser could keep his job, after all.

The link and photos are from an ABC News article.

Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag Queen Story Hour started in San Francisco in 2015, and has spread across the country, with events also happening regularly in New York, Los Angeles, as well as several one-time programs in many different libraries across the country. Stories tend to be focused on the theme that "It's Okay To Be Different," and the feedback libraries have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive, with children especially loving their special guests. Not only has this brought the idea of inclusion to the library's youngest audience, but it also has reminded many of the happiness that story hour brings to families of all ages.

The link and photo are from an article in the New York Times; featured in the photo is Harmonica Sunbeam.

Human Libraries
In most libraries, you can check out books and movies; in some, you can also check out humans and have a little chat! According to their website, "The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue." This program started in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000, and has spread across the globe since then. Have some difficult questions? Ask away! As the organizers say, "When you meet our books, no matter who you are and where you are from or which book you will be reading, in the end, inside every person, the result will say: we are different from each other, we see things differently and we live life differently. But there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart."

The link here is to an Upworthy article; the photo is from the same article.

Marley Dias, Tween Founder of #1000blackgirlbooks

Even if you don't know her name, you have probably heard of Marley Dias's #1000BlackGirlBooks movement. In November of 2015, Dias started on her goal of collecting 1,000 books with Black girls as main characters to donate them to schools in need, at only 10 years old. Though young, Ms. Dias is very eloquent, explaining that the lack of diverse characters is what drove her to begin her campaign. "This gap hurts all of us...I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine black girls and make black girls like me the main characters of our lives."

Marley has been named one of Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 - at only 12 years old! - and has an upcoming book about activism being published with Scholastic. She has also been interviewed by NPR, and met Ellen, Oprah, and Michelle Obama. The linked article and photo above are from Forbes Magazine.

4 Year Old Caleb Green Read 100 Books In One Day

Four year old Caleb Green, who wants to be a  basketball player/astronaut/Ninja Turtle when he grows up, declared to his father one night that he was going to read 100 books. His father, Sylus Green, was not one to turn his son away from setting goals, and set up a live-stream so that Caleb could read aloud to friends and family.

Over 4,000 people tuned in to watch Caleb meet his goal. Go, Caleb!

According to the article, "the family stocked up on books from their own collection as well as from friends’ bookshelves" to find their 100; perhaps next time they will choose titles from their public library.

The link above and the photo are from the Huffington Post article.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. In honor of today's Star Wars: The Last Jedi release here are new Star Wars books.

Recommendations for Adults:

Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn (Apr 2017)
Traces the origins of Thrawn, one of the most ruthless warriors in the Galactic Empire, and the events behind his rise in the Imperial ranks.

Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor by Ryder Windham & Adam Bray (Oct 2017)
The authors trace the evolution of stormtroopers from their creation and design in the original Star Wars trilogy to their many iterations in later films, cartoons, comics, novels, and merchandising.

Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson (Sep 2017)
Captain Phasma, one of the most merciless officers of the First Order, is in danger of having her mysterious origins exposed by an adversary who is determined to reveal Phasma's zealously guarded secrets.

The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak (Dec 2017)
In a book featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures of The Last Jedi.

The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr (Jan 2018)

 Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more! These easy-to-make recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Recommendations for Teens:

Star Wars: Han Solo by Marjorie Liu (Jan 2017)

In this graphic novel, Han is given a top-secret undercover mission for the Rebellion: rescuing several informants and spies.

Star Wars Super Graphic by Tim Leong (Jul 2017)
Graphic design guru Tim Leong presents Star Wars trivia in an all-new way -- through playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics.

99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire by Greg Stones (Jul 2017)
Ninety-nine Stormtroopers join the Empire, and then their troubles begin. One takes a lunch break in the carbon freezing chamber. Two underestimate a princess. One picks the wrong time to ask for a promotion.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein (Dec 2017)

Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) journeys to a galaxy far, far away to bring readers the harrowing story of the courageous bomber pilots and technicians of Cobalt Squadron. 

Recommendations for Kids:

Star Wars: Lightsaber Battles by Lauren Nesworthy (Jan 2018)

Find out everything you need to know about the coolest weapon in the galaxy.

Star Wars Made Easy by Christian Blauvelt (Sept 2017)
A guide to the Star Wars universe shares character profiles, plot breakdowns, and trivia.

Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock (Oct 2017)
A step-by-step visual guide to coding fun projects in Scratch and shows you everything you need to know to create cool computer projects, animations, and games.

Star Wars Obi-123 by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy (Feb 2017)

Count Dooku, droids, and other favorite Star Wars characters invite the littlest Padawans to practice early counting and number recognition skills. Also check out Star Wars ABC-3PO.

Chewie and the Porgs by Kevin Shinick (Dec 2017)

A lovable tale of Chewbacca the Wookiee and the pesky porgs or Ahch-To island.

BB-8 On the Run by Drew Daywalt (Sep 2017)

After BB-8 is separated from Poe, his master, he travels through the desert planet of Jakku to find the secret map to the Resistance and encounters several strangers who need his help.

When the parents of Milo and Lina Graf are abducted by agents of the evil Empire while the family is out on a mission mapping the unknown systems of Wild Space, the children must undertake a perilous journey to rescue them.

The definitive guide to The Last Jedi, revealing the characters, creatures, droids, locations, and technology from the new film.

Look inside the inner workings of 13 key vehicles from The Last Jedi.

Friday, December 8, 2017

6 Tricks Parents Can Use to Keep Reading with Older Children

Today's post is inspired from one of my favorite parenting podcasts, Slate's Mom and Dad Are Fighting. One of the hosts mentioned that his six year old daughter is starting to outgrow reading with him. Part of their bedtime routine was to read a book together, but his daughter is starting to read on her own and she gets too interested in the book to wait for the next night. She started bringing the book to school and finishing it on her own. The host thought that maybe it was time to end their bedtime reading tradition.

I wonder how many parents feel this way? I read a great article that talked about parents ending reading with their kids too soon. It is something all librarians should be aware of and mentor parents through. I jumped onto the podcast's Facebook page to give some words of encouragement and found lots of parents had great tips.

So, today's post is sharing those great tips that parents have learned worked for them:

  1. Start a book that's above your child's reading level.
  2. Try reading funny books, laughing is more fun together.
  3. Have your child pick out a special bedtime book and other books for during the day from the library. If your child can't choose, have them read the first page of each and then make their decision.
  4. Try reading short stories or fairy tales at night so there's no compulsion to read the book the next day.
  5. Listen to audio books together in the car.
  6. If all else fails, you can each grab your own book and read next to each other. Then, if you or your child come across something fun or interesting, you can share it with each other.
  • Bonus tip: Start a journal to keep track of everything you've read together. Seeing your progress might help your child become proud of the work you both put in. You can also keep track of your favorite authors, find readalikes, and it's neat to look back on later to either discuss or reminisce.

Reading with my children is one of my favorite traditions. I once read an article about a father and daughter who read together every night until she started college. Not only was it a great relationship builder for them, but it also allowed them to develop a special language, relating to the life around them with things they've read in their books. What parent wouldn't want that?

Do you have any additional tips to help parents keep reading with their older children? Please share below in the comments.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Craft Ideas for All Ages

It's arts and crafts time, my friends!

No matter what you celebrate, the holidays are a time for family and friends, enjoying each other's company, eating cookies, and decorating our living and working spaces to the nines. Because you're never too old to enjoy some glitter and glue, Kat has compiled some fun, crafty ideas for library patrons of all ages.

There are so many (SO many!) great ideas out there, but I chose a few that are a little bit different than you may have seen before. Of course, Pinterest is your best friend here!


Book Page Wreaths are the most library of all holiday decorations (except perhaps the "book tree," where you stack up a bunch of books and wrap lights all around, but you can't really have that as a DIY Night). There are instructions all over the Internet, but we particularly like the one on the Shabby Creek Cottage blog. How festive is this?! Now, she says that her wreath took several hours, but it's also 3 feet across. Smaller wreaths are easy enough for lessons, and patrons can make their own giant ones at home.

Making a Pinecone Christmas Tree is super cute, and super easy! All you have to do is buy (or find!) pinecones, and decorate them with sequins, glitter, buttons, and the like.
Directions for these can be found at

A classier (less spangly) version can be found on the Amy's Delights Blog, where the green pinecones are dabbed with white "snow," and placed into a small terra cotta pot. Either way, these pinecone trees are delightful!

For a slightly more involved craft, you can turn a sock into a snowman or penguin, by following a few simple steps. No sewing is involved! You just need clean socks, rubber bands, rice (or other filler), and some basic decorations.

Find step-by-step directions for both crafts on the Easy, Peasy, and Fun website!


Marshmallow decorating can be great fun! Did you know that they make food-safe markers, so you can draw right on your food before you eat it? SO COOL! December is the perfect time to make marshmallow dreidels, with Hershey kiss points and pretzel stick stems, as they demonstrate on went a step farther and also made chocolate-dipped marshmallow dreidels with sprinkles. Delicious! Please note, most marshmallows are not kosher - check your package before serving. (One of my amazing coworkers made a marshmallow menorah one year, and it just can't be topped. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of this, but I will have to make one and update this post!)

Marshmallows can celebrate any holiday, and make lovely cocoa stirrers if you pop a marshmallow onto a peppermint stick, and perhaps decorate it with snowflakes. Or, be extra adorable and make the marshmallow into a tiny cup of "cocoa" like they did at (Have you seen this? I LOVE this! It's like my new favorite thing.)

Cookies and Cocoa Of course, cookie decorating is always a classic holiday pastime, and is even better with hot chocolate. Enjoy a "hot cocoa bar" by providing options to decorate one's own cocoa, including sprinkles, coffee syrup flavors, whipped cream, marshmallows, and candy. Delicious! (And very Instagrammable. Can you say #delicious?) This photo is from the JorgensenBetterTogether blog.

Not the garland, sorry! Just one book.
Tiny Book Garlands Could this tiny book be any cuter? Tiny books are very easy to make, and I've done them as necklaces in the past. One of the teens at my craft class became an instant pro at making them, and after making one for each friend and family member, she made a whole garland of them for me! I have them hanging in my window, but they could easily be strung around a tree. Instructions can be found here.


Edible Christmas Trees are so easy! This photo is from, but I originally got this idea from, of all places, a Sesame Street Christmas book that I had when I was a kid. All you need to do is take regular sugar-cone ice cream cones, cover them in green frosting, and decorate. So delicious!

(P.S. The book is this one, if you're curious, but since it's from 1982, it may be hard to find. I still have my copy. It also recommends making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.)

Kat's actual computer monitor right now
Paper Christmas Lights are fun and easy to make! All you need is paper and either ribbon (for a large garland), or embroidery floss (for smaller ones, which work perfectly decorating computer monitors and lockers). Simply cut out the shapes and glue them together to make decorative and festive- but not electric! - holiday cheer.

Macaroni snowflakes are easy, fun, and can be absolutely beautiful. has many ideas for snowflake designs. You can paint the macaroni white (or silver, or light blue) before allowing the kids to assemble them, and then they can add their own glitter (if you dare). Wagon wheels work well, as do flowers, shells, bowties, and any number of other pasta shapes. Check the link for a bunch of different shape ideas, or let the kids create their own.

All Ages

Gingerbread houses (or even just cookies) are fun to decorate, and the candy supplies provide snacks during the program with no extra effort on your part. Plus, they smell nice! There are a few different options for using gingerbread or sugar cookies in your programs. You could provide blank cookies or un-decorated houses (kits would work nicely here) and let patrons decorate their own during the program with icing and candy; graham cracker houses would be an easy, cost-effective choice as well. The image here is from, and is one of their assembled kit houses.

You could also have a contest, where patrons bring in their gingerbread creations from home and have them on display at the library. Winners could be decided by in-person ballot or on social media, thus increasing your online reach, with different prizes for different age groups. 

Ugly Sweaters And speaking of contests, you can also do a great contest with ugly sweaters - who can make the best/worst? This would be a super fun program to pull out all your odds and ends of craft materials, and see who has what it takes to win the Ugly Trophy (preferably something homemade and glittery).

As a side note: Kat somewhat objects to calling these sweaters "ugly," because she finds them to be fabulously festive and fun, but a commonly used term is a commonly used term, and so be it.

Ornaments can be fun for all ages, as well, with the difficulty varying based on age group. Clear glass ornaments can be filled with white foam beads and a snowman face drawn with paint markers; tinsel and feathers can be stuffed inside for an easier, more abstract design. There are a million ornament ideas out there; I won't bore you with mine.

Wrap Party
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that gift wrapping is an art-form, and therefore, this counts. If you have a meeting room available, set aside a day where people can come and wrap gifts, enjoy cookies and cocoa, and perhaps festive movies or music. (I did this one year and asked for donations of gift wrap and ribbons - we got TONS, and the program hardly cost us anything at all!) This was originally an adult program, but we varied it to let kids wrap gifts for friends and relatives, and had some unique wrapping options in addition to the traditional ones - paper lunch sacks that you could color or decorate with stickers, and large coloring sheets to fill in and then wrap boxes in. Of course, there were lots of ribbons and bows. 

We would love to see ideas of your holiday crafts! Please let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.