How great thou art

Get help from the professionals and check out these crafty solutions for beating winter boredom.

At a Bead Palace craft camp, we’re greeted by the delicious aroma of home baking as we walk through the door of this Jumeirah villa. Inside is an Aladdin’s Cave of beads and crafty materials, and it’s among this treasure we find four little creative geniuses hard at work with glittering star chains and sparkly baubles.

All are veterans of owner and teacher Linda Mann’s classes and dab hands at creating jewellery, photo frames and decorations. ‘Whenever I’m bored I make something, like beaded fish or decorations, or bracelets. I either keep them myself or give them to my mother or my nanny,’ says Khadija Galadari, 9, from Jumeirah. ‘One of the best things we’ve made was a “best friend” book. We got some cardboard, designed it, then we stuck paper in. We wrote about our families and friends and put in nice photos. It’s more special when you make it yourself.’

Khadija’s cousin, 11-year-old Nawal Arjumand, agrees: ‘I knitted my mother a coin wallet. She loves because it’s pretty and because it was made by me.’

The girls carefully decorate their stars with glitter glue, beads and sequins. Sonal Sall, 7, from Jumeirah Beach Residence, already has plans to hang hers on her bedroom door, while Shona Casserly is worried her cat might take a swipe at it.

‘This star chain is one of the easier things I’ve made, but you have to make sure you fold the paper in the right places,’ says the 11-year-old from Mirdif. ‘I really enjoy crafts. I love cooking, beading and making necklaces and bracelets. I’ve also made photo frames and name plates and I’m always making things at home.’

Bead Palace: has daily Christmas Craft camps throughout December up until Saturday 23. For boys and girls aged five to 15 years (kids under five can also take part if mum or dad stays to help), the programme includes beading, painting, pottery, card designing, Christmas cooking and a gingerbread house workshop. The workshops take place every day from 2pm-5pm and cost Dhs135 or Dhs150 for the gingerbread house.
(04 395 277;

And the rest...

Café Ceramique: has some great Christmas ceramics for kids to decorate, including ‘tree’ and ‘robin’ boxes and baubles for the tree. Rumour has it this painting café is also stocking (geddit?) snowman salt and pepper shakers, but they’re flying off the shelves fast. There’s the usual array of plates and trays which more adventurous types can decorate in a Christmassy theme. Prices vary from baubles at Dhs28 to Dhs79 for Christmas Tree boxes.
(Town Centre Jumeirah 04 344 7331, Mall of the Emirates 04 341 0144)

Once they’ve decorated their Christmas dish, you could persuade the kids to make something tasty to put on it. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to outsource the entire Christmas dinner, but Cooking Sense (04 882 1295;, will teach your kids how to make some edible gifts or even help with dessert. Tucked behind Mercato Mall in Jumeirah is the Dubai International Arts Centre (DIAC, 04 344 4398,, a little haven of artistic wonder which holds all sorts of classes for kids and adults. In December, DIAC has workshops for children including stained glass, decorative pottery and make your own snowman. Shahana Wadeed Mustafa, a veteran art teacher of 25 years, believes getting kids involved in using their hands and creating is not only something they enjoy, but it teaches patience and boosts self-esteem. ‘Whatever they make has a lot of value because they created it and it’s handmade. As gifts, they are much more appreciated,’ she says.

Shahana: also offers private lessons and reckons kids as young as three or four can get involved in quite advanced crafts such as jewellery-making. We like the stuffed toys and felt bags (pictured), which Shahana recommends for children aged six and above. ‘If they know how to sew, to do a basic blanket stitch, then these items are relatively easy to make.’ Another of our favourites was the festive photo frames. Kids can decorate using their imagination, add their picture and you have a perfect gift for faraway grandparents.
(050 588 0765,

Early Learning Centre: has a great selection of craft kits and is a great place to find stickers, wiggly eyes, pompoms, glitter, paints and glue.
(Umm Sequim Centre, 04 394 1204)

Also check out The Jam Jar (04 341 7303; www.thejamjar- for kids’ craft workshops, including a Christmas cartoon workshop on Dec 22 and 23.

Time Out’s top five crafty gifts for kids to make

For mum
Make ‘coupons’ from a piece of card. Draw a picture and then write your gift, such as: ‘The coupon hereby entitles you to one lie-in followed by breakfast in bed’. Trust us, this is a great pressie, so why not make 52 of them?

For dad
Get creative in the kitchen and make dad some delicious choccie treats (see p51). If you’re nice to him, he may share them round.

For grandparents
Bring a lump to their throat with a handmade photo frame and a picture of yourself. They’ll love it.

For your teacher or friend
Sign up for a Christmas craft workshop and make a beaded Christmas tree decoration or a personal Christmas card.

For the dog
Believe it or not, there are oodles of recipes for dog biscuits on the web. Use a butter knife to make bone shaped-biscuits so that Rover doesn’t feel neglected.

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