WESTMINSTER — The weather outside was frightful. Temperatures fell as steadily as the rain. No football tossing or bicycle riding on this after-Thanksgiving, no-school day.
But inside the gym of the Longwell MunicipalCenter things were, well, delightful. Christmas carols jingled from a portable cassette player, while some 25 children worked like elves at holiday crafts.
They had escaped both the weather and long hours in front of the television for the third annual Holiday Workshop, sponsored by the Westminster Recreation Department. Sessions Monday and Tuesday attracted 100 children, first through third grade.
"It gives kids something to do," said Carol Donovan, recreation and activities supervisor. "And it gives parents a break, too."
During the three-hour sessions, kids took the stage, sitting on both sides of portable tables to work on various stages of their crafts: a bead necklace for mom and a pencil holder for dad.
Beforehand, they had spread white sheets of paper on the floor and taken cookie cutters, dipped in red and green paint, and made prints of bells, reindeer and stars for their wrapping paper.
They also assembled pieces of wallpaper to make a Christmas ornament -- something they could show mom and dad later.
"We decided we had to let them make something they can show today," said Donovan, who culled the gift ideas from craft books. "They can't stand the wait until Christmas. They used to take the gifts and give them to mom and dad as they were walking out."
Things were going well during a Monday afternoon session. The kids had no trouble making the crafts and seemed to have just enough time during the session to complete all tasks, Donovan said.
"You never know how things are going to go," she said. "At this age level, many of them have different levels of motor skills."
Offering help during each session were members of the Westminster High School Class of 1994. Only Shawna Parkins,a Westminster 15-year-old, however, had shown up to help Monday.
"I wanted to volunteer," said Shawna, daughter of Robert and Evelyn Beall of Westminster. "I like kids. It's been fun. The paint's a little messy, though."
Six-year-old Chris Moore thought so, too.
"I'm going to have a real colorful hand," said the Robert Moton first-grader, holding up his blue-and-pink hand.
Chris, the son of Kent and Terry Moore of Westminster, suspected that his mother might not raise a fuss about the paint, knowing he had made her a present with hisown hands.
The children painted the beads and miniature hangers and hearts pink and blue and tied them together with a blue ribbon.
Dad, too, would be pleased by the pencil holder, made from a cardboard tube and Popsicle sticks, Chris said. The pencil holder took a little more work, requiring some counting and gluing. The sticks were painted, then a miniature calendar and thermometer attached.
If Chris hadn't spent the afternoon working on the crafts, he probably wouldhave been in front of the television watching cartoons, he said.
Chelsea Efland, a William Winchester first-grader, was betting her father would "just love" the pencil holder.
"I make him a lot of stuff," the 6-year-old said.
Her mother, too, would have similar sentiments.
"I bet she'll like it a lot," said Chelsea, the daughter of Steve and Kathy Efland of Westminster.
After all, when she made fingerprints in kindergarten, her mom had tuckedthem away in a "drawer where she keeps all her special stuff."
Scottie Fischer, a Westminster Elementary second-grader, has made lots of crafts before and said his mom loves stuff like that.
"She'll wear it,too," said Scott, son of Frank and Kathy Fischer of Westminster. "Making stuff is kind of my sport. I love to make things -- things that you can use. Sometimes I like to invent stuff."
Tyler Pearson, a third-grader at Westminster Elementary, was having no trouble keeping pace with Donovan, who occasionally urged kids on, saying, "Keep it going, keep it going."
Tyler, the 9-year-old son of Gary and Rebecca Pearson of Westminster, has been to these kinds of workshops before, making Christmas decorations out of baby food jars.
"Usually when I do stuff like this, it's at home," he said. "I usually make stuff like clay projects and cards."
Erin Brusca, a Robert Moton first-grader, thought the pencil holder would come in handy for her dad, who has a lot of pencils.
Amanda Piazza, a third-grader at Robert Moton and the daughter of Robert and Cheryl Piazza of Westminster, said the necklace was sure to delight her mom, who loves homemade gifts.