Make a festive comic book
What better way to summon that festive spirit than to make a Diwali comic book? All you need are pictures, a script in your head and an undying love for the comic book medium. There are a number of websites that let you upload pictures and “comicfy” them through the use of photo filters. They can also help arrange pages in panels, and add suitably dramatic speech bubbles and sound effects. Mac users will already have Comic Life, an application that does precisely the above, installed and ready to use. Windows users can download a free trial from Plasq.com. Online, there’s ROKcomics.com for starters. For the more eclectic, you can spice up the comics with some fancy fonts and typesets from Blambot.com
Make paper toys
Paper-craft toys require just a computer printer, some thick bond paper, glue and scissors. There’s a huge community online that creates free model blueprints for just about every bit of pop culture—from music stars to cartoon characters. Almost all of them are free to download, and come with detailed instructions on how to assemble. A good place to start is the Cubeecraft blog at Cubeecraft.com, or the paper totems (which also make for interesting gift wraps) at http://dollyoblong.blogspot.com
The more artistically inclined can download a blank model and draw their own characters.
While you’re at paper craft, why not try origami too? It’s simpler on resources (all one needs is blank paper and heroic patience), and there are some beautiful, simple folding projects out there. Start at http://www.origami-club.com/en/
Make a Kyaraben lunch
Japanese Kyaraben lunches use a specific arrangement of food inside a lunch box or on a plate to create pictures or images. Here’s how. Mould cooked rice into a tight, round ball. Use two olives for eyes, shape some ears using common household items such as bottle caps, put in two thin roundels of carrot for the cheeks, and there you go: instant Panda! Here’s another simple example. To make a simple Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes fame, cut out a circular slice of ham. Take a slice of cheddar cheese and cut it in a shaggy, jagged shape like his unkempt hair. Place it towards the top of the ham slice, add sesame seeds for eyes, and you’re done!
Start at http://justbento.com/ or www.annathered.com, or just get creative with kitchen ingredients!
Compose a song
Microsoft’s Songsmith is a nifty little application that lets you sing into a microphone and automatically generates the back-up instruments. The programme lets you pick a mood for your magnum opus (pick “Festive!”) and determines a combination of instruments, rhythm and tempo, and even adjusts your wavering pitch to sound properly epic. Songsmith isn’t magic, of course, so you’ll have to sing in at least a semblance of tune for it. If you know how to play a particular instrument, you can play that directly into Songsmith as well. A free trial of Songmith can be downloaded from http://research.microsoft.com/songsmith. Continued use will require payment, but the trial suffices for a debut recording or two.
Put yourself in a video game
Don’t scoff. Interactive experiences can be very moving, and great for bonding with friends and family. If you have a Nintendo Wii, make sure you create “Miis”, or avatars, of everyone you know, and use them in the games you play together.
PlayStation 3 owners have games such as LittleBigPlanet, which exist with the intention of letting players create their own levels and characters and stories.
PC owners have the Sims series, which lets you create virtual representations of everyone you know, put them in little doll houses of your own devising, and play with their virtual lives. It’s much more fun than we’re making it sound, and downright hilarious to play in a group. The more curious can even dabble in making their own video game. It’s time-consuming, of course, but what can be cooler than starring in your own video game? The Adventure Game Studio ( www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/ ) is a good place to start—it allows you to create your own adventures.