By Aliya White

Have you ever heard of Kwanzaa?  More and more people are celebrating every year and kids are having ceremonies at school and community centers.  I have attended and hosted several gatherings over the years and while I am not an expert, I do a pretty good job of the  karamu (the feast) 😉 Here is a link to a site that does a good job of explaining the holiday.   But as a quick summary, Kwanzaa is a nonreligious holiday created to celebrate and honor African American history.   It is a time of endings and beginnings and is celebrated from a day after Christmas through the first day of the new year.  Plus there are some really great symbols and principles of the holiday that just beg to be crafted and shared.  I have found some cool projects that I would love to share with you and a few products as well that can help you get ready for this colorful holiday.

One of the first symbols you often see surrounding this holiday is the candle holder.  It is called the kinara.  It holds the seven candles to be lit each day that represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The kinara below is made of wood and jewels and bolts.  It is very creative and can be made to size based on where you plan to display it.  I think the metallic paint and the addition of the bolts makes this one unique.


  Image courtesy of

The black candle represents the first principle – Umoja (oo-MOH-jah)Unity

The red candle on the far left represents the 2nd principle of Kwanzaa – Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah)Self-Determination

The farthest right green candle represents the 3rd principle of Kwanzaa – Ujima (oo-JEE-mah)Collective work and responsibility

The second red candle on the left represents the 4th principle of Kwanzaa – Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH)Collective economics

The second green candle on the right represents the 5th principle of Kwanzaa – Nia (NEE-ah)Purpose

The last red candle on the left  represents the 6th principle of Kwanzaa – Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah)Creativity

The final green candle on the right represents  the 7th principle of Kwanzaa –Imani (ee-MAH-nee)Faith


Keeping all of these principles in mind each day is easier with beautiful reminders around.  Look at this lovely garland that uses tags  and materials that you can use to dress up a mantel or doorway.


  Garland by Vanessa Cole photo courtesy of Stashbooks

I also found these wonderful tags by Kathy Cano-Murillo that represent each principle.  She used ribbon and paint to create these lovelies.


Tags by Kathy Cano-Murillo photo courtesy of

These next tags come in their own book to tell the full story.  It is so lovely it can be displayed too.  Here are a few pictures of the book and the tags inside.

Kwanzaa Tag Book  Kwanzaa Tag Book Close up 2  Kwanzaa Tags

Tag album by Kami Shalom photos courtesy of Kami’s Paper Trail

You can create your own stand up art with Sizzix Frames.  Beth created a lovely reminder of the principles that can sit on a bookcase or table.

Kwanzaa fame

Frame by Beth Reames courtesy of Sizzix

This next project is more of a sewing project but you might be able to use some of your painting supplies and stamps to recreate this border.  And really, I just loved it.

Kwanzaa wall hanging

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

And check out this modern take on a wreath to really get festive!  The corn is also symbol for Kwanzaa.  In the ceremony the corn represents the children and the continuing legacy.

corn husk wreath

 Wreath by Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage photo courtesy of HGTV

While you are decorating, don’t forget to add a little banner across the fireplace or a wall with bright colors celebrating the season.  You can easily recreate this with papers and ribbon or string you have.  The mini size also adds flexibility if you have a smaller space you’d like to decorate.

Spoonful garland

Image courtesy of

Now onto your table.  There are really clever things to do to decorate for the holiday.  I love the use of the baker’s twine and corn husk in this candle holder idea.  So clever.  I learned that you can find the husks year round in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.


  Vase by Camille Styles image courtesy of HGTV

And look at these cute place settings that use the Post Office Kwanzaa stamps.

place settings

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

These symbolic unity cups would also look cute with before or after dinner treats in them.


Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

I am amazed at some of the cool art people create with Sharpie pens.  Elena created this cutie using an upcycled jar and a sharpie pen.  This could also be used on the table to hold treats, as a place holder or you could use it as an ethnic symbol in your Kwanzaa ceremony.

Tribal Print Glass Canister2

Jar by Elena Sullivan courtesy of

Outside of the kinara, one of the most important symbols in your ceremony will be the unity cup.   It is used several times in the ceremony.  Traditionally, they are made of wood but symbol of the cup is the most important.  This cup goes way beyond a simple wooden vessel.  The bead work is so lovely.


Cup by Camille Styles photo courtesy of HGTV

And then, of course, you have to send out cards to celebrate and grace everyone’s mailbox you know.  I love how Cynthia  incorporated the colors in this stamp almost to look like a quilt and how all of the symbols are present right on the front.  Raffia gives the card some texture and dimension.


Cynthia Card

 Card by Cynthia Avent photo courtesy of Scraps of Color

Take a look at some of the products I found online that you can use in your creating.

Kwanzaa kinara stamp kwanzaa stamp

Rubber stamps photo courtesy of Dandee images

Digital stamp by Robert Jackson

Kwanzaa digi RJ

Robert Jackson Gallery

Digital Scrapbook paper

digi kente paper

Teachers pay Teachers

Digital kente paper etsy

Striped Elephants

Digital clip art


Another cool digital image – from Paper Crafts magazine.

Unity-Kwanzaa digi image

Digital image from Paper Crafts and Scrapbooking

Kente ribbon

kente ribbon

Tambo Collection

Go ahead…make something pretty!


3 replies on “It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Kwanzaa”

  1. Thanks for this post. Other than some colorful projects I’ve seen for it, I didn’t know much about this celebration. What a great reason to keep crafting between Christmas and New Years!

  2. Wish I had seen these ideas earlier. Will keep them in mind for next Kwanzaa. Love your blog.

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