We started a tradition last year of making placemats during holidays. We use our handprints to create the art on drawing paper and then laminate it for the kids to use as placemats. It's fun to see how the kids' prints grow and to look back and remember who was celebrating with us. We make everyone present participate!
For Christmas last year, we had so many I had to make two placemats to fit them all.I've found that the best way to ensure clear handprints is to use a foam brush to paint the acrylic paint onto people's hands.
For the turkeys, I had a separate foam brush for each color and quickly painted the fingers and palms different colors before pressing them firmly on the paper.
I use thin construction paper or computer paper for the handprints. Then, once they're dry, cut them out and use a glue stick to arrange them on your drawing paper. This way you can collect several handprints without anyone accidentally smudging the art.
Another suggestion is to have each person do more than one print, maybe even with each hand. That way, when you sit down to turn it into art you have more options for creating your design.
As for turning it into a placemat, Office Max will laminate anything smaller than 11 x 17" for around $2 per sheet. Check your drawing paper and trim if needed to keep it smaller than that size. If it's bigger, you'll have to have it roll laminated which costs more than twice as much.
This is a great craft to do with your children around the holidays and my kids love pulling out the placemats year round to use during mealtime.