Here are some ways that your family can create and enjoy the festive spirit with these low-cost, 12 days of Christmas-filled fun.
- Decorate iced biscuits
Cover wine biscuits with white icing and decorate them with slivers of red and green sweets. When dry, prop up and display on a window ledge or mantlepiece. If you’re a baker, use Christmas cutters to create your own biscuits, complete with holes through which cotton hangers can be threaded. Thread before you decorate, then hang the colourful biscuits from the Christmas tree. Tip: make the holes larger than you think they need to be as, during cooking, small holes tend to close over.
- Tree with a difference
A Christmas tree doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be a fir. Snip cuttings from shrubs, pop them into a pot, and spray with gold or silver paint. Decorate with coloured sweets threaded through with cotton. Small cones and dried seed heads, sprayed or brushed with paint, also make pretty decorations. If you frequent garden centres or you’re a greenie (or both!), why not purchase a potted Christmas tree (ask about dwarf conifers) which can be pressed into service year after year.
Practice two or three carols with your children (employ small bells and rice-shakers if you don’t have instruments to accompany you). Dress up in Christmas costumes (Santas, elves, fairies, shepherds or sheep are all possible with a visit to the op-shop) and knock on the door of friends and family to delight them with a performance. Top it off with some Christmas jokes which can be learned and ‘performed’. For joke ideas, go to: www.activityvillage.co.uk/christmas-jokes
- Christmas pudding
Boiled Christmas puddings were traditionally studded with silver coins as treats for the lucky finders. Simplify this tradition by stirring a dozen plump raisins into a microwave vanilla steamed pudding. Finders of raisins can swap their raisin for a silver coin (if they don’t eat it first!). When making the pudding, let the children stir the mixture and make a Christmas wish as they do so.
- Personalise the card
Dress everyone in Christmas colours, set the camera on auto, and take a family portrait in front of the Christmas tree or other festive backdrop (a red-flowering shrub, for example, or a bunch of real or artificial red and white flowers). Older family members can then use the portrait to create a digital card. Printed off, small children can use it as the basis for a hand-made Christmas card.
- Hang up the mistletoe
Gather together some foliage (it doesn’t have to be mistletoe), tie it with pretty red ribbon, and hang it above a door. Children will delight in demanding a Christmas kiss from family members who step under it. While you’re at it, you might like to amuse children with the scatalogical derivation of the word. ‘Mistel’ (mistle) is the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘dung’ and ‘tan’ (toe) is the name for the word ‘twig’. It was thought that mistletoe (which grows on a host tree) grew from seed in birds’ droppings. Older children will enjoy more Mistletoe history at: http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/mistletoe.shtml
- Get into giving
Encourage children to give at Christmas by asking them to decorate a box with paint and glitter (or festive pictures cut from a magazine). Let them help fill the box with biscuits, and deliver it together to a church group or an organisation such as Women’s Refuge, or to an individual in your community who will appreciate it. If you’re not a baker, purchased biscuits will be appreciated just as much. For animal-lovers, fill the box with dog or cat treats and take it to your local SPCA animal shelter. Don’t forget the home-made Christmas card to go with it.
- Indoor games
In New Zealand, December doesn’t always mean fine weather, so plan ahead and adapt some old-fashioned games for Christmas Day. Try ‘Velcro the beard on Santa’ or ‘The star on the top of the Christmas tree’. Children will enjoy colouring in the drawings and objects needed for the game. Teach children, ahead of time, the game of charades which was traditionally played on cold Christmas days in the northern hemisphere.
- Story time
Head to the library for some Christmas-themed books and enjoy reading them together. Libraries will almost certainly have Christmas collections on display, but don’t leave it until the last minute to take your pick. Add to the experience by lighting a fire (if you have one in your home, or creating a red cellophane and twig fire if you don’t), and reading beside it. Talk to children about why warmth is important at Christmas (winter) time in other parts of the world.
- Christmas in the community
Check in your local newspaper for community Christmas activities near you. From carol singing to colouring competitions, Christmas is a catalyst for fun. Take children for a walk to the shopping centre and see who can spot the prettiest decorations (this fun activity will make the decorations and not the ‘for sale’ items the object of interest and enjoyment).
- Party hats
Ditch the commercial Christmas crackers this year and prepare the party hats yourselves. Begin with a basic head band, and glue or staple onto it cut-out Christmas decorations: trees, stars, bells, baubles, antlers. Decorate with glitter. Make one hat for each guest who’ll be joining
you at Christmas, and pop the crafty creations on the table at dinner time.
- Blast from the past
Ask an older member of the family (or someone from your community) for a traditional Christmas recipe or activity they enjoyed when they were young, and re-create it with your family. You may end up baking a Christmas cake, learning a new song, or playing a special game. Make an older person feel special this Christmas by inviting them to share with your children some photos or a memory from ‘Christmas way back then’.
Exquisite paper snowflakes
6-Pointed-Paper-Snowflakes for step by step instructions using recycled computer paper.
These are so much fun to make!