Tamsin: In the hecticness of Christmas I always try to take a couple of minutes to think of some craft activities to keep the kids occupied in the days between the end of school and Christmas. This mainly means decorations for the tree and house. Keeping the kids’ hands busy will help put to good use some of that over-excited energy that’s building up and up. For this reason I keep to the old family tradition of decorating the house on the 23rd December and the tree on the 24th.
Sometimes the simplest ideas work best. One year the children spent a whole day making hundreds of cut-out snowflakes that we hung on string and used as paper chains. Apart from the large amount of hoovering that had to be done afterwards this was a great excitement-consuming activity. Another simple idea was to get them to draw a motif for each door in the house – snowmen, Father Christmas, Rudolfs and so on were cut out and stuck to each door.
Paper chains and holly and ivy are a must for the house and one of my favourites are the crêpe paper ones. There is something wonderful about repetitively folding paper and ending up with a multi-coloured streamer after one simple pull of the finished folds.
Greenery takes pride of place in my house too, with sprigs of holly and ivy on top of every mirror or picture frame. Usually I make a swag to go around the stair rail, but this year I ran out of energy so with a house full of guests about to view Christmas efforts I twisted tinsel and hung cascading branches of ivy from the banister instead – easily worth the 10 minutes work.
Then there is the Christmas tree. For me the tree is about memories of Christmas past. I am not too fussed what it looks like in the end as long as we all join in the decorating and chat about the stories behind the different decorations as they come out of the boxes. Every year my children choose and buy a new decoration each and I love opening their decoration boxes to find a little bit of their past personalities, wrapped in tissue paper, waiting for me to rediscover – which usually means Carla and her pink glitzy numbers and Joe with his animals. This year they carried on in the same ilk –
Joe - some funky fish
Carla – a very pink swan
But I also love homemade decorations. My mother still has ours. The singing angel, the flying pig made from corks and painted pink, even the tiny medicine bottles that were sprayed gold one year as a substitute for baubles. This year I finally got round to making an idea I’d read about in a book on the traditions of Victorian Christmas – Gilded Walnuts, hollowed out, hiding a tiny treat and hung on the tree or placed in a bowl of nuts at the table.
Then there’s Feather Angels, so delicate yet so quick and simple, the hardest part is tying a knot.
And Beaded Icicles, which I’ve had classes of toddlers making and which look beautiful as the tree lights shine through them.
Enjoy any creativity you manage to do over the festive period – I would love to hear any ideas that went really well because there is always another Christmas next year and just as much excitement to contain.