Decorating the Christmas tree is an event that most members of any family look forward to. It not only is a time to reflect and remember where the various ornaments came from or who made them, it is also an exciting time that really brings Christmas right into the home.
There are a variety of activities you can incorporate into bring the Christmas tree into your home. Some families enjoy singing “Oh Christmas Tree” as the tree is brought into the home. Make a fun activity of this whereby everyone has to come up with an original verse to the song (since few know the actual words). This can keep everyone entertained while someone else works to get the tree standing up straight.
Once the tree is in a stand and ready to be decorated, make a game out of the ornaments. Put all the homemade ornaments aside and work with those first. Start with the first family member and ask them who made the ornament, where did it come from? Once the details are out of the way, ask the crafter (likely a child) if they remember making the ornament. If you’re the parent, tell the child what you thought when you first saw the ornament. This is fun, since it reminds children that the things they make and bring home are meaningful to the parents.
There is always one ornament that is just ugly, or plain silly. Play “hot potato” with that ornament. Whoever gets stuck with the ugly ornament has to say one nice thing about it, such as “well, there’s a lot of glitter on it and that’s pretty”, or “Dougie made it, so I like it”. It’s a silly way to remind children to find good in everything. It might even remind them that things are just things. This is a good lesson for this time of year.
Some people use an advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas, and this is how it’s traditionally done, but there is one fun activity sure to be a hit with children. Similar to the concept in Germany (where the advent calendar originated) this involves providing one small gift for children every day until Christmas. In Germany, it’s only done for several days before Christmas, but you can do it for the 24 days of the month until Christmas arrives.
Buy tiny handled gift bags at the craft store. Buy 1 for each of your children. Have the children decorate the bags, and on each of the 24 bags, have them place a number as well, 1 through 24. As you decorate the tree, find space for each of these little bags. Because they have handles, they can hang right on the tree like an ornament, or you can tie ribbon on the handles so they have a more graceful swing. Each night, fill the right bag with a tiny prize or gift. So if it’s the night of December 14, you’ll take bag #15 (all the bags with earlier numbers will be gone) and put some little trinket in it. It might be a piece of candy, a tiny ornament for your child’s own tree, a tiny car or small eraser. The idea here is that it’s a small gift, but come morning, that’s the first activity your children will engage in – discovering what little treat you left for them the night before.
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