Christmas can’t come soon enough. Happily, you can get started right now with these simple craft ideas designed for late November and early December.
For many families, the harbinger of Christmas is not a herald angel but the first door on the advent calendar. Traditionally opened from 1 December, calendars can contain festive pictures, chocolates, toys or any other treat. The shops are full of them right now, but it’s much more fun to make your own. Follow our guide to three different types of advent calendar.
The range of Christmas decorations you could make with the kids is limited only by your imagination. It’s amazing how much you can do with cotton wool, tinsel, string and some old Christmas cards for cut-outs. But sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Children of almost any age can make paper chains by looping strips of coloured paper together. Use glitter or paint to make them extra decorative. You can then hang the chains along the tops of walls, drape them over the mantle piece, or hang them on the tree like tinsel. [Stay tuned for a follow-on article, looking at more imaginative Christmas decorations you can make together.]
Go On A Pine Cone Hunt
Pine cones make beautiful and natural adornments to your home at Christmas time. You can decorate them with glitter or white paint and place them just about anywhere. Pine cones tend to start dropping in early autumn but can be found well into winter. All you need to do is track down some coniferous woodland or a park with plenty of fir or pine trees, and you should be able to collect some beauties.
Make The Reindeer Food
Santa’s reindeers (know their names?) have to cover a lot of ground come Christmas night, and for that they need plenty of sustenance. Help the sleigh team along by making your own reindeer food. It’s a doddle, and best to do it in early December so that “the magic has time to furtle”. Just mix together some porridge oats and dry fruit and you have something you can leave outside on Christmas Eve (if the reindeer don’t spot it, your local wildlife probably will). You can also add glitter to make the reindeer food shimmer and shine, though don’t leave this out where non-magical animals might ingest it.
December 1st Box
For many families, the holiday season can’t come soon enough. It feels like more people are putting their trees up early in a bid to bring on the merriment. But here’s another way: a December 1st Box.
The idea is simple: fill a box with festive stuff for the whole family to discover on the first day of December. We’re not talking about massively expensive toys or a new bike or anything. These should be little gifts to kick the season off. Items might include:
- Some cosy new Christmas pyjamas
- Christmas slippers
- New baubles for each family member to hang on the tree
- Chocolate treats
- A family film on DVD, which you can then all watch together
- A seasonal cake for everyone to enjoy (panettone works well)
- Any crafted decorations you’ve already made, such as paper chains, tree decorations, or the advent calendar. Take them out of the box and put them up.
Of course, you can adapt the formula however you like. Instead of one box to rule them all, you could instead have individual boxes for each family member. And you don’t have to open it on December 1st if you’d rather leave things till the weekend. You can also spend time as a family decorating your December 1st box. Use gift wrap, tinsel, cotton wool, paints… whatever works for you.
Top Of The Tree
There are two schools of thought for adorning the top of your Christmas tree: stars or angels. If it’s stars you seek, then we have a whopping 27 different ways to craft the pointy ornament. Angels are a little trickier. You could make one from a cone of card, or by simply cutting out a drawing. But here’s an idea. Why not elevate one of your child’s favourite dolls or action figures into the role? You can have fun making wings and a dress for the toy, then attach it to the tree with bulldog clips. Hey presto, a one-of-a-kind Christmas angel.
Make Your Cards
The postal service is in higher demand than ever this year, so you’ll want to get your cards posted smartish. You could buy them, but making is more fun. Use coloured paper, foil, felt, paint, cross-stitch… whatever you like… to make a Christmas scene. Just remember that you may need a bigger envelope and more stamps if your creations get too chunky. An alternative is to buy a proper card-crafting kit. Most supermarkets stock at least one or two options, and you can easily order online.
Christmas Eve Box
You can leave this project until a little later in December. Like a December 1st box, you can fill the Christmas Eve box with new pyjamas, slippers, small toys, chocolate treats and more. For this one, though, you must also think about Santa Claus as well as your own family. You could throw in a box of mince pies and a packet of home-made reindeer food (see above) for the kids to leave out in the evening. Other ideas include a Christmas candle, a cosy blanket, a Christmas-themed book to read before bedtime, a hot chocolate sachet, and perhaps even a note with a link through to a Christmas playlist for the big day. If you’d rather take the hassle out of things, consider one of these pre-filled Christmas boxes, available to order now.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.