Compiled by Robyn, South Africa ~ © Nov 2005
















In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas time is wintry, cold and snowy but in the Southern Hemisphere, our Christmas is sunny, hot and summery.  Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.  It is a special family time of loving and giving.  Many Christmas traditions have been accepted along the way and these differ from country to country.  Santa Claus, as he is known in the USA, also goes by different names in different countries.  In the UK and in South Africa, we affectionately call him Father Christmas.  The idea of Father Christmas originated in about 300AD from a very generous Catholic priest known as St Nicholas.  This idea evolved into Santa Claus, as we know him today with the help of an artist for Coca Cola commercials in the mid-1900s in America.  Here is some more Christmas Trivia ~


A History of Santa

Christmas Facts

History of Christmas

Merry Christmas in 123 Languages




The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg (4-8yrs)

The Jolly Postman returns with a pouch overflowing with holiday cheer--letters from the Big Bad Wolf, a miniature book, a terrible board game, even a Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle all tucked into envelopes.


Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett (3-6yrs)

Matti opens the oven too soon and out jumps a cheeky Gingerbread Baby. He leads the whole colourful cast of characters on a rollicking chase and the story ends with a twist.


Dream Snow, by Eric Carle (2-5yrs)

Beautifully decorated book about a farmer who dreams it’s snowing and when he awakens, he discovers that real snow has fallen.  At the end of the story, push a button for a surprise Yuletide jingle.


How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr Seuss (4-8yrs)

The Grinch tries to stop Christmas from arriving by stealing all the presents and food from the village, but much to his surprise it comes anyway and he discovers the true meaning of the holiday.


Children Around the World Celebrate Christmas by Susan T Osborn, C H Tangvald & J McCallum

Discover how different children around the world celebrate Christmas and how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in their language.  At the back of the book write about your own Christmastime activities and add pictures.




Christmas Cookies

Make your favourite biscuit recipe using Christmas shaped cookie cutters.  Dust with icing sugar.


Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees

Turn a sugar cone upside down on a paper plate and cover the entire cone with green butter icing.  Decorate your tree with smarties and cake sprinkles.


Gingerbread Men

Using your favourite gingerbread biscuit recipe, cut out gingerbread men shapes. Press in raisins for eyes and buttons.


Easy Mini Gingerbread Houses

Use square biscuits iced together as suggested in the directions in the link above and make a tiny house decorated with icing, sweets, nuts, chocolates etc.  Add some flaked coconut snow. 


Icing Cement for Gingerbread Houses
With an electric mixer, beat 2 large egg whites, 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons water until frothy. Mix in 3 cups sifted icing sugar; beat on high speed until icing is stiff, 5 to 10 minutes. Use, or cover up to 8 hours. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.




Advent Calendar

Make your own Advent Calendar at the end of November as exciting way to lead up to the 24 days until Christmas.  Here are some ideas…

Easy Advent Christmas Tree with decorations

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar from Bry-Back Manor

Counting the days to Christmas with Santa’s Beard!


Natural Branch Christmas ‘Tree’

Take the leaves off a bushy branch.  Make the branch stand upright by sticking it in a container filled with sand.  Decorate your tree with glitter or gold or white spray paint and tiny beads or decorations.


Natural Pinecone Christmas ‘Tree’

Make a pinecone tree with pinecones standing on their base.  Glue the sides of them together to form a circle, interlocking them with each other to help hold it in place. When you have the size of circle you want to form the base of your Christmas tree, repeat that step, only making the circle smaller. Glue that circle onto the base. Keep repeating these steps until you reach the tip, which should be just one pinecone, the "layer" beneath that should be three (3) pinecones.  Decorate with glitter, spray paint, lights, ornaments.


Christmas Play Dough

Make Red Cinnamon Play dough using ground cinnamon or cinnamon aromatherapy oil and

Green Peppermint Play dough by using peppermint essence or peppermint aromatherapy oil.



Pin the nose on Rudolf, blindfolded (as in Pin the tail on the Donkey)


Candy Cane Hunt

Hide some candy canes and sweets and have a fun Christmas Hunt with friends. 

You could make it more interesting with treasure maps and clues for older children.


Nativity or Christmas Box Scenes

Create a Nativity or Christmas Diorama by turning a box on its side; the ‘bottom’ of the box will be the backdrop.  Decorate with paint and coloured paper.  See some examples from Enchanted Make Mary & Joseph using old-fashioned clothes pegs.  Use pipe cleaners for arms & dress them with tunics made from fabric scraps, draw on faces.  Use wool for hair.  Make the manger using matchsticks & paper.  Use toy cows and sheep and hang stars by thread from the top.

Directions on how to make Baby Jesus from cotton balls and wool

Instructions for making clothespin people


Christmas Box Scene

Make a clothes peg Santa.  Decorate with cotton snow, a snowman, paper reindeer, etc.  Make a Christmas tree by gluing a single pinecone’s base onto the bottom.  Put gold glitter on the "branches", a small star on the top.  You can even tuck some cotton into the branches for snow or hang tiny decorations on the ‘petals’.  Put tiny wrapped gifts under the tree.  Hang items such as stars or bells by thread for a three dimensional effect. 


Reindeer Antlers

Cut a band of red cardboard to fit around the width of the head and staple

closed.  Using 2 pieces of brown card stacked together, trace one of the

child's hands. Then cut out. Separate the hands and then staple each one

to the red band towards the front, just a little apart from each other.


Cut Out Hand Christmas Trees
the outline of each hand onto three shades of green construction paper and cut out.  Starting at the top glue one hand, underneath will be two hands and the bottom row will be three hands.  Add a brown paper trunk and ornaments.


Handprint Angel

Paint one hand and take a print (closed fingers) in the centre of a landscape

page to create the angel’s gown.  Then paint both hands yellow and print one

hand on each side of the gown for wings.  Wash hands.  Turn paper upside

down & paint the angel’s head, hair and a halo.  Sprinkle some glitter on the

gown and wings while the paint is wet.  Draw or paint on a face when dry.


Snow Globes
Need - clean baby food jar, florist clay, small plastic figurine, course white glitter, glue gun
Attach figurine to inside of jar lid using florist clay and allow to dry.  It's a good idea to build up the clay so the object will appear taller.  Fill jar almost to the top with cold water.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of glitter into water. Insert figurine in water, screw on lid. Use glue gun to seal on lid and ensure that it is waterproof. Let stand lid side up to dry. You may paint the lid or cover with fabric. TIP – a good place to find plastic Santa’s, trees or other figurines are in baking or party shops as cake decorations.


Paper Plate Santa

Attach a small paper plate to a large paper plate to make a head and body.  Paint the body with red paint.  When the body is dry, draw or stick on some buttons.  Draw a face onto the smaller paper plate and use cotton wool to create a beard.  Add Santa's triangle hat cut out of red card.  Use cotton wool for the edge of Santa's hat.  Trace boots onto black card and cut these out.  These can be attached to the body using split pins or staples.


Christmas List

Help children to write a letter to Father Christmas, ask them what’s on their wish list and write it down.  They can then decorate the letter and stick it up near the Christmas tree.


Dear Santa,

Here's some milk and cookies

That I have left for you.

There are enough for Rudolph,

I hope he likes them too!

~ Author Unknown ~




Pipe Cleaner Ornaments
Thread pipe cleaners with beads, either nesting together or with spaces in between.  Glitter pipe cleaners are fun.  Bend and shape the pipe cleaners to make Christmas shapes such as a wreath, a candy cane, a star, a bell etc.  Tie on a ribbon loop to hang.  To make candy canes, twist together a red and white pipe cleaner and then form a candy cane shape.


Pine Cone Ornaments

Paint pine cones gold, silver, or with clear glue and while still wet sprinkle glitter on liberally, then spray with clear sealer.  When the cones are dry, tie a ribbon around the stem at the top and hang.


Popsicle Stick Star Ornaments
Glue popsicle sticks in a star shape using white craft glue.  When dry, paint stars with

colours and sprinkle with glitter while wet.  Add decorations. Tie on a string to hang.


Large Star for the Top of the Tree
Cut a large star shape out of heavy cardboard.  Decorate both sides with sparkle glue

and glitter.  A clothespin glued onto the back clips the star to the top of a Christmas tree.

Here is a Star Template (photocopy to resize)


Angel Ornament for the Top of the Tree

Use a cone shape or make a cone shape cardboard.  Add a head and wings.  Decorate.


Popcorn Ornaments

String popcorn onto medium-gauge wire and bend the wire into shapes such as bells, hearts, or stars. Add a ribbon to the top and hang!


Styrofoam Ball Ornaments

Paint and decorate styrofoam balls with glue, paint, glitter, sequins, jewels, shells, ribbons, etc.  Bend open a paper clip.  Put some glue on one end and push it into ball, this will be the hanger.  You can also pin a ribbon loop onto the ball.


CD Hanging Ornaments

Cover an old CD in glue and then decorate both sides with Christmas collage items

or pictures.  When dry, tie a ribbon through the hole for hanging.


Present Ornaments

Wrap matchboxes in shiny paper with ribbons tied around them and a thread a loop.


Paper Chains

Use Red, Green, Black or White loops of paper alternatively stapled together to hang across the room.


Paper Snowflakes

Fold a white square of paper in half and in half again.  Fold the two sides equally in towards the middle so that it looks like a paper kite.  Snip off the top of the ‘kite’ so you now have a triangle.  Cut small shapes out of all three sides.  Open.  The more paper you cut out, the lacier your snowflake will be.  Hang or tape in a window.  Find similar detailed directions at Enchanted


Gingerbread Man or Angel Paper Chain

Fold long paper in half, in half and in half again in the same direction.  Draw half shape of gingerbread man or angel with centre at big fold and feet and arms going all the way to the other end.  Cut out and open up.  Hang up across a doorframe or a window. 

See gingerbread man directions at DLTK


Popcorn Threads

String Popcorn together with a needle and thread to make popcorn tinsel to string across your tree.


Christmas Hanger Mobile

Hang some of your Christmas Ornaments from a wire hanger in a window for a different display!




Christmas Gift Tags

Make your own little gift tags and punch a hole in one corner for some thread.  Some ideas -

Cut out pictures squares from old Christmas cards

Cut out photographs that you aren’t going to use

Cut out shaped gift tags from bright card in stars, gingerbread boys etc.


Christmas Paper

Decorate your Christmas present with a unique wrapping. Some ideas are -

Printed Christmas cloth as wrapping instead of paper and tie with cloth ribbon

Potato stamps and paints to decorate brown paper or tissue paper with a Christmas theme

Wrapped with natural raffia ribbon and decorated, brown bags make very attractive wrapping

Decorate plain paper with a poem or favourite Christmas song hand written in bright colours

Wrap a present in old sheet music

Wrap a present in the Sunday comics!

Wrap a present in your Children’s artwork

Use flowers instead of plastic bows


Christmas Cards

Styrofoam Printing on Cards
Pressing hard, draw a deep picture in reverse on the bottom of a Styrofoam tray with a pencil.  Cover the picture with paint.  Take a piece of construction paper, folded in half for a card, and press the front against the picture.  Carefully remove the paper.  The picture will be printed on it.  Repeat the process to make as many prints as desired.  This makes wonderful holiday greeting cards!


Threading on Cards

Draw a simple Christmas Shape on the front of the card.  Punch holes around the edge of the shape.  Thread wool or ribbon in and out of the holes.  Stick another colour paper behind on the inside of the card to hide wool on the inside.  Xmas Shape Templates




Easy Home-made Gifts


101 Great Gifts to Make from Family Crafts


Ideas for Quick and Easy Gifts of Food

Including Flavoured Oils & Vinegars, Jams, Pickles, Homemade Liqueurs & lots more


More Gifts to Make from Family Crafts


Recipe Book

Cover an A5 hard cover index book with some patterned fabric.  Stick a rectangle of white card inside each cover to neaten the fabric edges.  Write in some of your favourite easy recipes alphabetically indexed.  You can add some art/poems/sayings/food trivia to spice it up if you like.  Leave plenty of space for them to fill in their own favourite recipes.  You could tie this up together with a kitchen utensil such as a wooden spoon or spatula.



Cover an A5 or A4 hard cover 2006 Diary with some patterned fabric.  Stick a rectangle of white card inside each cover to neaten the fabric edges.  You can add embellishments such as ribbon or a framed photograph etc. onto the cover if you like.  Neatly write some encouraging quotes randomly on different days and even include a special birthday message on the correct date.  This could be tied up with a nice pen.


Cloth Covered Journal

Cover an A5 lined or unlined hard cover note book with some patterned fabric.  Stick a rectangle of white card inside each cover to neaten the fabric edges.  On a small square of card write or print “MY MEMORIES” or “MY JOURNAL” or “MY NOTE BOOK” etc.  Stick this onto a slightly larger colour co-ordinated piece of card and then onto the front of the book.  Add embellishments if you like such as a skeleton leaf.  Click here to see some inspiring pictures of lovely cloth covered books


Mini Brag Album

Neatly guillotine some acid-free card (home-made paper works well) into pages 4.5 inches by 7 inches (just bigger than jumbo and leaving an extra margin on the left for binding).  Punch 2 holes into the left of each pieces and bind together with some ribbon or raffia.  Decorate the front of your mini album with dried flowers, skeleton leaves, cut outs etc.  Using acid free photo corners, attach one or two special photos into the first few pages.  Give as a gift to a family member, perhaps with some photo corners tied to the front.


Gift for a Gardener

In a basket, put a combination of any of the following – herb seed packets, wooden garden utensils, garden gloves etc. and perhaps add some home-made wooden garden signs.  Using a Popsicle stick and small piece of wood, these can be painted with pictures of either flowers or gnomes and a garden saying. 

Here are some directions on making the little signs

Here are some garden quotes to add to your signs or to make a card


Personalised CDs

There's nothing better than receiving a music compilation CD put together with love. All you need is a few blank CDs, your favourite tunes and a computer with CD writer.  The CD cases can be personalized by using a computer program, stickers or magazine photos.  Another good idea is to write a poem or letter all across the front of the CD with permanent marker.  If you have recording facilities on your computer, for an even more personalised gift, record your own album!  Maybe a piano recital piece or sing some songs.


Treat in A Jar

Fill a jar with something made by child.  Attach the lid; tie on a ribbon and a sprig of holly.  Here are some ideas ~

Sugar Scrub

Rose Petal Bath Salts

Cappuccino Mocha Mix

Cinnamon Pancake Mix

White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookie Mix


Bath Salts

2 cups Epsom salts, ˝ cup sea salt, 4-6 drops aromatherapy oil of your choice, 2-3 drops food colouring (optional) Place the salts in a bowl or zip loc bag.  Add oil and colouring.  Mix all ingredients well.  Put salts in a clear bottle or jar.  Tie with a ribbon and some small candy canes or other Christmas ornament.


Cinnamon, Orange and Vanilla Room Spray

Reuse spray bottles, peel off any stickers, or buy new bottles.  Add a teaspoon of pure alcohol (available from all chemists – the oils do not mix with water unless first dissolved in alcohol).  Drop 10 drops of each of the three above oils (or any pure aromatherapy oil mixture).  Fill up with water and shake.  The spray will go a milky colour, which is fine.  Add a ribbon or raffia to the top of the bottle and a dried orange slice or cinnamon stick.  Tie on a gift tag.


Antique Tea Cup Candle

Look out for cheap but interesting tea cups at antique shops.  Melt down old candle ends and add a little scented oil like lemongrass or neroli.  Put a wick in – available from craft stores and you have a nice gift with a little tag attached to the handle.


Fancy Deli Oils and Vinegars

Save and reuse bottles and jars from home (clear wine bottles are good).  Wash bottles and soak off labels.  Look for ideas at the library or in your favourite deli.  Use fresh herbs, garlic and red chillies in oils.  Fruit flavoured vinegars such as raspberry and cranberry are big hits.  For either one, the process is simple. For the vinegars, use plain white vinegar and fresh or frozen berries.  Steep the berries or herbs in the vinegar for about a week at room temperature, in a dark place. Strain, and bottle in an attractive bottle.  A few berries or a sprig of the herb you used added to the finished vinegar is a nice touch. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the oils. When bought in bulk, these are much cheaper.  Prepare in the same way as the vinegar. However, when you strain and rebottle the oils, don't add any fresh herbs, as they can spoil at room temperature. Flavoured oils have many uses, for example salads, and marinades and garlic flavoured olive oil, for instance, is heavenly on baked potatoes.


Personalised Ceramics

Buy an unglazed ceramic mug or plate or pot plant holder; get your children to paint a picture on it using ceramic paints.  Add the child’s name and date and take it to a potter for glazing.  Handprints are a good idea.


Pot Plants

Take clippings from a hearty plant like an ivy and start them in a tin or inexpensive flowerpot.  Make sure you cut with at least a 1" stem and that there is at least 1 leaf to sustain the clipping until it forms roots. Keep the soil moist until rooted.  Everyone will appreciate a plant.  ‘Busy Lizzies’, Wandering Jew, Spider plant, Philodendron, Pothos, and most ivy can withstand some neglect.  If you don’t have a garden, ask a friend if you can take some clippings from hers!  A potted herb plant also makes a great gift for kitchen or garden lovers - you can start them from seed now and they'll be ready by Christmas.


Fridge Magnet Photo Frame

Make your own photo frame by cutting out a cardboard frame and solid backing.  ‘Sew’ together 3 sides by punching holes around the edge and threading with wool or ribbon.  Or just seal with tape.   Go wild and decorate however you like, feathers, pom poms, glitter etc.  Insert photo and seal the fourth side.  Glue magnets to the back.



Make your own bookmarks for gifts by decorating strips of cardboard and laminating.  Some ideas for decorating are to use your own poems, use photos, drawings or paintings etc.


Stone Paperweight

Make a special stone paperweight for granddad by painting and decorating a smooth large pebble.  When dry, varnish it.  You can also write with permanent marker onto the paint, maybe a saying or poem or simply ‘love Robyn’ before varnish.  Cut out a piece of felt and glue it to the bottom.




Napkin Rings

Make your own by using beaded pipe cleaners, cut up toilet rolls decorated or covered - see example


Place Mats

Laminate your Christmas works of art pictures for individual A4 landscape placemats.


Name Place Cards

Make your own place names for the family Christmas lunch table.


Christmas Crackers

Cover empty toilet rolls with crepe paper.  Put a little poem or saying and a small gift or chocolate inside.  Seal with cello tape along the side and close each end by tying a ribbon around the ruffle.  You can personalise or use these as place names by sticking each person’s name on the outside.



This year try going for a very simple and elegant table display. Place some pine cones into a large white bowl or platter dish on the table, sprinkle some cinnamon or pine oil on to emphasise the seasonal atmosphere.


Clove Oranges

Start your orange by using a toothpick to make a hole and into this hole you will push in the whole clove.  Keep doing this until your whole orange is covered and then using some raffia, tie a large bow around the orange for hanging. These are also great as table centres.




Search for your own favourite music, songs and lyrics to over 1000 Christmas songs


We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas, 

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Good tidings we bring to you and your kin,

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Oh, bring us a figgy pudding,

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding,

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer.


We won't go till we get some,

We won't go till we get some,

We won't go till we get some, so bring some out here.


We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



Here Comes Santa Claus

Here comes Santa Claus!

Here comes Santa Claus!

Coming down Santa Claus Lane!

Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer,

Are pulling on the reins.

Bells are ringing, children singing,

All is merry and bright.

Hang your stockings and say your prayers,

'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.


Here comes Santa Claus!

Here comes Santa Claus!

Coming down Santa Claus Lane!

He's got a bag that is filled with toys,

For the boys and girl again,

Hear those sleigh bells jingle jangle,

Oh what a beautiful sight.

Jump in bed, cover up your head,

'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.

~ Author Unknown



Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?


Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.  


All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolf
play in any reindeer games


Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolf with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"  


Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!




Enchanted Learning’s Christmas Crafts and Activities


A Whole Lot of Angel crafts from Making


The Virtual Vine Christmas Page


Step by Step Christmas Pages


Lots of things to do at Santa’s Secret Village


Teach the Children the True Meaning of Christmas









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