Preparing for Christmas with Children
With another little one on the way, I am beginning to prepare for Christmas. So here are some ideas of our usual preparations for celebrating Christmas with little ones…
Crafting is always high on my list come any seasonal or festive celebration. Crafting with our hands seems to add that touch of magic that is so often missing these days. The little Christmas Angels above are my creation inspired by a simple tutorial a friend shared many moons ago here and some gorgeous Dancing Angels Kits Zuzu & Me makes.
The festive season offers us so much magic we can add to our children’s lives. It simply takes us being conscious and prepared in simple ways to celebrate and bring the wonder & awe without the chaos and excess.
So what are ways we can do this?
SIMPLE WAYS TO PREPARE FOR CHRISTMAS WITH CHILDREN:
In all the suggestions below, I invite you to consider the concept of delighting the senses of our children. Simple and inexpensive ways we can bring a little more magic and mindfulness.
ADVENT CANDLE RING
Preparing a candle ring for Advent is a beautiful and simple tradition you can bring into your home. Begin bylighting one candle on the first Sunday of Advent and then each Sunday afterwards lighting one more candle. By Christmas you will have all 4 candles burning. Each time you light the candle/s you may like to sing a simple song (I recall I even sing this for you on the Christmas Webinar!). This simple song and lighting of the candles, creates a beautiful rhythm and magic that works deeply with our Children.
Some families choose to only light the candle each Sunday and have a simple nativity story whether using nativity props or a story from a collection of advent stories (some suggestions below) at the same time. In our family we light the advent candle/s each night during Advent, saving Sundays for a longer story and some Christmas Carols by candlelight.
- Wooden candle rings are available from Honey Bee Toys and The Small Folk plus they can also be used for birthday celebrations.
- For Advent I use an interesting looking green ceramic dish that I found at a second hand shop …..I love that I can fill it with water to keep christmasy greens & berries adorning our candles. You could get creative with what you have or make something using a fallen tree branch and drilling or carving out some holes for candles.
- For candles I recommend QueenB and have been using them for many years. I also LOVE the roll your own beeswax sheets….it’s the perfect activity to make alongside your littles.
- Involve your little ones in keeping some fresh foliage around the candle ring – collect bits and pieces from nature on your walks or even forage around in your own garden. I’m always amazed at the magic I find outside.
- As you can see from the photo, I also like to have some little fairy lights to add a little more magic at this time of year.
THE NATIVITY & STORY TELLING
Another beautiful way to begin preparations is with story. Stories truely belong to childhood and in todays media rich society, true storytelling, whether with some props or without is something that sadly many children don’t experience as a part of their everyday.
- Setting up a simple nativity can set the scene for simple stories, whether nightly or on each Sunday during Advent. You can gather props from anywhere and everywhere. I love muslin cloth playsilks & silk – not only as a favourite “toy” for our children, but also perfect for setting up a nature table or nativity display.
- Cotton muslin playcloths are available from Winterwood Toys.
- I also love these naturally hand dyed silk playcloths from Ginny over at Small Things.
Even if you are not very religious yet choose to celebrate Christmas, the Christmas Story in its simplicity can offer so much nourishment to our children. The Christmas Story offers a very simple yet profound archetypal image of a mother & a father waiting with anticipation to welcome their baby into the world. I also wrote here about a simple story you could tell each night using a nativity scene.
Another favourite tradition we have is reading the Christmas book, The Yule Tomte & the Little Rabbits in which we read one little section of the story each night during in Advent. The girls absolutely love this one and although they ask for it all year long, we save this as a part of our Advent tradition. Every night they ask to read “just one more” and I find this a wonderful opportunity to teach them the feeling of “longing” for something – something that many of our children don’t often experience in our world of everything now!
There are many books that share advent stories – Advent Sunday Stories by Collette Leenman is a favourite as well as Mary’s Little Donkey by Gunhild Sehlin for children 5+ years….with the picture book also available for little ones. I also really love The Christmas Star by Marcus Pfister as a simple Christmas Story for very little ones – it is a small book, a short story with lovely illustrations and a touch of sparkle!
You may like to count down the days in Advent using an Advent Calendar. If you’re like me and looking to steer clear of the chocolate windowed calendars you may like a simple tradition shared by our playgroup leader in Sydney that we have adopted. Take 24 empty match boxes and cover them using gold paper (or wool felt if you want to get a little more crafty), maybe even glue on a golden star. String them onto some ribbon and hang near the advent table/ candle ring. Each night the Christmas Angel visits with a little gift…something so small and simple but so exiting none the less to our little ones. The gift could be something that gets incorporated into the stories you are telling about Mary & Joseph’s journey if this is something you are doing or simply placed on the Nativity Scene. I chat more about this in the Christmas Webinar (you can sign up above or below).
Another lovely tradition you could incorporate at Advent is the Zuzu&Me downloadable Advent Activity Cards. I bought these cards years ago and have loved using the ideas with my girls. They are perfect to use with the matchboxes or any other advent calendar that you may use.
There are Four kingdoms of Advent which you can use as a guide or inspiration for your storytelling or the little advent treasures left in the matchboxes.
- First week/ kingdom – Minerals & Crystals
- Second week/ kingdom – Plants
Third week/ kingdom – Animals
Fourth week/ kingdom – Humankind
CRAFTING & BAKING
There are so many wonderful crafting opportunities with children. You may like to create some simple felt stars that you can hang on your tree. This is something that children from around 4 years + can do along side you.
For younger children, how about some baking…
- Fruit Mince Pies and Christmas Biscuits are always favourites around here.
- I’ll share our favourite Christmas Biscuit recipe soon!
- My favourite recipe for Fruit Mince pies is from Jude Blereau here.
My girls absolutely love Christmas Carols. Some of my favourite memories in the lead up to Christmas are of our whole family sitting around our advent ring after dinner and singing Christmas Carols. We dim the lights to create a beautiful reverent atmosphere and to make the advent candle ring the central focus. I have a few very old little books that I have picked up from op shops over the years, that the girls love to use as their “music”….they are also super useful in learning the words to all the Christmas Carols if you are a little rusty!
If you enjoyed this post and know other Mamas who could use some Christmas inspiration, please share 🙂
I’d love to know your favourite ways to prepare for Christmas with little ones? Please share with us in the comments.