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Playing Christmas by Linda Böhmer

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With the magical holiday season  upon us, Discovery Bay resident and founder of Merrymaking and co blogger Linda Böhmer shares with us some holiday craft ideas that families can do to have a “safe at home” Christmas celebration. Her home bursts with creativity, leaving no room for pandemic blues as she crafts them away to the sound of crackling paper and the smell of freshly baked Lebkuchen.

This year she, together with her family, has created simple but elegant projects, making the pandemic holidays a pleasure and social distancing a breeze.

“Paper Star” Photo by Jan Yumul

Paper Stars:
These stars are perfect for hanging on your Christmas tree, or can be used as gift tags. They are extremely personal and are easy to make once the paper is folded, even for the little ones. Because they virtually do not cost anything, there is no reason why your Christmas tree should be bare this year!

The Christmas star represents the bright star of Bethlehem that shone on the night Jesus was born. It guided the wise men to the baby Jesus. It also symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world and is a shining hope to all of mankind.

You will need:

  1. Paper cut into 5 x 80cm strips (IKEA MÅLA Drawing Paper Roll works well)
  2. Old book pages (I used an old daily devotional)
  3. Glue
  4. Scissors
  5. 30cm string per star
  6. Marker in your colour of choice
    Below are the instructions on how to fold an origami paper star; alternatively watch a tutorial on YouTube (https://youtu.be/DvL7kCRTKuE):

    1. Tie a knot on the one end of the paper strip, slowly tightening the knot while pressing it flat into a pentagon.
    2. Tuck the short end in behind the pentagon.
    3. Fold the long end over so the bottom edge aligns with the nearest bottom edge of the pentagon.
    4. Flip the pentagon over and fold over again, this time making the top edges align. Repeat until the strip is small.
    5. When only a small stub is left, open up a pocket and insert the stub to lock it in place.
    6. Tie a knot with the 30cm string to form a loop. Insert it into a pocket and push the string through a corner of the pentagon, placing the knot on the inside. *Omit this step if you wishto use the stars as table decorations only.
    7. Stick the pentagon to an old book page, then cut along the edges. Repeat on the reverse side.
    8. Have your children draw their Christmas wish list or whatever goes through their little minds on the pentagon. Even if they draw dragons and space rockets… If you are using the stars as gift tags, write the name at this point.
    9. Use a round pencil to rub and press the sides of the pentagon inwards, causing it to inflate. Your first paper star is ready to be hung.

 

“Pine Cones” Photo by Jan Yumul

Pinecones:
Pinecones go hand-in-hand with Christmas decorations and I love the look of these gold-plated ones which can be created in record time.

You will need:

  1. Pine cones, collected while hiking (which is another great activity with the kids)
  2. Paint, gold (I used chalk paint)
  3. Paint brush
  4. 30cm string (optional)

Coat the top third of the pinecone with a layer of the golden paint. Once dry, tie the string to the stalk in order to hang it from your tree; alternatively use it as gorgeous table decoration.

“Gift Wrap” Photo by Jan Yumul

Gift Wrap:
Gift wrap is very easy to make and besides enriching the festive atmosphere, it adds a personal touch to the gifts. This year our 4-year old inspired a diversion from the more common potato print, and we employed a star fruit – it makes a perfect natural star and is easy to grip.

The custom of giving Christmas presents to one another comes from the example of the wise men, who travelled a long journey to present Christ with gifts to honour and adore him – Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Star-printed gifts sound like a really bright idea to me in this gloomy pandemic year.

You will need:

  1. IKEA MÅLA Drawing Paper Roll, or any plain gift wrap
  2. Star Fruit
  3. Knife
  4. Tissue
  5. Ink Pad or paint

a. Cut the star fruit in half and blot dry the exposed surface.
b. Dab your created stamp on the ink pad or alternatively apply paint with a brush and start stamping. Priceless gift wrap in no time.

“Nativity” Photo by Jan Yumul

Nativity:

In between all the rush and modern legends around Christmas, it is easy to forget the reason behind Christmas. When I asked our little boys whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas, they shouted their little cousin in South Africa’s name (who they have not yet met due to the pandemic)! I realised they could do with a little assistance to make the story of Christmas come alive. The figures and angels are super easy to make and are a fun activity to get the little hands dirty.

You will need:

  1. Clay or salt clay (I used air-drying, paintable modelling material that I got from our small local art shop)
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Dry leaves from the garden for angel wings
  4. Paint, optional

a. Form a cone (body) and ball (head) from clay.
b. Insert a toothpick into the cone in order to connect the head with it.
c. Insert the dry leaves on either side to form angels, and add your own details to differentiate the other characters.
d. Let air-dry and paint if desired. We gave our figures a coat of paint to finish them off (chalk paint: sheepskin).

“Advent Calendar” Photo by Linda Böhmer (https://www.merrymakingandco.com/)

Advent Calendar:

Every child I know gets really excited about Christmas, and counting the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas brings back very fond memories for most of us. Our boys are so excited about starting the count-down on their advent calendar, I think we may need to have a count-down until the count-down.

Although a myriad of chocolate-filled advent calendar designs is on the market, advent calendars were first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries. We elected to make a timeless advent calendar in which the content can be varied each year. This year the small boxes are filled with daily quizzes on the story of the Nativity of Jesus, and of course sweets. I have included a few ideas on quiz questions at the bottom.

You will need:

  1. Canvas or any mounting board (I used a canvas of 60 x 84cm), painted in desired colour
  2. 24 small recycled boxes (match boxes, pharmaceutical/cosmetic boxes and small grocery boxes are handy)
  3. Old sheet music or old book pages
  4. Numbers 1 – 24 from an old daily devotional, or printed
  5. Glue
  6. Scissors
  7. Ribbon and buttons etc to decoratea. Arrange the boxes on the canvas to form the shape of a Christmas tree.
    b. Carefully open the small boxes and separate the glued edges carefully
    c. Apply glue to the outside of the opened flat boxes and stick them to the sheet music.
    d. Cut out the boxes from the sheet music and fold them back together.
    e. Apply glue to the edge that had been glued previously and hold for a few seconds.
    f. Cut out numbers 1 – 24 and stick them onto the boxes. Decorate with ribbons, buttons etc.
    g. Glue the boxes onto the canvas.
    h. Once dry, hang and fill with treats, nativity quizzes, or both.

24 Nativity Quiz Questions:

  1. What is the name of the angel who told the Virgin Mary that she would have a child?
  2. What name did the angel tell Mary to give to her child?
  3. What does Jesus’ other name, Immanuel, mean?
  4. What did Joseph, who she was engaged to, do for a living?
  5. Where did Mary and Joseph live?
  6. Who was the Roman emperor in power at the time that Jesus was born?
  7. Why did Mary and Joseph leave to go to Bethlehem?
  8. How did they travel to Bethlehem? Did they have trains or cars?
  9. Why were Mary and Joseph unable to stay in an inn?
  10. In which city was Jesus born?
  11. Was Jesus born in a hospital?
  12. In what did Mary wrap new-born Jesus?
  13. What did Jesus’ bed look like? Did he have a baby cot?
  14. To whom did angels come to tell them about Jesus’ birth in the night he was born?
  15. How many angels appeared to the shepherds on the field?
  16. What did the angels sing when they told the shepherds to go to Bethlehem?
  17. How did the wise men know that a king had been born?
  18. Which presents did the wise men take along?
  19. What guided the wise men to find Jesus?
  20. Did the wise men find baby Jesus in a palace?
  21. Why did king Herod want to kill baby Jesus and all the children in Bethlehem?
  22. How did the wise men know not to go back to king Herod?
  23. Where did Mary and Joseph flee to with baby Jesus when they heard that king Herod wanted to kill him?
  24. When they returned from Egypt, where did Jesus and his family dwell?

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