Christmas Countdown Week 1

I have a confession to make: I LOVE Christmas!  I’m not religious (I’d describe myself as a secular humanist with a touch of Buddhist) but for me it really is the most wonderful time of the year.  I find it cheers me up at a time of year that would otherwise be dark and gloomy.  I like all the traditions, the decorations, Christmas lights, roast turkey with all the trimmings, mince pies… and I love all the make believe with Santa, reindeer and elves.  My little girl is 3 now and is beginning to understand about Christmas this year, and I want to make it a magical experience for her.  So every day in December, we are doing something Christmassy to get us in the festive spirit.  Some people have made advent activity trees which look amazing but at 32 weeks pregnant that’s a bit too much commitment for me (not to mention forward planning) so we’re making it up as we go along.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

Christmas Countdown Week 1

Salt dough Christmas tree decorations (via The Imagination Tree) – this was spread over three days.  The first day we made the dough and dried out the shapes in the oven, the second day we painted them with some metallic acrylic paints, and the third day we added glitter for extra sparkle.  We had loads to put on the tree and we’ve also saved a few to give to relatives as gifts, as a way to encourage K to think of others.

Christmas fine motor playdough (via Racheous) – we made some red and green playdough using The Imagination Tree’s 4-minute no-cook recipe, with added glitter and peppermint extract for a multi sensory experience.  We made the dough together and I provided a craft box filled with items like tiny stars, beads, buttons, feathers, lolly sticks, pipe cleaners and goggly eyes, mostly red and green coloured.  K LOVED this activity because it was completely open ended.  First she made a ‘monster’ using the red playdough, then she stuck all the lolly sticks into the green playdough for ‘traffic lights’, and finally she had to go and get some of her Peppa Pig characters to join in the fun! From start to finish this kept her independently entertained for a full hour (apart from making the playdough which we did together) and I really enjoyed seeing where her imagination took her.  Manipulating the dough and all the little pieces is great for strengthening muscles in the hand and fingers as well as developing fine motor skills, which is all important for writing and lots of other life skills.

Christmas bath puzzles – I cut out some shapes from craft foam to make a reindeer and a Christmas tree.  Craft foam will stick to shiny surfaces like bath tiles when wet (you could also do this on a window).  I stuck all the pieces onto the wall randomly as an invitation to play and K couldn’t wait to get in the bath.  I think she spent about half an hour in the bath putting all the pieces on the wall and rearranging them – she loves Christmas trees so she had great fun putting all the tinsel and baubles on the tree, pretending the wind was ‘blowing them away’ and then putting them back on again!  You could also do this with a Santa or elf face or a snowman.

Meeting Santa – I took K to Bluewater to meet up with a relative as it is about halfway between where we both live.  We went to the Winter Wonderland to meet Santa in his grotto.  K was very excited until we got to the door and then got really scared, as many young children do.  She refused to talk to Santa but I had a lovely chat with him, he has asked us to leave a mince pie and a glass of milk on Christmas Eve out for him (no alcohol this year as last year he had an incident with a tree), plus some carrots and water for the reindeer.  When we got home we had to reenact this several times, right down to saying ‘cheese’ for the photo!

Spotting Christmas lights – the day after we went to Bluewater I was feeling pretty tired so I went for a lazy option of driving through a housing estate to see what Christmas lights we could spot, on our way to pick daddy up from work.  No picture as I was driving!

We’ve also put up our tree this week and decorated it (I’ll admit it, we put it up on 1st December!) which was great fun to do together as a family.  K has also had her advent calendar to open each morning (just a bog standard chocolate one, although I’m eyeing up a Playmobil one for next year).  She also has a Disney Christmas CD which we have listened to approximately 752 times this week as well as reading a few Christmas story books she has.  And today we went to our local NCT Christmas party which was great fun with face painting, crafts, toys, and an appearance from Santa to hand out presents.

Next week some highlights include our local playgroup Christmas party and K’s first ever nativity play at preschool (tissues at the ready!), and to get a sneaky peek at some of the crafts we might be doing check out my Christmas activities Pinterest board.

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