Friday, December 9, 2011

Have Yourself an Interactive Little Christmas

Over the years I have tried to streamline the Christmas decorating process with a variety of themes and approaches.  During several of those time-challenged teaching-school-while-raising-kids years, I decorated the tree with only plastic apples and candy canes.  Last year, spurred on by the luxury of retirement, I went for nostalgia, getting out many of the old family ornaments we hadn't seen for a while along with the stocking used to present Baby Teebo to me on Christmas morning 1985.  (This settled the issue once and for all: storks do not bring babies; nurses do.)

After the kids were older, I mustered the courage to display tradition-rich, elegant (read: breakable) items like a glass nativity and a musical ceramic St. Nicholas.  But with Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie scheduled to arrive on Christmas Day, I will need to play down the elegance and probably the nostalgia.  One look at my house this year and you can easily figure out that my theme is "interactive."

"Interactive" means that the kids--a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler--will be able to experience my decorations up close and personal.  They can touch and rearrange however they wish.  This year, my decorations look a lot like toys.  Here are some of the things they can look forward to:
  • a homemade felt board on which they can place felt cutouts of Santa, his reindeer, his sleigh, his bag, and a number of toys.
  • a "stable" (garage sale--25 cents) that is just the right size for positioning plastic figures of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the three wise men, a donkey and a cow.  This particular stable has two levels, so if Baby Jesus gets cold, he can be moved upstairs (heat rises?).  Or, if the donkey and cow need to come in and warm up, they can claim a spot by intimidating the three wise men.
  • two Beanie Kid dolls (Chip and Boomer) dressed as Santa Claus and an elf.  These elaborate costumes (garage sale--$1 each) include hats, a beard for Santa, full suit, shoes or boots, and a bag of toys that attaches to Santa's wrist with a rubber band.  Chip and Boomer can practice a little role reversal here while the kids hone their fine motor skills by dressing and undressing them numerous times.  And what fun it might be to mix up the costumes?  Santa wearing elf shoes!  An elf with a beard!  The combinations are endless.
  • a set of red and green painted wooden blocks with letters much like the ones we all played with as kids ourselves.  Except, this set consists of seven blocks, with which you can spell "Noel" or "Joy."  I am seeing the potential for a spelling explosion here, as we mix up these blocks to make words like loon, loo (maybe not), and lyeOne, on, and no.  I imagine I will use that last word a lot.
Besides these, there are musical ornaments (Sooby has done much dancing to "Up on the Housetop" in past years.); shelves of Christmas storybooks; and the usual holiday movies starring the likes of Charlie Brown, Garfield, and the Muppets.  However, I am really looking forward to those less usual hands-on activities made possible by my new decorating scheme. 

Christmas calls for a more or less immersion in the symbols, stories, and traditions of this most wonderful time of the year.  This year, I am expecting the kids to revel in it up to their elbows, and, if these ideas run their course--well--there are always all those possibilities afforded by a good batch of homemade sugar cookie dough, a bowl of icing, and a shaker of sprinkles.  Capitalizing as it does on all five senses, that is about as interactive as you can get.


  1. Really sounds like they will have lots of fun! If you do cookies I want to see pictures, please!

  2. You're so smart to gear your Christmas decor to the kiddies instead of spending the holidays being tense over the possibility of a treasure being broken.

  3. I think you are so right about having ornaments that can be touched instead of everything being a "no-no" to the little ones. I love your idea for a felt board. And how cute that they brought your child to you in a Christmas stocking!

  4. Our home has always had to be child friendly -- we have cats! They can destroy Christmas decorations much better than any child! This year sure has gone by quickly!

  5. I like the idea of the kid-friendly nativity scene. Reminded me of the Fisher Price one I recently saw. I just may need to buy one...or copy your idea. Like the felt tree idea, too.

    I appreciate the link up to the GRAND Social!