Christmas index

Christmas ideas

I have put together some fun things to do at Christmas, click here for the index.

Here are some other ideas for things to do in the 'real world' rather than on the computer.

DecorationsOther
Popcorn chains
Cone people
Foil spiral
Zigzag
Pentagon
Paper fan
Pom-poms
Apple head doll

Popcorn chains

This is a traditional American idea, I think, as I haven't seen it in Britain: popcorn chains (rather than paper chains). Make (or buy) some popcorn. It will need to be popcorn without toffee or sugar on, I think, or everything would get too sticky! Use a needle and (strong) thread to thread together the puffy grain of popcorn, then hang them up as a chain. At the end of the holiday, take the popcorn chain outside and hang it up for the birds to eat.

It's very easy to make popcorn. You need to buy the popcorn in its unpopped form. Put some grains (not too many!) in a heavy saucepan with a lid on (important!) and heat the saucepan. Quite quickly, you'll hear a banging noise on the lid of the saucepan. It might be a good idea to turn the heat off now, as you don't want to burn the saucepan. Shake the pan from time to time to make sure all the unpopped grains fall to the bottom and get heated so they pop. When the noise stops, open the lid carefully (and one last grain will pop and try to hit you in the eye!) You'll be surprised how much popcorn it will make.


Paper fan

Paper fan

Practise doing this with a plain piece of paper first, so you can see how it works. Crease the paper backwards and forwards in regular strips. One end must be fastened together. You could use sticky tape, or bore a hole through with a needle and use thread to join it. Spread out the other edge to make the fan shape. It works!

Paper fan
If you wanted to make a simpler fan, cut out the shape of the fan in paper, and stick or staple it onto a flat piece of wood to make the handle. The paper will need to be quite stiff. You can print out a pretty picture on the paper before cutting it, or perhaps a nice photo. It would be a good present for a child to give to someone, especially if it used one of the child's drawings, or a photo of the child printed onto computer paper. You could write a message on the back of the fan. Paper fan

Cone people Cone people

Cone people

These little people are quick to make. Cut a half circle out of a piece of paper. This will work with thin paper, but thicker paper or thin card will be more robust. Mark the centre of the circle, as this will be the top of the head, or neck if you stick on a head. Curve the paper round this point until you have a cone, overlapping the two sides and stick them together. If you don't want to use glue, then sticky tape if fine, if a bit visible. You can decorate the cone after sticking, but it might to easier to curve the paper to make the cone, then unroll it again to decorate it, and only stick it together when it's finished. The Sanata Claus is the simple cone. The angel has a circle of paper stuck on the top of the cone for a head, and wings stuck on the back (which would hide the tape if you used that). If you want thinner people, then overlap the paper more, or use less than half a circle. For fatter people, have more than half a circle, perhaps three quarters.

Cone people Cone people

Spiral Spiral

Foil spiral

Here is an attractive decoration suitable for the Christmas tree or to hang up somewhere. It is made of aluminium cooking foil, although you could use any type of paper or foil. Cut out a circle. It doesn't have to be that accurate. Now cut it into a spiral. Use good scissors! Start at an edge, and cut parallel to the edge, and then parallel to the previous cut, until you reach the centre. Thread a string through the centre to hang it up by. When you lift the string, the weight of the foil or paper will drag down the outside of the spiral, making this three dimensional shape. Don't make the string too short! Then the spiral will slowly turn in any draught, making it look as if it is climbing up or down.

This might be tricky for a very young child to do, as it needs careful cutting. Still, at a certain age, spiral making can become a fascination, trying to make the longest possible spiral out of a particular sized circle.

Spiral

Zigzag

Zigzag

This is another possible Christmas tree decoration. You start two long strips of paper, preferably of different colours. If you can't find that, then use two strips cut from an old unwanted magazine or catalogue. Make sure there is lots of colour on the strips. They must be the same width and the same length, say about an inch wide and a foot long if you can manage it, although you can experiment with different sizes. Lay the end of one strip over the other so they are at right angles. Then fold the bottom one over the other, as neatly as you can, and crease it down. Then fold the other over the first in a similar way. Carry on until you run out of paper. If your strips aren't long enough, you can stich several strips together to make really long pieces! To make the shape permanent, stick the beginning two bits together, and the end two bits. Wait for it to dry. Then pull the zigzag apart slightly. A thread in one end means that you can hang it up. The example on the right was made very quickly from two strips cut from a magazine.

Zigzag

Pentagon

A pentagon is a five sided shape. Here is a way to make a regular pentagon which is a little surprising. Cut a long strip of paper. Tie a knot in it as if it was a piece of string. Make the knot as tight as possible and then flatten it. Don't just squash it flat! To get a good pentagon you need to pull the two ends as far as possible, and gradually gentle the pentagon shape into existance. Finally, cut off the two ends close to the pentagon, leaving a little bit sticking out. Fold these sticking out bits back, and tuck them into the body of the pentagon. You might just like to hang this up as a decoration, or you could make one in white paper and decorate it. If you draw lines between alternate corners, you will get a star.

Pentagon Pentagon Pentagon

Pom-poms

Pom-poms are not perhaps very Christmassy, but you can sew them onto winter hats, and anyway, I don't see why they can't be decorations! You do need a lot of wool. Wool can be expensive to buy, but look in charity or thrift shops. Knitters often have spare balls of wool left over after knitting a garment.

Cut two circles of thick card about as big as the pom-pom, with holes in the middle. Put one on top of the other. Knot one end of the wool round these two circles. Now wind the wool round the outside of the rings, then through the centre holes, again and again and again. This has to be done a lot of times to get a good pom-pom. Now thread a needle with wool. Push the needle between the two card rings and wind this wool round the centres a couple of times. Now push one blade of a pair of scissors between the two cards and start cutting the wool that's been wound round. When you've cut all the wool, pull the needle wool tight as you can and knot it well. Pull out the cardboard rings, and there you are, a pom-pom! You can have multi-coloured pom-poms by winding on several colours of wool.

Pom-pom Pom-pom Pom-pom Pom-pom Pom-pom Pom-pom Pom-pom

Apple Head Doll

Another idea from my American friend:

Peel an ordinary apple. With a knife, carve a face into the side of the apple. Set it out of the way someplace to dry, and go back in a couple of weeks. The apple will darken, and shrivel up around the carving - much like the face of an old person. Then you add the stuffed clothing of a body, bonnet/hat, hair of some kind, eye glasses, etc. Just seeing how the face "ages" is so much fun.

This idea does take time, and you need to be able to use a knife sharp enough to cut an apple.