Keeping Christmas focused on family time and Jesus is important to me, so I make sure my children have plenty of nativity and holy family activities to keep them busy during the season. I will list several of the activities we have done in the past, as well as some we plan to try this year below. But, I start with a Mexican Posada tradition: the piñata.
The piñata is not just for birthday parties, and since Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, you have two reasons to break one this season. Traditionally, piñatas were filled with nuts and small oranges as well as candy and toys. My in-laws usually celebrate with one on Christmas Eve, and they have been known to put in lottery tickets also.
This year, we will have two piñatas: the large one filled with treats, and a small one my daughter made at school. She wants to try breaking it too; I’m not sure it will tear up and spill its contents, but we’ll see. It takes several days to make, but it’s worth trying if you aren’t able to buy a piñata in your community, or just want to make one for a fun decoration. Here’s how my daughter and her classmates made theirs.
You will need:
lots of glue, mixed with a little water
Blow up the balloon. Cut the newspaper into wide strips and wet them in the glue mixture. Cover the balloon with 3 – 4 layers of newspaper strips, smoothing them out as you go. After the newspaper has dried, cut the crepe paper into thin strips and then into pieces about 4 - 6 inches long. Then cut fringe about halfway through each piece and glue the uncut edge around the balloon in stripes until the entire balloon is covered. Now you have a piñata. If you want to fill it, pop the balloon, or you can use the tied end of the balloon to hang it as a decoration.
Hang your filled piñata by tying yarn or string several times around the middle of a jumbo popsicle stick, slipping the stick inside and pulling the string to brace the ends of the stick against the sides of the piñata. Be sure to use plenty of string so that it doesn’t get lost should it fall inside the hole of the piñata. Double the string over and tie it into in a large loop before you attach it to the popsicle stick for easy hanging on a hook or branch in your yard or patio.
You can also make a simpler decorative version by stuffing a paper lunch bag with newspaper, stapling it closed and gluing fringed crepe or tissue paper to the outside. We made one of these at a library craft time several years ago, but I do not have a picture of it.
Here is a picture of a couple of the nativity crafts we made last year; these are simple color, cut, and paste worksheets available from First School/Primera Escuela. They also have color versions you can print.
Link to the English page here. Enlace de la hoja en Español aquí (no tiene el nacimiento en esta hoja, pero hay otras manualidades). You will find other Christmas crafts and coloring sheets on these pages, as well as many other crafts and patterns throughout their entire site.
This year, we are going to make Lacy’s printable Nativity, available here. She offers her drawings as a download. You can make a full standing Nativity using her drawings and 13 toilet paper tubes, or print them on card stock. Lacy’s blog, Catholic Icing, also has many other Christmas crafts and a Christmas link-up.
We will also make some angel ornaments from Designs by Birgit, as described here. We probably won’t put faces on ours as she suggests, because I plan to use them as angel puppets to dramatize the Nativity, the Annunciation, and guardian angels. Yesterday, my oldest daughter drew an angel on my plastic cup (along with my name) when we were visiting with family and said, “Mommy likes angels.” I think she did this because I’m always reminding her to make behavioral choices that the angels and saints would. Perhaps keeping these angels in our home will serve as a visual reminder also.