decorations

Festival of Christmas tree decoration ideas!

Recently I have seen a group of scouting leaders share ideas for decorating their community Christmas trees this year.

And as some of them have elaborate ideas, it’s no wonder they are talking about it in October!

Christmas tree festival photos

Christmas tree festival guidelines

While it can vary from community to community, most places have guidelines as to what can and cannot be used in the tree festival. For instance, some place provide the trees so all are equal in size and structure while others allow different interpretations of ‘Christmas tree’ although possibly with size restrictions.

So if you are trying out a Christmas tree festival idea, make sure it fits into the guidelines and theme of your festival.

Scout Christmas tree ideas

All of the following wonderful ideas have been suggested and used by scouting and guiding groups in the UK. Some may be specific to such youth groups, but many of these ideas could be used for a childcare centre, kinder, school or sporting club just as easily, or with a few tweaks.
And many of these ideas can be combined for a more colourful result!

Decorations to hang on the tree

  • thread some cotton through some badges and hang them on the tree. Just use group and district badges, badges to suit a theme (eg red and green badges) or try Christmas theme badges (Scouts Australia produces a Christmas badge each year). Brighten things up further by winding some fairy lights (battery operated are easy for a display like this) around the branches and badges.
  • get the kids to make Christmas stars, using group colours as the backgrounds
  • Scout badges and photo stars hanging on a Christmas tree

  • hang ribbons on the tree to reflect your group colours – add your group scarf to complete the scene, maybe as a tree skirt hanging from the lowest branches. Add more of a scouting feel by knotting some of the ribbons 🙂
  • print out your group or scout/guide logos, get kids to colour them in and decorate them, laminate the drawings and hang them as ornaments.
  • use cardboard rings (like cut up paper towel rolls) to make the fleur de lys and let kids decorate them. They could be colour coded by section (eg Joeys use brown, cubs use yellow, scouts green and so on) or all be based on group colours.
  • make decorations out of paracord! Try a candycane or a Christmas tree
  • make some mini scout scarves and hang them alongside other decorations
  • get some cheap Christmas balls and paint the Fleur de lys or other scouting/guiding images on them.
  • Christmas baubles decorated with the Australian scout symbol (stylised fleur-de-lys)

  • make it a celebration of the last year by hanging pictures (photos or hand drawn pictures) of group events as decorations. The pictures could be stuck on circles of coloured paper and laminated, attached to small stockings, glued onto Christmas balls or made into paper chains.
  • get kids to make gingerbread or salt dough ornaments and decorate them to hang on the tree. Maybe have gingerbread people decorated to look like cubs/scouts/guides. The decorations can then be given as gifts to a group of people (nursing home residents, the volunteers running the festival, etc) – and if the gingerbread was presented in bags on the tree, they would be tasty gifts, too!
  • if you have the resources, cut out decorations from wood – simple shapes with a jigsaw or more elaborate designs with a laser cutter. Kids can paint of add glitter for a colourful decoration. Of course, a similar thing can be done with thick cardboard if you don’t have the resources or want the kids to make them by hand. collage of child-made Christmas decorations
    Be creative – the cut outs could be Christmas themed or scouting themed (a tent, campfire, rolled sleeping bag, backpack, etc)
  • use toothpicks and string or icy pole sticks and glue to make stars to decorate and hang
  • Christmas star made from icy-pole sticks

  • make a garland from woggles! Especially if you use some colourful ones, this is an easy way to make the tree cheery and scouty!
  • paint or add pictures to one side of a disc (CD or DVD) for colour and sparkle. The Love Santa bauble templates could be used for this!
  • turn a gumnut or acorn into Santa!
  • get kids to make pompoms (with glittery wool is awesome!) and hang them as a garland or stick them over a Christmas ball (or any other ball really!)
  • make an icy pole stick campfire
  • tie ribbons onto cinnamon sticks (for a nice smell) or sticks the kids find for simple, pretty decorations
  • ask the children to design new badges and hang their designs as decorations
  • turn it into a communitree by decoupaging pictures of the group scouting in the community
  • get the kids to make jar lid decorations
  • hang a photo of each group member, in uniform, on the tree. Stuck on cardboard of suitable colours, in a circle, star or other shape, these are personal and create interest. Or stick the photos on some decorations instead – think of lots of Santas hanging from your tree, each one with a different smiling face!
  • make Christmas bells out of coffee pods (saves them going to landfill, too!) You can stick photos of the kids on them, too.
  • Coffee pods recycled as Christmas bells

  • Spray some small pine cones or gumnut bunches with coloured paint to match your group colours. Hang on the tree with pompoms in matching colours and a fleur-de-lys on top of the tree

Note the ideas above were inspired by scout leaders in the UK (thank you to 1st Facebook Scout Group) but were written by me and adjusted at my discretion, so I take full responsibility for them :).

Christmas shop fun!

Following on from my post last week about the golliwog Christmas tree, I thought I’d share some photos and comments from a recent visit to a Christmas shop in Melbourne as they start gearing up for the 2017 Christmas period.

Santa was there with his naughty and nice list

A model Santa holding a list of children's names

A Christmas train for Santa around the top of a Christmas tree made me smile…

A Christmas train running around the top of a Christmas tree

And I loved seeing some Aussie Christmas items, too…

A kangaroo and two koalas holding Santa sacks of toys

Santa was also there with Mrs Claus and some reindeer…

Santa, Mrs Claus and reindeer photos in a collage

What do you most enjoy seeing at Christmas shops or Christmas displays in general shops?

Foam Christmas decorations

My children have made Christmas decorations for the boys in their classes this year, having already made hair ties for the girls.

child-made decorations in Christmas card envelopes

Foam decorations made by my children for their classmates

We used a craft kit of foam decorations which they decorated and popped into an envelope with a Christmas card.

The kids loved colouring in the ornaments, to the point that my son even coloured along the edges of some!

children working on foam ornaments

My children enjoyed making these ornaments (excuse the marked table they were working on!)

Foam decoration kit

The kids were excited and got into the decorating before I got photos taken so I only have shots of the kit in part!

foam Christmas ornament craft kit

Foam ornament kit from Art Star

The kit made things very simple and the kids enjoyed making the decorations.

The kit contains 12 foam Christmas ornaments (three each of four designs), lengths of golden string, four small textas and some glitter glue. The packet states ’embellishments included’ and there were two tubes of glue so I thought there was something else to glue onto the ornaments – it took a little while to understand it was glitter glue and that was classed as an embellishment.

The biggest issue with the kit is the size of the textas – they were cute being so small but didn’t last well enough for my kids thoroughly colouring in the ornaments and writing messages on the back. In particular, my kids used a lot of red (on Santa’s suit and other decorations) so ended up using their own textas and pens.

But you could certainly use the kit for a quick Christmas activity or as gifts like my children have done.

Ribbons on a Christmas tree

Christmas tree covered in sports ribbons

Liz also supplied us with a photo of the ribbon-decked tree – I think it looks great!

We have small Christmas trees in the kids’ rooms, which they love:)

This year, a bit of ahead of me getting out the usual decorations, my daughter decided to decorate the trees.

She grabbed out some school sports ribbons and other sashes to use instead of tinsel. It actually looked quite effective and is a nice acknowledgement of her sporting achievements over the year (she was just after the colour and instant gratification, but I liked the display of her achievements!)

 

Ivanhoe Christmas lights are stunning

If you are in Melbourne and like Christmas, visiting the Boulevard in Ivanhoe is a must.Christmas lights collage Ivanhoe 2012

This is not about one fantastic house of lights, or a couple of hours near each other. It is a street full of lights with a few houses nearby!

Drive along the Boulevard

One option is to drive along the Boulevard, entering from Lower Heidelberg Rd. The street is officially blocked to incoming traffic at Burke Rd during December and early January so the street is one way.

A lot of cars travel down the road in peak times (ie in the first couple of hours after sunset) but they move at a crawl so there is time to watch the lights and decorations as you pass. It is probably the rare event of crawling traffic that no one minds being stuck in!

It is about 3km from start to finish for the lights. True not every house is decorated, but more than 95% are so there is a LOT to see!

Walk along The Boulevard

Your other option is to walk along the road – we walked most of it last night (the kids got tired so we skipped the last stretch).

As the traffic is flowing one way, very slowly in one lane, it is safe enough to walk along the street , and occasionally step back to see things from a bigger perspective.

Most people walk the same direction as the cars – everyone going the same way makes it easier to stop and gaze at places that take your fancy.Santa and children singing carols

One advantage to walking is that you can see more than the main strip. A couple of courts and streets off The Boulevard are also well-lit and it’s easy to divert and see them when you are walking – the cars miss these side streets.

Walking also means coming through other side streets to reach the Boulevard from wherever you manage to park.

We loved the classy decorations on the corner of Warncliffe Rd and Wallis Ave – it’s a gorgeous house with a large front lawn decorated with a Christmas tree covered in lights plus some large characters (Santa included).

What to see…

There is no way I can describe every house for you!

Although the street is united in decorating their houses, there is no consensus on how to decorate so there is an incredible array of Christmas lights and decorations.

Some houses have a few subtle lights, some are ablaze with light; some have many large inflatable or plastic ornaments, others have only lights; some are themed or use a single colour, others are full of colour.

A few have a nativity scene (and one is basically only a huge nativity setting), many have Santa and one house has Santa on the veranda serenading all who pass!

Have you been to the Boulevard?

Can you remember any specific parts that you loved – or didn’t love?

Boy looking at Christmas bell lights

Are Santa decorations prominent in your home?

Santa Christmas tree decorations

Miscellaneous Santas amongst tree decorations

When you decorate your house and Christmas tree each year, does Santa feature very much?

On the tree, the front door or throughout the house, Santa can be part of your decorations. So do you choose to have him in large doses or just go for traditional Christmas images?

 

Dealing with piles of Christmas decorations?

Christmas tree decorationsFrom Christmas to Christmas, we all tend to get more decorations.

For some of us, the kids make special things each year at school or are given their own Christmas ornament. People give ornaments as gifts, something pretty catches our eye or we ‘inherit’ things from our families.

However you collect them, your Christmas decoration collection probably grows every year.

What to do with those decorations?

It’s nice to keep all those decorations because they are all beautiful in their own way and may have sentimental value, too.

But let’s face it, storing them throughout the year can be challenging and there is only so much space on your Christmas tree…

So what do you do with those decorations?

I know some people like a stylish Christmas tree so only store selected items or buy a new set every year to match a theme.

Others are happy with a haphazard decoration style, so let the kids go wild with whatever they have, giving pride of place to items with sentimental value.

Even at 14 my daughter enjoys seeing the decorations she made in kinder and prep or at home with me, so I certainly keep the decorations my kids make. With 4 kids, though, the tree is filing up!

I often decorate a gum tree outside our house (choosing suitable decorations for the impact of weather of course so never child made ones) so that uses a few of our decorations. And I’m thinking of using a second tree this year!

Crazy Customs

Last night, the TV show 20 to 1 featured the top 20 crazy customs we keep. And one of the customs they listed was putting up Chirstmas lights on the outside of our houses!

They showed many examples of decorated houses, including the incredible displays in Deck the Halls (2006 movie) and a Chevy Chase film from the late 80s. There were also a number of interviews with celebrities about what they thought of extravagant displays of Christmas lights.

It was interesting how some people were amazed at the time and expense people went to, while others thought it was part of the magic of Christmas. There was also mention of the competitive nature of Christmas lights in some places – one person has 20 lights so their neighbour has to put up 25, and so on!

Apparently, there is one Australian town (Casino in NSW) where a particular family is not allowed to put up lights anymore – well, at least not to enter the local lights competition as no one could ever beat their display! That doesn’t seem to fit the spirit of competition or Christmas!

There was no mention of communities and neighbourhoods that work together to provide Christmas joy – streets where there is unity so families can visit a number of displays in one place.

Does your area compete over Christmas lights or work together? Do you think one way or the other gets better or more impressive light displays?

Packing Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations often have a mix of sentimental and monetary value, so it is rare for people to get a whole new set of decorations every year (of course, if you think it is common, let me know!)

So that means each December/January we have to pack away those precious decorations and store them for another year.

Decorations can vary in shape and size, especially once you have a few hand-made treasures in the collection, so it can be a challenge to pack them. And then you have to allow for some being fragile and needing extra care in packing.

So how do you pack away your Christmas decorations – do you have any tips or secrets that could help everyone else this year?

Taking down the decorations…

Ah, it’s a sad task but the Christmas decorations can’t stay up all year.

I mean, I’d love the magic and spirit of Christmas to be with us always, but it wouldn’t be so special if we saw Christmas trees everywhere and lived with tinsel around our houses all year.

So it needs to come down, be packed away carefully and stored until next December.

But when should they come down?

I have heard many times that it is bad luck to still have them up on/after the 6th January, and others say it is bad luck to start the new year with the Christmas decorations still on display.

The twelve days of Christmas ends on the evening of January 5 – just as Christmas starts at night fall on the 24th December (traditionally, days ended/started with the light, not at midnight.)

Traditional decorations were mostly ivy, which were believed to hold the spirit of the trees. Taking down the decorations and putting the ivy outside releases the tree spirits back into nature; leaving the tree spirits trapped in the house for too long would prevent plants growing and the arrival of spring (obviously not an Australian tradition!)

When do you take down your decorations? Do you make it fun or is it just a task to get done quickly?

A hanging Christmas tree

We had our break up at the scout hall last night – Santa came, we played games, we ate food and we had lots of fun. Some kids even got badges and awards.

The hall was decorated with paper chains, balloons and pictures of Santa. Best of all was a tall Christmas tree near one corner, with a basket of presents from Santa. But the tree didn’t touch the ground!

The tree was hung from the roof on a rope so it swings – can’t knock it over that way I guess, and it does get a few knocks with 60 or so kids running around. I don’t know how’s its made – its sort of spirally and then has decorations hanging on it. I think its pretty old, too.

Oh, and thanks for my present Santa!

Decorated houses

Driving around, we’re starting to see lots of houses covered in Christmas decorations. It ranges from a wreath on the door or piece of tinsel around the letterbox to houses and/or yards covered in decorations.

It is interesting to note how differently our neighbours decorate the outside of their homes.

One of our favourite houses (they do it the same every year) uses lights – they have little white lights dangling off the verandah like a waterfall, Santa, sleigh and reindeer made from lights on the roof and various candy cane lights scattered around the roof and walls of the house.

The people behind us also use lights – they have coloured lights through their trees and a lot of white lights over their fence and rose arbour.

Then there is a house near us where they have pretty much filled their front yard with plastic Christmas items. Some have lights draped over them and others have lights within them so you can see all the decorations at night or day.

In a week or so, we will take an evening drive to view houses and their Christmas decorations. There are a few suburbs renowned for this, but there is an increasing number of houses throughout the city doing the decorations so we just drive around rather than fight crowds to view the famous ones! Either way, the kids and I love seeing them. Do you make an effort to visit decorated houses?

In the past, we haven’t done a lot of outside decorations as we were hidden behind big fences. But we got a new fence during the year along the side so we may string some lights through our fruit trees, as well as decorate a tree out there (which we always do for ourselves.)

It’s an interesting thought – is decorating your house on the outside for you and your family, or for people passing? It is certainly part of the Christmas spirit!

Share your Christmas story
Instagram