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Christmas Around the World

Take your kids on a celebration of Christmas around the world with these nine amazing crafts from different countries.

The gift of Christ is for everyone — everywhere. And on Christmas Day in almost every country around the world, the human race stops-if only for an instant-to give homage to the humble Savior who was born in a stable.

Since that blessed day in Bethlehem, people around the world have developed their own rituals and traditions to celebrate Christmas Day. Your children can learn about and sense God’s heart for people everywhere as they make these crafts from around the world. (Instructions and materials listed are for one child only.)

Christmas Around the WorldNATIVITY ORNAMENT Christmas in France means the Nativity scene or creche. At Christmastime, churches and homes display the manger scene to remember the birth of Christ. In the community and in homes, children gather to sing and pray around the creche. In Marseille, they even have the famous Santon Fair before Christmas. (A santon is a little clay figure used in a creche.) Children can make this aromatic creche ornament, created by Judith Moy of San Gabriel, California.

MATERIALS a small wooden or cardboard star for each child yellow paint a paintbrush glitter 5 cinnamon sticks Christmas cards with nativity scenes, colored pencils and paper, or a nativity scene rubber stamp scissors potpourri 6-inch length of ribbon glue

Paint a small wooden star with yellow paint and sprinkle glitter over the wet paint. Allow the paint to dry. Glue five cinnamon sticks into the shape of a house.

As the glue on the house dries, create a nativity scene by cutting out the nativity figures on a Christmas card, drawing the figures on paper, or cutting out a rubber stamped nativity scene on a sheet of paper. Glue the nativity scene to the dried cinnamon-stick stable.

Glue potpourri onto the sides of the stable for a rustic look-and nice smell. Then glue the star to the top of the stable. Insert a 6-inch piece of ribbon through the top of the stable. Tie the ribbon in a knot for hanging the nativity ornament.

GIFT IN REVERSE The Scandinavians have an unusual practice of making gifts for animals at Christmastime. They place sheaves of wheat or barley on tops of tall poles, and they tack suet to tree trunks. Their gift enables birds to feast at Christmas too. Your kids will enjoy making an edible birdhouse to feed little creatures at Christmastime.

MATERIALS a pint-sized milk carton a 3/16-inch wooden dowel 6 inches long peanut butter birdseed a plastic knife twine a hot glue gun

On two opposite sides of the milk carton, cut a hole 2 inches up from the bottom of the carton. On the same sides as these holes, cut a hole in the top edge of the milk carton. Insert a dowel through the lower holes for the bird’s perches. Glue the dowel into place with a dab of hot glue at each hole. String a piece of twine through the top holes in the milk carton and tie a knot to create a hanger. Using a plastic knife, completely cover the milk carton with peanut butter and then roll it in birdseed.

FABRIC GIFTS Kids love to make gifts for Mom or Dad at Christmas. And because kids usually lack financial resources, you can help ensure that Mom and Dad have something under the tree! Use these interesting craft ideas from all around the world.

ADINKRA CLOTH In Ghana, adinkra cloth is made by the Ashanti people. The fabric is divided into squares. Then the Ashanti people stamp symbols in the squares that express such qualities as patience, security, strength, and forgiveness.

MATERIALS a 1-foot muslin square a fine-line black marker a ruler fabric markers or crayons

Use a fine-line black marker to mark off small squares over the entire piece of muslin. Use simple symbols such as a heart, flower, smiley face, triangle, or circle. Using fabric markers or crayons, create a symbol in each square. Allow the markers to dry.

TIE-DYE Tie-dyeing has been used in India since 700 B.C. People in India used natural dyes from organic sources such as fruit, bark, roots, and flowers. Tie-dyeing is a popular look right now, so children will enjoy tie-dyeing a gift.

ALERT: Requires close adult supervision.

MATERIALS A 3-foot square of white prewashed fabric cold water dye rubber bands scissors spatulas 2 large bowls a place to hang wet fabric squares to dry Prepare the dye in large bowls following the package directions.

Pinch up areas of the fabric and tightly twist rubber bands around the gathered cloth. Do this all over the fabric.

After all the areas are gathered, place the fabric in the bowl of dye. Stir and leave the fabric in the dye longer than suggested. Then lift out the fabric and rinse it in a bowl of clear water. Cut the rubber bands, squeeze out any excess water, and hang the fabric to dry.

BATIK Indonesian women have adorned themselves in beautiful batik sarongs, head scarves, and shawls for hundreds of years. The Javanese people actually developed this wax-resistant dye technique to try to achieve the same colorful prints unique to India. Wax is applied to fabric in a design and then the fabric is dyed. The result is a colorful image.

ALERT: Requires close adult supervision.

MATERIALS a 3-foot square of white prewashed fabric cold water dye crayons spatulas 2 large bowls a place to hang wet fabric squares Prepare the dye in large bowls following the package directions.

Draw on the fabric with brightly colored crayons. Press down to ensure a thick build-up of wax. Once the picture is complete, iron the crayon drawings to help the wax set. Then set the fabric in a bowl of fabric dye for 30 minutes. Remove the fabric and rinse it in a bowl of clear water. Squeeze out any excess water, and then Spread the fabric out to dry.


Christmas Around the WorldPINATA In Mexico at Christmastime, a pinata means gifts. Blindfolded children swing at the hollow figure with a stick. If they hit the pinata, candy, small dolls, and trinkets shower down. Your kids can make a pinata and enjoy the sense of celebration and fun of this Mexican delight. This craft will take four weeks. Do the papier-mache part in three weeks and the decorating part the last week.

MATERIALS 14-inch balloon, inflated newspaper plain newsprint 5 sheets of tissue paper 4 pounds of individually wrapped candies 24-inch length of string Papier-mache paste

To make the papier-mache paste, mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups cold water. Add this mixture to 2 cups boiling water, and return to a boil. Remove from heat, and add 3 tablespoons sugar. When the mixture cools, it’s ready to use.

Place the balloon in a 10-inch bowl for stability. Tear newspaper into 1 1/2-inch strips with slightly rough edges. Drag a strip through the paste, wipe off the excess, and lay the strip on the balloon. Consecutive strips need to slightly overlap. Continue until the balloon is covered with one layer of strips, leaving a 2-inch square at the top as a candy opening. Allow the balloon to dry for 24 hours.

Around the tied off end of the balloon, wrap and tie off the string to use as a hanger. Keep the string pulled out during successive layering stages. Cover the balloon again with newspaper strips and papier-mache paste. Allow to dry. For the final layer, cover the balloon with the plain newsprint strips. Allow to dry.

The next week, cut the tissue paper into 2-inch squares. Dot the corners of each tissue paper square with glue and place the squares on the balloon. Glue tissue paper streamers to the balloon.

Puncture the uncovered part of the balloon at the top of the pinata. If the pinata is completely dry, fill it halfway with candy. Cover the opening with tissue paper squares.

Tip: Have children use a plastic bat to swing at the pinata at your Christmas party.

ORIENTAL ORNAMENT Paper-cutting is a popular Chinese craft. Long ago paper cutouts were even used as window coverings before Chinese people had glass windows. Up to 50 sheets of very fine paper are sometimes cut in a pattern. These cut-outs are then dyed to form a multicolored design. Red is the most popular color in China and stands for loyalty, integrity, and good luck. Kids will enjoy making these Chinese style ornaments for the Christmas tree.

ALERT: Requires close adult supervision.

MATERIALS red card stock dark green card stock a 3-inch cardboard circle tracing paper a pencil an X-Acto knife (with adult supervision) glue hole punch 4-inch lengths of thin red braid ribbon

Transfer the design in the illustration (available from Group Publishing) onto tracing paper. Use the cardboard circle as a template to trace and then cut out two circles-one red and one green.

Transfer the pattern onto the red circle by laying the tracing paper over the circle, matching circle edges. Trace the pattern with a pencil. Then use the X-Acto knife to cut out the entire shape from the red card stock.

Glue the red design onto the green circle. Punch a hole at the top of the design and thread the ribbon through the hole and tie it off.
Christmas Around the WorldMARBLED PAPER In Japan, paper was decorated by floating ink on water and applying it to the paper. This technique is called suminagashi and was only used by the imperial household. This technique is also called marbling because the swirls of paint sometimes resemble marbled stone. Children can use this technique to make beautiful wrapping paper for Christmas gifts.

ALERT: Requires close adult supervision.

MATERIALS large sheets of white 20-lb. paper a large shallow tray water eye dropper oil paints mineral turpentine a skewer or toothpick newspaper rubber gloves

Fill the tray with 1 inch of water. Thin the oil paints with turpentine. Use the eye dropper to drop paint onto the water in the tray. Swirl the paint with a skewer or a toothpick. Lay a large sheet of paper on top of the water. Lift the paper, rinse it briefly under cold water, and lay it with the painted side up on newspaper to dry. Once the paper is dry, children can use the paper to wrap presents.

SPINNING TOPS In Poland, there’s a long-standing tradition of cutting and combining paper pieces as artwork. This paper appliqué technique layers paper over paper to create a scene. Your kids can make paper appliqué tops as gifts for friends, brothers, or sisters.

MATERIALS white card stock different colors of card stock a 3-inch cardboard circle template a pencil scissors glue a 2×1/4-inch dowel a pencil sharpener

Use the circle template to draw and cut out a circle on the white card stock. Then cut out small squares, circles, and triangles from the colored card stock. Glue them to one side of the white circle for a confetti effect. Use the pencil sharpener to make a dull point at one end of the 2-inch dowel. Pierce the center of the circle with the dowel and push it through the center and 3/4 inch away from the dowel’s point.




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