Christmas is in the post and the two problems pressing their way to the front of your queue right now are that your kids are bored and you can’t bring yourself to buy another plastic Rudolph Christmas with the LED nose, or more fake snow in a can for the Christmas tree that should have been up four days ago.
Don’t panic. First of all, boredom is good because it is the pre-condition of creativity. Say it again; “boredom is good”. That’s right. One more time, “boredom is good”. Well done.
The second thing is that both these problems can be resolved in one brilliant, messy, but brilliant, stroke of parenting.
The answer: put your kids to work making Christmas tree decorations with mostly free stuff. This way they will be creatively occupied for at least an hour (note: duration will increase with repetition of free play) and you will get Christmas tree decorations that are mostly beautiful, even the malformed ones, that you and your children will love.
Say it again; “decorations that I will love”.
Now, if you’re not really into people at work corkscrewing their eyebrows when you smile and saying, “why do you have glitter on your gums?” then this may not be for you. Similarly, if you think the place for painty handprints is on a white piece of paper with your kids name on it, then, again, maybe not for you.
But if you like nothing more than seeing your kids eyes get sparky as they explain that the clump of paint, feathers, glitter and somewhere in there a gum nut is actually a dog whose name is Ralph because he ate too much custard, then you may just love this exercise.
Yes, this is strictly for people who have a very high glitter tolerance and a deep held conviction that sometimes good things come in messy packages.
Now, normally articles an article like this would descend quickly into long lists and detailed instructions. Not this one. No, we are taking a very Nature Play approach to our ornament making this Christmas. We are keeping our instructions to under 10 steps and avoiding detail like dry turkey on a hot day.
So, here we go:
- Collect all the glue, paint, glitter, string, beads, popsicles and bits of coloured glass from your sock draw, the draw under the kitchen table and the glve box of your car (or else go to Spotlight)
- Put a tarp down somewhere outdoors and call it an Art Station
- Have children gather leaves, sticks and nuts and stuff they find in the neighborhood (avoid protected places like National Parks for this step)
- Mix children, natural stuff, and arty stuff vigorously under shade in the outdoors
- Step away
- Come back when children are suspiciously quiet, take pictures of creations and share with Nature Play on Facebook
- Decorate Christmas tree with bedazzled gum nut triceratops
- Mop Art Stations, children, and anything within a 50m range of Art Station that does not want to look like a Christmas ornament till June
- Check gums