Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tonia's plans for Christmas

Irma has asked me to share with you my plans for this Christmas. This year, I am hosting Christmas lunch for my parents, my aunt and uncle who are visiting from the Eastern States, my two sisters, their husbands, my 1 year old niece and my three nephews aged 6, 5 and 3.   Taking a leaf out of Irma's big book of fun, I have come up with a few ideas to keep my boisterous nephews entertained:
The main meal
My nephews aren't yet old enough to get excited about any food that isn't junk food, and they are also at a stage where they won't willingly eat vegetables at all. But since it's Christmas, they won't have to. For the main meal I'm giving them Santa pizzas. This is something I discovered in a library book. A Santa pizza is a mini pizza base, spread with tomato paste, with a (pitted) half olive for eyes and nose, and a strip of capsicum for a mouth. Using shredded cheese, the kids can each add Santa's hair and beard to their pizza before I cook it.
I don't buy Christmas decorations, I make them. The children can help and/or take them home afterwards if they want to. And if they don't want them, these decorations are compostable. This year I've cut up some white crepe paper that I had lying around into strips, using scissors with a zig zag edge. They will become streamers, or maybe paper chains. I also bought some wrapping paper that is red with white spots. Cut into triangles and hung on white string, it will become bunting. From my own childhood I remember we children always used to finish our meal long before the adults did. So to keep the boys entertained between courses, they're getting a paper tablecloth and a set of crayons so they can draw on it. 
Probably the most important thing from the boys' point of view. Irma's and my work colleague Nina has just moved house and was happy to give me 3 used cardboard boxes, tea chest sized. Like many households, my shed contains a large collection of left over paint.   I used these to prime the sides, then on 2 sides of each box I painted a big green Christmas tree. 
For Christmas tree decorations I have attached plastic-wrapped mini candy cans to one of the trees on each box, and I will be attaching foil-wrapped chocolate coins to the other. 
On the third side of one of the boxes, I have drawn the outline of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer using a picture I found on the internet.

On the fourth side of all of the boxes, I have painted a well-spaced out city scape against a dark blue night sky. The buildings are connected by bridges and tunnels. I drew the city scape so that if you stand the boxes next to each other, there is a continuous picture across all of the boxes. Why? I'll tell you shortly...

Those big boxes take a bit of filling up! I have put in layers of presents, separated by scrunched up newspaper and blown up white balloons. The first layer of presents is joke presents – a potato, an old boot, that sort of thing. Admittedly, this might not amuse the boys very much, but it sure will amuse their aunty and uncle. From there the children will delve down to find stickers, sticker books, lollies etc. Their real presents are right at the bottom, and in keeping with my plan to try to keep the boys entertained, their presents this year are games we can all play together eg Hungry Hippo and Twister.
Apart from those shop-bought games, with the help of the internet I've come up with a few more. You've probably already guessed what the Rudolph picture is for – a game of pin the nose on Rudolph. Using red card backed with double sided tape I've cut out a nose for every guest, marked with the guest's name, so we can all have a go, and no cheating!   
The city scape I painted on the boxes will be used for a throwing game. I have sewn a small red felt bean bag with a green felt Rudolph (with a red pompom for a nose) on it. To play this game, teams take turns throwing the bean bag at the city scape. Teams win points if Rudolph “flies” through the painted night sky, through a tunnel or over a bridge. They lose points if Rudolph goes splat! into a building.
The white balloons I put in the boxes also have another use. They're for snowball soccer. Without using their hands, teams will have to get as many “snowballs” into a box as possible within one minute. After that if no-one objects we can play snowball squish, where two teams race to pop as many balloons as they can, one at a time.
Another game is Who's Santa? One person, Rudolph, is sent out of the room. I have a silly pair of felt antlers for Rudolph to wear. Everyone else sits in a circle. One person is designated Santa. When Rudolph comes back, Santa's job is to wink at different people in the circle when he or she thinks Rudolph isn't looking. If you get winked at by Santa, you have to say in a loud voice “Ho ho ho, merry Christmas!” Rudolph's job is to try to work out who Santa is. 
I hope my family has a lot of fun this Christmas. But even if things don't go as planned (hmm, do they ever?) I've had a lot of fun planning it.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Tonia Brajcich (of Croatian background), November 2010

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