These are a great family project – it’s easy, happy, messy craft, with the bonus of ticking all your handmade, buy-nothing christmas boxes all at once. Excellent.
It seems I have succumbed to Christmas.
I thought we could get away with Caga Tió instead, that fabulous Catalan tradition where children whack a painted log with a stick on christmas morning until it poops out presents.
This is a true story. We did it last year, and it was great.
But this year, there’s pre-school. And given that i have a somewhat fact-obsessed son (you should hear him hold forth on the subject of mating), if i told him what I actually thought of this whole santa and christmas business, every other 4 year old in his class would know too.
So, in the spirit of.. well, of christmas, I suppose, we’ve gone soft.
Our line is that Santa is a good story. He’s as real as Manny and Diego from Ice Age. And we’ll leave it at that, for this year.
So. Christmas decorations. Any time of year is a good time for craft based decorations in our house, but since we’re ‘doing christmas’ this year, let’s do it properly.
The salt dough is basically a lot of flour (3 cups maybe?) with a small handful of salt, a splash of olive oil, and a dribble of water until the mix looks and feels like a firm cookie dough.
Then we rolled it out, got busy with cookie cutters and a drinking straw to cut the holes, and proceeded to try not to burn them all in the woodstove.
The salt dough is best cooked slow and long – if you do it fast you’re likely to get puffy biscuits, which are harder to paint.
They came out of the oven looking rather tasty, were duly tried and nibbled, and pronounced inedible.
Which is exactly what they should be, so that you don’t have christmas ants crawling all over your christmas walls as they feast on your christmas decorations.
Once they were cool, it was time to decorate…
In theory, if you didn’t have an exuberant 4 year old or a choice of paints involved, your salt dough christmas decorations could technically end up looking like this:
Or, if you do it properly (with kids, glitter and dogs all around, plus a quick sheep-chasing break in the middle), they might look a bit more like this:
As we made these ornaments Ashar and I talked about a lot of things to do with traditions, and rituals, and seasonal markers, and good stories.
How the top of the planet has opposite seasons to us. How different people believe the world was made in different ways, and is governed by different forces.
As a society we mush so many of these stories together into what becomes culture. Which is all good, as long as within our family we talk openly about where these ideas come from, and why. And as long as we keep making stuff together!
Now that we’ve started, we cant stop. This weekend it’s wreaths. Know any good wreath-wrestling resources? I’d love to know what kid-friendly techniques work best for you?
Happy handmade Christmas preparation all…