Christmas is celebrated throughout the world with slight variances from one country to the next. The English celebration of Christmas has a lot in common with the American celebration of Christmas, such as decorating trees and giving gifts. However, Christmas in England has a few of its own distinct traditions. Children will enjoy learning about these differences, or celebrating their English roots, with special English Christmas craft activities.
Father Christmas Ornament
In England, Father Christmas brings children gifts instead of Santa Claus. Father Christmas has white hair and a beard, but he isn't chubby like Santa. He wears a long red or green coat that reaches all the way to the ground. Find a Father Christmas template online, such as the template in the Resources section of this article, that can be used to create Christmas ornaments.
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The printed template will have an outline of Father Christmas that can be colored, painted or glittered. Cotton balls or curls of paper can be used for his hair, beard and coat trim. The British Christmas ornament can then be mounted to heavier stock paper or wood with a hole punched or drilled in the top so it can be hung on the tree with ribbon.
English Poppers: Christmas Crackers
Christmas "crackers" are essential to an English Christmas. English crackers are decorative tubes with little gifts and trinkets hidden inside. Traditionally, two people pop open an English cracker by pulling on either end at the same time. You can make your own similar English cracker gift tube with toilet paper tubes and wrapping paper. English cracker gifts usually include a paper crown and a joke, but candy, toys and other items can also be used. Fill the tubes with gifts, and wrap them with wrapping paper. Tie the ends with ribbon and have the children give them as gifts to friends or place them at the dinner table.
Charles Dickens in a Box
The Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" is a quintessential example of England during Christmas. Read the story to the children, then have them recreate 19th century London at Christmastime while illustrating this beloved tale inside of a shoe box. Wrap the outside of the shoe box with Christmas wrapping paper, and line the inside with foil. Provide images of classic English monuments like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, illustrations of all the story's characters, and generic Christmas images like snow-covered trees.
Kids can either draw or cut out the images, then fold little tabs at the bottoms so they can be glued inside the box standing up. Use fake snow sprinkled on glue to represent the wintry Christmas setting of the story.
British Christmas Tree Ornaments
Because the English trim a Christmas tree as we do here in the States, of course their children make tree decorations. Reusing materials is the object of this British children's craft. Have the kids cut out pictures from some old Christmas cards. Glue a picture cutout to a piece of wrapping paper or aluminum foil. Cut around the picture, creating a circular or square image. Poke a hole in the top of the ornament and thread a pretty piece of ribbon through the hole. Knot it and hang the decoration on the Christmas tree.