The week before Christmas is a special time in and of itself. If you are like most of us, you are starting to feel the pressure of just how many “last minute” and and “tying up loose end” activities are still on your list. It seems that there are fewer minutes in each hour of the day. However, your kids are most likely feeling the hours stretch out until Santa finally comes. Their viewpoint is probably not doing much to help you feel less stressed. So, what can you do? Why not put them to work doing fun projects that can keep them busy and help you decorate a little.

Send the kids on a walk to find winter treasures, such as pine cones, sprigs of evergreen and even artistic twigs from deciduous trees. Use ribbons, pipe cleaner, buttons felt, whatever you have around to make napkin rings and place holders. (I recommend keeping a box of general craft type stuff available for just such instances. You can call it your “found art box” and anytime you have leftover scraps of fabric or find an interesting little something, just throw it in the box to use for projects likes this.)

Another idea is to set them to work with construction paper and markers or crayons. (Or scissors and glue) They can create holiday scenes and place them across the table for a runner or placemats. One possibility for a fun placemat is to place a plate, cup, and silverware on a piece of paper and let your little artist design around it. Then they can determine what is seen during the meal and include a message or a picture for after the the dirty dishes are removed.

Crackers are a fun Christmas tradition and are easy to assemble. Fill a toilet paper tube with treats and then wrap in crepe or tissue paper. Tie the ends with string or ribbon. As a final touch cut a strip of paper to fit the tube and decorate and label with the recipient’s name. Place the cracker on their plate, they can pull the ends and enjoy the surprises. A fun twist on this is to make a compliment cracker: instead of treats (or in addition to them) have everyone in the family write one the recipient’s good traits or a fun memory on a slips of paper and stuff into the tube before wrapping.

Don’t forget to simplify where you can and enjoy this wonderful time for being with family. Merry Christmas!