“We are kicking off our fun old fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.”
You may or may not recognize this quote by Clarke W. Griswold in the very funny movie “Christmas Vacation.” If you are like Clark Griswold (sort of like myself in a female version) you look for new opportunities each Christmas season to make lasting family memories and traditions. In this movie clip, the Griswold family is heading out into the woods to chop down their very own special Christmas tree. It turns out that the tree is so large, it barely fits into their backyard, let alone their living room! But, as family-man Clark believes, it is all about the experiences of making lasting family memories.
Perhaps this season, you may just decide to chop down your very own Christmas tree (link below), complete with all of the scents of a natural and old-fashioned family Christmas. My children have always loved fragrant scents, and, if it weren’t for the mess, and mild environmental allergies, we, too would go and chop down our very own tree…just for the sake of the fresh, pine smell. However, there are ways to get the ‘Scent-sory’ Tree experience, and to fill your home with other beautiful Christmas scents, even if you have opted for an artificial Christmas tree.
Apart from the chopping down of the infamous family Christmas tree tradition, another very popular Canadian Christmas family tradition is the decorating of the Christmas tree. In order to create a ‘Scent-sory’ tree decorating experience, I have come up with a few ideas to make this tree decorating experience an olfactory and lasting one!
Prior to decorating your tree, go on a nature walk with your children and collect a wide variety of winter, scented items. These items may include: cedar boughs, pine cones, evergreen branches. Place these ‘winter potpourr’i items into a basket for your children to explore and to put onto your tree later.
Beforehand, you can also make scented playdough (ie. peppermint, cocoa), or no-bake spiced biscuits which dry like clay and have the aroma of apples, cinnamon, and gingerbread. The dough can be cut into different Christmas cookie-cutter patterns, and hung from ribbon to place on the tree. The recipe link is provided below. Remember that the Momstown December Theme is “G” for Gingerbread!
With your children, cut out Christmas shapes (ie. stars, trees) on sandpaper, punch a hole through the top, tie a ribbon through the hole, and have your children ‘colour’ the sandpaper tree decoration with cinnamon sticks. It smells like Christmas!
You and your children can also tie cinnamon sticks into bundles with Christmas ribbons, and hang these from the tree as well.
Make some scented (ie. Almond, vanilla, allspice, nutmeg) rice with your children. All that you need to do is buy some small sachets, place rice inside, and drop a few droplets of your favourite Christmas scent inside. Voila! A scented sachet or two to hang from your tree!
Make a Christmas pomander with your child, by sticking cloves into a small orange. It smells delicious!
Cut up some apples and oranges into thin slices. Place fruit slices on a cookie sheet, and put in the oven at 150* for 4 hours, turning once. Take them out of the oven and let cool. These dried fruit slices can be hung by ribbon onto your tree for a wonderful ‘scent-sory experience’! You can use any leftovers to hang from trees outside on the eve of winter solstice to feed our little bird friends! This is a nice family tradition of which our family has enjoyed in past years.
If you have older children, they may enjoy stringing dried cranberries and popcorn with a needle and thread for a festive and ‘scentsy’ tree garland!
We, and especially our children, learn and absorb information through our senses. ! We can all remember certain scents as a child that aroused in our imaginations different childhood memories – certainly Christmas memories. Maria Montessori once said that children learn through their senses. I encourage you to make some new memories and create new and fun ‘scent-sory’ traditions for your family this holiday season!