In our home, Yule preparations traditionally start the day after Thanksgiving (though this year, we started late since Daddy Man was out of town working) and continue until the week before Yule. Its partially a hold over from my childhood family Christmases, but also because we “make” about 90% of our decorations.
Except the tree…we rent that.
Okay, we really don’t rent it. But since we live in an apartment (and I can’t do live trees in the house because of the allergens it brings in), without much storage space, the past few years, we’ve gotten tree from the thrift store and then we’ve re-donated it afterwards. The money goes to a good cause (YAY, Children’s Hospital!) and we don’t have to figure out where to put the tree box…or the boxes upon boxes of decorations. We have one large shoe box (from a pair of The Hubby’s boots) that have a few keepsake ornaments, a three sets of mini-LED lights for the windows, and some sleigh bells. Other than that, (as I wrote about last year) we DIY.
Some of those DIY projects are perfect for witchlet magic lessons…
Chickadee’s Favorite: Blessing Chains
Chickadee had made an absolutely adorable video tutorial, that I had planned to post…but somehow, I deleted it instead. It is no longer in the computer OR on the SD card. Which is fine…because garland is wonderful all year long, and can be made to match the seasons. We’ll just do the video at a later date, and stick to the written instructions for now!
The first thing you need to make a “Blessing Chains” as the Chickadee calls them, are blessings! Next, you need some sturdy cotton thread and a needle. Last, you need stuff to string. We’ve used marshmallows, popcorn, cranberries, citrus slices, apple pieces, rosebuds, pretzels, animal crackers, macaroni, shells, glass beads, wooden beads, buttons, cereal, and more. The only “rule” is to 1) pick stuff you like, and 2) pick stuff that can go back into to nature.
The Technique (as related by Chickadee): Take a piece of stuff to string and then close your eyes and take a big breath in VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARY slowly. Imagine being filled with a warm light all the way down to your toes. For blessings, my light is pink and smells like peppermint ice cream with sprinkles. When you think your lungs will explode, stop and let the blessing grow in your brain until you are filled with it. Then blow the blessing out of your body into the cranberry or popcorn or bead. Open your eyes and string it…if you don’t open your eyes, you will poke your finger with the needle and that hurts.
Mom tip: Instead of individually blessing every piece, try blessing a bowl of each type of item with something different. Or bless every fifth or whatever item, or take turns stringing items between a group.
When you have a foot or two or five, tie it off and hang it on the tree, or in the bushes, etc!
Sharkbait’s Favorite: Salt-Dough Tree Talismans
Talismans? Really? I actually had to check the dictionary on that one…lol!
Sharkbait is more of a hands-dirty type of kid, so these are a favorite of his! We start with salt-dough–about 1 part salt to 2 parts flour, add just enough water until its the consistency of a thick play-doh like dough, and then a couple of drops of food color. Pick your cookie cutters, then roll the dough flat and cut them out. Make sure you poke a hole in them before you bake them. Bake at ~200-250 degrees F, checking on them every 15-20 min. They should take around 30-50 minutes to harden nicely. String them and hang.
Now, there are tons of things you can do to incorporate magic here–color and shape correspondences (pigs for prosperity!), adding herbs, decorating with stones, etc. If you were making these as gifts, you could “add the magic” (say, a general blessing for health and wellness, or a home protection) while you were mixing the dough up. If you are making them at home, with different shapes and colors for different things and people, you might wait until you are mixing the individual color (if you are focusing on color correspondences) or cutting them out (if you are focusing on the shape correspondences), etc. We make most of these with a general sort of blessing, and then everyone makes one especially for them–some to represent ourselves and something we wish to emulate better in ourselves, and we tie it to the tree with a ribbon that has had a blessing written on it just for us. After Yule, these special ornaments are put on the family altar.