Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Decorations by Mona Risk

Today I worked on my Christmas decorations. Seriously how much time do you think it would take to decorate an apartment, more precisely the living room only?
An hour maybe? Because I am a thorough person and overachiever, I managed to spend a whole afternoon to perform a super job--in MHO.

As Melinda Curtis mentioned in her previous post, sometime--I mean once in a while...I mean very seldom--we procrastinate. Not because we don't want to write, not because we run out of ideas, but because there are chores that have to be done.
Mona's elaborate Christmas tree
To be efficient, I stow the Christmas tree as is in its box every year. So all I have to do is to take it out at the beginning of the Christmas Season and ask my husband to plug it in.

Other decorations encompass a lovely winking Santa Claus that a friend of my mother made for me thirty years ago. I keep it preciously as both the dear woman and my Mom are no longer with us, but Santa reminds me of them.

One of the fondest memories of my childhood Christmases revolved around building the Christmas manger with my family and friends. We started two weeks before Christmas and kept it displayed until my birthday in January.
This was my mother's nativity that I display every year.

We used to set the manger on the buffet in the dining room. For a whole month, our relatives and visitors were dragged in front of it the moment they stepped into our house.
The smiles on my face and my sister's warmed my parents’ hearts as we pinpointed the details to our admirers and basked in the compliments received.
It's easy and fun to build a Christmas Manger. Actually it consists of a grotto that we made bigger and bigger as we grew older and gained expertise. We even stretched the top of the grotto to include a mountain that reached the ceiling of our dining room.

What You Need
1. Five big supermarket brown bags.
2. Markers, black, brown, green, red
3. Flour
4. Play-Doh, blue, pink, brown, white, gray.
5. Five sheets of white paper for each child doing the craft.
6. Five pairs of scissors.
7. Cardboard
8. Aluminum foil
9. Thread

1. Have the children sit around a long table
2. Cut each paper bag along one side and bottom and flatten the paper in front of each kid.
3. Give the children their markers and have them tap the paper to make dots. They should cover their papers with black, brown, green and red heavy dots.
4. Once the flattened paper bag is covered with various colored dots, let it dry.
5. Show the children how to sculpt the donkey, and the sheep with the white and brown Play-Doh.
6. The older kids can use the pink and blue Play-Doh to make the Virgin Mary, the white to make the Baby Jesus and his manger, and the white and brown to make St. Joseph and a couple of shepherds. Now set them aside to dry. (Remember we are not making artistic creations here. As long as the sculptures look remotely acceptable we should applaud the children on their creations.)
7. If the brown papers covered with dots have dried, each child should crumple his paper until it is all wrinkled.
8. The parent should staple three of the brown bags two by two to make an arch. (You staple one in the middle and one on each side so that it makes an arch.)
9. Staple the two other bags to provide the back wall of the grotto.
10. Move the paper grotto to the table or credenza against a wall. If you prepare more crumpled papers, they can be arranged into a climbing wall to make a mountain going up the wall to the ceiling.
10. Have the children color the five white sheets of paper with a green marker. Set aside to dry.
11. When the green colored pages are dry, the older children can cut the paper into tiny pieces to be grass. Sprinkle the "grass" on the ground of the grotto.
12. Set the various characters, the donkey and ox inside the grotto, the baby Jesus in his manger with the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on each side.
13. Arrange the shepherds and sheep around the grotto.
14. An adult should cut the cardboard in the shape of a star and an older child can cover it with aluminum foil.
15. Make a tiny hole in the star and tie the thread through the hole then tape the other end of the thread to the ceiling so that the star hangs just above the grotto.
* * *
Be sure to take a picture of the children around their creation. Now is the time to celebrate the fun time you and your children had creating this Christmas Manger with cookies and juice!

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Mona Risk, a heartwarming holiday story, CHRISTMAS PAPA, Holiday Babies Series, Book 5.

Single mother, Monica Roland, has her life on the right track. Until Michael kisses her.
But Michael Wheeler is a workaholic businessman who travels the world and enjoys his freedom.
Fed up with empty promises, Monica keeps her twin boys’ care and her education as top priorities. Moving on with her life, she lands a dream assignment in Paris as a reporter. Just when Michael gives up his wanderings and settles in Kentucky. 

How can he convince her that a demanding career doesn’t preclude love?

Holiday Babies Series:


  1. Mona, No offense but your list made me tired. ;-)

  2. Which list, Lyn? If anything makes you tired, don't read it!

  3. What a lovely idea, Mona. Children love making nativity scenes. I remember making them when I was a child. This reminds me of when I researched my Christmas series set in Italy. The Italians love their crib scenes that they call Presepi.

    1. My grandchildren spend hours making their Christmas craft project, and one of them is usually the Nativity.

  4. I absolutely loved this craft idea, Mona. It sounds so cute! What I like about it is that the ingredients are so simple and the steps are easy to follow. What a great project for keeping little hands occupied during the holidays, and how fun it must be for everyone seeing the final product! (The hanging star part of it sounds very cool.) I've printed out your instructions for my holiday group projects file. I love having ideas like this on hand when our extended family gathers. Some of the "big kids" (the grown up can really get into crafts like this too. Thanks for sharing and happy holidays! Sounds like you've made your living room very festive. Love the winking Santa! Ginny - who's behind on her Christmas decorating...but plans to catch up soon. :)

    1. Writing this post reminded me of happy long-gone days of my childhood.

    2. Christmas can be magical that way! All the little touches bring back so many happy memories. It's my favorite time of year.