Celebrating the holidays for December takes on special meaning when you understand a bit of calendar history. Originally, December was the 10th month in the Roman calendar. As a result, it bears the name “DECEMBER”. December comes from the Latin word Decem, which means ten.
In its current position as the 12th month, December finishes out the year and gives us reasons to pause and reflect.
As you explore the Holidays for December, I hope the celebrations of the past year have been a blessing in your Happy Hive, and those that await in the New Year are as well!
Hanukkah – date varies from late November to December
Hanukkah is an 8 day Jewish Festival on the Hebrew Calendar that varies from year to year. Common celebrations include lighting the candles on the menorah, playing games such as the dreidle, and singing Hanukka songs. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days with many families exchanging gifts during that time. Jewish families also eat foods such as doughnuts and latkes to remember the importance of oil during that time in history.
The story of Hanukka is told in detail in the old testament books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees.
If you are of the Jewish Faith, Celebrating will come naturally. If you are not, experiencing the Traditions of another faith can be a very rewarding experience.
National Christmas Lights Day – December 1
December 1st can be quite a full day in some homes. If your home is under elf surveillance this is generally the day elves make their first appearance. Why not honor the national day by wrapping your elf in mini Christmas lights your kids can use to decorate their bedrooms or the school area of your home?
National Christmas Lights day is also a great time to hop into the car for that first cruise around town to see who has their lights up. It’s fun to get started with the holidays for December by going on a field trip! You can compare this outing to one you take later in the month. See how many more Christmas lights get added as time goes on. Helping your children learn to compare and contrast is developing their higher-order thinking skills.
You can also rate and rank the decorations according to a category, likes, and dislikes as an additional way to sneak in the learning this month!
Use the Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt you have inside the Scavenger Hunt Mega Pack to help add to the excitement!
Make a Gift Day – December 3rd
There are opportunities for learning around every corner. While December tends to be a busy month as far as the holidays go, that does not mean the learning has to take a back seat. HOMESCHOOLING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS can begin all the way back in October as I outline in THIS POST.
Part of the suggested activities, include making gifts for family and friends. What better way to do that than by using the holidays for December to your advantage. Begin your gift making on December 3rd,
First, begin by making a list of relatives and friends for whom you can make handmade gifts.
Gifts Kids Can Make
- Greeting Card Sets (1 for each month- think about holidays, birthdays, occasions they can SEND cards for all year)
- Create rock paintings or small canvas paintings
- Sewing, knitting, or crocheting as your talents allow is a fun way to make gifts. It’s probably not a good time to learn a new skill. Think about things that are useful such as potholders and scarves.
- Photography is also a great skill you can use to give gifts. Take abstract or natural pictures and frame them.
- Do you have plants in your garden you can propagate and gift? Decorate the containers with kid art.
- Jazz up dollar store photo frames with craft supplies like felt, pom-poms, and glitter. Without doubt, this works great for candles too!
- Bead simple necklaces, earrings, or bracelets. Make keychains for the men in the life of your child.
- The holidays are a fantastic time for baking together and homemade treats make a GREAT GIFT! To that end, Bake Cookies day is December 18th.
Elf Day – December 4
Elf Day’s a holiday that makes a difference! Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Society this day is set aside for schools, businesses, and organizations to coordinate events to raise money for people suffering from dementia. As homeschoolers here are a few ideas for how you can get involved:
- Sign up for a fundraising kit using the official Elf Day page
- Invite your friends over for a day of Elf Antics
- Use the FREE ELF HAT CRAFT From Happy Hive Homeschooling so everyone can Elf-Themselves!
This downloadable Elf Hat Craft comes in both color and color your own. Customize each elf with 12 different shades of colored elf-ears – Including Green if that’s how you want to Elf-yourself.
- Serve elf sized food, for example use Fruit Loops and pretend they are Elf Donuts. Add a bit of frosting and sprinkles for effect.
- Mini Bagels make a fun way to make sandwiches.
- There are plenty of Children’s books where elves are the main characters. The Elves and the Shoemaker is a classic you can read and discuss. Showing a movie where an Elf is the main character is also fun. (YOU KNOW THE ONE!)
- As a way to raise money for your event, hold some sort of “Elf Games” and contestants get sponsors. For example, 25 cents for each count of the hula hoop, or jump rope.
Be sure to take plenty of pictures to record your event. You can make a mini (elf-sized) scrapbook..
St. Nicholas Day – December 6
Legend says if you put your shoes outside on the evening of December 5th St. Nicholas will come and leave a little something inside them. You could also leave them right by the fireplace if you want. A third option is for children to leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors.
St. Nicholas Day isn’t a mini Christmas, so don’t expect grand gifts. He likes to leave things like fruit, chocolate coins, or other small items, just to let you know he is watching and appreciates you learning about his life as a saint while studying the holidays for December!
If you need a little something to learn about Saint Nicholas and how we now associate him with Santa, dive into our Legends of Saint Nicholas Resource. You might even discover why he likes to leave chocolate coins in the shoes of little boys and girls!
Ideas for Celebrating St. Nicholas Day
Because St. Nicholas was known for giving to the needy, you can use his feast day as a way to prepare for the new things you will receive for Christmas. What do you have that you can give away?
Go through your clothes and toys and discard any that are broken or missing pieces, ripped or torn. If you have some that can be used by others, make arrangements to donate them! Surely those that no longer serve their purpose or work can be up-cycled into new items or discarded appropriately.
Do you have money in savings? This is the perfect opportunity to use it to buy a gift for a child that would not ordinarily get one. There are local charities you can bring the new toys to. Check with local churches if you need to find one.
If you haven’t written your letter to Santa yet – this Letter Writing activity might fit the bill. There are many options and step-by-step guides for the littlest of writers.
Christmas Card Day – December 9
It’s no coincidence the holidays for December hand us the perfect activities to use in our homeschools. Christmas Card Day is a wonderful opportunity for your children to get THEIR Christmas Cards written and sent. That’s right – allow the children to send their own cards. These cards can be purchased, or handmade. It’s a good idea to pick up cards AFTER Christmas and keep them on hand for crafts or for sending!
If you don’t want the kids to send cards on Christmas Card Day, why not use them for crafts. You can turn cards into ornaments. Cut them into puzzles. You can also create repeated shapes s, such as circles or stars, then use those to make a wreath. Cut the card into a sweater shape, and use it for Ugly Sweater Day on December 20th.
Gingerbread House Day – December 12
I suppose it goes without saying, today would be a great day to make and decorate gingerbread houses! However, that isn’t always practical. Gingerbread houses can attract ants, contain a ton of sugar, and overall can be REALLY difficult for young children to assemble. Don’t feel you absolutely HAVE to build a gingerbread house to enjoy the day.
- Decorate a Brown Paper Bag as a gingerbread house.
- Find a wooden Gingerbread House kit that the kids can paint and decorate with craft items. These will make wonderful keepsakes. You can whip a flat version up with craft sticks for this purpose.
- Read Children’s Literaterature. Hansel and Gretel is a good, non Christmas option the kids wouldn’t expect for example.
Bake Cookies Day – December 18
Bake Cookies day is another of the perfectly aligned holidays for December that begs to become an actual homeschool activity. If you are looking for the perfect activity, why not try sugar cookie painting? This activity is from Mrs. Crabtree’s childhood and is a delightful tradition to begin any holiday season. You can get the recipe, instructions in the Happy Hive Homeschooling Shop as a free printable.
The December Solstice – December 22(Date varies)
The December Solstice brings about a change in seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere Winter will arrive, however, the Southern Hemisphere will head into Summer.
A great way to celebrate anytime the seasons change is with a nature walk. Observe the subtle differences in the plants and animals around you. Are the birds migrating? What is happening to the leaves on the trees at your local park, or even in your backyard?
Celebrate whatever Season you’re entering with Our Seasons Tree Craft. This tree stands after it is assembled so you can turn it for each new season.
More ideas for celebrating the seasons
Keeping your own Nature Journal in order to observe the subtle changes in the seasons is a wonderful opportunity. All you really need is a blank piece of paper and a view of something “nature” out a window. On or as near to the first day of the month look out the window and draw what you observe. One month the tree you see will be full of leaves, and they will be green and lush. As the months progress, you will notice as the leaves change, what birds visit, and when the leaves start to fall.
If you do not have an ideal view, you can complete the activity using a park bench. Winter, depending on your weather, may make it COLD during some months to complete the activity – but it is certainly worth a try.
Label the drawings with the date and time and keep them until you have all 12 months.
Christmas Eve – December 24th
The excitement is so thick it’s hard to keep kids busy. They want to go to bed as soon as possible so visions of Sugar Plums can dance in their heads! Well, the NORAD tracking activities put together by TeacherWriter.co are a great way to keep overactive minds focused. THIS POST even tells the history of how NORAD began tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. Santa is indeed a wise old elf! Grab the FREE activity before the 24th so you are ready!
National Pumpkin Pie Day – December 25th
Often associated with Thanksgiving, Pumpkin Pie was first prepared by filling the actual shell of the pumpkin with apples, spices, and sugar and then baking it whole.
The origins of why National Pumpkin Pie day is celebrated as one of the holidays for December are unknown, but as far as many Americans are concerned, there is always room for pie!
To celebrate National Pumpkin Pie day be sure to make sure there are plenty of slices available for everyone. Ask your relatives if they have a favorite recipe, or perhaps one handed down several generations. Learn to make the pie and even the crust using a recipe.
If you want to have some fun Pumpkin Pie quotes for when you are ready to resume a few academics you can use this set of mini copywork. There are 7 different quotes in Trace Over, Print, and Cursive perfect for a little light learning.
Christmas Day – December 25th
You may or may not celebrate Christmas, however, learning about the day and its traditions need not impact your celebration preferences. After all, it’s important for a well-rounded education to understand the origins of each celebration.
Christmas Day, or the days leading up to it provides us with the perfect opportunity to explore Christmas Traditions around the world. In fact, you can find a full 2-week unit and explore 11 different counties with this CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD WRITING PROJECT
National Thank You Note Day – December 26th
Whip out the pens, the list of gifts, and use thank you note day to your advantage. A heartfelt thank you note doesn’t have to be difficult to write, especially if your children are in the habit of completing the task promptly. Sending thank you notes is also an easy way to keep gratitude at the front of your parenting arsenal. It’s hard for family and friends to criticize when your children express themselves so well, and in writing no less. This is one of the holidays for December that benefits your homeschool in multiple ways.
The steps to the perfect Thank You Note
To help your little ones write expert notes with ease have them start with the focus on the GIVER. A compliment on their thoughtfulness or another meaningful sentiment works well. Next, the exact gift should be mentioned, not just the phrase “thank you for the gift.” Don’t forget to actually say THANK YOU. Saying “I love the blue sweater” is nice, but “Thank you for the soft, blue sweater” is a better way to phrase it.
Describing how the gift will be used, displayed or how the gift was a blessing helps add detail and a sense of genuine sincerity to the note. Details about when you hope to see (or contact) the giver in the future so you can continue to nurture the relationship are also appropriate inside a well-written thank-you note. Finally, end the note with a closing in which the gift is mentioned again and if appropriate add a bit of humor. As an example, sign with love your favorite friend in the blue sweater.
National Fruitcake Day & Fruitcake Toss Day
Have I ever declared a favorite Holiday? It might have to be the combination of National Fruitcake Day on December 27th and Fruitcake Toss day on January 3rd. These 2 days have extra-ordinary fun built right in. Naturally, any holiday that involves throwing food is a hit with the kids.
During the holiday season – fruitcake is generally available to purchase in the stores if you don’t want to make your own. If you do make it, it takes TIME to let the fruitcake soak up the spirits. Fruitcake experts advise making fruitcake and allowing it to mature, like fine wine.
Depending on your level of immersion into the holiday, you can make full-blown fruitcake, purchase store-bought or even adapt by using an adapted recipe for fruitcake cookies like the one provided in our Fruitcake Fun Activity Pack.
The antics surrounding these two holidays are a no-miss in my opinion. Having a fruit cake tasting event and a fruitcake tossing event is fun for the whole family. In fact, everything you need, including Fruitcake Awards is in the Activity pack!
If you are looking for some other simple, but meaningful ways to Homeschool through the Holidays, Feel free to check out THIS POST where I share ideas that take you from October – January.
Thanks for checking out the many holidays for December!
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I’d love to chat with you each week about the methods I used to organize, schedule, and lesson plan in my homeschool with the hopes it will help you have a happy hive too. In the meantime, “Bee” sure to check out the different methods of homeschooling as well as our 3 easy strategies for burnout.
Blessings from our Happy Hive to yours!