Christmas Tree Traditions with Grandparents
Inside: Here are 8 of the best Christmas tree traditions to do with grandparents or as a family. They are all centered around the universal tradition and love of Christmas trees!
Everyone loves Christmas trees! They usher in the spirit of Christmas and are considered a holiday essential for most people around the world.
Bringing an evergreen tree into the house can be traced back over 1000 years ago, but how we view Christmas trees with decorations and lights comes from the German Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther. According to legend, Luther was walking home in the woods on a dark December night and was struck by the beauty of the starlight shining through the branches of the fir trees.
He was so moved that he duplicated the effect by bringing an evergreen tree into his home and tying and lighting candles to the branches. The lit tree was so beautiful that his neighbors copied him and Christmas tree traditions were born!
Today, the Christmas tree is one of the most loved and beloved traditions of Christmas.
I themed our activities with the grandkids around Christmas Trees. Here are 8 different Christmas tree traditions that will bring the spirit of Christmas into your home. Plus, your kids/grandkids will find them downright fun!
#1: Christmas Tree Traditions: Tree Branch Christmas Trees & Colors of Nature
Do your grandkids love nature? If so, they’ll have fun with this project. It brings together
The idea grew from seeing a pile of branches the grandkids and I had gathered late fall. They were so beautiful and interesting, we decided to make Christmas trees out of them.
Show your kids/grandkids all the interesting knots, colors, and textures of tree branches. This project also includes a painted background to paint in all the colors of nature.
- Go to a park or canyons where you can gather dead branches from trees. ¼-inch diameter is good. Identify what kinds of trees the branches are from.
- Cut or break 3 branches to form a triangle
- Cut or break 4 smaller branches to use as middle branches of the tree
- Use 1 small branch as the trunk of the tree
- Hot glue all the branches to form a triangle-shaped tree. (hot gluing should be done by an adult)
- Glue a star at the top.
Ideas of color and variation:
- Take a piece of white cardstock paper that is slightly smaller than the tree. Paint in colors your kids/grandkids see in nature. Let dry; attach the tree to the cardboard for a splash of color.
- Hot-glue small Christmas ornaments, bells, buttons, etc., on the tree
- Put the tree and painted back in a frame and hang on the wall
This project lends itself to a lot of experimenting and creativity.
#2: Creating a Pinecone Forest for Your Christmas Tree Traditions
I saw this idea on Artbar Blog. However, keeping with our Christmas tree traditions theme, we used the colors of Christmas–red, green, and white.
- Cardboard 12×12 piece.
- Tempera paints—red, green & white (I like the Prang brand at the Dollar Store)
- Gather pinecones that are not prickly and ones that have flat bottoms—they are easier to hot glue to the cardboard
- Blue glitter glue
- Cover the cardboard with white utility paper
- Hot glue about 10-12 pinecones onto each cardboard. This must be done by an adult.
- Have your kids/grandkids squirt different colors of paint over the pinecones
- Sprinkle glitter over the painted pinecones
- Use blue glitter glue to create a lake in your pinecone forest
#3 Cinnamon Roll Christmas Trees: the Best Christmas Tree Tradition
I’ve been making cinnamon rolls since 1975 and decided to give my grandkids an experience using yeast. Keeping with our Christmas tree tradition, each grandchild made their own cinnamon roll Christmas Tree.
- Make a batch of cinnamon rolls (click here for my Best Cinnamon Roll recipe)
- You will need 10 rolls for each child/grandchild.
- Make or purchase a 20×20” square of cardboard for each child
- Follow the recipe and bake and frost the rolls
- Create a tree with the rolls using this configuration: 4 rolls on the bottom layer, 3 on the next layer, 2 on the next layer, and 1 on top.
- Decorate with candied cherries
- Don’t forget a paper trunk at the bottom and a star at the top (like we did)
Note: our grandkids insisted on doing this themselves so there were a few learning curves–instead of sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the rolled-out dough–they dumped the whole thing on and spread it across the dough with their hands. And when rolling the dough to form a jelly-roll, it was too loose. Oops! Despite everything–it was fun and the rolls were delicious!
#4: Washi Tape Wooden Christmas Tree Ornaments
(Most are found at the Dollar Store except the washi tape)
- Wooden Christmas trees
- White acrylic paint
- Red, green, white, yellow tempera paint
- Christmas washi tape
- Foil stars
- Paint the wooden trees with white acrylic paint. Let dry.
- Next, paint the trees with green tempera paint and let dry.
- Hot glue a star to the top of the tree
- Have the kids/grandkids cut pieces of washi tape and tape over the trees as decorations
These can be used as ornaments. They are large but adds interest to a Christmas tree.
#5: Popsicle Stick Tree Ornaments
You probably made these when you were little. They’ve been around for years. Be creative and help your kids/grandkids add their own decorations to make them “uniquely theirs.”
- Colored popsicle sticks
- Decorations for the tree: buttons, pom-poms, alphabet beads, jewel stickers, bells, etc.
- Corrugated paper for the trunks (Michaels)
- Either glue or hot glue the sticks into triangles
- Cut a small trunk from brown corrugated paper and glue at the base for the trunk
- Give your kids/grandkids a variety of things to decorate their trees: bells, pom-poms, beads, alphabet beads, snowflakes, etc.
These are the perfect size to use as ornaments. If your kids/grandkids have their own little Christmas tree in their bedrooms—have them make several of these to use as ornaments.
Our grandkids LOVED doing this project–and spent a long time gluing the little alphabet beads onto their trees.
#6: A Paper Strip Christmas Tree
This is a simple project that requires lots of gluing, cutting, or tearing of paper. Take strips of different colors of cardstock paper; create a Christmas tree and glue everything into place.
- Different colors of cardstock paper. Add some cardstock Christmas paper, too
- 1 11×14” poster board
- Cut a bunch of colored strips of cardstock paper. Make them different widths and lengths. If your grandkids are too young to use scissors or paper cutter–have them tear the strips.
- Draw a triangle on paper so your kids/grandkids can see the shape of the tree they are making. Note–they may start with the larger strips on the bottom, but may change to larger strips in the middle. It won’t necessarily look like a traditional Christmas tree–but who cares. Creativity is more important than tradition.
- Create a Christmas tree with the strips. The strips can be overlapping, some can be turned slightly in one direction or another. Encourage your kids/grandkids not to make them perfectly symmetrical.
Display in a window or on a wall during December.
#7: Christmas Tree Stacking Cups Game: a STEM Challenge
Your kids/grandkids will LOVE playing this Christmas tree stacking cups game. This is a STEM challenge because you must balance the stacking glasses on top of each other so they will not fall down. After playing it several times—you can time each child/grandchild and see how quickly they can build their pyramid.
After the grandkids had done this several times–they decided to work as a team and they all combined their cups and created a HUGE pyramid.
- 14 green plastic cups per child (Walmart)
- 1 red plastic cup per child
- 10×18” cardboard
- Each child/grandchild stacks the cups to build a Christmas tree on the cardboard strip. The cardboard strip will keep the cups steady. You can also use a table, but this tree gets pretty big so putting it on the floor helps little kids to reach it.
- The configuration is: the largest number of cups to smallest starting with 5 cups and ending with 1 cup. Use a different colored cup on the top
- Because they are learning balance and correct placement of the cups, it’s a little tricker than you think and becomes a STEM challenge!
Fun to do. Simple to execute. Inspiration: Raising Dragons
#8: Books about Christmas Tree Traditions
When you’re introducing a theme to your kids/grandkids—start out by reading some books to them on the subject. And nothing says, “Christmas” like Christmas books!
Here are some fabulous books about Christmas trees. Our favorite is The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale About the Rockefeller Center Tree –a charming story about how the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition started and what they do with the tree after it’s taken down.
- The Marvelous Much-Loved Christmas Tree by Kelly Grettler
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
- A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
- The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains by Annie Silvestro
- Night Tree by Eve Bunting
- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
- Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
- The Carpenter’s Gift; A Christmas tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rubel