Christmas with toddlers and pre-kindy kids

This year has been the first year CurlyGirl has been able to understand Christmas to a certain gree. Its been nice to be abllain the meaning of Christmas while she plays with her nativiCht, andimportar sing a few words of the Christmas carols i've had playing in the background here and there this month.

We can't have a tree this year. CurlyBoy is a climber. Even if we put a safety gate around it, it's a massive tree and he would find a way to pull it on top of himself. But CurlyGirl still got to enjoy decorating her grandma's Christmas tree.
We have instead, decorated our fireplace. I set up the nativity set on the fireplace (its a toy one so its multi-purpose and unbreakable lol) we also have some cards ttelling oe been sent to us up on the mantle. Livi painted and decorated her own Christmas tree painting which we stuck on the wall and we also have a gumnut decoration she made at playgroup. Finish with a big red bow and it still feels like Christmas in our home without a tree.
Heres the tree painting:

I painted the outline and she went to town with glitter, paint, ribbon and craft beading. She painted presents and we talked about the greatest present of all, Jesus. Meanwhile CurlyBoy, our toddler messed with watered down paint (finger paint) and listened in.

this Is the playgroup craft: 


  I'm not sure of which tree this is from but its some sort of native gumnut. It's an easy and fun activity for little ones and makes very pretty tree decorations. 

1. Use a paintbrush to cover the nut In clag or craft glue

2. Roll the nut in a bowl of glitter of child's colour choice, and also sprinkle glitter on too. Doing both affords maximum coverage and of course fun.

3. Twist some leaf-wire around the attached twig (little ones may need some help with this)

4. Get an adult to tie on some string/yarn, and you are done!

and this is the nativity set we use:

Its by fisher price and was $25 on sale at Kmart a few years ago for Livi's second Christmas. I tend to put it away and bring it out again in december. This way its a new toy again and gets played with alot while its out. The angel on top can be pressed and the star on the barn lights up and It plays a portion of silent night.
Although I find it amusing that the set has the typical flaw of Mary, Joseph and Jesus being white (lolll us westerners) kids won't care or notice and it's been a great teaching tool and is adorable.

we also read the "come and see Baby Jesus" story to the kids. Its more for a 0-3 yr old as it is very very simple. For my 4 year old we also read the story of Jesus' birth from a Children's bible along with the NKJV account. The Children's bible she sat and attentively listened. The NKJV reading, I sat next to her as she painted Christmas pictures (which we use as wrapping paper) and she listened whilst she had something to do with her hands. Its been great to be take it that step further this year. There have been alot of "why" and "how"s from her which has left room for discussion about the reason for the season. 

Things we have done with the tiny tots in the lead up to Christmas:

> bible and kids story book telling of Jesus's birth
> Nativity play with toy set
> visited our local lights display
> made tree decorations with playgroup
> painted on butcher paper with Christmas colours to use for unique recycled wrapping paper
> discussed why we exchange gifts
> wrapped presents together
> briefly explained the story behind santa claus (st Nicholas) as we don't do santa in our home and do not emphasise santa at all but we acknowledge that other families do and our little ones arent to be whistle blowers haha.
> baked Christmas cookies

Next year I plan on using my new advent tree (see it on our facebook page, making a gingerbread house together, decorating the tree together, and most importantly teaching more about Jesus and the significance of His birth.

what do you and yours do in December to celebrate CHRISTmas?