A couple things you should know about the WYG gals before diving into today’s post.
1) We are notoriously terrible at arts and crafts.
2) One of us loves kids, one of us does not.
So, today we are talking about a holiday grief activity for grieving children that I promise is cheap and simple. Now, just so we’re clear, I am the WYGer who does not love children. I should have a permanent feature on pintrosity, because every time I try to craft my dog ends up covered in glue and whatever I make looks like it came out of a kindergarten classroom. Oh, and I am NOT a holiday person. Not before the losses I have gone through, not after.
I put that out there because it is important you know that anyone, and I do mean anyone, can pull together a meaningful holiday grief activity to support a child or teen. As the holiday season moves into full swing, consider how you can open up the conversation with the kids in your life about their emotions this holiday. Art activities, like the one we have for you today, can be a great way to open up the conversation.
If you are unsure what to expect from grieving children of different ages, check out our post on childhood development and grief. The beauty of our activity today is that it works for young kids, who may just be working on identifying feelings, all the way through teens who may enjoy creating a meaningful memorial to be part of your holiday decor. And, let’s be honest, this is actually a great activity for adults too! Let’s get to it. Today we are making holiday ornaments, filled with feelings and memories and whatever else we want to stuff inside!
1) Tons of ribbon, in whatever colors you love. Buy at least six colors if you are doing the activity with young children, ten or more if you are doing it with older kids.
2) Clear ornaments, the type you can open. I got mine at Michaels, where they had both glass and plastic. I went with plastic because, you know, kids.
3) Strips of paper, whatever colors you like, cut thin. If you are doing this with kids who would rather draw than write, cut the paper in squares instead of strips.
4) Beads, stars, snowflakes, or whatever other small shiny objects you can dig up at the craft store. The rules are loose around here.
5) Markers, pens or colored pencils.
1) Cut all the ribbon up into six-inch segments.
2) Talk with kids about all the different emotions they feel when they are thinking about the person they have lost and make a list. Some common emotions with young kids may be sad, lonely, happy, scared, mad, love etc. For older kids, there may be more emotions, like yearning, guilt, regret, hope, yearning, anger, etc.
3) Assign each emotion to a different color ribbon and lay them all out on a table, with labels.
4) Lay out your shiny objects, whatever they may be, and label them ‘memories’.
5) Lay out your strips of paper with markers, pens or colored pencils.
Go For It
Give each child an ornament. Explain that each ribbon is a different emotion and they should fill the ornament with the different emotions they feel when they think about the person they have lost. This is a great time to talk with younger kids about feelings and help them understand that they may be feeling a wide range of different feelings, and that is okay.
Explain next that the beads represent memories. Encourage kids to think about different holiday memories they have of the person they have lost. For each memory have them drop a bead into the ornament. This is a great opportunity to share memories together, but if kids don’t want to share that is okay too – don’t push too hard. For kids who are younger and may have fewer holiday memories, you may want to make this any memory. You could also use this as a way for you to share a memory with the child, then add a bead for each story you share with them.
Finally, allow kids to write or draw anything they would like on the strip of paper. This could be a message to the person who died, a memory, or whatever else they wish. When they are done, add the paper to the ornament and close it up. Tie a ribbon to the top and you are all done! It’s that easy.
This is one of many ways you can acknowledge grief and tough feelings during the holiday with kids, share memories of those we have lost, and make some adorable ornaments to boot!
Don’t love this as a holiday ornament? No problem! Hang it in the window and it can be a decoration any time of year.
We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.