Monday, December 26, 2011

The After Christmas Tree: A second season of giving

By Laura Eldredge

Well ... it's officially OVER! It's the day after Christmas, and all through the house ... (fill in the blank!). All the time and preparation to decorate and make holiday memories is finished ... all that's left is the cleanup!! In particular, there's the TREE! It has to come down eventually - and if you have a live tree, sooner than that!

I grew up in the land of artificial Christmas trees, and thought it was great. But moving to New England (Connecticut) and marrying my husband brought a new tradition ... the LIVE tree. It smells glorious ... but oh those needles! One year the tree we had dried out so quickly, it fell ON Christmas Day. But I digress.

One other new tradition we started at our home was the "After Christmas Tree" - taking the tree outside and decorating it with edible items for the birds and squirrels to eat. All those stale Christmas cookies? They go right onto the tree!! I like extending the life of the tree (and letting the needles fall OUTSIDE, rather than on my carpet!).And wouldn't you know - there's a delightful children's book to go with this idea called "The After Christmas Tree" by Linda Wagner Tyler.

The story illustrates how a family (saddened by having to take out the tree after Christmas) invite friends over for an after-Christmas party. Among other things, they create pinecone bird feeders and string popcorn and berries with which to decorate their tree for the birds and animals, so they have enough food through the winter. I love how the tree no longer looks sad at the end, and enjoys it's "second season of giving.''

Whether you have a Christmas tree or not, children can still be inspired to give to back to nature by decorating trees in their backyards or on the school playground with edible treats. During one "Christmas in July" activity that we did at our preschool summer camp, we read this story and made biscuit bird feeders to hang up outside.

You need:
  • biscuits
  • peanut butter or shortening
  • birdseed
  • straws
  • yarn or string

First, make biscuits according to package instructions (or buy them pre-made). Then, push a straw through the middle of the biscuit (this is where you will feed the yarn or string through for hanging).
Next, have children spread peanut butter (or shortening, if there are allergies), onto the biscuit and then have them roll it around in the birdseed.

Then, hang your feeders on your Christmas tree (or ANY tree) outside! Children can really learn a lot about nature by watching the birds and small animals who come by their tree for a nibble. Maybe give them a journal and have them record the types of birds (by color) and animals that come by!


  1. I definitely need to check that book out! This sounds like a wonderful way to extend the fun of Christmas (and include some of the clean up, as well)!

  2. That's a VERY cool idea. I'm going to look for the book. Thanks!

    Grade ONEderful

  3. Thanks!!! Haven't decided yet which day we'll be putting our tree outside - but can't wait to decorate it all over again with some goodies for the birds!

  4. I have a post coming with this same book (on my blog). I guess great minds think alike!

  5. You bet Melissa! ;-) Can't wait to see it!

  6. I have shared this book too! I love it and read it every year in my classroom!! A classic for this time of year:)

  7. Lovely post and activity, Laura! I pinned your post to my Kids' Christmas Activities Pinterest board at


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