It’s that time of year again when the holidays are already in stores and you’re making cocoa regardless of the temperature outside: Yule! I don’t put my Yule decorations up until after Thanksgiving (American), but the pre-game? It’s already started. Below are eight ideas for Yuletide fun that I hope you’ll enjoy.
1. Full Year Divination: Now that the nights are long, doing divination for the full Wheel of the Year to come is a fun way to pass a lazy evening. It takes a little while, but the results can be illuminating. Suggested spreads include the Yule Tree spread found in Yule by Susan Pesznecker, a Wheel of the Year spread with one card to represent each of the eight sabbats, or a 12 card spread to symbolize each month in the solar year. You can vary this one and go a 12-13 card spread for each Full Moon in the lunar year as well. Be sure to record the information in your Book of Shadows and reflect on it as the year goes by.
2. Gift Tag Wish Tree: A wish tree is part of Tanabata, or at least that’s what I always associated it with. This activity uses that traditional festival as a basis, and adapts it for Yule. This activity works well for witchlings and families as well as solitaries and witches in the broom closet. Once your tree is up, use paper gift tags to write intentions or ‘wishes’ for the New Year. Fold the tags so that the writing cannot be read; then hang them on the tree. Either on Yule or when you take the tree down, dispose of the tags by burning them in your cauldron (recommended) or burying them, if they are biodegradable.
3. Give Back: Last year I recommended giving back to nature, but people also need a little help getting through winter. Charity is a wonderful quality to bestow to witchlings, too; in my house we never threw anything out that wasn’t damaged beyond repair, we rehomed it or gave it to charity. I also never sold gifts, if something was given to me and I no longer wanted it, I gave it away. This year consider giving back in any way you can. Go through old clothes and donate them, sponsor a child for the holidays through a local Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, or other organization. Donate canned food, go to a soup kitchen, or adopt a family for a holiday dinner. You can also support Giving Tuesday, which is the first Tuesday after US Thanksgiving, a day that a lot of people donate money to charitable organizations.
4. Handmade Holiday Cards: A few years back I posted some muggle-friendly holiday cards, but one of my best holiday memories as a kid was making holiday cards. My parents always had an insanely long card list, so we would go to the craft shop and buy blank cards, and the kids had to do the heavy labor. “I hope you don’t mind if they look awful!” I would think and not say out loud. However bad the cards may have looked, it was really fun covering them with glue, glitter, stamps, markers, and whatever else was within grabbing distance of my “Are you sure you want to trust me with this glue gun?” hands. Consider making your holiday cards this year, it’s much more fun and person, and you’ll make a memory for yourself, too.
5. Pagan Countdown Calendar: Purists will reject taking anything from the Christian tradition and using it for sabbats. My counterargument is that Christians took a ton of stuff from Yule to create Christmas, why can’t we borrow one back? Holiday cards, candy canes, and advent calendars are not pagan, but they sure are fun. You may, however, want to change the name to Yule Countdown Calendar, since advent is very not pagan. To make a Yule Countdown Calendar you will need 20 small boxes or containers. Keep the items small and affordable. This also works as a great alternative to a stocking (see below). My full article on how to make a Yule Countdown Calendar can be found on the site here.
6. Stockings: Stockings were my dad’s thing, even after I became an adult I’d get a stocking, and lo and behold, it’s my thing now, too. My step-son gets a packed stocking whether he cares or not, and since I’m on to the fact that they dump them out all at once like animals, I wrap everything in tissue paper. Foiled again, kids! I really like having a tradition for the kids that’s ‘mine’ and not something from their biological family unit, and I love buying all the fiddly little pieces, eating a bunch of the candies, replacing them, and repeating until Yule. Why can’t I resist jelly beans? Is it because they’re delicious? Some pagan stocking stuffer ideas include chocolate oranges (representing the returning Sun), little candles (responsible witchlings only), a dream sachet, jewelry, candy coins (prosperity and the returning Sun), and pretty much anything you can dream up.
7. Snowflake Paper Decorations: This is an activity I did with my students when I taught High School; the day before winter break is an old fashioned nightmare – pardon me for not teaching them one day – plus they love it (even more than the poppets we made on Samhain). These are rather easy to make and only require paper and scissors; I only gave my High School students safety scissors (because, yes, they try and cut each other’s skin and hair like maniacs), and it worked fine. Instructions for making a six-pointed paper snowflake can be found online on many websites (this is a good tutorial). You can also take a square sheet of paper and fold in half diagonally three times, then cut shapes out of the edges, and unfold. Finished snowflakes can be hung on windows with tape, hung from the ceiling (or anywhere else) with string, or made into a garland. Just punch a tiny hole at the top and bottom of the snowflakes, and tie them together with string, leaving a few inches between each snowflake. Individual paper snowflakes will look kind of lousy (I’m not going to lie), but a bunch of them together always looks really cool.
8. Yule Log Cake: Also known as a Buche de Noel, Yule log cakes are super cute and make a great substitute for a real Yule log. We have nowhere to burn a proper Yule log, so instead we decorate this cake; it’s a fun and delicious tradition. A great recipe can be found in Yule by Susan Pesznecker as well as online (I like this simple Betty Crocker one). It’s probably a little hard for witchlings, but they can absolutely help with the decorating. Choose decorations with correspond to the season and top with cake-safe candles.
I hope that you find some of these ideas inspiring for the upcoming Yule season. If you’re looking for more ideas, my original Eight Yule Season Celebration Ideas article can be found here. What are some of your favorite traditions? Share them in the comments! Blessed be, friends.
Stock image by Dana Tentis via Pexels