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The silly season is upon us, here’s how to make the most of it.

Exams are over, school is wrapping up, and most of us are breathing just a little bit easier as the year comes to an end. Bring on the silly season; now is the time to relax, enjoy yourself and have a bit of fun with family and friends.

get baking

Make a batch of gingerbread dough, roll it out and cut out panels for a gingerbread house. You’ll need two of each for the front and back of the house, two panels for the sides, and two for the roof. Stick them together with icing sugar and decorate. Or just make gingerbread shapes and decorate with glacé (water) icing. Eat the biscuits, or make small holes in each (before baking) and string them up as decorations.

Easy butter biscuits are also great for rolling and cutting into shapes, which children can then decorate with icing and sweets.

DIY fun

Decorations or ornaments can be easy and fun to make. Spray paint pine cones. If you sprinkle glitter over them when the paint is still wet, the glitter will stick to it. You can hang these, or place them in a pot to look like trees.

Thread red and white beads onto pipe cleaners and bend at the top to make candy canes.

Cut out six star or circle shapes from different patterned card or thick paper. Fold these in half and glue one half to the next until all the halves have been stuck, giving you a 3-D shape.

Make a glittery string tree. Firstly, make a cone out of thick paper and cover this in cling film. Then take long pieces of twine or coloured string and dip these in a mix of PVA glue and water. Wrap the string around the cone. While the glue is still wet, sprinkle some glitter over your tree. Leave to dry, then slide the cone out. You can make a twine ball the same way, but using a balloon to shape it. Once the glue dries, pop the balloon.

Make your own gift boxes. Take the cardboard tube from a toilet roll and press it flat. Press in the sides at each end to create curved flaps that close your box. Colour in, paint or decorate.

Find some fun and crafty things to make and bake here.

game time

Keep children entertained with fun festive games. They could have marshmallow races to see who can pick up the most mini marshmallows with chopsticks before the time runs out.

You can also blindfold children, spin them around and let them pin a cardboard carrot on a snowman.

Line everyone up for a penguin race. Contestants place a balloon between their knees and race (or waddle) to the finish line.

Or, if you have enough people, split them into teams and see who can make their reindeer antlers the fastest. Teams do this by blowing up balloons and stuffing them into a pair of stockings. Nominate a reindeer in each team. The first team to get their antlers on their reindeer wins.

shh! It’s a secret

There are various ways to play Secret Santa. Start by setting a price limit – guests can get something nice for R100, or something silly for just R20.

Read our article on how to do and enjoy Christmas on a budget.

You can then exchange names, so everyone has to buy for a particular person. Or ask everyone to buy a generic gift. Each person then draws a number. Going in turn, everyone can either choose a gift, or steal someone else’s. If your gift gets stolen, you get to choose a new one. The person who selected a gift first then gets a chance to steal.

The alternative is for everyone to take a gift along with a piece of paper with an instruction on it. This could include things like “Swop with the person on your right”, “Exchange gifts with someone wearing red”, or “Swop with someone who has a beard”. Tailor these to your guests. Once everyone has followed their instruction, you can unwrap your gifts.

Tamlyn Vincent