My next suggestion is puppet play. Now you may think that your sophisticated fledglings are above and beyond puppets, but I beg to differ with you. What child (or adult for that matter) can resist the playful muppets?
Puppets come every size and shape and character imaginable. They can range from the extremely simple style to the more complex automaton (we won't go there). However, they do give your child, no matter what age, from toddler to tween, the opportunity to use the imagination and play away hours of drama, comedy and fun in those wonderful imaginary storylands.
Puppets can teach and reinforce valuable cultural lessons from the mystique of Santa and his elves, to the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and the experiences of all other of the characters involved in that story.
They can even allow children to explore the celebration of Chanukah
(there is a lot there to work with as far as storylines, etc.) Try this link: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102816/jewish/Chanukah-Story.htm
There is even the story of St. Nicholas and Krampus. Now Krampus is a fellow developed long before Christmas celebrations were even a twinkle in the Christian eye but he is now a sidekick of St. Nicholas (especially in Austria) to keep the kiddies in line for the holidays.
I have written a blog post on some of his story (see my post, "The Dark Side of Christmas" dated 19 November 2012) and he would make an ideal character with lots of personality and play potential.
Here is some help with different types of puppets that can be constructed with or without your child's help:
Even though these are Halloween puppets, they can be changed to Christmas/Chanukah or other seasonal characters ... say the Nutcracker story.
These puppets (above) have a popsicle stick inside to hold.
Finger puppets are the greatest because they can be most versatile. They can range from the simplest style to more complex forms. Here is a site that can help you get started:
Wooden spoon puppets are also fun, easy and inexpensive:
Simple felt characters in the hand/glove puppet style are fun, too:
Check out this site for some more ideas ...
I must admit, I have loved puppets forever and have made some for my grandson (5 years old) and me to commemorate Christmas. They are a little more complicated but are simple single rod puppets which have a little ring attached to the back of the doll so that it can be hung on the Christmas tree or on a small hook when not in use or when the child has outgrown puppet play but wants to recall Christmas memories.
So there are memories and hours of play and learning out there ... time to get creating!! Most of all have fun! Happy Holidays!!
(Here are some of the puppets I have made for myself and my grandson. )