All Ages: Wintry Activities Inspired by Christmas and Other Festivals of Light

Here at The Poetry Society, we’re starting to wind down for our Christmas holidays. We’ll be shut from the evening of 24 December, and re-opening on 4 January. But just because we’re pausing doesn’t mean the poetry stops – oh, no. Here are some festive poetry activities to light up your dark days and (yule)tide you over until the new year.

  • Every year, The Poetry Society commissions a festive new poem from a children’s writer to decorate the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. This year, Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson wrote The Christmas Pine and you can find activities to write a poem inspired by hers (and previous year’s poems) here.
  • Challenge yourselves to learn a festive poem off by heart ready for Christmas – some great suggestions by our friends at Poetry By Heart here and don’t forget our twelve Christmas tree poems by children’s poets!
  • Writing Christmas cards this year (paper or digital)? Make them extra special by including a poem!
  • Paper chain poems – write single lines of poems, carols or Christmas songs on 15cm x 2cm strips of paper, staple or glue them into chains and decorate the house.
  • Equally fun – make your own Christmas crackers (or adapt shop-bought ones) and include a poem as well as a joke and a lovely paper crown.

Red Christmas cracker on a plate

  • Give a poem! It’s a year when getting to the shops can be tricky, and lots of us might be stretched for resources. But if you’re looking for stocking fillers, a hand-written poem by yourself or an old favourite is a great way to show a loved one you care. You could even try illustrating a poem – see some tips from legendary illustrator, Chris Riddell, here.
  • What do you want for Christmas? Think about writing your Christmas wish list as a poem – a sure-fire way to put yourself on Santa’s ‘nice’ list. For more ideas about how to turn a wish list into a poem, see here.
  • On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… an iPad Air? Can you re-write the Twelve Days of Christmas with some lyrics for the twenty-first century?
  • Or just do some reading. If you’re in secondary school and looking for an alternative angle on Christmas, get inspired by some of this year’s Foyle Young Poets: April Egan reconsiders Bethlehem and Christmas imagery in ‘eleven days left in apocalips end’, and Hannah Eve Kilgore offers a different take on the new year in ‘January’.
  • If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this December, read this collection of Hanukkah-themed poems.
  • Inspired by Simon Armitage’s Book of Matches and wintry festivals of light, why not write poems (or plan a poetry reading) designed to last for as long as a candle takes to burn?
  • Collaborate with your friends and family this Christmas! A great way to involve everyone while staying warm indoors. If all the collaborators are aged 25 or younger, and you create something creative together that involves writing some new poetry, you could be in with a chance of publication, prizes and more – find lots more ideas and how to enter by 17 January 2021 here.
  • If you don’t celebrate Christmas, this holiday might be more of a chance to focus on finding some quiet time to relax. Find out more about how poetry can be a tool for better mental health here, or use it as a way to escape into an imaginary world here.
  • Whatever festival you’re celebrating (or even if you’re just enjoying being cosied up indoors during these shorter days), there’s probably some good food involved. Check out our food-related poetry prompts here.