Decking the Halls (and Walls)… of Thailand

Carly Allard, 129 YinD

“Oh, by gosh, by golly! It’s time for mistletoe and holly!” Except mistletoe and holly aren’t readily available in rural Thailand. Neither are traditional Christmas trees, holiday TV specials, mulled wine, or snow. While the Christmas-celebrating world we know and love in the States is enjoying a winter wonderland, PCVs are barely donning sweatshirts and socks in Thailand. That’s not to say, however, there’s not plenty of holiday spirit in our homes, classrooms, and, of course, our hearts!

All month long, PCVs have worked to create crafty holiday activities and lessons to share holiday traditions with our students and host families in Thailand. Classrooms are buzzing with sounds of Thai students singing the newly-learned lyrics to “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. Thanks to Netflix, students, teachers, and PCVs alike are able to enjoy holiday classics like “The Polar Express”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and “Elf” in both Thai and English. Paper snowflakes, popsicle stick ornaments, and pictures of Santa’s “helper” elves don the walls of our classrooms and houses.

Holiday and winter-themed classroom activities are always big hits with little ones, especially since most of them have a little bit of knowledge about Christmas basics, particularly jolly old St. Nick. Simple activities like snowflake and Christmas card making are good, easy art projects that also allow the opportunity for vocabulary lessons. Making and decorating popsicle sticks or paper ornaments is also a fun project, especially if there’s a tree to decorate! PCV Cait (Group 128, Kanchanaburi) made a gigantic paper Christmas tree on one of her classroom’s walls and PCV Michael (Group 129, Phetchabun) made an impressive wooden tree from recycled sticks and tinsel.

Classroom games are always popular and are particularly easy to turn into holiday games. Instead of the classic party game “pin the tail on the donkey”, PCVs are challenging their students to pin the nose on the snowman. Students also enjoy the snowball relay race, in which they use plastic spoons (no hands allowed!) to transport cotton balls from one bucket to another across the classroom. It’s the closest to snow these guys will get this holiday season! This time of year, musical chairs is played to Christmas music and an ordinary BINGO game uses holiday words, which allows another opportunity for a quick vocabulary lesson.

As Thai students (and PCVs too) seem to love selfies, what’s better than a holiday photo booth? Teachers and PCVs prepare creative, low-budget photo booth props and backdrops or allow students to make them on their own. Popsicle sticks and straws work great to turn paper decorations into hold-able photo booth props.

Beyond their classrooms, PCVs are bringing the holidays into their homes. Thanks to many friends and family members, garland, miniature Christmas trees, stockings, and festive lights deck the halls of PCV houses and bedrooms. PCV Kayla (Group 129, Kalasin) dressed-up her front door as Olaf the snowman and continues to add snowflakes to her walls and windows. Kayla’s neighborhood kids enjoyed trying on her Santa hat and baking and distributing gingerbread cookies to their families and neighbors. PCV Theresa (Group 129, Satun) borrowed a fake Christmas tree from her friend and decorated it with her two host brothers. They even decorated the palm trees in front of their house, too!

Among Thailand’s sunshiny days and swaying palm trees, PCVs are doing their best to enjoy and share the holiday spirit with those around them. We’re bringing festive fun and fragments of American holiday culture to our classrooms, homes, and communities. This year, we’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas from the other side of the world, but have no doubt, it’s a holly jolly holiday for everyone here in Thailand!


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