If you are in Thailand for the Festival of Light known as Loy Krathong – even you're not – this month is the perfect time to try out a few crafty activities with the kids.
In the Land of Smiles, Loy Krathong is a "night of lights". Almost even body of water across the country sparkles with the twinkling lights of krathongs – hand-made floats decorated with flowers, candles and incense. According to tradition, Thai people place all of their worries and troubles onto the krathong before placing in the water where it floats away – taking all the year's problems with it.
In addition to enjoying the sparkling festivities across Thailand, this festival is a great chance to entertain your kids with a few craft-based activities whilst on holiday.
If your staying at a private villa, there's plenty of space to set up a craft session. Below is a list of simple hand-made decorations that will keep kids (and adults) entertained then also add colour and sparkle to any celebration.
Origami blooms are perfect if your kids want to decorate their floating krathongs with handmade paper lotus flowers. Start with one square piece of origami paper, and fold in half along the diagonal. Then, unfold, and fold along the other diagonal. Repeat this step for the horizontal and mid-lines of the paper. Fold all four corners into the centre and repeat five times until you have a small square. Next, reach behind one corner and gently pull the flap of paper around to the front. Allow the flaps next to the one you are pulling to open as well. Repeat this step for all four sides of the square, before reaching behind one more time to pull another corner to the front of the square. Once you have repeated this for all four sides, your lovely lotus flower should be ready to float!
To make your own tea light candles to place in your krathongs, all you need is ¼ lb of soy wax, candle and soap scale, fragrance oil, dye (of your colour choice), clear plastic tea light cups and a set of pre-tabbed wicks. Pour the wax into a metal pitcher and heat up. While the wax is slowly melting, prepare your tea lights by placing one pre-tabbed wick into each cup. Once the wax reaches 185 degrees, pour in your dye and stir for two minutes. Then, remove from heat and stir in your fragrance oil. Allow the wax to cool a bit before pouring carefully into prepared tea light cups. Allow the candles to set overnight before burning them. For obvious reasons, this activity works better for older kids who can be trusted to be sensible when there is hot wax around.
Loy Kratong is all about lights, so why not make some lanterns for kids to hold or hang when the sun goes down? Start with a coloured piece of paper. Cut off a 2cm strip from the shorter side of the paper, which will later be used as a handle for the lantern. Fold the paper in half lengthways and cut fringe-style incisions towards the outer edge of the paper. Stop cutting about 2cm away from the edge of the paper. Next, open out the card and fold it so the two shorter sides can be stapled together. Attach your handle with another couple of staples, and voila!
Colourful Cake Cases
If your kids like baking this activity will go down a treat. All you need is a collection of brightly coloured cake cases, scissors and glue (and perhaps a lotus template if you don’t trust your kids with scissors). The idea is to simply cut lotus shapes from the cake cases. Each different colour represents a new layer of the flower, so the layers should get smaller and smaller the further you get towards the centre of the flower (see picture). Once all of the layers are assembled, simply stick together with glue. Once this is done, it’s time to get baking (or you could always buy a few local banana cakes to pop in the cases).
If your children prefer painting to cutting and sticking, why not have them decorate their own krathongs with some painted jars? You can buy some products in jars format the local supermarket, empty them and clean them out so your kids can splash pretty colours and patterns onto the jars. Once the evening arrives, it’s time to put your troubles (and candles!) into the jars, and watch them float away.