Traditions with a Twist: A Holiday Game with your Au Pair, guest post by Cristina Sierra

by cv harquail on December 12, 2014

Long time contributor-under-a-nom-de-mom, Cristina Sierra shares this holiday idea:

A “Mad” Twist on ‘T’was The Night Before Christmas’

jack lailHere’s a creative way to introduce your Au Pair to a US holiday tradition, namely the poem  “T’was the night before Christmas” – by making it his / her own.

How? Easy – just add Mad Libs.

By interchanging a few of the original words with their own words, your Au Pair and kids can work as a team to create a new “Au Pair’d” version of this holiday tradition.

We tried this our Au Pair and here’s what I recommend: 

  1. Don’t share anything about the original poem, just go through the poem below and ask for words using listed in all caps and underlined.
  2. The Au Pair comes up with his / her own words and a child can write them down or the Au Pair and children work together and mom / dad is the scribe.
  3. Before reading the new version, read the original version aloud, explaining it along the way, then compare the difference. 

We did it and it was great – not only did our Au Pair learn a lot of new words, we also had a fun cultural exchange “moment” (you can never have too many!) discussing how some Americans experience Christmas.  

Fun facts that add to the cultural exchange – 

  • Did you know this poem was published anonymously in 1823? Later Clement Clark Moore took credit for it in 1837.
  • According to the book Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 this poem, one of the best known American poems, is largely responsible for many conceptions of Santa Clause from the mid 1800s to today.


Cristina Sierra is an advisor for Lily & Strum, a service for busy people who never want to miss a gift moment for the people in their lives.
[ cv’s note: Cristina also has her own business,, that helps people find creative and appropriate gifts for kids.  She’s been such a great contributor to the blog that I’m happy not only to share her guest post, but also to plug her businesses a little. ]

For more fun blogs, go to:

 ‘T’was The Night Before Christmas’ Mad lib style

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the PLACE

Not a creature was stirring, not even a ANIMAL;

The THINGS were hung by the FURNITURE with care,

In hopes that FAMOUS PERSON soon would be there;

The youth were all nestled all snug in a FURNITURE

While visions of THINGs danced in their heads;


Had just settled down for a long winter’s ACTION,

When out on the AREA OF THE HOUSE there arose such a SOUND,

FAMILY MEMBER 1 sprang from the PLACE / ROOM to see what was the matter.

When, what to my ADJECTIVE, BODY PART should appear,

But a miniature VEHICLE, and eight tiny ANIMALs,

With a little ADJECTIVE driver, so ADJECTIVE and ADJECTIVE,

I knew in a moment it must be FAMOUS PERSON.

More rapid than ANIMALs his/her coursers they came,

And s/he SOUND-ed, and SOUND-ed, and called them by name;


As I drew in my BODY PART and was VERB-ed around,

Down the FURNITURE / AREA OF THE HOUSE came with a bound.

S/He was dressed all in PIECE OF CLOTHING, from his/her BODY-PART to his/her BODY-PART,

And his/her PIECE OF CLOTHING was all tarnished with THINGS and soot;

A bundle of THINGS s/he had flung on his/her BODY PART,

And s/he looked like a peddler just opening his/her pack.

His/her BODY PART — how they ADJECTIVE


His/her BODY PART were like THINGS

his/her BODY PART like a cherry!

s/He had a broad BODY PART and a little ADJECTIVE belly,

That shook, when s/he VERB like a bowlful of THINGS.

S/He was ADJECTIVE and ADJECTIVE a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him/her, in spite of myself;

S/He spoke not a word, but went straight to his/her work,

And filled all the CLOTHING; then ACTION with a jerk,

And laying his/her BODYPART aside of his/her nose,

And giving a nod, up the FURNITURE s/he VERBed;

S/He sprang to his/her VEHICLE, to his/her TEAM gave a SOUND,

And away they all flew like the SOUND of an ANIMAL.

But I heard him/her SOUND, ere s/he VERB out of sight,

ADJECTIVE Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Image: Jack Lail on Flickr


TexasHM December 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm

LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing! And my nerdy self loves the historical context. I wonder if there are any other poems/songs related to holidays that you could do this with…

NNTexasHM December 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Very fun and you can also do this with Hanukkah poems, the Paul Revere Midnight Ride, many other poems. We’re going to try this before the holidays so our Au Pair gets a sense of the poem and how it impacted the US perceptions of Christmas.

WarmStateMomma December 13, 2014 at 12:24 am

We are definitely doing this with our AP!

Support Beane December 15, 2014 at 11:12 pm

We did something like this one year with the 12 (Family) Days of Christmas. It was sooooo funny, double the fun and we ended up with a hilarious keepsake song. Excerpt: “(day 5)Where are my keys!, (4) I can’t find my glasses (3) you done bumped your head (2) say word (1) Mama my brother hit me for no reason!!” Each verse was a famous family member saying edited to fit the song. Could this count as that new jigsaw-puzzle-singing craze where families put a twist on musical remix?

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