Novel Substitutes for the Orthodox and Time-honoured Christmas-tree - An Auction - The Animated Christmas-tree - The Magic Coal-box - Father Christmas with his Sleigh of Snowballs.

Most children's Christmas parties end with a distribution of small presents to the little guests. The following suggestions, therefore, may prove useful to those who do not care to spend the time entailed by the decorating of time-honoured Christmas-trees.

An Auction is a game children love. This is easily arranged in the following way:

The presents are all made up into brown paper parcels, tied with string in a very business - like way, care being taken to put a silver thimble, for instance, into a big square box amidst quantities of wrapping paper, while a big toy should be packed into as small a compass as possible, the great idea being that the bidders should be able to glean no idea as to the contents of each "lot" as it is put up to auction, from the appearance of. the outside. The presents thus disguised cause much merriment as they are unwrapped.

To begin the auction, the little son and daughter of the house don suitable cracker caps to represent the auctioneer's man and the auctioneer respectively. The auctioneer should be further provided with a hammer with which to knock down the goods to the highest bidder.

Each guest, before the auction opens, receives several pieces of paper money made by writing "5s.," "2d.,""1,"etc.,upon slips of paper, and with the exact sums marked on their papers they must bid, so that the amounts bid jump from 2d. to 5, sometimes at a single bound, in a most amusing way.

When the children have finished bidding against each other for a likely - looking parcel, the auctioneer taps three times with the hammer, crying, "Going, going, going - gone!" At the third tap the auctioneer's man hands down the parcel to the highest bidder, receiving his or her money in exchange.

Children love auctions: an auction present'giving party, therefore, always fascinates

Children love auctions: an auction present'giving party, therefore, always fascinates

When each child has had a parcel knocked down to it, if more presents remain, more money can be distributed, until all the lots have found owners.

For a Christmas party it is a pretty idea to wind a red ribbon round the hammer, and to wrap up all the parcels in scarlet crinkled paper, tied up with Christmas ribbons.

An Animated Christmas - tree is another very pretty and original way of distributing small Christmas gifts.

The tallest child should be chosen to represent the Christmas-tree, and must wear a dress made of frills of green crinkled paper tacked on to a white Princess petticoat, the petticoat making a firm foundation, to which the presents, as well as some coloured glass balls, can be temporarily attached with a stitch or two.

A little pointed paper cap, adorned with a shining silver sequin star - which can be bought for 4 1/2d. at any fancy drapers - completes her attire. She may be led into the room by the hostess, who proceeds to cut off the gifts, and distribute them amongst the guests, or she may be disclosed by the removal of a screen or by the throwing back of folding-doors. In this latter case she can be arranged as a sort of Christmas tableau, standing in a big red bread-pan - for flower-pot - with extra presents, in the shape of books and toys, piled up round her feet.

If a wee girl, dressed in a white crinkled paper frock with paper wings to represent

The Magic Coal box: every piece of coal has a present in it

The Magic Coal-box: every piece of coal has a present in it

A live Christmas tree with the fairy from the top to distribute the presents

A live Christmas-tree with the fairy from the top to distribute the presents

The Fairy from the Top of the Tree, is provided to cut down the presents, and hand them to the little guests, it makes the prettiest Christmas scene imaginable.

A Magic Coal-box is another splendid way of distributing Christmas gifts. The presents - which must all be of a rather small size - are neatly done up in black paper, fastened with black sealing-wax, to represent knobs of coal.

These parcels are then piled into an empty coalscuttle - a brass or copper one looks prettiest, or one shaped like a witch's cauldron does extremely well - and the children come forward one by one, and, after being armed with a pair of tongs, are directed to help themselves to a lump of coal. As soon as they realise that the coals are Christmas presents in disguise, their surprise and delight know no bounds.

Father Christmas with his Sleigh of Snowballs makes a delightful guest at a small children's party. When the first excited greetings from the little ones are over, he proceeds to distribute the snowballs from his sleigh, and then, when a present is found concealed in the heart of each, much rejoicing ensues. The Father Christmas seen in the illustration was represented by a small boy of six and a half, wearing his own dressing-gown, liberally adorned with cheap white fur. The sleigh had a big cardboard dress-box for its foundation, and the presents were wrapped first in white crinkled paper, and then in cheap white muslin, while, to give a final touch of realism, a few light touches ot gum were added, and both Father Christmas and his snowballs received a sprinkling of glittering hoar frost, such as can be bought in penny boxes at any stationer's at Christmas time.

Father Christmas arriving at the party drawing his snowball laden sleigh

Father Christmas arriving at the party drawing his snowball-laden sleigh

His cap was of brown paper, with a bunch of frosted holly at one side. The sleigh ribbons were of pale green satin, and the sleigh was decorated with a few sprigs of mistletoe.

His hair and beard must, of course, be of the wig description, either hired or made in more homely method, but on no account of cottonwool. They can be so contrived that they and his cap all fasten on to his head together, secured by a piece of wide elastic under the chin. If this had not been done, his cap would have fallen off each time he bent to take a snowball from his sleigh.

Father Christmas giving away his snowballs, each of which has a wee present hidden inside

Father Christmas giving away his snowballs, each of which has a wee present hidden inside

Children always delight in "make-believe," and the pleasure parties given on the foregoing lines to the youthful guests will amply make up for any trouble in their preparation.