Have Yourself a Merry ‘Makeshift’ Christmas.


This Christmas advert by award winning director Wes Anderson is the perfect spark to talk about the magic of Christmas. – Suitable for mixed level students.

“This story may resonate more than ever at a time in the world where we could all do with giving a stranger a hug.”  Adrien brody


Set the context:

Tell students you are very excited about going home for Christmas.


Write CHRSITMAS on the board and ask Ss to shout out/make a mindmap in groups of words they associate with Christmas.


Ask Ss what they do in their culture for Christmas.

Pre Watching Questions:

Show a picture of train conductor Ralph (above).

  1. What’s his occupation?

Tell them that he’s taking passenger’s home for Christmas, but he can’t make it back in time.

Ask Ss to predict:

  1. Why can he not make it in time?
  2. How will the passengers feel?

While watching questions:

  • We will now watch Ralph explain why the train can’t take them home in time for Christmas.(See video above)
  • Ss Watch from 0:00 – 1:40 and answer these questions:
  1. What date is it? (25th December)
  2. Why is the train delayed? (Challenging weather conditions, mechanical problems)
  3. When will they arrive? (3:17 am)
  4. Where is he serving Christmas brunch?  (In the cafeteria at the rear of the coach.)

Stop the video at 1:40 and discuss the answers.

Now tell the students that Ralph is on a mission to save Christmas, but it’s very difficult because he’s stuck on a train.

Watch from 1:40 – 2:08 and answer the question:

What items does he request? (Scissors, construction paper, aluminum foil and extension chord)

Ask Ss to predict in groups how he is going to use these items to save Christmas for the passengers.

Continue watching and stop at 3:20.

While watching the remainder of the video:

  1. What does the boy see?

Watch till the end – Ss check if their predictions were correct.

Post watching:

  1. Discuss in groups/pairs/whole class – How did Ralph make Christmas special for the passengers?
  2. Open Class Feedback
  3. Introduce the word makeshift – Explain that Ralph prepared a makeshift christmas party. Elicit other things you can ‘makeshift’ – Makeshift weddingdress, makeshift tent/home, makeshift kitchen, makeshift bed, etc. Expand as neccessary

Introduce the project:

Makeshift Christmas Project

  • Create the scene using your best dramatic OTT acting skills.

I’ve just received an urgent text!  A massive snowstorm (edit with your choice of natural disaster/issue) is coming and we can’t leave the classroom because it’s too dangerous.  We’ve been advised that we will be stuck until the 26th December.  We have to spend Christmas together!

  • Tell the students that their mission is to plan the best makeshift Christmas party using only the contents available in the classroom.  Ss make a poster to detail their ideas.  Encourage creativty.
  • Ss present their ideas to other groups using their posters to support their plan.
  • Ss vote on the most fun and creative Christmas party (you could award small christmas gifts to the winning group).

I have great news everyone! I have just recieved another message. We can go home now!  Yeahy! 

Alternative ideas/additions: WEBQUEST: In teams Ss are asked to investigate what other countries do to celebrate Christmas.  Give each group a different country to investigate.  http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/. Look for things like- decorations, food, gifts etc.

Perhaps Ss make a Christmas cultural quiz using Kahoot! which they all play in groups. Chritmas treats/cheers for the winning team.



7 thoughts on “Have Yourself a Merry ‘Makeshift’ Christmas.

  1. I love an xmas ad and this is a great lesson plan. I love the bit at the end where students prepare their makeshift Christmas. Definitely going to try and fit this in at the end of term. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, David.
      We are also big Wes Anderson fans. It’s a very cool and stylish ad – our fave christmas ad this year.
      We had a lot of fun with this lesson and hope it also goes well for you.
      Let us know how you get on.
      Merry Christmas


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