The moment that Decemberley was created was one of my most favorite inspirational moments of the year. It was back in October, and our Children’s Librarian was using an Ed Emberley book to draw a skeleton on an activity table. I commented to her as I walked by that I loved what she was doing, and then that I was still trying to come up with a theme for December. A few seconds later “Decemberley” popped into my head and I laughed so loud that I think I scared my team.

And thus, Decemberley was born. This truly has been one of the funnest themes that we’ve had. And what’s better is that it isn’t holiday-specific! I had a goal to keep our library as holiday-neutral this year as possible, and with Decemberley, I think that we’ve found an annual winner. I mean, I don’t like repeating themes and such, but Ed Emberley’s work is so diverse that I think that we can come up with a new take on it every year.

So this year’s Decemberley celebration came together when I discovered this fun snowman printable (it’s the one at the bottom of the page) from Ed Emberley’s blog. I tweaked the original for our displays to have green and blue colors.

I then noticed the little circles he used to represent snowflakes and I had an idea that really excited me. I had pinned this a year ago, and I could just see it translated into 2-D punched-out circles. But what would make it more Emberleytastic? Fingerprints! Shimmering blue fingerprints! I made every single one of those “flakes” with each one having my unique fingerprints in unique patterns. Besides emulating Emberley, I liked how fingerprints and snowflakes share the every one is different quality.

Can I tell you how very much in love I am with these snowflakes? I ADORE THEM! They twirl, shimmer, and shimmy and just make me happy. I have seen many children coming in the door who seem a bit transfixed by them, and that makes me so very happy. In my mind, they’re being transported into an Ed Emberley book. I also love the fact that we show parents that crafts and decor don’t need to be store bought. They can make really cool things with everyday around-the-house objects.

For marketing and displays I chose what I considered to be an “Emberley-esque” font from The biggest use of this font was for our winter/holiday book display. I printed out large versions of the letters (the front side blue, and the second reverse letter white) and tried our own version of this. It worked out fabulously (but I had to take down the “Wintertime” letters after the first day to reinforce the “W” which had gone floppy overnight).I wish that I had the photography skills to capture how fun these letters are. They are so very dynamic, and very different than anything we’ve done before. And yes, each letter has more shiny blue fingerprints. For some time I had wanted to do something with the lonely endcaps that face our DVD collection. I saw this on Pinterest and asked Brittany to come up with three unique snowpeople for our endcaps, and she did! These snowpeople make me smile every single time that I see them. They have also been a delightful surprise for many patrons who aren’t used to anything special in that area.

To drive the Ed Emberley theme home, I hand-drew the 16 steps to make Emberley’s snowman, and put them up on our whiteboard. Above that is a sign encouraging kids to make their own version of the snowman, and then we could take a picture of them showing off their creation. Finally we’d take that photo and put it on our kids’ webpage. It’s been awesome. I also included the snowman directions as a handout by the activity tables since Emberley is beyond awesome and lets teachers/librarians use his printables.

To continue the snowman theme, I couldn’t help myself, and I created a “Put Olaf Back Together” passive scavenger hunt. I used the free Disney printable for the Olaf parts, did my “laminate it with packing tape” trick, and then created half-sheet “I Built a Snowman” worksheets.Here is where I found the font. The download for it is in the upper-right hand corner of the page.

Honestly, there were three reasons I opted to do this particular program: 1. Frozen is just a weensy bit popular, 2. it was crazy-easy, and 3. I really really really wanted to see kids take a crack at drawing Olaf (and that part hasn’t disappointed in the least).

For our Great Wall-o-Pun this month, we tossed around quite a few snowy puns, but nothing really caught us. Then Brittany got an evil glint in her eye and said, “What if I drew Grumpy Cat, and then had the word ‘s-NO-w’ next to her?” Five minutes later, after I stopped laughing, she got to work on it. And here Grumpy Cat is, in all her Dickensian glory:All of the books on display have to do with holidays, snow, ice, weather, cold sports, etc. To touch base briefly on this, since it seems to be on a lot of librarians’ minds this year: I chose to use generic words in our displays not just to be considerate of others, but mainly because, as a small library, it allows us to put more items on display. If we used “Christmas” in our displays, then the displays would have to remain empty once those books were gone (and they go very fast in our community). With a word like “wintertime,” we get a lot more bang for our buck and can display a greater variety of items.

We were smart (yay!) and saved both the yarn snowballs and game stand from last year’s snowman snowball toss. Insta-passive program that fits the theme! And boy, does this remain a popular activity. Even without the snowballs out, toddlers love to open and close the tri-fold in a peek-a-boo fashion.Finally, I saved the most popular thing for last: our front windows. Brittany designed and prepped everything for each panel, and then I had the fun task of taping them up – and truly it was fun. Our goal was to have a very simple front window that was still eye-catching. What we didn’t expect was how much the children would love it.

I hadn’t even finished the job when the first preschooler came bounding up to the front door, excitedly tapped on the glass, and exclaimed “SNOW!!!” And that’s been the general reaction from the preschool-on-down crowd. I think the only other time we’ve had such an enthusiastic response to our windows was when Mary created abstracted versions of popular kids characters.To add a little uniqueness to the windows, we encouraged kids to help us decorate the front windows during a downtown holiday event that occurred a week after we put up this window. I pre-punched a bunch of white circles, and then put out a shimmery blue ink pad, along with a sign giving parents and children instructions. When the snowflakes were finished, they could bring them up to us, and we would add their snowflakes to our windows.It wasn’t the wild hit I was hoping for, but still 17 kids proudly brought up snowflakes to use for our decorations. I hope that this month any time that they go by our library they will get a sense of pride that they helped make our place look special.

Ed Emberley inspired library celebration called "Decemberley." | On the image above you can see the level of detail I tend to have when doing displays (be afraid, be very afraid): that’s packing tape that’s holding each snowflake up. I’ve trimmed each piece of tape to be a rounder shape, as well as removed the ragged cut edge. All it takes is a box cutter, fingernails, and patience. The 20 minutes it takes to do this saves me a month of seeing something that would drive me crazy: something that looks slapped together.

And there you have it: our inaugural Decemberley! This was a rather epic post, so I didn’t go into extreme detail on how we did some of this. Feel free to ask in the comments or shoot me an email at

Happy Decemberley, everybody!

4 thoughts on “Decemberley!!!

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