Here is a simple project to countdown the days to the new year (and/or the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas). Change the date by sliding the counting strip through the tree. I choose to leave my tree plain so as not to influence the children's creativity on how they decorate theirs.
Take a scrap of heavyweight paper (like construction paper or card stock) or a piece of scrap wall paper, fold in half and trace a half of tree onto the paper. Cut out the tree and fold in half in the other direction (top to bottom) and in the center make two small one inch cuts about a half inch apart.
Create a long strip of paper with 31 one inch squares and have the child write one number in each square counting from 1 to 31. I just cut three 1 x 11 inch inch strips from a scrap piece of card stock and taped them together.