I didn't grow up with the tradition of an Advent calendar, but I've been thinking about it over the past couple of years. At almost three, I figured our girls are old enough to at least begin to grasp a count-down to the holidays.
While I've since seen some really great ideas for Advent, ranging from whimsical fun to spiritual...ones which I'm already excited about for next year...I took a simple approach this year.
When the girls' hands were already messy with green paint from our gift tag production, I had them make a handprint tree. (This required quite a bit of direction on my part, basically "stamping" their hands in the desired configuration.)
When that dried, I plotted numbers 1 - 24 [for which I may have used an Excel spreadsheet].
I added a star to the top of the tree with the year written on it, and I cut out a square for each letter of their name at the bottom of the tree, to look sorta-kinda like presents.
Every morning, the girls add an ornament sticker to the tree. I know they don't have an appreciation for "19 more days" (as of today!), but they do love getting to play with stickers right after breakfast.
And of course these will find a home in their scrapbooks after the holidays, a reminder of early morning sticker fun...and the size of their precious little hands, once upon a time.