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November 25, 2012

Ideas for Advent

I didn't grow up with an Advent calendar, but I just love the idea of marking the days until Christmas. 

Last year, when the girls were just shy of three, we made a countdown calendar.  I used their handprints to make a Christmas tree, and I wrote the numbers 1 - 24 on it.  Each day, the girls got to add an ornament sticker, their trees becoming fully decorated by Christmas.  They LOVED picking a sticker each day...and they've talked about that countdown calendar off and on all year!

This year I wanted to incorporate some fun activities, and the element of surprise.  I've been pinning ideas for the past few weeks, and here are some of my favorites...

...little packages, tied to a topiary...

...tiny little jars, I've seen arranged in various shapes, like this tree, or a wreath...

...a pretty jar filled with tiny boxes...

...little messages tied onto a frame with screen in it...

...a holiday sock garland, each containing a little treasure...
[These are from what I think may be the mother lode of Advent ideas on Gluesticks...this site keeps going for days!]

I also love this idea from I {Heart} Nap Time...

...little notes hung from clips on wire across a frame...

Yesterday I took advantage of a great coupon from the craft only Black Friday Weekend (does that make sense?) purchase.  I sneaked out by myself, and it was so therapeutic to wander the aisles in search of the notions to make a calendar.

I actually came home with notions for two calendars, because I just couldn't decide...either the little notes hung on clips...or I found the cutest little paint storage containers ($3.79 for 12!) that would be easy to roll a little note into.

I want something that won't take up too much space, that the girls can maneuver themselves, and that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg.  I've got some heavy-duty crafting to do between now and next weekend, so I'll keep you posted.

I've also been brainstorming what activities I'll include.  I want a mix of really special a cookie decorating party...and things we'd do decorate our Christmas tree. 

In no particular order...

  • Put up the Christmas tree
  • Buy a loaf of Holiday Bread from Panera
  • Make a donation to the local pet shelter
  • Eat out for breakfast
  • Make homemade hot chocolate
  • Go for a ride to see Christmas lights
  • Walk through the neighborhood with glow sticks to see Christmas lights
  • Leave a gift for the mailman
  • Leave a gift for the garbage truck and recycling truck
  • Make an ornament
  • Decorate cookies
  • Make chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Buy a new Christmas book
  • Go shopping for Sasha (our cat)
  • Wrap presents
  • Take gifts to our neighbors and sing Christmas carols
  • Walk around downtown and see the Christmas lights (and maybe a carriage ride?)
  • Visit the Opryland Hotel
  • Take cookies to Garcia's (our favorite restaurant)
  • Make Chex mix
  • Take gifts to the girls' teachers
  • Make gift tags for our Christmas presents
  • Watch Charlie Brown's Christmas (I am considering showing the girls something on TV!)

I still have a few to fill in, but I like the mix of activities.  I also plan to leave the calendar open and fill in the next day's activities, the night before.  Many of these depend on the weather, and what else we have scheduled, so this will be less stressful for me if we have some flexibility.

I'm super excited about introducing this as a new tradition for our family.  The majority of these activities are things we'd do anyway, but I think they'll make a bigger impression, announced over breakfast each morning.

Do you have an Advent tradition?  I'd love to hear other ideas!


Anonymous said...

Hey twin mama! This is on my to do list actually.....I have never done one either and we are due! (3 kiddos might be fun!)Also on my "blog to-do" list! ;o)

Amanda said...

I love the handprint idea, I may steal that one! I'm doing the 25 Christmas books... I hope. I'm still shy a couple of books but i think I can find enough to make it work. I love the idea of count down calendars too!

Jennie said...

I love your list - I am totally going to borrow some! And I don't know if you've watched Charlie Brown Christmas recently... I hadn't. I watched it with my 3 year old son, who loved it, but I wished I had watched it first... they call Charlie Brown stupid a lot and I wished I had realized that ahead of time!

Mrs FF said...

No advent tradition and for now it would be like that ;) but I love all the ideas especially the last two.

Love your list, my tree would probably come up after my sister is home for the holiday sometime next week :) and I would steal an idea from your list - leave a gift for the garbage truck. I've never thought to do that but I think it's such a fantastic idea. Just have to think of the logistics as I'm never home when the garbage is picked up. I'm also planning to see lights (missed it last year as it rained on the day I went and had to be closed prematurely)

I'm happy to say I have done one of the things on your list. Visited Opryland hotel a few years ago just after Christmas :)

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I love, love, LOVE these ideas, Mandy.

When I see your list it all seems doable. Should I do it? They have been asking when's Christmas?


Julia said...

Oh. I love the stocking garland! The house we're moving into has two fireplaces, so I could definitely do that (next year). Moving into the house on the 23rd doesn't for many holiday pretties this year :)

Something I wanted to start this year with the girls is celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. They get a little gift in their shoes. I thought this would be fitting this year since the 25th will most likely be full of chaos, for us :)

Mandy said...

So, so excited! I really have to get my post up. I'm still writing out our activities. The girls are super curious!

cat said...

Oh I love your ideas. Have you ever seen what I do each year? Not sure if you read my blog last year? We often go camping before Christmas and I had to devise something that would withstand a camping trip and the summer heat. I can not get the link copied here, but if you search Advent on my blog you will find it.

Deanna said...

Love the list! I am writing down ideas as I come across them, though I'm still not completely sure how I'm going to arrange ours. I bought felt and some fabric, thinking I MIGHT put together a traditional calendar-type layout, with pockets. I like the idea of reusing that each year (and like you mentioned, the flexibility to easily change out the day's activity).

One thing on my list is to do a surprise bedtime ride to see the lights. The way I saw it was to let the kids get ready for bed as usual, then surprise them by telling them to grab a blanket and get in the car for a ride to look at lights. I think A & M will totally love that. Other ideas we may do include opening a new pair of pajamas (maybe Christmas Eve?), reading the Christmas story from the Bible, writing a letter to Santa (if you're doing Santa--I bet A & B would love to write their own!), and a candy cane hunt.