Last year Eleanor was five days old when December began. Despite having a newborn, I was bound and determined to make the Christmas season special for James. I wanted each day to hold Christmas joy, so I made a simple Advent calendar that had an activity for us to do each day of December leading up to Christmas.
I bought envelopes that were pre-stamped with numbers 1-25 on them. Then I used my favorite craft item, mini-clothes pins, to attach them to a red ribbon. I hung them up, stuffed each one with a paper stating the days' activity, and enjoyed a fun-filled holiday season with my kiddos.
There are a couple hints I learned along the way. The first and most important one: keep a list of the activities you have decided on with the dates you planned each activity. As the month progresses and plans change, you can easily swap one event for another as you go along, or change the days' activity all together.
Another thing to keep in mind is to keep activities simple, but joyful. It is a joy in itself for my son to reach into the envelope and pull out the days' activity. It does not need to be a huge event everyday, but you can make any little thing seem like a big deal. Just cutting snowflakes out of paper can feel special. Put on some Christmas music, make hot chocolate, be enthusiastic, and they will feel the magic of the season.
Final hint (this only works if your children cannot yet read) : If when your child eagerly removes the paper from the envelope and hands it to you, expectant of what the days' activity will hold, you go to read it only to realize the activity is not possible for the day ("make cookies with mom" but you are out of sugar), simply make something up on the spot. If you can quickly think of another days' activity just state that one, and switch them out later. I will admit: I have done this.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Decorate the house for Christmas
- Read the Christmas story (Luke 2: 1-20 is what I read to my little guy) and set up the nativity scene
- Make Christmas play dough (red, green, glitter!)
- Elf yourself (my son is obsessed with this... okay, so am I)
- Go to a tree lighting
- Make paper snow flakes
- Family date: Go to Zoo Lights
- Family Date: Go pick out and cut down a Christmas tree
- Help Daddy hang lights around our house
- Make a ginger bread house
- Make Christmas crafts to send to family
- Go get Christmas books from the library
- Walk or drive around and look at Christmas lights
- Buy a present for an adopt-a-family child
- Read Christmas stories in front of the fire
- Go downtown to look at the lights and window displays
- Make Christmas cookies with Mommy
- Go to a Christmas party
- Make Christmas decorations and bring them to neighbors
- Watch a Christmas show and eat popcorn
- Wrap a present with Mommy
- Family date: go sledding
- Call Grandma and sing her a Christmas carol
- Christmas Eve! Open 1 gift (we usually do jammies or a Christmas book to read before bed)
What else do you or would you add to an activity Advent calendar? I would love to hear more ideas!
Happy Christmas season,