For years, I have had the best intentions about making memories together during the season of Advent, but to be honest, it has never come together in any sort of successful effort. We always talk about buying an advent calendar to countdown the days, but I have found myself creatively uninspired by the paper/disposable ones you can buy with little candies inside, too frugal to buy anything of the quality I would desire for a calendar we could use again and again for years, and in times past, I have been too scattered and stressed out to make a DIY advent calendar project happen.
Last year was the first year it dawned on me that I really hate buying Christmas decorations and ornaments. Of course, there are some exceptions, and we do have some really meaningful ones that we have purchased over the years, but really, what matters most to me is that we have a personal investment in the creation of the trimmings we put up. Last Christmas, the two oldest kids made sewn felt ornaments for the tree, and I fell in love with them. This year, and for the years to come, I am planning to add many handmade projects to our Christmas collection.
I started off by creating an Advent calendar that we can hopefully use for multiple years. It is very simple – just a craft board, painted silver, little clothespins attached with hot glue, and a ribbon to hang. The tags came blank and pre-cut in a package and I decorated them with stamps and paper punch snowflakes. After I finished all the elements, I compiled a list of activities that are printed on slips of paper and clipped behind each tag. (See list below.)
In preparation for Christmas day, each day we flip around the appropriate tag on the calendar to reveal the activity on the slip behind it, and each night we read Luke chapter 2 (the birth of Jesus) from a different bible (with some repeats, of course), sing a few carols together before bed, and talk about different topics like love, peace, generosity, and the things that Jesus says are important to Him in the New Testament…the foundational things I hope my children will glean from why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. My list starts on Dec. 2 because I hadn’t pulled it all together in time for Dec. 1. Real life!
- december 2 – pick out one new christmas album
- december 3 – color a christmas picture
- december 4 – have hot chocolate with marshmallows, together
- december 5 – donate used toys, books, and clothes
- december 6 – put up a ribbon for christmas cards
- december 7 – buy a new ornament or christmas decoration
- december 8 – cut tree & decorate house for christmas
- december 9 – make a popcorn garland
- december 10 – make and mail christmas cards for grandparents
- december 11 – make felt ornaments
- december 12 – $5 sibling present shopping with kids
- december 13 – holiday party
- december 14 – have a fireside night together
- december 15 – make gingerbread houses
- december 16 – watch a christmas movie
- december 17 – christmas crafts with friends
- december 18 – go out to see christmas lights
- december 19 – make dough ornaments
- december 20 – build legos together as a family with hot chocolate
- december 21 – make and decorate christmas cookies
- december 22 – make a christmas decoration together
- december 23 – sing christmas carols
- december 24 – open a gift & watch a christmas movie
To me, the activities are fun, but are not the main point. Most are easy and will not require a lot of time or energy, but will probably be a great delight to the kids. If we miss one, oh well. I see them as opportunities designed to bring us together, make memories and meaningful projects that can go in our Christmas box for the years ahead.