It is that glorious time of year when the air is filled with pine, kitchens are filled with cookies, and advent calendars are filled with chocolates---at least until December 2nd when you realize that your toddler has systematically pilfered the chocolates behind windows 2 through 25. (Cue weeping and wailing from the other children.) Miriam and I have learned to combat this eventuality with two things: 1) an arsenal of back-up chocolate advent calendars, and 2) an activity advent calendar. Years ago I bought a wooden advent calendar at Costco that has 25 small compartments, and each year I put a slip of paper in each compartment that announces a small activity that we will do that day. And while it simply wouldn't be Christmas for my kiddos without their daily dose of waxy chocolate in the shape of a teddy bear or rocking horse, they have become just as enamored with our tradition of a daily Christmas activity. I love my activity calendar. I mean I REALLY love it. I just might be buried with it. But here are some easy and adorable calendar options that are just as lovable:
Paper Chain Advent Calendar (photo from stitch/craft)
This calendar is made with reusable felt strips, but you could do it just as easily with strips of paper. What a great way to use the chains that your kids will be making anyway! Just be sure to jot down the activities on the inside of the paper strips before your kids break out the glue.
Envelope Bunting Advent Calendar (from Tip Junkie)
I'm a sucker for buntings. I'm also a sucker for anything Christmas. So put the two together and I'm all aflutter. A simple array of paper shapes or fabric pockets or envelopes, some string, and a few dozen trusty clothespins, and voila! An adorable homespun calendar that would cheer up any mantel, hallway, or banister.
Stocking Advent Calendar (from Martha Stewart)
And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the PERFECT way to re-purpose that basket full of single socks above the dryer! (Granted, my basket full of stained gym socks and lonely argyles might not have quite the same charm as this array . . . )
Now, the actual calendar itself is the easy part. It is coming up with 25 realistic activities to do during the busiest month of year that gets a little hairy. Here are my top 25. I've done all of these with my kids, and while some of them do require some planning and effort, most of them can be done while eating chocolate, bidding on ebay, and curling ribbon.
25 Days of Christmas Activities
- Make hot chocolate
- String popcorn and cranberries
- Sleep under the Christmas tree
- Go caroling
- Cut out snowflakes and hang them from the ceiling
- Drive around the neighborhood looking for Christmas lights
- Write a Christmas letter to friends and family
- Make cookies
- Watch a Christmas movie
- Make graham cracker gingerbread houses
- Decorate bedroom doors for Christmas
- Put on costumes and re-enact the nativity
- Make edible ornaments for the birds out of pine cones, birdseed, and peanut butter, and then "decorate" a tree outside with them
- Take a family Christmas photo
- Do a Christmas tradition from another country
- Have a candlelight dinner while playing Christmas music
- Decorate oranges and lemons with cloves
- Take treats to your neighbors
- Have a gift-wrapping party
- Decorate gingerbread boys and girls
- Have a snowball fight (or if you are in Arizona . . . see 22)
- Go ice blocking
- Collect cans from your neighbors for the local homeless shelter
- Go to a Christmas performance (like The Nutcracker, The Messiah, A Christmas Carol)
- Be Book Bound by reading lots and lots of Christmas stories!
Happy December to you! May you have 25 fun (and chocolate-filled) days ahead of you!