Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Countdown to Christmas: Part II

Sometimes it is easier to decide which advent calendar you will use than what you will fill it with. For some, small candies do the trick, but for those of you who are more adventuresome, try writing out some favorite activities that you can do as a family.

Here are a few things to try:

- a favorite cookie recipe you can make together.

-a puzzle (there are a lot of options at Kid Printables)

-a craft - you can never go wrong with Martha. Check out All Free Crafts too, as well as Kaboose.

-an activity page (I like to use the printables from Kaboose and DLTK's )

-a game - you can buy travel games (nice especially if you are travelling for the holidays) or just choose a board/card game that you have around the house.

-send an e-card to a family member (depending on how many family members you have, you could do this one for all 24 days).

The key to a fun advent is to be prepared. Have everything you need for the activity or craft. If you are going to use a printable, make sure its already printed out. If it's a craft, have each child's craft supplies in their own paper bag. Not only is it easier for you because everything is already set aside, but your kid will love that it is something else to open even if it is just a paper bag.

If an Advent Calendar doesn't excite you but you still want to countdown to Christmas, here are some ideas for you.

These first two come from a very dear friend and many of you may know her. She was one of my favorite camp leaders growing up and she is a powerhouse of knowledge when it comes to raising kids as hers are some of the greatest people I know. Cindy is always so clever at planning activities for her family that I didn't feel like I could write this post without getting some of her ideas.

She would plan a theme for her countdown. For instance, one year she had her kids focus on the scriptures and she would prepare a passage to read each day and then after they had read the story there would be a group of paper bags with a picture depicting what they just read on the bag. Her kids would choose the appropriate bag and inside would be a related activity for them to do inside. Fun and educational!

Another thing she would do which is a kind of a countdown is she would have an empty manger under the Christmas tree and whenever her kids did something good they would be able to put a piece of straw in the manger. And on Christmas Eve there would be enough straw to lay baby Jesus in the manger. Don't you just love that?

I have also heard of people wrapping up different Christmas books/movies to read/watch each day.

This may be a little off the wall for some of you, but I think crazier=more memorable. You can incorporate a countdown number into a meal each day. For instance: for lunch on the fourth day of Chirstmas, push raisins into your child's open face PB sandwich in the shape of a 4. Or on the eighth day of Christmas, while you prepare dinner, put all the tomatoes in your salad in the shape of an 8. Like I said, this is a little odd, and might be tricky to implement, but your kids will like the excitement of not knowing when the number will appear. And hey, it may even get them to eat better.

Here are some ideas that I got from 24/7 Moms. They could be used as activities in your advent calendar's list of activities, or added to your family's list of holiday traditions. (Some of these may be no brainers, but it is SO nice to have them all written out in one place so all you have to do is choose which ones to do):

1. Present advent calendars to your children
2. Sing Christmas carols together then eat yummy cookies
3. Visit Santa Clause and have their picture taken
4. Go shopping and allow each child to pick out a new ornament
5. Attend a Holiday event
6. Host a family game night and invite another family
7. Take kids to pick out your Christmas tree
8. String a pop corn garland
9. Build a Ginger bread house
10. Serve Sparkling cider with dinner
11. Bake cookies together
12. Paint holiday scenes on your windows
13. Coloring night...each year color in the same book and date it
14. Make Christmas cards
15. Movie night….popcorn and yummy treats
16. PJ Night...everyone gets a new pair
17. Go for a ride and look at all the decorated houses
18. Have dinner by the Christmas tree, picnic style
19. December 6th - St Nick Night. Have kids place their shoes out with carrots and apples in them and while they are sleeping replace with a small gift
20. Make homemade fudge
21. Decorate your Tree
22. Make Christmas gifts
23. Host a Christmas craft club for your children and their friends
24. Help a family in need ...choose ways to teach your children to give.
25. Make or purchase thank you gifts for community service workers then take your children around town to drop them off.
26. Red or Green night….Serve food in these colors, decorate the table in these colors
27. Tell the Christmas story and place a light in your window inviting Jesus into your home
28. Make paper chain garlands
29. Snowman night—decorate table with snowmen, be creative
30. Ice Cream night ..make sundaes or go out
31. Take kids shopping for daddy or siblings or grandparents
32. Wrap gifts…. kids love to help
33. Bake a pie
34. Make a sugar cube castle
35. Elf hunt
36. Let your kids decorate their bedrooms
37. Bake a gingerbread man and tell the story
38. Play bingo with dollar store prizes...invite your neighbors over
39. Advent wreath
40. Learn about another country's Holiday traditions
41. Celebrate/learn about Hanukkah
42. Tell the Christmas story and wear costumes
43. Dec 22nd - first day of winter..take a day trip to the snow
44. Have a slumber party by the tree

I hope this gets you as excited as I have been while collecting these ideas! Feel free to share your Countdown to Christmas ideas in the comments.

* Thanks, Traci! We love all these ways to really soak up the magic of the Holiday Season. So many meaningful and fun suggestions for family time, service, creativity and love. Thank you so much for being here and for sharing your warmth and creativity with us at Bloom.


Jenny said...

This is so great! In two days you have helped me solve my problem of what kind of advent calender to make, how to make it, and what to put in it! Thanks so much. I am forever a follower now!

Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts

Joan said...

Wow! Traci, you are a wealth of ideas. Am I a bad mother that I've NEVER had/made/or participated in using an advent calendar? My mom wasn't much of a decorator or sentimental I'm learning about all kinds of things as a mother that I had no idea I missed out on as a kid.
Thank you for sharing, dear :)

Astyn said...

cute ideas. Thanks for posting this a few weeks before gives me a chance to get it together and decide what I want to do.

24/7 MOMS said...

Thanks for posting our 25 Day countdown on your site