In the last few years, it’s become apparent that I’m a little bit crazy for advent calendars. So far this year, I have three lined up! I say “so far” because sometimes one of the kids’ grandmas or someone will send them an advent calendar too. I say: Bring ’em on!
Advent calendars weren’t a fixture of my childhood, but they did make an occasional appearance. I always like the ones with chocolate, of course, but my favorite advent calendar of all time was a paper one from Germany with beautifully drawn pictures behind each door.
This year, like last year, I bought Wyatt LEGO advent calendar. We all thought last year’s was awesome so when I heard they were releasing a Star Wars version it was a given that one would be coming into our house. Augie is still a bit young for the LEGO calendars so I bought him an Imaginext advent calendar that’s a little more his speed. These toy-based calendars come out of the budget for the kids’ gifts and they’re one of my favorite things to give them because they get almost a full month of play and happiness from them.
My favorite advent calendar is our activity advent calendar. I tried this for the first time last year and it was great for a few reasons. First off, it helped us all focus on the fun of doing things rather than getting things. It also helped me pace myself a bit. I’m occasionally prone to going crazy and trying to jam a whole bunch of fun into a short period of time. By selecting just one Christmas-y activity per day, I kept myself from going overboard and getting burned out on holiday fun well before Christmas day.
Here is my list of activities for this year:
- Assemble paper Christmas train.
- Assemble paper Christmas village.
- Bake Christmas cookies and decorate them.
- Build Christmas sculptures with Legos.
- Create a snowscape with shaving cream and action figures.
- Cut snowflakes out of paper.
- Decorate the Christmas tree.
- Decorate the gingerbread house
- Do some Christmas Mad Libs.
- Donate to the school food drive.
- Draw pictures of fun Christmas activities we’ve done.
- Eat dinner by candlelight.
- Go out to look at Christmas lights after dark.
- Go outside with blankets to look at the stars.
- Have a bubble bath
- Have a family dance party
- Have breakfast for dinner (I’ll make Snowman Pancakes. So freaking cute!)
- Have hot chocolate with all the fixings
- Make a card for a loved one and send it in the mail.
- Make gifts for teachers.
- Make ornaments for the tree (I’m thinking salt dough ornaments.)
- Purchase a present for Toys for Tots.
- Read a Christmas book together.
- Recycle some toys to share with others.
- Set up the Christmas tree.
- Sing Christmas songs while dad plays the guitar.
- Tell everyone in our family why you think they’re cool at dinner.
- Watch a Christmas movie before bed.
- Write a letter to Santa.
- Write a list of 5 things you are thankful for this year.
A lot of these activities are things we do every year and some are ideas I’ve collected online (sources: Kiddley, Kid’s Craft Weekly, Family Fun and Ali Edwards). I repeated a lot of the activities from the list I came up with last year, but I’ve added a few more and removed some of the ones that just didn’t work for us. I don’t really schedule the activities in advance and I’ve put more than 24 activities on the list so I have the flexibility to choose things that fit with our schedule from day to day. I also anticipate adding fun ideas and events in as I hear about them. For example, last year a local organization trucked snow into a parking lot and I quickly added playing there as our activity on the day I heard about it.
We use this little advent house thingy that I got on sale at Target a few years ago for our advent calendar. Last year, I just wrote the activities on little pieces of paper but since we’re repeating so many this year, I decided to make something I could print out year after year! And while I was at it, I decided to make it cute. And since I did all that work anyway, I thought I’d share them with you so you can download them and print them out for your advent calendars if you like.
(These were made with the Echo Park Holly Jolly Christmas Elements #1 pack purchased from JessicaSprague.com)
Just print these out (they look great on photo paper) and then cut the squares apart with scissors or a paper cutter. Not every activity will appeal to every family, of course, so I’ve included five blank spaces on each sheet so you can write in your own activities. I’ll be using these for impromptu activities myself.
Is your family going to have an advent calendar this year? Are you planning anything fun?