Advent Crazy

by Wendy Copley on November 28, 2011

advent calendars

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.

advent calendars

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:

    1. Assemble paper Christmas train.
    2. Assemble paper Christmas village.
    3. Bake Christmas cookies and decorate them.
    4. Build Christmas sculptures with Legos.
    5. Create a snowscape with shaving cream and action figures.
    6. Cut snowflakes out of paper.
    7. Decorate the Christmas tree.
    8. Decorate the gingerbread house
    9. Do some Christmas Mad Libs.
    10. Donate to the school food drive.
    11. Draw pictures of fun Christmas activities we’ve done.
    12. Eat dinner by candlelight.
    13. Go out to look at Christmas lights after dark.
    14. Go outside with blankets to look at the stars.
    15. Have a bubble bath
    16. Have a family dance party
    17. Have breakfast for dinner (I’ll make Snowman Pancakes. So freaking cute!)
    18. Have hot chocolate with all the fixings
    19. Make a card for a loved one and send it in the mail.
    20. Make gifts for teachers.
    21. Make ornaments for the tree (I’m thinking salt dough ornaments.)
    22. Purchase a present for Toys for Tots.
    23. Read a Christmas book together.
    24. Recycle some toys to share with others.
    25. Set up the Christmas tree.
    26. Sing Christmas songs while dad plays the guitar.
    27. Tell everyone in our family why you think they’re cool at dinner.
    28. Watch a Christmas movie before bed.
    29. Write a letter to Santa.
    30. 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.

advent calendars

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.

Page 1:
Advent Activities List
Download Advent Activities Page 1

Page 2:
Advent Activities List
Download Advent Activities Page 2

(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?

 

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  • JenP

    Thank You! I’m sewing our first Advent calendar right now and have been wanting to make activity cards for it but haven’t found the time. These are perfect!

  • Anonymous

    Love these! Thanks so much for sharing them.  I bought the kids a mini-tree this year and they’ll get an ornament every day to put on the tree, but this is the perfect little thing to include in each drawer as a little extra something special!

  • Jen N

    I love the daily activities for the advent calendar!  My “to do” item for the day was to figure out what to put in the pockets of our advent calendar.  Thanks to your awesome and timely post, that dilemma is solved!  Thanks for sharing the easy print outs, too!

  • AKD

    This is a great idea — activity cards rather than toys or chocolates. I have a wall hanging advent calendar with little pockets that I haven’t used yet. I was feeling so overwhelmed about needing to get 24 tiny toys! I may have to adjust the items to be more toddler friendly, but this gives me some inspiration.

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE advent calendars! (check out my pinterest board – http://pinterest.com/tsoniki/advent-calendars/) I made one for my brother and his family this year, and admit that I bought two lego ones. I also made one for us. And I am going to download what you are sharing (thank you!) and incorporate some of those as well!

  • Kimberlyj75

    Cute! Ours has pockets and hangs on the wall, so Ive mixed mostly activities (like above or shopping date w/ mommy or daddy, deliver gifts to friends, special art project, sledding…) with a few sweets (candy cane, Hershey kisses, etc.) and prizes (Lego mini figure, festive stickers, etc.). The deal is they do a kind deed before checking the pocket each day. Hopefully!

  • Plume

    These are great, thank you for sharing!  I have a hanging calendar with micro pockets, I can roll these up and put inside. 

  • April

    Wendy,
    These are great!  Thanks for the delightful ideas!

  • Cathy Exline

    Thank you SO much for the pdf’s!!  I had this on my To-Do list for weeks and you saved me hours of time trying to create my own.  Our Advent calendar was set up so quickly this morning.  THANK YOU!!!

  • http://ducklingsinarow.wordpress.com/ Deia

    I love your list and the printable cards. So cute! I do an Activity Advent too and LOVE it. Here is a post I just wrote about it: http://ducklingsinarow.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/happy-advent/

    Have a wonderful Advent! 

  • http://twitter.com/anitx X

    This makes me wish I had had an advent calendar growing up. The only time I made anything similar was in Kindergarten when we made loops of green and red construction paper into a long chain and each day we were supposed to tear the corresponding link. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very fun, at least not from what I remember. 
    I have wanted to do my own advent calendar although I don’t have any children of my own because my birthday is on Christmas! This way I can count down to both of my favorite holidays! I think that if I had made an advent calendar growing up it could have added to the “specialness” I was supposed to feel about my birthday. Maybe I’ll do a “grown up” on for myself this year….there’s still time. 

  • Martha Gaio

    Hey there Wendy, We have a few advent calendars going at our house. D has a playmobile pirate calendar, C has a horse puzzle ball calendar that she requested and for F we just wrapped up a basket full of food goodies. He still really wants a caledar, but is a bit old for the lego ones. He is really pleased with his. Finally, we have a Christmas book calendar going. We’ve wrapped up 24 books, a bunch were ones that we already had, some are from when I was a kid, some are new and some are from the library, but they are all holiday themed. I seem to be the most excited about this one, but I think it will grow on them. I am going to save your idea for next year! Thanks for the pdfs

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  • Venia | OrganizedBites.com

    Thank you! I’ve been working on an Event Advent list to go with our chocolate version, and this is just perfect. :)

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Woo hoo! I’m so glad to hear it!

  • Venia | OrganizedBites.com

    It’s never too late! HappyMerryBirthdayChristmas! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherflett Heather Gibbs Flett

    1. Where is the LOVE button on this thing?
    2. Do you just put something behind the door as needed? You are the smartest.

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    I put something behind the door every day while the kids are at school and I choose according to how the day is going. Hectic days are easy activities like “make a card” or “eat dinner with candles”. If I have time to do some preparation we’ll do a bigger thing like decorate the tree, make an ornament or do the gingerbread house. And some days we all forget about it which is OK too.

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Oh also — I keep my eye out for other stuff too. Like if http://www.510families.com tells me snow has been trucked in to the Andronico’s parking lot I’ll write that on a piece of paper and stick it in really quick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherflett Heather Gibbs Flett

    Did you decorate the advent calendar too? I’m scrambling to find one with little doors to copy you and they look like too much work. Sigh.

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    No, I just plop the little house on a shelf. I saw a few calendars with doors similar to mine at Target when I was there yesterday for $20-30. I also saw them at Joann’s last year, but I haven’t been there for a few weeks so I don’t know if they have them this year.

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley
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  • http://twitter.com/TGL_mandyford Mandy Ford

    Love this! I already have a similar advent “house” and was looking for ideas on how to fill the doors with meaningful things. Thanks so much! :)

  • The Bean Sprout Notes

    These are adorable! I love the creativity and variety of activities included. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Michelle N

    Using these today for some Christmas in July fun. Thanks!

  • Serrenity

    These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing. What we have done in lieu of number 14 is add glow sticks to the bath and have a “Christmas light” bath.

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