'Tis the season to get excited about Christmas! Since we have one 2-year old around here who has been excitedly talking about Christmas since before Thanksgiving, I decided to make an advent calendar this year full of activities to help us celebrate the first advent of Jesus Christ all season long! I have to say, I was extremely excited for C's first Christmas, and last year even more so since she was older and more able to participate. But this year, she is old enough to be aware that we're celebrating a very important birthday and her thrill over the whole thing has me on warm & fuzzy/proud mama overload! I wouldn't trade a second of it :)
The calendar I made is SUPER simple. I used some shiny red ribbon left over from a past Christmas project, some Christmas cardstock that I also had on hand, paper clips, duct tape, and a sharpie. Total cost = $0 = win! All I did was cut the ribbon into five strips long enough to wrap around the front of our basement door and secured them with duct tape on each end. Then I cut circles out of different pieces of cardstock, made smaller circles on white cardstock and numbered them, and then glued those together. Then I used paper clips to hook each finished circle to the ribbon. I also used my word program to write up 23 activities to clip on the back of each circle (this way nothing is permanent so I can easily change-up the activities from year to year as our kids grow up). It took several days to complete only because I didn't have a decent chunk of time to sit down and hammer the whole thing out, but if I had worked straight through it might have taken about 2 hours. If you're awesome and have those fancy shaped paper cutter gadgets, it would take you even less time. I am not awesome and cut all the circles out using a standard pair of scissors, same ones I cut my wrapping paper with. Imperfect, but a homemade look for sure :) Each day we'll take down a circle and complete the attached activity until we've counted down to Christmas eve. I'm a little worried that the countdown will make the days fly by, but maybe having activities every single day will make up for that by helping me to feel like we made each day matter. Maybe?
As for the activities, I took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest as well as from some friends of mine. I tried to make a mix of learning, service, cooking/baking, crafts, and family fun. Like I mentioned, C is aware that Christmas is to celebrate baby Jesus's birthday. We have been reading books and discussing baby Jesus and how we give Christmas gifts in honor of his birth. The whole concept of salvation and Jesus coming to save our souls from sin is of course still a little above her head, but I felt like we are at a good point to at least emphasize that Christmas is not about us, or Santa, or presents, but rather about someone very special named Jesus. That said, our advent activities are pretty elementary this year but we'll definitely adapt them as she and her siblings grow up.
Here's the list of what we'll be doing between now and Christmas!
- Listen to Christmas carols (the real ones of course)
- Visit Santa
- Go see the Symphony of Lights
- Watch a Christmas movie as a family
- Make gifts for Grammy & Poppy
- Make gifts for Nana & Papa
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Make a birthday card for baby Jesus
- Take silly Christmas photos
- Make Christmas cards for soldiers
- Have a hot cocoa night
- Make a handprint Christmas tree
- Prep a special breakfast to pop in the oven Christmas morning
- Make rice krispie trees
- Learn about the symbols of the Christmas season
- Read a Christmas bed time story
- Make ice bubbles
- Read "The Night Before Christmas"
- Make candy-cane playdough
- Visit Valley View Farms
- Make a hand/footprint reindeer
- Make ice cream cone Christmas trees with cousins
- Have a snowman lunch
- Watch a Christmas movie as a family (yes, this is listed twice)
We have 23 activities since official advent begins today. In other years that number will be different of course. Like I said, not all of our activities are 100%-Christ centered, but I wanted to focus on doing things together and celebrating together with things that would be toddler-friendly and toddler-understood. I'm doing these things for her, so choosing activities that are above her understanding wouldn't make sense. Some of those great ideas I found but decided C was too young for include...
- Write letters to soldiers, family members, or Santa
- Make paper snow flakes
- Shop for siblings or cousins
- Lots and lots of other crafts C is still too young for
- Helping parents decorate the tree or house
- Volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens
- Making donations of food, clothing and toys
Anyone else make or have a fun advent calendar? Doing any exciting advent activities? Tell us about them! And don't forget to stay tuned for pictures of our advent fun over the course of the month :)