Chocolate Advent Calendar? Oh no…
I have reached the stage in my life a few years ago that I wanted to make a change in how we, as a young family, count days to Christmas, how we celebrate it and what meaning do we add to Christmas.
Most of you will probably agree that Christmas has gone so far to the material side that we all forgot what this time of the year is all about. I read somewhere earlier that Christmas calls us to be for others. It is the time of the year for spreading love, compassion, and understanding, bringing peace and light to someone’s life.
Nevertheless, many of us have forgotten this. A lot of kids are not even aware of the real meaning of Christmas. It is a lot of the times about the presents under the tree, the lights in the windows, front yards and all around the house, the cards in the post, snow in the yard (sometimes 🙂 ), stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of “Merry Christmas” to those who pass us in the streets!
And, of course… lots and lots of chocolates…
The Advent Calendars are getting bigger, fancier and more extravagant every year. So a few years ago I said ‘no’. We will STOP buying Advent Calendars and feeding this marketing dragon. The more we all do that, the more it gets out of control. Let’s stop and think what Christmas is all about…
Christmas is about sharing and caring.
And it is our responsibility to show the example to our kids on the daily basis but especially around Christmas. Christmas should be every day (sharing and caring) but let’s start taking small steps and work from December 😉
Christmas is about joy! It can be a very joyful time of the year. But joy finding the gifts under the Christmas tree does fade out very quickly. Therefore, I decided we need to celebrate every day in December leading up to Christmas. By doing the good deeds, sharing love, spending the time together, bringing joy to others.
Hence, I created a homemade Advent Calendar with various tasks and ideas so kids could do some good deeds, spent time together, use creativity and imagination, talk to others and focus on others as well as bring some joy to own home. This is very new but beautiful tradition in our house and everyone enjoys it so much!
So in this blog post, I will give you lots of different ideas what you can use if you would like to start this new tradition in your family. Make it simple. The main essential for the Advent Calendar is 24 bags/boxes/socks where you could place your tasks. We simply asked dad to make this tree for us from a few wooden pieces, kids painted in green and then dad hammered 24 needles to hang our bags. I got the granny to make those simple small cotton bags but you could easily use the small gift bags 😉 Simple and so easy but does the job perfectly.
Here are some other ideas for your DIY Advent Calendar.
I have now noticed that you can get similar Advent Calendars at the Stores like Lidl and Aldi (I believe there are many more): paper ones where you only need to stick them together, the wooden ones and so on. It is getting easier and easier to get it sorted. But make it fun and even involve kids in the tree preparation.
And now is the best part – what will you hide in those secret bags or boxes!? Oh my, oh my – you can go crazy here! What is important in your family? What is missing? What would you like more of? Can be good deeds for others, activities for kids, some spoiling moments for the kids, experiences with the family etc. I usually do a combination and change slightly every year to keep the excitement and surprise. But some of them stays there consistently 😉 Few of the ideas are simply essential 🙂
So here are my suggested Advent calendar activities.
- Shop for a gift to put under the Tree of Joy (or another charity).
- Fill a shoe box for a selected Christmas Child.
- Visit an elderly home and hand out homemade cookies.
- Take a few small gifts to a shelter for women and children.
- Write a letter or a card to a family member or a friend.
- Buy a small gift for a child in the long-term care wing of the children’s ward, and bring a bouquet of flowers for his/her mother.
- Serve a meal together as a family at a local homeless shelter.
- Clean out your toy boxes and donate good quality items to a charity store.
- Clear canned goods from your cupboards and to donate to the selected charity.
- Take homemade cookies to the fire station, police station, your doctor’s office, library, church office, dentist etc.
- Anonymously pay for the person behind you in line at the shop.
- Pay for someone’s coffee.
- Pay for the tolls for the car behind you.
- Wear Santa hats and take some doggie treats to your dog (or animal) shelter.
- Leave a Thank You note to garbage collectors.
Let someone go ahead of you in a line.
Make a coupon for a hug to give to someone you love.
Do a chore for someone in your family.
Give compliments all day today to various friends, family, even strangers.
Pick some flowers and leave them at your neighbours doorstep anonymously.
Leave a post-it note on a mirror that says ‘You are Beautiful/Awesome/Amazing’ etc.
Let 5 people you know how thankful you are that they are in your life.
Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the Librarian.
- Hold the door open for people all day.
- Smile all day.
IN THE KITCHEN:
- Make Christmas cookies.
- Make chocolate-dipped pretzels with red and green sprinkles.
- Eat “reindeer droppings” for breakfast (Cheerios!).
- Make gingerbread cookies or gingerbread house.
- Make edible Christmas trees out of upside-down ice cream cones, green frosting, and sprinkles.
- Decorate a gingerbread house.
- Invite a few friends over for a cookie decorating party.
- Melt chocolate into Christmas molds.
- Have chocolate dip with fruit, berries, and marshmallows for lunch (instead of soup! My kids LOVE this)
- Make s’mores.
- Make and have Christmas pancakes for lunch (with cookie cutters and sprinkles).
- Host a Christmas tea party.
- Have a red and green dinner.
- Decorate the tree.
- String a popcorn garland for the tree.
- Make origami ornaments for the tree.
- Decorate a wreath together for the doors.
- Hang some mistletoe and give out kisses.
- Make a paper garland to hang on the tree, over a door, or in the kids’ bedroom.
- Decorate the windows with spray snow or window stickers.
Sprinkle the yard with reindeer food (dry oatmeal & glitter)
- Visit neighbours’ houses to sing Christmas carols and hand out homemade cookies.
- Hop in the car in your jammies and drive around to look at the Christmas lights.
- Visit Santa for photos.
- Attend a Christmas Market.
- Watch the Nutcracker ballet (in theatre or TV).
- Go to a tree-lighting ceremony.
- Attend a Christmas concert.
- Check out books from the library about how people celebrate Christmas in other nations and talk about it together as a family.
- Shop for a new Christmas ornament.
CRAFT AND CREATE:
- Write (or color in) Christmas cards.
- Decorate a Christmas card for your teacher.
- Make a handmade Christmas ornament for someone else in the family.
- Colour a Christmas picture or make a Christmas craft.
- Make paper snowflakes to hang from the kids’ bedroom ceiling.
- Write letters to Santa.
- Make and post a Christmas card to a family member or friend who lives in another state or country.
- Make a silly Christmas video to email to friends.
- Create a mini family movie of the best things that happened that year.
- Make homemade play dough in red and green.
- Make a video of each family member saying why do you love them, appreciate them, why they are special. Watch it all together.
- Make glitter snow globes out of small food jars. (Secure the lids with a hot glue gun!)
- Paint pinecones to make a centerpiece for the table.
- Make a pinecone bird feeder and attach a little note that says, “Merry Christmas birdies!”
- Read a Christmas book.
- Do a Christmas Wordsearch and see who will get it done first.
- Watch a Christmas movie together while having hot chocolate.
- Game night – play a board game together.
- Play ‘Go Noodle’ together or active XBox/Playstation game in teams.
- Have an indoor snowball fight (with styrofoam or newspaper).
- Bundle up and watch for shooting stars.
- Camp out/have a slumber party in the living room.
- Dress up for dinner.
- Host a Christmas Scavenger Hunt.
- Dance to Christmas music.
- Watch The Polar Express in your pajamas while having s’mores.
Let everyone in the family choose a country and then google to see how they celebrate Christmas there.
Snuggle up in mom and dad’s bed and read The Night Before Christmas.
Choose your favorite photos for a family yearbook.
Make some personal and family New Years goals.
Make a bubble bath for the kids by candlelight and with Christmas tunes playing.
Interview each family member on video asking a short list of questions (favourite memory from the year, etc.) and make a family movie of the year.
Draw names and write a love note for a family member. Leave them out on Christmas Eve for Santa to distribute into their stocking.
Have breakfast for dinner.
And there could be many more!
Hope you’ll enjoy this and maybe even try the idea. If not this year, maybe next! Let’s bring back the Christmas spirit and the real meaning of Christmas!
Have an amazing one!
Lots of love,