When I was a kid advent calendars brought to mind waxy, tasteless chocolates and cardboard depictions of the stable scene: Mary and Joseph, under the guidance of half of a zoo, some foreign dignitaries, and various hangers-on, watching the beatific Christ child sleeping blissfully in the manger. My mom also did a neat candy cane countdown to Christmas with 2 long pieces of yarn (one for me and one for my bro) tied with 24 loops holding candy canes. This one was my favorite and even now as a grown-up, I can't get enough peppermint!
When the boys were old enough to appreciate counting-down to Christmas, my mom gifted us a really great Advent calendar. It has a big festive moose on the top and 24 lovely pockets to hide little treats and toys -- a month's worth of surprises for little fingers. Sure, the daily treat was exciting, but the excitement short-lived and didn't really seem to contribute anything worthwhile to our family holidays. I was wondering if I'd even bother with it anymore when Andrea posted a neat Advent project she was undertaking with her own family.
I was intrigued and captivated. It fit with my feeling that we needed something for the whole family that would encourage us to do more holiday things together and it just sounded so gosh darn wholesome. I decided then I would be doing it for Christmas 2009.
Tonight I sat down and made my list of Advent activities. Here they are in no particular order:
- Make Christmas cards to mail to your grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles!
- Open special December 1st gift from Grammie and Grampie.
- Go for walk on nature trail. Feed some birds!
- Cut out paper snowflakes to decorate the windows.
- Pick 2 new toys and donate them to Toy Mountain.
- Set up Christmas tree in the boys’ room! Decorate it!
- Go pick out the family Christmas tree!
- Decorate the family Christmas tree. Listen to Christmas music and have some hot chocolate!
- Watch some Christmas movies together as a family. Make popcorn!
- Set up the bird feeders and fill them with seed.
- Make dough Christmas ornaments with the cookie cutters!
- Take a drive to look at the Christmas lights!
- Bake Christmas cookies!
- Take the Christmas cards to the Post Office and mail them!
- Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for and hang it where you can see it.
- Hang the outside Christmas lights and decorate the porch. Don’t forget the wreath for the door!
- Read Christmas stories at bedtime.
- Help decorate and mail the parcels to Nova Scotia and Alberta.
- Listen to Holiday music and dance your sillies out!
- Set up the Christmas Village.
- Call Papa on Skype and wish him a Merry Christmas!
- Go sledding or skating.
- Take a walk around the neighbourhood to look at the lights.
- Help wrap gifts for the teachers and take them to school!
Some of these are ones I came up with on my own, others are shamelessly borrowed for people who've made lists already or did the same countdown last year - it doesn't matter from where the inspiration comes, it's where it is going that counts.