Start a new family tradition with this simple homemade activity-based Advent calendar!
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One of my favorite things about being a mom is establishing family traditions. It’s so much fun to see the excitement on my kids' faces and I really believe that it helps them to develop a sense of security knowing that they can expect the same thing year after year.
With that said, the holidays can be really overwhelming. There is so much that needs get done and even more that you WANT to get done. Adding too much to your to-list can make the holidays feel more like a chore and less like the happy season it should be.
That sentiment is exactly how this Advent calendar was born. I had so many things that I wanted to do with my kids, not to mention the things that they really wanted to do. Unfortunately, most years we waited until about a week or so before Christmas to try and cram in as much as we could. Then, by the time Christmas rolled around, we were a bunch of Grinches and totally sick of the holidays.
So, a few Christmas' ago, I decided that there had to be a better way! I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted to do with my kids over the holiday season. I included things that we always did, plus things that we usually never got around to.
After that, I looked at my calendar, beginning December 1st, and figured out when we could do some of the more time-consuming activities - like visiting Santa or looking at Christmas lights. Right then and there I scheduled it so that there was no guessing. I also took note of the days when I likely wouldn’t have much time to do anything “extra.” As I planned out each activity, I put them in a numbered envelope that corresponded with the day of the month that it was going to be completed.
I filled in the rest of the month with activities that were simpler and could be done at home without much time. These were things like, coloring Christmas pages, reading a Christmas story, and making hot chocolate.
Here's a list of the activities we have used so far:
- Decorate the Christmas tree
- Decorate Cookies
- Put together a holiday puzzle
- Make a gingerbread house
- "Elf" someone
- Color a holiday picture
- Go look at Christmas lights
- Go see Santa
- Play Christmas Carol charades
- Write your letter to Santa
- Watch a Christmas movie
- Open your special ornament and put it on the tree (each year, my kids get an ornament from me, then when they are adults, they can take their ornaments to their own tree)
- Make Christmas Candy
- Read The Polar Express
- Have supper by candlelight
- Drink Hot Chocolate
- Make a card for a soldier
- Talk about your favorite part of the holiday season
- Make a Christmas tree out of play-doh
- Pick a different country and look up how they celebrate the holidays
- Make cards for Nursing home residents
- Pack up some old toys to donate
- Have a Christmas music dance party after supper
- Make cinnamon ornaments
- Have a candy cane hunt
- Attend a holiday party
- Make reindeer food
- Wrap presents
- Make dinner together
- Do something nice for someone else
- Christmas carol karaoke
I made a simple plaque to hang the cards from. Each day of December, my kids open the envelope for that day. The surprise factor makes even the simple activities exciting and having everything planned out ahead of time, ensures that we always have time to get everything checked off our list.
My kids ages range from 14 to 3 and they all say that this is their favorite holiday tradition! It's pretty near impossible to find something that pleases all my kids - so that's pretty high praise!
I do switch out some of the activities each year. And the great thing is that since the kids don't know when everything is scheduled, I can rearrange things if something unexpected pops up
To make the plaque:
For the envelopes, I just bought a pack of small envelopes and note cards. then I decorated the outside with solid color card stock, rubber stamps and glitter for the numbers.
I used some little fish eye hooks to hang some string across the bottom of the plaque and mini clothespins to hang the cards from.
When it comes to crafting, I like to say - If I can do it anyone can, and this is no exception! I love that you can completely customize the actual calendar itself to fit your own style and decor and the activities can be adjusted to fit your schedule, budget, and lifestyle.
If you make this calendar be sure to let me know about it in the comments!