Every holiday season my mom used to buy my brother and I a chocolate advent calendar. Every December day leading up to Christmas I opened a little cardboard door to reveal a Christmas symbol-shaped chocolate. I loved my calendars, and I got one every year until I moved out of the house. Now my mom buys them for my daughters, and while I like the tradition of the gift, I find I don’t want my young girls eating chocolate everyday. So this year I set out to replace the chocolate advent calendar with something new.
First I went on Etsy, where I was immediately overwhelmed by the diversity of advent calendars crafty people make. I found a couple I love, but unfortunately, as usual, I left it too late to receive any mail from the States by December 1st. Therefore, I have abandoned the idea of an Etsy advent calendar until next year.
Plan B: Make our own.
There are a lot of ideas out there. More than I ever could have imagined. And lots you can easily do with preschoolers. Taking time and date constraints into consideration, as well as esthetics, I chose to make two easy ones. There’s even enough time for you to do these!
The Advent Giving Jar
While I love the idea of each child receiving a little gift for each day of December leading up to Christmas, I also have mixed feelings about this. First, I neither want to stock up on eensy-weensy plastic toys nor give my children candy everyday. Plus, I always like an opportunity to instill the value of giving. So I got my family together and we came up with 24 little things we can do everyday to make a difference in someone’s life. Some ideas we came up with include “make cookies for a neighbour,” “donate a non-perishable item to the foodbank,” and “call someone we haven’t spoken to in a long time.” We also included special family activities (gifts for ourselves) to reinforce the holiday tradition of togetherness, like family swim night, a winter’s night walk and spa night. The girls helped decorate the jar by gluing pieces of red and white tissue paper and sparkles on it. As we do our good deeds we can hang each one on our Christmas tree, and when the jar is empty on Christmas Eve we can place a candle inside and use it as a lantern to help Santa find his way to our house.
The Advent Paper Chain
This one was more fun for the girls who got to cut the paper strips out of red and green construction paper, tape them together and put on some stickers (although not many – my oldest likes the simple look). My budding mathematician five year old also practiced printing her numbers on each link, making her feel very proud. Everyday they will take turns cutting a link, working their way towards Christmas Eve. So no one will lose an eye fighting over the scissors each girl chose a colour which they will be responsible for cutting.
There are fewer things more exciting than counting down to Christmas and fewer things nicer than spending quality time with family making crafts and coming up with ways to make other people happy. I hope if you were feeling run out of time for advent crafts that you’ll reconsider and try one of these.
Do you have any advent family traditions? What are they?