I am so excited that it’s finally December. Maybe it’s because I was born in December, or maybe I just love the season, but I literally love everything about December. I love the lights, I love the smells, I love the Christmas foods, I love literally everything about it.
One of my favorite parts is a tradition that our family started last year. Because the holidays can be such a busy time, we added in some time to connect with each other on a daily basis with a fun activity to do each night. We called it our “family advent calendar,” and last year, it began as a simple paper chain with an activity written on each one.
When brainstorming calendars, I came up with tons of ideas, but I finally settled on this one:
I hand-made the little matchboxes, which I had designed using this adorable digital scrapbooking kit from Mari Koegelenberg called 12 Days of Christmas. I punched it up by typing my numbers using the font “Pacifico.”
After making the advent boxes, which took me about an hour to design and then another two hours to print, cut, fold, and glue together, I wrote out clues for each of our activities to put in our boxes.
Sometimes, the clues would be clear about the activity, saying “We’re going to see Santa. Get dressed and head to the car!” but most of the slips just had a clue that was vague and led the family somewhere else.
For example, one slip of paper tells the family to listen to the phone messages to hear their clue. At that point, I will have called the home phone and left the actual activity plan via voice mail. The activity for the night? Using the phone to call distant relatives and sing Christmas carols!
The only rules are that the entire family must participate in each activity, and that we do one activity each night leading up to Christmas.
Because there are so many parties, activities, and opportunities for the family to be going a million different directions during the month of December, we have to be more intentional about making time to connect. It seems like this is truly the most busy time of year, and if we aren’t intentional about it, it’s easy to lose sight of family time amidst the travels from this party to this event to this cookie exchange to this store to buy gifts. It gives us the opportunity to connect, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours, every single day leading up to Christmas.
As I mentioned above, I considered several other ideas for advent calendars. I really liked this clue-based system where each night was like a mini scavenger hunt, so I went with it this year. I also needed something that was small, and able to be moved out of Zach’s reach, so we chose it over some of the more space-intensive calendars. Here are some other ideas:
-Get a shoe organizer with 24 pockets. Put one item that represents the activity that night in each pocket, with a card detailing the activity. For example, put cookie cutters in if you’re decorating cutout cookies. Put Santa hats in if you’re taking pictures wearing Santa hats.
-A paper chain with the activity written on each one. Last year, we did this one, and it was convenient and fun, but we wanted to shake it up this year.
-Notes hung on a Christmas tree featuring the notes. This one was appealing, but with Zach being so young, we opted out of having a tree this year. It posed too much of a hazard for his busy little climbing skills, and we don’t like shutting him out of any room of the house.
-In a similar idea as the shoe organizer, you could find 24 boxes, put the item inside, wrap it, number it, and put it under the tree, with the activity to be unwrapped each night. We considered this, even without the tree, but it meant that some items we use frequently would be wrapped up and unreachable until we got to that day.
-Find a 24-pocket muffin tin, fill each little hole with a note stating that night’s activity, and then cover each pocket with a square magnet featuring that night’s number. This idea was really cool, but again, I don’t have an extra muffin tin, and I didn’t want to go to the expense of buying a new one this year. I may pick one up in an after-Christmas sale since bakeware tends to go on sale from some stores post-Christmas baking.
There are literally hundreds of ideas out there, both for calendars and for activities to include. Just typing in “advent” on Pinterest brings up a ton. In fact, there are plenty that take no time at all, so you could decide to start the activities today and have a calendar ready by this evening before you start… it’s not too late, even though it’s the first, to get a jump start on the advent season.
Need an idea for tonight? We will be making paper snowflakes!
Are you doing an advent calendar this year? Share a picture or tell me all about it in the comments below!