Every year when I was growing up, my siblings and I would each have a paper Advent Calendar from our great-aunt. We also had an Advent Wreath on the table. With my daughter, we have multiple Advent Calendars. I have a Santa’s workshop fabric one where you add the workshop characters each day. Last year we added the Lego City Advent Calendar and have bought the new 2012 version. Each day my daughter gets a new mini figure or a 2 to 10 piece set. We have an Advent Wreath at the table, but we are never very good at remembering to light it. I recently saw one that had LED votives and thought that was a great idea.
Another twist on the Advent Calendar is the 25 Day Count Down to Christmas. Each day in December you do something special as a family to get ready for the holiday. You can create a calendar ahead of time where you put a special activity on each day or you can do a grab bag with ideas and pull an idea out each day. I prefer the calendar method since some of our planned activities require advance tickets or we are attending events that are on certain days which would not work in the grab-bag methodology.
So what activities are there for the 25 days of Christmas? Activities will depend on the ages of your children, your interests, and what activities are offered locally in your area.
Visit Santa – what holiday is complete without a visit to Santa?
Write a letter to Santa –Each family member writes their own letter to Santa (yes, Mom & Dad too). Younger kids can dictate their letter or draw a picture of what they want. In my town, the downtown merchants have a mailbox where kids can mail their letter and receive a response.
St Nicholas’s Day – Leave your shoe out on December 5 for a treat on St Nick’s Day – December 6. My Mom’s birthday is December 6 and I thought it was the best thing that I got a present on her birthday when a friend told me about it as a second grader.
Dine with Santa – We are having Breakfast with Santa at our local mall this year. There are a variety of places that offer meals with Santa – Mall, Zoo, Restaurants, Churches, amusement parks (if they have a Christmas event), and museums. One of the McDonald’s in my area is even offering dinner with Santa. Search for “breakfast with Santa” to find local options.
Drive the local neighborhoods to see people’s Christmas lights. My parents neighborhood went all out for Halloween, I can’t wait to see their Christmas displays. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these neighborhoods and/or in a warm climate you can even walk.
Professional light or tree displays- Many towns or cities have a local park, zoo, or other area that has a walk-through or drive-through lights display. Our nearby zoo has a spectacular display.
Caroling – Get together with a group of friends to go caroling.
Parades – Several towns in my area have holiday parades. Just be sure to bundle up.
Story Time – Barnes & Noble is having Polar Express PJ Story Time at most of their stores on December 9 at 7 p.m. There will be a story reading, hot chocolate, and cookies. You can verify that your store is participating by looking on their website.
Amusement Parks, museums – We were planning to attend Hershey Park Christmas Candylane over Thanksgiving while visiting Pennsylvania, but the weather had other ideas. We attended last Thanksgiving and had a great time. We are also attending Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. Check amusement parks, museums, and historical sites near you for holiday activities.
Decorate your Christmas Tree
Make Paper Snowflakes
Make Candy Canes or wreaths from pipe cleaners and beads
Decorate Stockings with felt, fabric paint, pom-poms, and more
I have a number of crafts on my Pinterest Board and will update it as I find more
Bake Christmas Cookies
Decorate a Gingerbread House
I have a few recipes on my Pinterest Board and will update it as I find more.
There are lots of holiday shows out there. You can watch something at home or go to a production.
Holiday Movie nights – Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, Home Alone, etc.
Holiday TV Specials – Charlie Brown, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph
Nativity plays – check your church and others in the area
Holiday Concerts – Schools, Symphony, Orchestras, Churches
Other Shows – Radio City, Local Theater & School Groups
Read Christmas Stories – Everyone takes a turn (little kids can just pick out the book).
Shop for an Angel Tree Gift or for Adopt a Family
Work at a food pantry or soup kitchen
Be a bell ringer
Help with an event at your church
Are you doing the 25 days of Christmas? What events do you have on your list?