I’m still feeling caught off-guard by the whole holiday thing. It just occurred to me that tomorrow is December 1 and I haven’t sorted out an advent calendar yet. Yikes! It’s really important for me to make sure that the children have some sort of consistency with family traditions and this is one that William adored last year.
I had hoped to create something more permanent for this year but it looks like we’ll be re-using last year’s solution. It’s a good one if you’re strapped for time.
It all started with this Kids Craft Weekly post. If you haven’t read Amber’s newsletter, you really should. She always has wonderful kid friendly craft ideas. I used two pieces of origami paper so that the cups would be double-sided and then I printed little numbers, cut them out, and glue-sticked them on. Once all the cups were made (in a couple of hours) I paper-clipped them all to a paper ribbon and stuck it on the wall with clear tape. Not very sophisticated but it worked really well.
Now for the fillings. As you know, we have had all sorts of issues with sweets in our house and I am always struggling to find balance with our food choices. So the idea of starting out 24 days with a hit of sugar did not appeal to me. So I used a combination of this idea and these toys mixed in with a bit of good quality chocolate. We still have some of those toys around. The paper animals were definitely the favourite from last year. To make it easier on myself and to ensure that the children didn’t pull out everything at once, the elves came each night in December to leave a gift or activity in the appropriate cup for the next day. William started to learn his numbers and a bit of calendaring. It was a great teaching tool for him.
Here are some of the activities that we did:
Light candles, make a fire and turn off all the lights
Have a picnic/breakfast for dinner
Listen to Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales by the fireplace
Family disco night (this was a hit!)
Make a fort and read stories in it
Donate a gift to a child in need
Find snow and play in it
Take turns telling a story
Use puppets to tell a bedtime story
Go for a walk to look at Christmas lights after dark
Go ice skating
I think the key to making this work is to keep it simple, be flexible and have fun! If there is no snow on the day that you planned to find snow and play in it, then stick in a chocolate or some stickers or a paper toy instead. I think it’s all about the surprise factor. My favourite part about this advent solution is that it doesn’t require a lot of money, just a pack of origami paper, a printer and some things that you probably have at home.