Friday, December 2, 2011


Hi, and welcome to the Internet, the land of ten million advent calendar ideas.  Let me show you the one I settled on.  It's the only Christmas decoration I've put up so far, and the craftiest thing I've accomplished in ages, simple as it may be.  (Then I'll show you the one that I kind of wished I had done instead if only I had stumbled upon it sooner.  It's not too late for you, though!)

What I love about our advent calendar is that it is activity based, so very little additional stuff or candy is coming into our house along with it.  I'm sure the kids will get plenty of both this month.

Having no original ideas of my own, I took this one from Simple Mom, so you can look there for more in-depth instructions if you want.  It's pretty self-explanatory, though:  take cardstock bookmarks, fold them in half, decorate each with a number, and hang using a clothespin.  Write an activity or treat on the inside of each one, or better yet, make this advent calendar reusable from year to year by writing the activities on post-it notes instead and slipping them inside.  The post-its also give you great flexibility to change the planned activities as you go, to suit the weather, your mood, or how much time you have.

Our tentative list of activities is below, but I won't actually write any of these down and insert them until the night before, in case I want to omit, add, or rearrange.  I have a default note that says "Eat a candy cane" that I keep moving up one day at a time, just in case I forget to update the real notes before the girls open the next day's bookmark in the morning.  I know you're going to think our list looks lame, but remember the girls are still little - it does not take much to excite them! Plus, you know, baby Waylon...we're not exactly taking on family ice skating this year. 
  1. Bye day (advent calendar not yet made!)
  2. Another bye day of sorts (see photo below)
  3. Buy a Christmas tree
  4. Put lights on the Christmas tree and in the kids' bedrooms (don't laugh at us that getting our tree up is a slooow process!)
  5. Make a paper countdown garland
  6. Read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (for the first of 7,000 times this month)
  7. Watch classic Christmas cartoons
  8. Open a Christmas book (I've wrapped up a few of our old ones)
  9. Give money to a Salvation Army bell ringer
  10. Visit Santa at the mall
  11. Go to church (is it overly lame to include things like this that we'll do several times this month anyway?  Maybe it will snow and I can change this to "build a snowman.")
  12. Pop popcorn, drink hot chocolate, and stamp Christmas cards
  13. Make ornaments
  14. Open a Christmas book 
  15. Attend June's Co-Op Christmas show
  16. Eat a candy cane
  17. Go to family Christmas party
  18. Go to the Nutcracker (half our crew) / Bake Christmas cookies (the other half)
  19. Open a Christmas book
  20. Take canned goods to the drop-off at the grocery store
  21. Make gingerbread houses
  22. Make paper snowflakes
  23. Go look at the Zoo Lights
  24. Go to the Christmas Eve service at church and open a Christmas Eve gift
  25. Have a Merry Christmas!

Advent calendar
Simple Mom strung hers up on ribbons in a glassless frame, but I just used the fireplace since we never build fires. Next year when I have a one year old toddling around the house causing mischief, I'll probably go the frame route.

The Backsides
These are the decorated backs, so we can flip them over as the days pass. I thought about jumbling the order, making it more of a hunt to find each day's number, but since June's still learning her numbers I thought I'd keep things more straightforward this year.

December 2nd:
Day 2
Oh, Georgia was SO sick on Friday, poor thing. Did I mention that I used Dr. Seuss bookmarks and hot pink post-its? Ha! They're ugly, but that's okay because you don't see the insides much.

So, that's our advent calendar.  You could do this same thing with a store bought advent calendar, or my new favorite alternative idea:  a single small gold box with a note or treats inside that you hide for the kids to find each day.  Brilliant!

Image via Delia Creates
Okay one more quick one - this advent calendar made from two packs of gum would be perfect for my gum obsessed nephew!

Image via Jessica Lynette


Danni said...

That is insanely crafty. I would never think to do cool things like this.

Sarah said...

I love it! And I love your list of activities! And I'm very impressed that you took the time to do this. Maybe we'll copy next year :)

Susan said...

I keep hearing about everyone doing Jesse Trees this year. Never heard of it before. But, it has something to do with reading parts of the Jesus story every day and also something about hanging specific ornaments on your tree. I've heard of 2 people going to ornament exchange are assigned one and take 1 for everyone at the party and you go home w/ all the ornaments you need for your tree. I don't know all the details, but it sounds interesting and fun! I'll check out my sister's Jesse Tree when I'm there.

Cindy said...

Those are too cute. Our marker drawn Christmas tree and stickers is looking sad. ;)

Beth said...

More suggestions for your list...

- Write a letter to Santa
- Play with Christmas stickers
- Go to Target and pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots

I also had make snowflakes and gingerbread house, but they are already on your list!