Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar : Countdown to Christmas

A couple days ago I posted a few wonderful ideas for advent calendars that every year I think about making but seem to leave it to the last minute. I really want to make one of these someday but I think my problem is that I have a hard time thinking about Christmas before December 1st and by that time it is too late.

Here is what I came up with

I got the idea from HERE. I like it because it was fairly simple and quick with my limited time and I had a way to make this easy activity even more easy.

Years ago I was a very active member on swap-bot. A site where people join swaps, make things pertaining to the swap, send them off to their partners and receive items back. I did a lot of matchbox swaps so I had a whole jar full of decorated matchboxes already.

I was wondering what I would do with all these when we move and this seemed like a worthy cause for these little pieces of art :)

So I emptied out all the contents of 24 matchboxes. I printed out a list of 24 family activities and cut them into strips.

I added a number to the bottom of each box and put the corresponding activity into the boxes.

Now they sit all filled with our family activities and little sticker treats in a little glass bowl waiting for December 1st.

My girls will take turns opening one each day. I chose to add 2 stickers to each box as well because I didn't want to focus on getting gifts or candies. I wanted to focus on the activities we will all do together as a family. However since the activities will be done for the most part after school, the little sticker is a small treat until it's time to do the activity.

Here is our 2011 activity list. Most are very affordable but there are a couple special days :)

1) Get out the Christmas books and music and play with Christmas Pattern blocks
2) Christmas sensory box and enjoy hot chocolate by the fire outside
3) Visit the North Pole
4) Decorate the Christmas tree and do family portraits
5) Decorate their bedroom door with life size elves
6) St Nicholas Day: Pictures with Santa (Free 5X7 Tuesdays)
7) Make Christmas cards and gift tags
8) Red, Green and White night (colour theme for dinner and nails)
9) Pizza night and Christmas Movie
10) Historic Stewart farm 
11) Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
12) Make teacher gifts
13) Games night by the Christmas tree and make wrapping paper
14) Make gifts for family and friends
15) School concert and put together a charity box
16) Pizza night and Christmas movie
17) Beeswax candles and ornaments
18) Christmas bath by carols and candle light
19) Make Gingerbread houses
20) Take a drive to look for Christmas lights
21) Jinglebell bracelets and Rock around the Christmas tree
22) Bake cookies for Santa
23) Make our annual sausage rolls with daddy
24) Watch the night before Christmas and write letter to Santa

My girls usually get to open one present on Christmas Eve. Something small but that will keep them busy as we finish up last minute preparations and they always get new PJ's for all the Christmas morning pictures.

Every year we try to cut back on the consumerism that runs ramp-id at Christmas and we try to focus more on family time and making gifts or buying homemade gifts. Gifts that are special. I also recycle gifts and sometimes even buy second hand gifts. To me it is the thought that counts and if I can recycle something to someone that I know they will love, what is the point of buying something new?

This year I will be recycling the girls Christmas dresses as well. I have made that decision because their dresses from last year will still fit them both, they were only used once, and spending another couple hundred dollars on new dresses for Christmas day just doesn't make sense as we try to simplify life and get back to the basics. I must admit it is hard to walk by all the dresses on display...but I can do it!

How do you countdown to Christmas? Any special holiday traditions? As well as our calendar activities we will be doing a lot of Christmas Book + Craft = FUN activities and making ornaments so December should  follow the tradition of being a VERY busy month!