The Advent Calendar has to be more than just a little window of chocolates or sweets, right?!
The Advent period is generally crazy, you really don’t need the kids to start the day on a sugar high, do you?
The kids have performances- at school, at sport clubs-; us, adults have Christmas parties, work dos, there’s shopping, catering and a whole load of pressure to be perfect.
After last week’s charity shop haul, I was browsing my Pinterest Christmas Craft board and saw lots of yummy mummy activities that had me shaking my head:
“No way we can do any such things in this rush!” – I thought.
“Do mums really get to do all that with their kids??? Seriously?”
Then it struck me, that the Advent calendar might be the best vehicle for keeping us on track and actually getting some of those fun projects done.
Last minute, as usual, after the kids had gone to bed on the 30th November, Dadonthebrink and I sat down and looked at our crazy-busy schedules for the month ahead. There is LOTS going on!
- We made a short list of things we wanted to achieve with the kids:
- The Christmas tasks– for decorating the house and making it feel more Christmassy. These were things like making gingerbread figures and gingerbread houses, making an Advent wreath for the table and so on… These are all treats too.
- Then decided to add lots of fun things on our Advent list too; like snuggling up to watch a film, drinking hot chocolate and eating ice cream for dinner.
- Then we split the tasks into sub-tasks that can be done in maximum 2-3 hour blocks maximum. Like making the gingerbread is split over 2 days: making the figures on one day and decorating them on another.
- Picking the short ones for weekdays and long ones for weekends, we shuffled them around in the calendar.
- We interspersed the Christmas preparation tasks with fun tasks.
- Our reusable Advent calendars contain a sweet or chocolate for each day and a little note of the daily treat.
This is how we did it:
So far, on day 6, the calendar has really worked in our favour:
It’s kept us all on task. On Sunday, for example, we were all pretty tired in the afternoon, but as the calendar had said “go to the Advent church service” and the kids were enthusiastic about it, we didn’t cop out, but went.
Our list of tasks Advent activities:
- Catch up on Sinterklaasjournaal
(we try to embrace the different parts of the children’s heritage and the Dutch do Saint Nicolas, on the 6th of December eve, really really well. They have a run up to the eve with a special news channel chronicling the mishaps of St Nic’s helpers and St Nic getting the presents to the children on time. It’s so well done! Thanks to the Internet, we can keep up with the story…except sometimes we slip behind by quite a bit. This was an excuse to binge-watch the series.)
- Go for a walk and collect pine cones, branches and berries. Make Advent table decorations.
- Go to Advent church service
- Make gingerbreads
- Write your Christmas wish list and put it in your shoe tonight
- (sweets) …because it’s St Nicolas
- Enjoy an ice cream dinner
- Make a marshmallow snowman
- Decorate your gingerbreads, afterwards watch a Christmas movie and sip hot chocolate (weekend!)
- Make some paper snow flakes, and put up some window decorations
- Write Christmas cards to teachers and friends
- Dance to Christmas music
- Eat toffee and make up a Christmas song
- Learn a Christmas carol
- Watch the Polar Express in PJ’s
- Dunk speculaas (a dutch seasonal biscuit) in Christmas chai and enjoy!
- Make mince pies
- Make a gingerbread house
- Make nativity out of lego
- Read a Christmas story
- Decorate your gingerbread house
- Make salt dough Christmas tree decorations
- Make popcorn Christmas tree garland
- Decorate the Christmas tree
These are all specific to us. I’d love to hear your version!
I love the creativity with which some mum’s approach Advent and while some totally overdo it, immo, and make their own lives so much more frantic, still help to give the month some structure. Some great Advent calendar ideas I found friends write about online:
Kindness Advent showcasing 50 acts of kindness from Mum in the madhouse
DIY Snowmen Advent Calendar from Rainy Day Mum
Christ-Centred Advent for Pre-schoolers from Tales of Beauty for Ashes (because it takes Advent back to what it’s all about)
Alternative Advent Calendar ideas
One year, we had an Playmobil advent calendar and it gave the kids a lovely scene to play with each day after school. It was so lovely to have the excitement and calm of kids enjoying a tiny new toy each day and playing with the scene.
Instagram tells me it was 2012….
This year, I saw Lego Star Wars sustainable advent calendars, that are made with swapping the plastic trays for paper trays and then …my favourite part… Lego came up with some crafty ideas for recycling the advent calendar trays after the holidays. I love the idea of lower impact through reusable toys and packaging. (This is their little video of ideas for the packaging)
Above all, remember to take it easy & enjoy the season!
Whatever you do for Advent, in the run-up to Christmas, don’t make your life harder just because others are doing all these activities with their kids! Say no to keeping up with the Jones’!
Hope you are having fun this season!
Share some tips on how you stay organised through the mayhem!
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