Advent Calendars Without the Plastic or the Chocolate

Advent Calendar

I am a sucker for Christmas.  Yes I am an atheist, but I love Christmas.  I particularly love the gratitude shown, the celebration of family, the magic of Christmas, and the crafts.  I have fallen in love even more with Christmas since having children, now I can truly indulge little things and create family traditions that will last with us over time.

When my two were very little I cross stitched them both a Christmas stocking.  These are labours of love and took me, quite literally months to complete.  I can look at them now and know that every stitch was one born out of love and I know that they will come to treasure them.  Upon completing the stockings, I decided that the children needed their own advent calendar, and so, I designed and hand stitched what you see here in this blog.  I say hand stitched because I don’t own a sewing machine, so that whole thing took quite a long time!  My only regret on it is that I didn’t make the pockets slightly larger, but hey, it makes it perfect for what I am going to do with it this year!

Why did I make my own advent calendar for the children when there are ones in the shops every year filled with chocolate and plastic stuff?  Well, to be frank, I hated the Disney licensing model of Advent calendars, and no thank you, I did not want my kids to be eating sweets every day on the lead up to Christmas.  That just didn’t sit right with me.

So, for the previous three years, I have filled the pockets with little toys.  Ranging from assorted coins (toy money) to little knick knacks that I saved up over the year.  But sadly, that was still filling the need for more STUFF.  So, this year I have decided to do something radically different.  I have decided to make the calendar about experiences, and not about STUFF.

It’s a lot harder to do it this way, and it involves quite a bit of planning.  But armed with an excel spreadsheet, the family calendar and my husband’s calendar and mine, we have come up with a list of events/outings that we think we can manage for the 24 days leading to Christmas.  The thing is they don’t even need to break the bank.  Anything that we already had on the calendar for Christmas (but had yet to tell the children about) has gone into that spreadsheet.  We also had a couple of family passes to two key attractions so those have been pencilled in for two of the days.  I’m going to write all of these things on little pieces of red and green paper and carefully fold them up and place them in each pocket.  We have the spreadsheet saved for Mummy and Daddy so we know what’s coming and can plan accordingly!

So, what are the other things that we are doing?

  • Christmas Storytime at bedtime, gathering all the Christmas themed story books and having a Christmassy bedtime
  • Having pancakes for breakfast one morning
  • Going for an ice cream straight after school
  • Going to a special park directly after school
  • Having a barbecue for dinner and toasting marshmallows over it straight after
  • Going to see the street full of Christmas lights at night with PJs on
  • Making Christmas biscuits for their classmates
  • Writing Christmas letters to relatives far away

That’s just a few of mine, and here are some other ideas that friends of mine have used:

Write Santa letters

  • Put Christmas tree up
  • Make Christmas cake
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Make Christmas truffles for gifts
  • Make Christmas decorations/salt dough and papercraft
  • Go to the beach and have a picnic
  • Movie night with homemade caramel popcorn
  • Go out for ice cream in your PJs (kids love this one!)
  • Play a family game (probably cricket or softball)
  • Dress up in good clothes and take xmas photos for relatives.

And here is a blog post all about the same thing with even more ideas.

If you have ideas of your own then I would love to hear them!  Post them in the comments section so we can add to it!

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