I asked my oldest children to tell their favorite Christmas memories. They both replied with enthusiasm, "The Advent Calendar activities." This surprised me. I knew they liked them, but I never realized just how much those simple activities with mom and dad meant to them. So, in our family, Christmas isn't Christmas without an Advent Calendar. We have kept one every year. My children thrill at the mystery behind the windows, knowing it will reveal the special event of the evening. Most of the activities are simple, with just a few major events. I learned a long time ago, after experiencing Christmas mommy burnout, to keep it easy. Here is a list of some things we have done in the past:
put up Christmas tree
watch a Christmas movie (We have videos of Frosty, Little House Christmas, Drummer Boy, A Christmas Carol, The Original version of the Grinch.
read a Christmas book
go on a family moonlit walk (check the calendar for a full moon)
look at lights
make Christmas cookies
make a giant Gingerbread Man, or small people, or gingerbd houses
family slumber party by the tree (this is still the favorite even with my teen)
play charades with Christmas words or song titles
cocoa and popcorn
have a Christmas play
work on handmade gifts
make Christmas cards and mail them
make presents for Jesus (I'll post about this later)
go Christmas shopping for each other
We have made several different kinds of Advent Calendars. One year, a simple paper yellow, glittery star with a red and green paper chain attached, graced the side of the refrigerator. A child ripped off a link each day and read the words written on it. Once, we made round windows from toilet paper rolls cut in thirds. Inside, were pieces candy and activities; tissue paper covered the entrance. I have also made windows from old Christmas cards cut up and glued on construction paper. Behind them, were prophecies of Christ's birth and the each evening's activity. This year I used a picture of Simeon blessing the Babe from an old calendar and added green stiff paper below it. I like having pockets with paper strips inside them because if I have to change the activity suddenly, due to company or other plans, I can secretly switch the activity papers around without the kiddies knowing it. This one should last several years, especially if I laminate it.
Here are some websites that offer even more advent calendar suggestions.
http://www.jesustreedecorations.com/html/page01.html (could be made into an advent)
I plan to post more Christmas recipes and ideas throughout this month, so stay tuned!