Project: Make an Advent calendar garland
Advent — the days of December leading up to Christmas — isn’t something I grew up celebrating. The idea of an Advent calendar was lost on me. Now that Advent calendars seem so commonplace, though, I can see how fun they are for kids. Children are just so excited thinking about Christmas, and the practice of opening a little door, box or envelope every day seems to make that anticipation even more special.
Most of the Advent calendars I’ve seen have little treats or toys hiding behind doors or inside drawers. When I heard about what some online friends were doing to spread good cheer, so to speak, in their communities, I thought that would be better to do with my family than give just another treat or toy. And when I saw this digital template to make tiny envelopes and tickets for Advent, I knew this was the perfect combo.
The December Days Advent Calendar is something you can download and add your own digital papers to, then print out, cut and assemble. (I used the Winter Wonderland paper digital scrapbooking kit here.) It’s a wonderful hybrid digital/papercraft project that older children can help make. I used mini clips to keep the envelopes in place on the ribbon.
If you don’t want to download a template and fool with image software, though, you can make your own tiny envelopes and inserts with holiday paper from your local craft store. Just trace an envelope shape on the paper, cut, fold and hang on a ribbon or other garland.
Inside each envelope (one for each day of Advent) is a ticket or slip or paper that has an idea for how to celebrate Advent that day. Here are some ideas we have had:
1. Read a picture book about the Christmas story, or read from the Bible (the book of Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-20).
2. Decorate your home/tree.
3. Take a box of hot, fresh coffee to firefighters or other community workers.
4. Make Christmas cookies.
5. Visit an elderly or disabled relative or neighbor with a small gift.
6. Sing a few Christmas songs. Go caroling if you’re brave!
7. Find out when your favorite holiday shows are going to be on TV, and watch it together one night. (You’ll have to check ahead of time and make this ticket for the right day so it goes in the correct day’s envelope.)
8. Go through toys and clothes you own and find at least three nice, useable things you can donate. Then, go together to donate them to Goodwill or another charitable resale shop, or a shelter.
9. Drive around your neighborhood to look at lights. Local newspapers often highlight the most interesting homes.
10. Visit a natural area your family loves, and clean up any trash you see there. (We just might go to the beach!)
11. Take a family photo.
12. Color a few Christmas pages, or make paper snowflakes. Then give them to someone who could use a pick-me-up from the kids.
13. See a matinee of a new movie. (My husband can’t wait to see The Hobbit.)
14. Go ice skating. (Yes, we have ice arenas in Florida!)
15. Make a Christmas craft out of something you already own –recycling! — or out of found objects.
16. Pay for someone else’s purchase when you are at the store in line, or at a drive-through restaurant or coffee shop.
17. Go to the mall to look at the decorations and/or visit Santa Claus. (We make a special trip to a mall an hour’s drive away to see a spectacular model train layout just for the holidays!)
18. Play in the snow. Or in our case, the sand.
19. Visit a wildlife center or animal shelter and bring an item to donate — check their sites or call to find out what they need.
20. My family buys a new Christmas album every year. Put on some Christmas music and do something together as a family — have dinner or play a board game.
21. Visit a playground to play and bring bottles of water to share with everyone. Bonus points if you decorate the bottles with stickers, ribbons or bows!
22. Invite someone ahead of time to go to Christmas Eve services with your family.
23. Enjoy a local holiday event — a tree-lighting ceremony, live nativity, festival, etc.
24. Make new tree ornaments with the kids. (Find lots of ideas on Pinterest.)
25. Help kids make holiday cards for their teachers.
26. (Bonus!) Join in a Christmas Bird Count event.
We don’t have a lot of food-related ideas because of food allergies, but we do have our share of treats for special occasions.
There are so many fun Advent calendars to choose from! This garland is customizable every year and also decorates the Christmas tree. A tradition I wish I’d grown up with!