When I was younger, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was the advent calendar…and oh my, how we had them! I had at least half a dozen of the lift-flap paper variety from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen to the birth of baby Jesus, a wreath where you learned about traditions around the world, and an entire village! It was so much fun to spend 20 minutes or so each night and walk around the house with my mom seeing just what was behind each door.
Of course, times have changed, and advent calendars have grown much more complex and interactive. There are a TON of different varieties out there, and I wanted to share a handful of them with you today, ranging from the most basic (that even moms who claim to be “craft-challenged” could do!) to much more elaborate. I’m hoping a few of you will be able to take a few minutes today to throw one of these together for your kids! I have my sight set on nap-time as a time to come up with some of my daily ideas/activities.
(*The teacher in me feels like saying that advent calendars are also a great early math tool! These teach number recognition and addition/subtraction in a non-threatening and very subtle way!)
Here we go! I will start with advent calendars that are pretty basic/simple/easy to do! (Even if you don’t like crafting!)
1. The Chocolate Advent Calendar
You can find these just about anywhere, so run out to the store today and pick one of these up! (I found mine at the regular grocery store for about a dollar a piece.) Each day, your child will lift the correct number flap to reveal a piece of chocolate to eat! I’m really excited about these, as this is the first year I’m allowing my kids to have these! (They will be so excited….especially as they both love chocolate!)
2. The Paper Chain
This is a tradition in our house that my kids just love. We have just as much fun making the links as we do tearing one off each night. (*Tip- Rotate who gets to rip off the link each night for fairness amongst siblings!) Take some red, white, and green construction paper (or fun Christmasy scrapbook paper) and let your kids color, glitter, accessorize it to their little heart’s content. (This was hard for me the first year, as I like things to look “just so”, but realized that the kids had so much more fun when I let the project be THEIRS.) Simply make 25 (or 24) links and rip one off each day leading up to Christmas!
3. Santa’s Beard
I found this adorable advent over at http://www.oopseydaisyblog.com/! I just love it! (I’ve seen versions at the store…in fact my mom picked up two smaller versions for my kids in the dollar bins at Target!) This is fairly simple to put together, needing only paper and cotton balls! The kids will have so much fun gluing on a cotton ball to Santa’s beard each day, watching it get fuller and fuller as the month progresses! (This is also fun for younger kids who may have a harder time following the “number rules” as you can be a bit more free-form with this, not needing to place a ball on a certain number (although you could add numbers!)
4. Numbered Boxes
You can luck out (like I did) and find a numbered box, or you can create one yourself. Fill each door or box with a Christmas activity (post to follow later today!) Here are a few of the different ones I found pictures of, to give you an idea of the possibilities.
This is the one I happened to find (at a thrift store!)
Found at: http://www.ohhellofriendblog.com/
I found this next one via Martha Stewart
The next idea is super cute and uses wedding cake favor boxes!
Don’t be intimidated by all of the crafty creations out there. Like I said, I happened to just find a pre-numbered red box, and didn’t spend hours making one! (The point here is to do something fun with your kids….NOT to have the most adorable advent calendar in the world. It is for THEM, not for your recognition. Trust me, this is hard for me too…but a good lesson to learn!)
5. Baby Socks
I love this idea, and have seen it floating around for awhile now. I think this would be easy to do, as you could just gather up socks throughout the year…something to tuck away for next year perhaps? This is again courtesy of Ms. Stewart. =) (So again, don’t feel like yours has to look like this! She has a staff of hundreds to sit and do crafts and organize spice racks all day…You have actual duties…This is for the kids!)
6. Cookie Sheet
This has been on my “to-do” list for years now…(Gosh, can’t imagine what else I’ve had to do…) BUT, one of these days I swear I’m going to get this done! Gather up old knick-knacks, Christmas cards, odds and ends, and things with numbers on them! (or you could just use your cricut and scrapbook stuff!) I absolutely love these…There are TONS out there…here is one I thought was cute and do-able for most people. I found it over at: http://www.twopeasinabucket.com
I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do ANY of these, so here are a few more “simple” ideas.
7. Match Boxes
This would be really easy to do! Just cover match boxes (take out the matches of course!) with cute paper and number them. Stick them in a decorative bowl, and let the kids find the right one each day! From: http://justagirlblog.com
8. Paper Cone Trees
This is via Family Fun, and these would be really easy to do as well! Set up a whole forest by the time Christmas rolls around!
Just remember to keep it fun, and do it for the kids (not to impress your friends….or have something to blog about…okay, these might be reminders for me….) You can also search ebay or etsy for advent calendars to purchase! (And, most kids are going to be happy with the basic lift the flap or chocolate one as well!) However, for you crafty types out there, have fun finding the perfect advent calendar for YOU! Merry Christmas!