I used to get my kids chocolate Advent calendars. They were quick and easy ways to do a family countdown until Christmas, and the kids loved them and looked forward to opening a new door each day.
The problem, however, is that once they swallowed that last bit of chocolate, it was over. They were on to the next thing. All the anticipation and reflection that ought to come with the Advent season was gone in one or two bites. And we all were still left wanting.
So this year, I made the conscious decision to slow down. Using an old photo hanger (which could easily be recreated with some wood, twine, and a hammer and nails), I clipped up reusable burlap bags for each day of December. The little wood cutouts with the dates on them were purchased from Etsy for less than $5, and they can be either hot glued on or tied around the bag with some twine. (I chose the latter.)
Since family dinners are the time when we all sit together and connect, the kids will get to open one bag after dinner each night leading up to Christmas. What you fill the bags with is totally up to you!
- candies or chocolates
- cookies (I wrap some mini shortbreads up in a brown paper bag and put them in)
- small ornaments
- little toys
- pieces of a Nativity set (our is made of olive wood, and I placed the 12 pieces sporadically throughout the month so the kids can build it as they count down)
- coupons for special treats to enjoy as a family (I did: choose your own dinner; make ice cream sundaes; family movie trip; and more!)
- tickets for family activities (I did: bake for neighbors; make Christmas cards for shut-ins; choose a gift to donate through a non-profit’s giving catalog; and more!)
- scripture cards (we do one a day)
There really are so many ways to make this project your own and tailor it to your own family! The best part is you can use a lot of the ideas year after year, so it’s an inexpensive way to celebrate each December. And the quality time you get with your kiddos truly is priceless.
If you end up trying one of your own, leave a comment to let me know. I’d love to see what other people are doing!