Let’s chat about one of my favorite (albeit the most trouble HA!) activities we do during the holidays – our Advent Activity Calendar. I started this over a decade ago when my kids were little – I honestly didn’t know if it would stick and we would do it very many years – but it has become one of my kids’ most favorite traditions. I even thought as they got older they would not want to do it anymore – but here I am with a 15 year old, 12 year old, and 9 year old – and I am still doing it because they can’t wait :)!
So what is it? Starting December 1st and going through December 25th, the kids open a card every day with an activity to do that day together. I hang the cards somewhere in the house together and they take turns opening them. They are Christmas themed and I align them to what works with our calendar. I am going to share with y’all how I do it and give you ideas to use too – let’s do it!
Ok! First thing you need to do is look at your calendar. Get every single Christmas activity written down and know what your month of December looks like. This is a crucial step because you do not want to plan activities on days that don’t work and you want to take advantage of the events/activities already planned. That will make more sense – trust me.
Now that you have your calendar – you need to make a list – write it down or type it out – 1-25. This equates to December 1st-25th.
Next you need to make a list of activities that you want to do. My activities have evolved as my kids have gotten older – so this can be tailored to y’all. Here is a list of examples of activities that have worked for us in the past or work for us now…
- Put PJs on and go look at Christmas lights before bed.
- Make Reindeer food.
- Bake cookies.
- Drop off gifts for neighbors.
- Surprise grandparents with cookies.
- Find the surprises on the tree.
- Do three nice things at school today, report back tonight, and get a treat.
- Say two nice things about your brother/sister for a treat.
- Open new Christmas books.
- Make class gifts.
- Go Christmas shopping.
- Late night cocoa run.
- Dessert after school – you pick!
- Pallet and movie night!
- Write letters to Santa.
- Take blankets to animal shelter.
- Go buy this year’s ornaments.
- Take pictures of your day and share them tonight with the family (we do this when we go to Philly)
- Tell three strangers Merry Christmas!
- Make popcorn garland.
- Make ornaments (any kind of craft)
- Play with snow (I order that fake snow we can make)
- Make Christmas slime.
- Elf Dinner (small things)
- Find a Christmas joke (older kids) and share.
- Shop for the Angel tree.
- Find the hidden sprinkles so we can make cupcakes.
- When the girls have late evening dance – I will make sure Owen opens up that card and I make an exception that he can open without them and it will be something to surprise them like hot cocoa after dance, or late night Sonic run, etc.
- Surprise daddy with coffee at work.
- Take cookies to fire dept.
- Wrap gifts.
- Stamp and mail Christmas cards.
- Gingerbread houses!
- PJ PARTY!
- Go see Christmas movie at the theatre!
- New Christmas coloring books
- Tell me two facts about the story of Christmas and get new Christmas movie.
- Target dollar spot is your friend – go there and find treats and just surprise them with those some days! You can always hide the treats or make them earn them.
I could go on and on 🙂
Ok – now you need to fill in your activities! It is imperative that you keep in mind the kids’ schedules and already planned events. For example: I have to keep in mind my girls’ evening dance schedules – I don’t want to plan an activity that they can’t even do on the nights they have dance. Also – you need to take advantage of planned events – for example if you have planned to go look at the lights at the square one night – make sure your activity works with that and you don’t waste a more time consuming activity on that night. I usually actually write on my calendar each day’s activity so I always know what is coming. You want to be as prepared as possible- trust me!
Final step is putting together the cards. This is totally up to you! My kids like opening cards from envelopes. So I will either type and print each activity or just write them on card stock and put them in envelopes. I hang them in the house and put the number on each envelope. I also put the initials of who needs to open it – preventing those arguments HA! This year I am using clothespins and hanging all the cards in a garland by the door. I have done it many ways and if you look at my hashtag #brownkidsadventactivitycalendar, you will see some options!
Here is the deal that I want y’all to remember – don’t put too much pressure on yourself with this. It is a lot of work and can be time consuming – so get yourself prepared, but stay flexible. Every year, I have to switch up a few days and no one knows. Keep extra supplies on hand for that. Also- if 25 days feels like a lot -just do 12 or even 5. Should be fun and happy, not stressful and work. It also does not have to cost much, if anything. It is completely customizable to y’all. I will say that my kids love it and look forward to it – that makes it worth it for me :). I am working on mine today and will not put it up until later this week. I will share throughout the season about ours via the hashtag I mentioned above! I added a bunch of a stuff to a new Amazon list that can help y’all – check it out here!
Let me know if you have any questions!