Is it just me or are advent calendars becoming more and more elaborate with each passing year? I remember the ‘good old days’, when all you had was the excitement of seeing what picture was behind the door (and that was if your parents had managed to wedge the doors back again from the previous year..), then came the chocolate advent calendars, and now you can get very expensive lego ones, or buy any kind of elaborate calendar with very large pockets in for you to stuff with toys and bits. So before you know it, they’ve had a mini-Christmas before it’s even Christmas.
Sorry if I sound all “bah humbug” and Scrooge like (especially after My Buy Nothing Day post, and the post about Christmas!). That isn’t my intention at all.
Last year was the first year when BigSmall really started to ‘get’ Christmas, and to get excited about it, and to start to understand the concept of the Advent calendar. For his first Christmas, my Nana bought BigSmall a lorry advent calendar-it is a wooden lorry, with 24 draws in it, which is very sweet, but we discovered fairly quickly that about the only thing you can fit in there other than a chocolate was a small box of raisins. We got away with this for the first year or two, but then I felt we needed something a little more…
So last year, I decided that instead of filling it with things ie. plastic tat (even if you only spend £1 on each item, before you know it, you’ve spent £24. On tat. That will probably be broken or lost by Christmas) I would fill it with things to do. So each day, there was a slip of paper detailing what special Christmas thing we were going to be doing, and we wrapped up a shoebox in Christmas paper, which we would then bring out, and would contain any supplies we needed to make the things. This worked really well last year, and I really enjoyed it (even if BigSmall was FAR more excited about the chocolate in my advent calendar that my mum bought me. Yes, she still buys me advent calendars. I love my mum!)
This year, we are repeating the format, but obviously can’t buy any new crafting supplies. This isn’t really that much of an issue, as a lot of the crafts use things like loo rolls, and staples like paper and paint, and we have some stuff left over from last year. I will also be raiding my newfound love, the Scrapstore for some bits too.
Just in case anyone likes the sound of it, and wants some ideas, here is my 24 day plan!
1) Write a letter to Father Christmas-I am going to make a letter template on the computer with some suitably festive images on it, and then get BigSmall to dictate his (fairly extensive) Christmas wish list to me. We then put it in the fireplace before bed, and I hopefully will remember to take it out (and either keep it for posterity or dispose of it in a bin where it won’t be seen!) and leave some magic glitter in the fireplace to signify the magic!
2) Sort out some of their toys, with the Smalls, and bag them up to go the charity shop (possibly a bit mean..?)
3) Make a snowman milk jug like these ones from Free N Fun Christmas
4)Make some Christmas biscuits. I will do a post nearer to Christmas with our favourite recipe. I make a large batch, and then freeze some un-iced to decorate nearer the time.
5) Make some Christmas cards-there are loads of ideas for various festive pictures to make with finger/hand/footprints:
-try these reindeer ones from Meet the Dubiens
-or these footprint robins from Sweet and Simple Things
-or a candy cane like these ones from Leapfrog & Ladybugs
6) Make a loo roll reindeer! (couldn’t find who to credit this pic to, sorry)
These ones from The Woodside Kitchen are quite sophisticated. I can live in hope that ours will be as lovely, but I may be disappointed…We will probably do some with Christmas shaped cookie cutters
8) Visit Longleat to look at the tree etc. We live very close and have a seasonal pass, so this in effect will be a free activity! Obviously, you don’t have to pick Longleat for your outing…
9) Go and pick a Christmas tree. Or in our case, make it! We are aiming for this (although probably a much smaller version!) if we can get enough egg boxes in time….
11) Go to the library and pick some Christmas books, or get out any Christmas books you have, and sit and have a snuggle and read them
12) Make borax snowflakes
There are some instructions here on the blog Mom in Madison. We got some genuine borax a while ago online to make slime (see here). It is quite hard to track real borax down (something to do with health and safety I’m sure..) but I don’t know if this will work with the borax substitute that is more readily available. Perhaps if anyone has a go, they can let me know?
13) Make paper chains-I’m planning to make some strips from old Beano annuals, or some old sheet music I have kicking around. I think with the Smalls, the key is to have the strips all cut ready. They do not have the patience to wait while I do it!
14) Pre-School Christmas nativity play-this will be our first real life experience of such a thing-can’t wait!
15) Snuggle up with the fire on and watch a Christmas DVD. I think BigSmall will just about sit through a whole film now. We have no chance with SmallSmall but I’m sure he will happily bimble around playing while we watch
16) Going on a walk/bike/car ride to see all the Christmas lights on the houses round town
17) Meet Father Christmas on a steam train! We did this last year, and it was great! It is quite pricey, but is usually the grandparent’s treat..! We go to the Watercress Line, but do a google search for one near you!
18) Make mince pies-BigSmall loves stamping out the pastry, and should be able to help with spooning out the mincemeat as well
19) Christmas party at playgroup-I’m not inviting you all 🙂
20) Christmas trees from lollipop sticks/tongue depressors (I happen to have a stash of these, don’t ask!) like these ones from Happy Hooligans
-or these very cute Snowmen from A Day of Wonders
22) Christmas Fayre at our Pre-School-you’re welcome to come!
23)Make crackers for the table-these ones here are from Start Imagining
24) Hang up the stockings, put out a plate with a mince pie for Father Christmas and some reindeer food for Rudolph
Other ideas include decorating the cake, making Christmas cupcakes, decorating Christmas cookies, getting a plain plate and decorating it with ceramic plates to make a plate for Father Christmas, making baubles/bunting/gift tags from last year’s Christmas cards, or if you get really desperate, you can download some Christmas colouring printables for a bit of quiet
scribbling colouring-Activity Village has some good free pages to download.
So, what do you think? Surely Christmas should be about spending time together and doing things together, not about things. That’s what I am (probably fruitlessly) trying to teach the Smalls anyway!