Over the past few years, I've bought our eldest a Lego Advent Calendar every December. This year his main present was quite expensive so I didn't want to shell out over €20 for something that's becoming repetitive and just going to be thrown in the box with all the other Lego when €20 could (and did) get him a couple of new books. I also didn't want to get him an Advent Calendar full of sweets or chocolate - he's not allowed sweets before school any other time of the year, so he's definitely not going to get a chocolate first thing in the morning every day for a month. I'm not a sugar Nazi (at this time of year my blood type usually changes to Celebrations) I just don't see the point.
So - I took to Pinterest to see what alternatives were out there. I found loads of really cool ideas for Advent Calendars, and most of them cost little or nothing to complete. They're also lots of fun, way more fun than shoving a sweet in your gob or getting a thrill from a new minifigure for all of two seconds. There are great ones for adults too!
The one I decided on this year was something I saw on a Christmas page on facebook - it's an idea from Cheeky Woman.
The idea is that you print out some templates on card, and write a different Christmas-related activity on each one. It's so much more fun to do things with children, they'll enjoy it far more than a traditional calendar. They don't have to be big time-consuming things either, something as simple as "Put your Christmas Jumper on" can be fun. To download, just go to Cheeky Woman here and follow instructions. The template is in .jpeg form, so you can print out 3 of them and write your activities by hand. Or, if you don't have faith in your handwriting, you can do what I did and use Picmonkey or Ribbet to add text to the templates before printing. Here's how mine turned out:
I had the wrong printer settings on so I did chop the ends off a few, but I evened them out. Now - I know a lot of people have those felt Advent Calendars (like this one from Heatons) but I don't have anything like that to pop the cards in. Instead, I punched a hole in the top of the cards, and attached a piece of red ribbon to each one. Please excuse the light in these photos, I'm finding it a race lately to get photographs of anything before it gets dark.
I'll write a list below of all the activities I put on mine - I didn't put any "going out" ones because I wasn't sure if we would be able to do them on the designated day and didn't want to disappoint. You can write your own to suit the age groups in your house. My eldest is 10 and doesn't believe in Santa any more - but still wants to write a letter and leave cookies out! Here's what I put on mine, in no particular order:
- Decorate the Bathroom (yes, I've bought bathroom decorations...)
- Have a Snowman Breakfast (see how it's done here)
- Read about Baby Jesus (totally 100% individual if you include anything Jesus related or not)
- Make Christmas Cards
- Do a Christmas Jigsaw (loads of free printable jigsaws here)
- Make a Card for Teacher
- Make Paper Snowflakes (Step-by-Step instructions here)
- Make Hot Chocolate (with marshmallows and candy canes)
- Learn About Christmas in Other Countries (there's a fab website here)
- Colour some Christmas Pictures (free printables here or Dealz/Tesco have colouring books)
- Make Candy Cane Reindeer (instructions here)
- Read a Christmas Story
- Put your Christmas Jumper on
- Write about your favourite Christmas memory
- Toast marshmallows
- Listen to Christmas music
- Make Christmas cookies
- Blow up Christmas balloons (I got some in Euro Giant)
- Write to Santa (if Santa wanted to write back, get some beautiful free printable letters here)
- Watch a Christmas movie (my personal favourite for children is The Polar Express)
- Make gift tags
- Read The Night Before Christmas (I ordered the beautiful laser cut edition that was shown on this years' Late Late Toy Show, you can get it here from Dubray Books).
- Make salt dough decorations (recipe here)
- Open your Christmas Eve box
I wrote the numbers 1-24 on the back of each one - use your head when doing this. Don't put a big activity on a school day, or on a day when you know you'll be busy. Things like making cards or salt dough decorations are great weekend activities, while schooldays are better suited to the simpler ones like learning about other cultures, or reading a Christmas story. Don't make things hard for yourself!
To display them, I cut a Christmas Tree shape out of a piece of green card. I punched a couple of holes down the sides, and attached some ribbon. Then I tied the activities on, numbered side out. If I had more time the pedantic side of me would probably have used number print-outs or stickers, but handwritten numbers do the job.
Each morning, just turn your card around and arrange to do the activity after school. It's a great way to keep the Christmas spirit going and gives the kids something to look forward to when they get home!
Day One - done!
|Boys Christmas Jumper - Littlewoods|