Our Advent Calendar, 2010

Last year, I realized at the Very Last Minute that we didn’t have an Advent calendar. We did a variation of what we’re doing this year, but with far less planning. This year, I started my research in November, found an idea that I thought I could handle and actually followed through with it.

And I’m so pleased.

25 Days of Christmas at Quiet Fish

We used the Advent envelope idea I found via Andrea at Quiet Fish. Basically, we have 25 little envelopes hung on a ribbon in our dining room (which was light on Christmas decorations anyway, so this is nice). We’ll open one each day. Instead of chocolates or toys (though I do see LEGO Advent calendars in our future), each slip of paper is filled with a fun (hopefully) family activity. It’s what we did last year, but much more organized. Whew.

Day 1 and Onward

The template — available over at Quiet Fish — for the envelopes was easy to cut out. I printed it on card stock so it stood up to 25 tracings. The template makes two envelopes out of small/rectangle scrapbook paper and three out of the bigger/square paper. You have to line them up all sideways and willy-nilly, so trace before you cut to make sure they fit together and you get the most out of your paper.

Speaking of paper, I took the boys to the store with me to help pick out the papers they wanted. (No, I don’t have scrapbooking paper at home anymore. I’m all digital.) Anyway, they had a good time. I picked a few of my choosing and they picked some of their favorites as well.

We obviously had to have birthday paper for the Munchkin‘s birthday.

Munchkin's Birthday

And I was trying to choose something for Christmas day when LittleBrother informed me that we should get the paper with crosses on it since it’s Jesus’ birthday, after all. Yeah, I got schooled by a three year old on the meaning of Christmas. Nice.

Jesus' Birthday

I wish, given our limited space, that I had scaled down the template just a bit and made smaller envelopes. But it works and I’m pleased. The envelopes were easy to make (even for me). The thing that gave me the most problem was the flipping miniature clothes pins (found in the wood section at Hobby Lobby, by the way). FireDad had to put at least ten back together for me as they kept springing apart.

I have our list of ideas all planned out, but as Andrea at Quiet Fish suggests, I won’t stuff the appropriate day’s envelope until the night before or day of just in case some swaps have to be made. That was an issue we had last year with our other version. As an example, pouring down rain won’t make for a good carriage ride.

So what are we doing? In no specific order:

  • Write & mail letters to Santa • Visit Santa at the mall • Make paper snowflakes • Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas before bed • Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for and hang them up near the Advent envelopes in the dining room • Make our donation to Secret Santa (local kids’ toy collection program) • Watch It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown on TV • Bake Christmas cookie • Make a Rudolph handprint craft • Take Christmas Angel present to Kmart • Wear Santa hats to the Fire Department and sing Christmas carols for Daddy & the other firefighters • Sing in the Christmas Concert • Have hot chocolate after the preschool Christmas program • Make birthday cupcakes for the Munchkin • Go on a carriage ride & watch the light show afterward • Watch a Christmas movie of the boys’ choosing downstairs • Decorate some crafty Christmas trees • Take a trip to Papau & YiaYia’s house! • Build a gingerbread house • Make peppermint barkElf someone • Wrap presents for Daddy & each other • Color pictures for Santa • Read the Christmas story together • Say a thank you prayer for the gift of Jesus and family (obviously the Christmas day one)

Yes, so, some of those are day specific (Munchkin’s birthday, singing in the Christmas concert) while others are kind of specific but still flexible (we can go to the fire department to sing FireDad carols on any day he is working) while others are free to float about as needed (Elf-ing someone, any baking or crafts). I think I’ve allowed enough flexibility in there that I won’t feel overwhelmed or “put upon” for keeping up with our Advent activities.

Because that’s the whole point of this endeavor: To keep the focus more on family and less on the unimportant stuff this season. It involves careful, mindful preparation by me (do we have the proper ingredients? do we have the proper crafting stuff? am I leaving enough family time after I finish my work for the day?) to make sure that we can complete each day. For me, especially, the holidays can be a difficult time of year. My default, knee-jerk reaction is to hole up in my room and ignore the emotions and weight of it all. However, that’s insanely unfair to my boys. That’s why we did a less-organized version of this last year and why I felt so compelled to do it again in a grander fashion this year.

I want to give my boys the Christmas season that they deserve. They deserve a present, focused and joyful Mommy (and Daddy, yo!). So, I’m doing my best to provide that for them. I am thankful that FireDad is on board with the whole concept and gave me a hand with some of the ideas.

Here’s hoping that the next 25 Days of Christmas are ones worth remembering!

[PS: Speaking of Christmas, I’m giving away a Weebles playset & a $100 Hasbro gift card thanks to BlogHer. Go enter over here.]