Recently, I had a friend question whether or not to hop on board with ever popular “Countdown to Christmas” gig so many people now do. It struck me because just recently we asked the children what their favorite part of the holidays are and my son, without hesitation, said it’s the daily activities we do together. After years of doing this, I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
I made this out of scrap wood a few years back and we store it under our stairs. For the 24 days of December (leading to Christmas) there is an activity listed in each bag. We do not do candy or gifts, but decided long ago that it would be family time in those bags. You don’t need anything elaborate to make an advent calendar. You could even have a simple chalkboard that changes each day to show the number and the activity. Or hide an envelope in the house each morning. Truly, there are on million ideas out there for these but to spend too much time on that is missing the point, I think.
No joke. My kids can’t wait past 5:30 to run down and open the day’s envelope. Here are examples of what we have in each envelope:
COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS FAMILY ACTIVITIES
- Watch the Elf on the Shelf movie and pop popcorn
- Attend the neighborhood tree lighting ceremony
- Decorate a pre-made gingerbread boy (perfect for a busy afternoon)
- Sing Christmas carols at the neighbors
- Play the game of Clue and drink hot cocoa
- Read Christmas stories under the tree with flashlights
- Send a special package to Grandma
- Prepare a meal for someone who is sick and drop it off
- Play the game of Life & listen to Christmas music
That gives an idea of how simple we keep it. The pre-made gingerbread boys were a huge hit last night. I had picked them up for 50% of at Michaels ($2.50) and it came with icing and candy and after our family dinner they were able to decorate them. It was great because we had other things going on as well as piano and didn’t have the time to make them. And the children didn’t mind at all.
Pros: Honestly, these have been our favorite memories over the years. It makes us slow down and enjoy each other and the season. We stop being so “busy” and just spend time together. It also doesn’t need to cost money. You can find plenty to do in your own home with books, games, and a little creativity.
Cons: I have gotten much better at this. DO NOT fill the envelopes ahead of time!!! I have a notepad and I only do one or two ahead of time based on our schedule. This is not designed to create stress but to eliminate it so you want to be mindful of everyone’s schedule the events you already have going on. My children are 7 and 9 and it still does not take much to make them excited. And I think the benefit of reading from the envelope in the morning is that they get to look forward to something all day long. Don’t we all love that.
So without a doubt, we are huge fans of the countdown. But we keep it simple and about family. I hope this helps if any of you with really young ones are on the fence about starting yet another tradition. I know that can get overwhelming. This. This is one to consider!
*And in keeping with the holiday spirit, I teamed up with Albion Fit for a great giveaway for you and a friend. Go enter on Instagram!
Enjoy your day, everyone.
Love this Courtney. We do the Twelve Days of Christmas. I do it for both of our girls and my sweet mil who is 97! While we do give little gifts they are things that are needed and useful, but not expensive. It is a way to connect with them and get them excited prior to as we are not with them every day now they they are grown. Things include lotion, Chapstick/lip gloss, post it notes and a new pen, hair ties, makeup remover, etc.
I remember you saying you did this for you MIL and I thought that was just the sweetest thing ever. Love the idea of those little, useful gifts. Traditions make this time so much more magical.
Our church does a weekly newsletter via Flocknote. Today I posted a link to IKEA’s commercial on what children really want – seems most appropriate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ3ePGr8Q7k&feature=youtu.be
Can’t wait to check this out! Thank you!!!!
Our family started this same countdown idea three years ago. Our favorite day from last Christmas was creating “Santa” beards using shaving cream. All it took is one can of shaving cream and four Santa hats. The pictures are priceless and the kids had a blast. Really easy project for those nights when everyone is busy with homework or projects. Hope you try it!
Oh my goodness! Janice, I just read your comment and I can’t wait to do that! That is priceless and hilarious. Building such great memories.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and share. Putting that in one of our envelopes for sure. Merry Christmas. xo
My parents did this for us every year and we would do nightly activities or on the weekend and I have such fond memories. It was all about spending quality time as a family! One of my favorites was driving into San Francisco in our pjs with our homemade hot cocoa and driving along the marina and looking at all of the beautiful decorations for Christmas. The homes along the marina have huge front windows and so fun to see how each was decorated. We would sing Christmas carols in the car. I don’t have children but have continued this for my hubby! I made a countdown to Christmas out of little festive socks and he pulls the note out each morning. It’s been a great way for the two of us to connect each evening during our busy schedules.
I love this idea and the simplicity of it! Great idea!
Thank you so much for this idea. I love it and will be starting this tradition with my kids, 4 and 7, tomorrow! It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the commercialism during the holidays. This is a sweet, doable way to shift the focus back to what is important : FAMILY! Thank you again : )
Maria M. says
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this with us, as well as some great activities. And thank you for mentioning not to fill the envelopes in advance! To me, that is a game-changer. And something I honestly hadn’t thought of!
Megan | Honey We're Home says
We’ve done this in year’s past, but haven’t gotten started this year! My son is already asking about when we’ll go look at Christmas lights, etc, so I think I need to get on it!