As a child, I always looked forward to counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Heck, I’m a full-grown adult, and the idea still holds appeal.
Most of the advent calendars you find in the stores are of the chocolate variety. You know the kind, you peel back a square for that day and just inside waits a delicious mouth-watering chocolate. The best part is that you get a little piece of chocolate every single day from December 1st to the 25th. The sad part is that the ingredient labels and allergy warnings on the back of most of those packages are ridiculously long and complex stating that it does or may contain just about every allergen there is.
So what is a mom to do? Get creative, that’s what! :)
Once my son was old enough to enjoy an advent calendar he still couldn’t have the average chocolate variety because of multiple food allergies. So back to the drawing board we went looking for something a little different, but just as fun. We were visiting a friend’s house and she had a board she had by the calendar full of fun Christmas things to do as a family before Christmas arrived. What a fabulous idea for an advent calendar! She let me steal her idea and now every year as the holidays approach, we usually send an email back and forth trying to decide if either of us has an activity or two we want to steal for our own calendar.
The best part of this idea is that it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. On a budget? No problem…my idea shouldn’t cost more than $10 and is reusable from year to year. Want to get crafty? Go for it! Would love to see what you come up with here and hope you will share!
Here is how to make your own advent calendar:
- 2 poster boards
- Wrapping paper (scraps or a roll)
- Miniature gift bows (the kind that peel and stick)
- Sticky notes
- Turn your poster board vertically and write a title at the top. Ex: Smith Family Advent Calendar
- Take second piece of poster board and cut out twenty-five 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch squares (or whatever size you desire)
- Wrap each of the 25 squares in wrapping paper. Place a miniature bow on each so that it resembles a present.
- Arrange squares on the titled poster board in desired design and tape down only the top border. Now go back and put a small number above each square 1-25 to aid in counting down to Christmas.
- Take 13 sticky notes and cut them in half. Hide one sticky under every “present.”
- Almost done. Now write a fun family activity on each sticky note. (I usually throw in a Christmas Bible verse too.)
- You’re done. Now, when December 1st rolls around, you simply lift up the “present” marked with a 1, and do that activity as a family!
I love this idea because it is food allergy-friendly and because it allows you to come together as a family during the holidays.
Need some ideas to get you started? Here are some of the activities I like to list on my family’s advent calendar:
- Go caroling.
- Take Christmas cookies to a friend in need.
- Visit a live nativity.
- Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
- Drink hot chocolate and stir it with a candy cane.
- Watch The Grinch.
- Have PJs and Polar Express movie night.
- Build a gingerbread house (Check out Izzi B’s).
- Visit Santa.
- Buy a Christmas present for a child in need.
- Make and red and green Christmas train.
- Go ice skating.
- Make a snowman (in Texas we have to get creative).
- Camp out in your sleeping bags by the Christmas tree.
- Make reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter in a ziploc).
- Go to a local nursing home and bring cookies and board games and spend an hour or two.
This should be enough to get you started, and leave plenty of blanks to help you tailor it to your family’s annual activities and preferences.
What activities will you put on your advent calendar? I’d love for you to comment and share!