The countdown to Christmas or any special event is almost as fun as the actual day. As you anxiously rip away the paper links, cross off numbers or flip open the small pictures, the excitement grows! Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas and is defined as a time of waiting. For some, it’s a special time of anticipation and longing for Christ’s birth; for others, it’s about the excitement for the celebration of the holidays. The holiday season can go by so quickly, so it’s fun to have something each day to stop and enjoy.
Many use an Advent calendar to give attention to the days leading up to Christmas. Last year, I found this magnetic advent calendar online and decided to make it for my family. It took some time, but I know that it is something that will be special each year we pull it out. I followed the blog’s directions, with one exception: after I made my twenty-four numbered squares, I took them to a local UPS Store and had them laminated. I then cut each one out again and put magnetic strips on the back to make them last longer!
Now, as with other Advent calendars, there are a few options as to what you can put behind the numbers in the muffin tin cups. I fill each one with strips of paper or small candies. On the strips of paper, I write special activities (examples here and here) for us to do together. Some may take a little time, like making a gingerbread house, while others might be as simple as telling someone you love them. Two or three dates have special colorful paper that give directions for them to follow that lead to a small gift – for example, “skip around the table three times and then look under it for a surprise” or “hug your dad and then run and look under your pillow.” For even more inspiration, here is a printable Advent calendar along with a list of fun activities you may want to include.
Every night, we read a Christmas book (I order them from the library so I don’t have to store them all year!), hang one ornament on our small tree (using ornaments patterned after the Jesse Tree) and remove the next number from our Advent calendar. It’s not picture-perfect; let’s be honest, sometimes, we skip a night! (Sometimes, I wish we’d skipped the night because it ends with meltdowns over who hung the ornament the night before.) Christmas is another area that can lead to mom guilt for many of us, so as with most activities like these, just do what works for you and your family. As moms, we have so much on our plates during the holidays: baking, shopping, decorating, all in addition to our normal routines. I’m constantly trying to remind myself that my kids are more likely to remember me sitting down to read them a Christmas book, singing a Christmas carol or talking over a cup of hot cocoa rather than the many gifts they receive. I want to encourage you moms to make these holiday a time of engaging with your family, starting new traditions and building lasting memories for your children – and in doing so, allow your own hearts to slow down and enjoy the holiday season, too.
Do you use an Advent calendar with your family? What other practices or traditions do you have that help you stay focused throughout the busy holiday season?