I asked The Boy if he would like to do the advent calendar again this year, and he said that he would. But, this time, I have decided to include activities and treats every day. I have found that scheduling too many activities can make it more stressful than fun, so this time around, the activities might be things like “send a card to a friend” or “read The Grinch together” – things that don’t require major planning and effort, or a trip in the car, or much time at all, so we don’t get burned out. I have also decided that the treats may be as little as quarters or Chuck E. Cheese tokens (what budding little gamer wouldn’t love that?).
New this time around will be a calendar/”parking lot”, so that The Boy can “park” activities that he isn’t particularly interested in that day, and we can reschedule them for the weekend when we have more free time, or we can just forget about it. These are supposed to be family activities that are fun not forced! The only caveats are that if it is a scheduled activity (like watching the Peanuts Christmas special), it can’t be “parked”, although it could be “forgotten”. The other is that if Mom wants to do the activity that evening, Mom may go ahead without him if he doesn’t want to (within reason – I’m not gonna leave the kid at home while I go drive around and look at the lights!). Also new will be the timing of the gift – I used to hang them all at once, on November 30. I think this time around, each treat will be hung the night before, after The Boy goes to bed. That way we can avoid the frenzy that happened a couple of years ago.
If you are thinking of doing something like this yourself, check out Pinterest for some really cute ideas on how to set up your own advent calendar (these are some of my favorites). Below, I’ve shared my list of activities (leaving out the location specific stuff – can’t be too careful!), which you can use or modify if you’d like. In past years, I have typed these up in word (like the first picture in this post), and I have also gone all out, scrapbooking-style to make some nifty looking messages (like the ones in this picture). For the gifts and treats, think of something small your little one is into – in past years, we have used the lego miniature guys, small bottles of bubbles, candy, matchbox cars — all kinds of things! If you want to know when the holiday TV specials will be televised, visit chiff.com for the complete list, and if you want to find holiday themed family activities in your area, visit gocitykids.com, a nickleodeon site where you can type in your city or zip and find fun things to do near you. You can also do a google search, or check your local newspaper (or their website) for holiday-type events.
I’ll post some photos of the finished product when it’s ready to go!
Donate a toy to Toys for Tots
Make chocolate-covered pretzels
Camp out by the fireplace
Send a card to a friend or relative
Put up the Christmas Tree
Pick a charity and donate to it online
Make and decorate Christmas cookies
Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Watch “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”
Write letter to Santa
Go see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood
Read “The Polar Express” together
Watch “The Grinch” (the original version, of course!)
What activities would you include?