Advent Ideas

I’ve been busy trying to plan this year’s advent ‘thing’ for Briony – partially because I’m a keener and partially because our family will be away for a bit and returning just in time for December 1.

Last year, I put together a simple homemade advent activity for the first time. Instead of chocolate, we did a different activity together as a family for 25 days in December. Before you think I’m SuperMom or something crazy like that, I should tell you that there are LOTS of moms who’ve planned similar things – and were generous enough to blog about them, so I had plenty of resources to work with. I just picked the things that would be fun for our family (and age appropriate), added in a few ideas of my own, and the rest is history… It wasn’t fancy. But Briony LOVED it and so did we.

Here are some of the things we did:

  • Read a new Christmas book together
  • Learned ‘Jingle Bells’ (I bought some bells at Dollarama to make it more fun)
  • Baked cookies and brought them to a neighbour
  • Invited another family over for dinner
  • Went for a drive to see Christmas lights
  • Made a snow angel
  • Wrote (and mailed) a letter to Santa
  • Bought a toy and donated it
  • Coloured some wooden Christmas ornaments (from Dollarama again!) – some to keep and some to give away
  • Went for a walk in the snow
  • Put on Christmas music and had a dance party
  • Went outside and built a snowman

I totally cheated and kind of went day by day. I came up with around 30 activities, and every morning I picked the one I had energy for (that worked into our schedule for the day). And we kept it really, really simple. I found a colourful holiday-themed paperboard box with a lid and put it at Briony’s place at breakfast time every morning with the day’s activity inside. I might get fancier as she gets older – but I might not. If it’s all about the family time together, then it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Do you do any kind of advent or holiday countdown traditions with your kids? I’d love to hear about them… And I’d love some more ideas for holiday activities that are simple + great for small kids!

– Lindsay

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10 thoughts on “Advent Ideas

  1. I know it’s a material things advent, but I just saw a Playmobil advent calendar in the kids section at Chapters and I nearly lost my mind it’s so sweet!

  2. I’ve looked at those too and they’re pretty awesome.

    We actually picked up the Playmobil nativity scene and I’m planning to give it to B piece by piece during our advent activities. I figured that maybe we can explain it all to her a little bit better if she only has to digest one piece of the story at a time? WHO KNOWS. I should probably Google the best order to give them to her in…

  3. Oooh … Playmobil nativity sounds like all kinds of AWESOME! Great idea! Where did you pick that up? I saw a bunch at Kite & Kaboodle the other day but didn’t have time to actually see what they all had.

  4. I always had an advent candle wreath when I was growing up – 4 candles for each Sunday of Advent, plus the Christ candle. We’ve been doing this with our kids – they love having candles lit for each meal, it looks pretty with real greenery around it (cedar branches, evergreen branches), and it gives us another way to talk about the meaning of Christmas.

  5. Thanks for these ideas, Lindsay! I just went to Dollarama (awesome!!) and picked up a bunch of craft stuff to bring back to Doha. I think we’ll try to do a craft project every advent Sunday…

  6. Like Leanne, we did the advent candle wreath some years, and some years we had an advent calendar candle, where we burned through the number with each meal. We also always sang our table grace and during advent we switched to Christmas carols.

    I don’t know if anyone else has read it, but I have Madeleine L’Engle’s The 24 Days Before Christmas, and in that family they do the same thing Lindsay suggests. It was written in the 70s so the ideas are awesomely “vintage.” Plus, the mom goes into labour on Christmas Eve so it makes it sound doable. Oh wait, it’s fiction…

  7. Last year my friend made a felt Advent “calendar” of sorts for her family. Essentially it was a nativity scene and every day her daughter added another felt character or object to the picture (i.e. a sheep, wiseman, donkey, star, etc.). My friend is very artistic so it looked really beautiful. But apart from that, it was a simple, tangible, homemade way to let the Christmas story unfold day by day. And it was a nice break from all the consumerism, Santa stuff of Christmas.

    On a different note, I believe Ten Thousand Villages sells Advent calendars with fair trade chocolates in them. Kinda cool!

  8. My fall has been very busy so I have had a difficult time wrapping my head around doing 24 things (one a day) prior to Christmas to assist my kids with marking the time until Christmas. I also don’t see a daily activity as something I can reasonably sustain.

    I have decided to create 12 activities: winter walk, cookie decorating, mitten donation to Koats for Kids, ice cream with crushed candy canes, advent reading, ornament making, etc, that we can do over the 24 day period. I find that much more manageable for us.

    I too will do the advent candles, nativity scene and advent calendar (sans chocolate) that will help the boys count down to xmas.

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