I have seen many great ideas on Pinterest and around the Internet for wonderful, beautiful, creative advent calendars but I didn't feel the get-up-and-go for getting one ready. Then, I remembered doing a count-down to Christmas chain when I was younger and decided to do the same thing and add some extra punch: each link of the chain that we pull off will have a special Christmas activity written on it for the kids to do. I know this has been done before and is in no way an original idea, but I'm really excited about it!
I tried to think of a variety of activities: books, crafts, active games, some giving-related things, and some can't-miss Christmas traditions. I also added a "read" activity each day so we could read the Christmas story from our Bible. You'll notice we read the story from Luke in chunks, repeating the chunks several times. Most - but not all - of our activities are for both my three year old and my one year old. I wanted them both to be involved and I did my best!
I didn't really plan on blogging about this and I actually only took the photos of the chain links so I could remember what I had written before I taped it all together (I thought the photo would be faster than typing it all, but here I am, typing...). I used scratch paper and really did slap this together quickly. Next year I'll try to make it prettier!
Open a special advent gift (books about Advent and the Christmas story I checked out from the library).
Color a Christmas picture.
Watch a Christmas video.
Go Christmas caroling (we'll go with our church that day).
Decorate for Christmas.
Make a hand print Christmas tree.
Play with the nativity scene (we have a great Little People one) and the colored pasta (red and green).
Open an advent gift (a Bilibo I got for free awhile back).
Call someone in your family and tell them you love them.
Help make Christmas treats.
Share the story of Jesus by singing at church (this day is our children's Christmas program at church).
Choose two books to donate to a needy child.
Have a dance party with our Christmas music.
Open an advent gift (they each have a $1 magnifying glass I bought on a whim).
Use your new gift to examine the Christmas tree and your favorite ornaments.
Play "ring the bell".
Share God's love and do something kind for another person.
Have a birthday party for Jesus (I know it's early but it fit in our schedule).
Open an advent gift (a Christmas book I bought for them).
Play "Get Santa".
Days 21 - 25:
Make a Christmas ornament for our tree.
Act out the Christmas story.
Play "Christmas shape match" (a game matching cookie cutters to cut-outs on a felt sheet).
Draw a picture or write about your favorite part of the Christmas story (my husband wanted this one so that we could do it every year and look back to see what the kids did when they were little - good idea, Husband!).
Tell the Christmas story to everyone!
Next year I want to start the chain on the actual first day of Advent, not just December 1 (you know that, right, that Advent actually starts four weeks before Christmas and not on December 1?). I also want to add more activities that deal with giving back - maybe volunteering or giving a small gift to our postal carrier or visiting a nursing home.
What other activities would be fun to add to an Advent calendar?