Happy First Day of Advent!
Every year when I was younger, I’d get a chocolate advent calendar for Thanksgiving. I honestly loved getting a chocolate every morning before school and knowing that I was that much closer to Christmas.
Fast forward to now, with Olivia in the picture, I wanted to break that tradition and do something a little different.
I kept an open tab on my notes app and wrote down ideas to use for Olivia’s advent calendar. I think I started at the end of October (I’m really trying to keep my sanity this holiday season!) And had an entire list of 25 things by the second week of November. The hard part came next: planning out each activity to fit each day. For instance, I know we’re going on the polar express on the 6th, so I made sure to put that activity on that date and so on and so forth.
I really, really want to make this an even trade- half acts of service, half fun activities/little gifts. I don’t want Olivia to think for one second that the holiday season is just about receiving, and no giving. Dominic and I don’t think like that and we definitely don’t want Olivia to grow up with that mentality either.
With that being said, we kind of agreed that she was a little young to do some of the acts of service we had in mind. Sure, she can help us help out at our local church or go caroling in exchange for canned goods for the homeless (I used to that when I was younger), but we just want to make sure that she really understands why she’s doing those things. We want her to feel that sense of appreciation for what she has and that even better feeling of being able to give back. I think next year we’ll definitely be able to put a few of those into her advent calendar, but this year we went the more playful route (with a couple acts of service).
When I planned out the advent calendar, I had two things in mind: mostly inexpensive (or no money at all) and holiday oriented. In case you were curious, I decided to write down exactly what I do have planned for her each day. I copied and pasted exactly what I wrote to her:
Happy First day of December, Olivia! Enjoy your new Christmas books and get ready for a fun month!
Here is a new ornament for you to hang on your baby tree! (She has a little tree for her room that she specifically calls “my baby tree”)
Today we are going to go to the store to buy a toy for another little child that may not be so lucky this Christmas. Christmas isn’t just about receiving gifts, but also about giving them as well.
It’s very cold outside- today we’re going to take a nice, warm Christmas bath! (Lush has really cute Christmas themed Christmas bath bombs! We got her this one. And, okay, I bought this one for myself!)
Today we’re going to build a very special gingerbread house! (we bought her a Frozen themed gingerbread house)
Today is going to be extra fun- we’re going on the polar express to see Santa! (The town that we used to live in sets up a train ride every year that they turn into the Polar Express where the kids get to drink hot chocolate, ride the train to pick up Santa Claus and then on the way back home he reads the book The Polar Express!)
Here are some things you’ll need to make candy canes for your little baby tree! (Pipe cleaners and red and white beads!)
Let’s color some window clings to put on the door! (Target has a few fun, cheap kid’s activities and I chose the window clings because Olivia loves those things!)
Here is a new Christmas doll for your collection! (We picked one from the Land of Nod.)
We know how much you love snow globes, let’s make some today! (The ol’ baby jar craft!)
Today we’re going to visit someone special— Santa Claus! (One of our nearby malls set up an entire “Santa’s Village” this year so we’re going to take her there for a visit)
Today we’re going to visit BIG horsies and go for a ride! (A horse and carriage ride through downtown Chicago!)
Let’s make some chocolate covered pretzels today and then wrap some up to give to our neighbors!
Tonight let’s make a Christmas tree PIZZA!! (We just plan on cutting a pizza dough into the shape of a tree and then letting her decorate it with toppings!)
Since it’s snowing outside, let’s go sledding and then come back and make homemade hot chocolate! (If it isn’t snowing, we’ll just skip straight to the hot chocolate!) (Your best homemade hot chocolate recipes are much appreciated!)
Here’s a new Christmas coloring book!
What do you want from Santa? Let’s write him a letter to tell him how good you’ve been this year!
By now, everyone has decorated for Christmas. Let’s go for a drive, get some coffee, and look at all the pretty Christmas houses! (Honestly, Dominic and I are the most excited about this one!)
Let’s make a comfy blanket to cuddle with on the couch! (The fleece blankets that you just cut into lines and then tie together- so warm, so easy and very in-expensive)
Today is COOKIE DAY! We are going to bake cookies with your aunties all day and you’re going to need an apron so your clothes don’t get dirty! (Dominic and I bought her a new apron while we were in Galena specifically for this day)
Here are a few Christmas movies so that we can cuddle on the couch and have a movie night!
You wanna build a snowmannnnnn? (I jad to! We went to the dollar store and bought gloves, a hat and a scarf for her to decorate her snowman with)
Today let’s make Christmas key chains! (Shrinky dinks! Can you tell I’m getting a little in touch with my childhood with some of these?)
Tomorrow Santa will be here! Since we already have cookies and milk for Santa, we need to make some food for the reindeer too! (Reindeer food! We used to make this in elementary school. Dry oats and glitter and then you just throw it all over the snow outside for the “reindeer” to eat.)
Merry Christmas, Olivia rose! Tonight we will have a sleepover under the tree to end this very fun Christmas season. We love you, baby!
And now onto the actual advent calendar. I have to admit, the calendar didn’t exactly turn out the way I thought about it in my head. It still turned out cute, but next year I’ll probably do something a bit smaller.
Here’s a picture:
When Target first rolled out their Holiday stuff, I went right away. It is the second most wonderful day of the Christmas season, seriously. Target, you da bomb. Anyway, I came across these paper bags and I immediately said to Dominic, “Oh my god, these would be PERFECT for her advent calendar! Let’s get them!!” My plan was to hang them from branches that I was going to get from our front yard but then(!), just the other day Dominic and I were at home depot (we’re finally painting Olivia’s room!) and I came across this bundle of fresh pine needle branches and I really wanted to buy them, but didn’t have anywhere to really put them, so I sadly passed. The next day, I couldn’t stop dreaming about those beautiful, five dollar bundles and then a light bulb went off in my head. I’ll use them for her advent calendar! My wonderful husband went straight back to home depot to fulfill my request and I was very satisfied.
I printed out the different activities for each day in cute, Christmas-y fonts/colors, folded them in half, put them inside the bags, folded the bags, hole punched them and then hung them with white yarn onto my perfect pine bundles.The pine bundles are held by these Command hooks. Dominic and I are obsessed with these hooks, we use them for everything when we decorate for Christmas! Anyway, if the supplies for that activity fit in the bag (like the pipe cleaners and beads….the apron….the baby jars…the bath bomb….etc, etc), I put them in the bags. But if they didn’t, like the books on day one, I have a bag for the bigger things.
Next year, I will definitely do the pine bundles again. (Hell, I’ll probably pine-bundle my whole house next year because I love them so much.) But I probably won’t worry too much about being able to fit the supplies for the activities in the bags. Instead, I’ll set out to find some cute, little Christmas patterned envelopes. The advent calendar turned out to be so big that I couldn’t fit it into the space I had originally planned them to be and let’s face it, it’s just really freakin big. Period. I still like it though, and Olivia loves it and in the end, that’s all that matters, right?
Do you do an advent calendar? What do you put on yours?
Oh, and by the way, IT’S DECEMBER FIRST.
Like Olivia says, “Oh my goodness, I can’t beweave it!”