One of our family traditions is that starting on the first day of December, we sing Christmas songs together before bed. Everyone gets to pick a song and we all sing.
I want to add a new tradition in our house this year that our children will look forward to each year. For that reason, I’ve made an advent calendar, and I have planned something for us to do together each day in December.
It still needs numbers, but for now it is up! I was inspired to start this one two years ago based on this one. I didn’t have the fabric I wanted, but I did have a little bit of brown toile (the same one I used for Ivory’s pajamas). I had some red fabric from some old sheets that my parents had given to me for the fabric. I didn’t have any burlap, but then I got a burlap potato sack and I had planned on using it. I read a great tutorial on washing burlap, but the sack really shrunk. I asked some questions about purchasing burlap on the blog and the writer was so sweet; she sent me an old piece that she had that had some glue spots on it. I was able to work around it and use it to make this.
The inspiration piece isn’t a complete tutorial, so if you want to make something similar, I would check out this tutorial.
Since I don’t own number stamps, so I’m thinking of embroidering some numbers on them in red for next year. It would have been easier to do that before construction (but I didn’t think of it until afterwards!), but I can probably make it happen anyway.
Of course, you don’t have to have a calendar; you can just write or type up a list and go off the list!
I am planning on reading a stack of Christmas stories to the children, making several crafts, and spending more than one day making cookies. We’ll make several fun treats to have as our afternoon snacks. The activities (for the most part) are planned for late afternoon, as it is getting dark.
If you don’t have any Christmas books, don’t despair! Check out your local library for some. Our library always has seasonal books out on display by the entry.
Two of the stories that I will be sharing with my children you can read/see online; they are “We Came For Our Gifts” (scroll down the page for this one and have a handkerchief ready) and “The Coat” which has been made into a wonderful short online video for children (both are true stories).
Some of the other books from which we’ll be reading:
For crafts, we will be making paper snowflakes, paper Christmas trees, sewn stars (we’ll do these by hand) and a few projects using felt. You can see the crafts we want to make on my Pinterest board.
A few days, we’ll work on making sibling gifts. My children love to make presents for each other.
We’ll make some fun themed breakfasts, treats, and dinners together. Some of them I’ll make to surprise them. Then they can enjoy the treats while we read Christmas stories. The snacks are mixed with the crafts on the same Pinterest board.
We’ll start a few Pandora Christmas stations (they have all different choices for “types” Christmas music on there!) to listen to on the days when we’re doing a craft and not reading a story. We’ve been enjoying one entitled “Classical Christmas Radio”.
Here are our activities:
1. Watch a Christmas movie and have popcorn
2. Make a Christmas craft and read a Christmas story
3. Paint snowflake resist paintings
4. Make a Christmas craft and eat Christmas cookies (I’ll make these ones early in the day)
5. Drink hot chocolate while mom reads a Christmas story
6. Make paper trees and make a Christmas tree pizza
7. Make sibling gifts
8. Watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional on December 8th (a live feed will be available in 16 languages, including Portuguese, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin).
9. Read Snowflake Bentley, check out Russian photographer Alexy Kljatov’s snowflake photographs, and cut out paper snowflakes.
10. Make more paper trees and Christmas lollipops
11. Make Christmas tree paintings while mom reads a Christmas story
12. Make gingerbread cookies
13. Make snowman pancakes for breakfast, snowman hot chocolate for snacks, make some snowman art, and make a snowman pizza for dinner
14. Make sibling gifts
15. Watch a video about Christ’s birth
16. Put up the Christmas tree. Ours will go out later in the month because we have a 1 1/2-year-old again. We put ours on a table (the stand is screwed to the table) but unlike her 6 older siblings, this child gets a stool when she wants something!
18. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story
19. Make cookies
20. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story
21. Make Christmas crafts and finish sibling gifts.
22. Enjoy some Christmas cheese balls, crackers cut with Christmas cookie cutters, and olive penguins
23. Make rosemary olive oil bread. Wrap it up with rosemary and tags and deliver it to friends.
24. Read Luke 2
I made free printable cards that you can download and fit into a homemade advent calendar. They’re small enough to work in all different sized advent calendars. I included several other activities that will work for some of you in colder climates (where you have real snowflakes, and not just paper ones, like we do) as well as some that won’t matter what climate you are in (for my readers on the other half of the globe who experience Christmas in summer). I also have duplicates of some things, because you might want to do some things more than once (such as a craft or a story). You can print them all and use whichever ones work for you. (If you live in the Southern hemisphere, I would love to hear what activities you plan for the month of December!)
The printables are available on my website on my free printables page. (I’m having some trouble adding images and links on my website right now. You can directly access this printable on my website here.)
I think I have a small number stencil. That is a great idea! I may take it down and do that!I don’t know that I’ll do things on the same days next year, so I don’t want to number the cards. For example, I’m planning working on sibling gifts on Saturdays and delivering to friends on a Monday, so the order will change a bit each year.
Oh, I see I wasn’t very clear with the idea that I was thinking! I was visualizing something where there would be a piece of red cardstock that’s a little taller than the white print-able…with the number on the red piece so that it’s showing, but appears as if it’s all one piece. Sorry about my lack of clarity. I always look at which days are weekend days for the bigger projects too! 🙂
Very cool calendar! Again, you have great style, Brandy. We are doing advent for the first time this year. It is mom and me so we are doing a devotional on the bible app. We made a simple wreath with greenery and four white taper candles that mom had already. We put on the fireplace and christmas carols video (free) on hulu and spend time together.
So beautiful! Your list looks like so much fun. One of our calendars consists of numbered muslin bags with activities or pictures in each one. I just need to find a way we like to hang them up. The one we pulled last night was to have everyone sing their favorite Christmas Carol at the same time. Hilarious chaos.
Love your Advent calendar – simple and true to the spirit of Christmas. When my 3 kids were little we had calendars made of paper chains with an activity on each link, one link was removed each day so it was not a keeper. That way I could change it out each year to suit their ages.
Such beautiful and inspiring ideas! Thank you!
Beautiful! I am very tired and achy today because of chronic health problems – but reading this blog post is giving me motivation to do more today than I was going to! Energy is contagious!
I am tired and achy today (some chronic health problems) but after reading your blog post, I feel motivated to be more productive and creative today! Thanks for sharing your ideas.Also, I want to tell you your kids are wealthy in every way that matters…:)
That is adorable, I love toile. We are doing an advent calender and making snowflakes and the like. Today we went for a walk( anarchy) to look at Christmas decorations. Yesterday we did glitter pictures( also anarchy, I feel like it’s our theme). Tomorrow is snowflakes and Friday is Letter to Santa and then Saturday is walking to the post office to mail it. That’s all I have planned out so far.
Saw this free Paris printable, thought of you. http://madebyjoel.com/2012/01/travel-size-paper-city-paris.html
Thanks! I knew about that one; a reader reminded me the other day and I will print it for Elsa for a stocking stuffer. The older children have made it but she hasn’t and is too little to remember it.
Another good source for free activities is Jan Brett’s website, janbrett.com. She writes and illustrates beautiful books for children, many of them Christmas themed, and her web site is a jewel for free printables, online activities, coloring sheets, craft and recipe ideas, etc — all themed to her books.
The lion in the box book has been added to our christmas book list every year since I learned about the book from you! It reminds me if you. I love the work ethic of the children and the love that they have for each other. The advent calendar is beautiful!! You always impress me!
Brandy, what a fun way to share advent with your children! The calendar looks wonderful.
Love the bread picture with the tag, I have been giving fresh sourdough loaves as a gift this year to my kids Sunday School teachers, and other people that help teach them in differing ways.I love the advent being activities, one of the reasons I have resisted having one is the gifts, my kids do not need small trinkets or candy, I have a small house and enough clutter and they have so much candy from holidays that we have a anything left on Halloween morning gets thrown away rule, we always throw away candy. But, activities I think they would love an so would I:D
I love doing things with my girls during Advent. Thank you so much for the beautiful printables- it’s a very generous gift to give your readers! I will definitely utilize them. Thank you Brandy!
The pocket wall hanger is beautiful. I like all the good ideas, as well.
Absolutely great. Im from Holland, so when I wanted to print the cards I realised that wouldn’t be fun for my children since their english is not good enough. The printables without written activities is for us foreign readers more suitable. But still thanks! I made teh calender of paperbags, and the kids made drawings with the numbers and I hanged them in front of the window on a rope with pegs. I like to have windowdecorations, so snowflakes will also be added!!
I have a LOT of non-English speaking readers. I will make a printable with blanks that you can use in future years if you would like. Thank you for pointing that out!
Still in gift-making mode. I have made stocking stuffers for my kids. I made two ponytail scarves, bookmarks of my own design, homemade soap, and rustic-shabby-chic ornaments. The ornaments were made out of scraps of fabric, leftover ribbon, repurposed stuffing, and salvaged buttons.I am not organized enough to plan an advent activity per day. I will be doing some crafting and candy making with my kids over the next few days.
I enjoyed looking at your advent card printables. I was wondering how “play in the snow” and “go sledding” work in your area. We live in Georgia and are ecstatic if we see snow once or twice a year, but almost never in December.
They don’t work unless we drive to the snow, but I put those on there for those who can use them. Obviously, my readers in Australia will find them useless 🙂 Since we are repeating some things I printed more pages and used the ones we will be using from the list.
We do a very simple activity-a-day – things like, make cards for the grandparents; make presents for each other; make a Christmas ornament; etc. I try to make at least one nativity with the kids each year (either a printable one, or one year we made corn husk nativities, which was fun). We also try to get to the beach sometime in the lead-up to Christmas. This year we scored $10 airfares to the Great Barrier Reef (I spent yesterday snorkeling with a sea turtle) but normally, the beach trip is just a day trip. My favourite Christmas tradition is that, for Christmas lunch, we each choose a favourite dish. This happened after an absolute nightmare year with my husband’s family. My husband’s sister is married to a very fundamental Muslim, who insists his very young children can’t celebrate Christmas; but she insists they still come every year, even though they can’t eat the food, can’t wish anyone a Merry Christmas, can’t watch any Christmas TV programs or read any Christmas books, and usually end up in tears after the presents are passed around because “Santa forgot about me.” (Seriously, if you aren’t going to let your kids get presents, at least let them in on the little Santa secret, otherwise they just end up feeling like they were really, really naughty – it’s very bad for the self-esteem!) We finally decided to just stay home. That first Christmas we made this decision was so incredibly tense and stressful because of familial blow-back we didn’t even want to think about a meal; so my husband suggested we each choose a favourite, and if we end up with all desserts, so what? This year’s menu looks like it’ll be watermelon, banana smoothies, deviled eggs, and sweet and sour pork.
You inspired me to make our own list of activities for December and I shamelessly stole some of your ideas too! 🙂 I posted my list on my blog:http://lisajoseph.blogspot.com/2013/12/december-plans.html
I know a little bit ago you asked for frugal ideas for advent on your Facebook page. I posted some, but I forgot about borax snowflakes! Here is the link, if you want to do this activity next year: http://www.deliacreates.com/2011/01/snow-and-ice-activities-for-kids-part_11.html Have a Merry Christmas! Thank you for all the work you put into your blog. It is a joy and beautiful to see.