Every Christmas it's the same story. There is just so much we want to see and do and make and we rush from one thing to another and then there's the things we have to do and when all is said and done, we're all cranky and tired and still feeling like we've forgotten something. This year I wanted to take some of that stress away. I had seen online the "advent" calendar idea where families do one special activity a day. I loved the idea but dreaded the thought of having something else to fit into our days.
We already have a true advent calendar. I made it years and years ago out of felt. Each little pocket holds a small figure from the Nativity. I didn't want to have another advent type calendar. I finally hit upon cutting scrap paper into strips and then writing an activity on each one and I tucked the strips into the pockets of our Nativity calendar along with the little figure. When the strip was pulled from it's little nest we'd read the activity and then staple it into a ring to make a paper chain which we hung in the living room above the tree. I deliberately kept most of the activities simple, low cost, and family oriented. I also worked in a few things that were bigger ventures that I knew we'd be doing. It took some strategic planning on my part to make sure I had the time and materials for each activity. I had a master list so I knew what was happening when. Many of the activities were so much fun and so simple we did them over and over and over.
This was probably the best thing I've done to keep the focus of Christmas on family and giving. I know that many of our special activities are things we would have done anyways but doing it like this made our preparations really sing with meaning. Kind of shined it all up some and made us appreciate just how special all the little things really are. And to take time, really take time, to enjoy them and each other.
Some of our activities...
cut out paper snowflakes
have hot cocoa
dance to Christmas music (this one had Katie declaring this the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!)
drive around and look at holiday displays
donate food to the food pantry
donate toys to Toys for Tots
buy gift for the Angel tree at church
pick out a Christmas tree
watch A Christmas Carol
family game night
bake cookies and deliver some to friends
go to Edaville
dress up fancy for dinner and have dinner by candlelight
go to a Christmas concert
write down five things you are thankful for...keep the list up and add to it throughout the month
decorate gingerbread houses
go for a walk at night with flashlights
visit Heritage Gardens for the Holidays Aglow
wrap Christmas presents
do something nice for someone secretly (they loved this)
buy mittens and gloves and donate to a homeless shelter
I will be incorporating this new tradition of ours into every Christmas from here on out.